By Laura Lee
From its south-central Virginia setting to its historic downtown, friendly neighbors and outdoor amenities, the City of Seven Hills offers locals the good life.
When they brought their second child home from the hospital and settled into their tiny D.C. house as a family of four, Jennifer Wills and Javaun Moradi took stock of what they wanted home to mean. “D.C. was expensive and crowded,” says Moradi. “There were days in the summer where the air quality would keep us inside.”
The couple’s jobs were mostly remote, so it seemed like a good time to make a move. No town was off the table. “We were even looking out west at Colorado and the Pacific Northwest because we wanted the mountains,” he says.
In the end, the choice to move to Lynchburg—which happened to be the town where Wills’ parents and sister’s family lived—was easy. “Here, there are zero bad traffic days, zero red air-quality days. And they even got a taste of the mountains. “People don’t think of Lynchburg as a mountain town, but it sort of is,” Moradi adds. “We love the outdoor access. We can be on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 30 minutes.”
But the biggest bonus of all was the sense of the community they found. “I think when you really value your community as a great place to raise a family, it’s because you have a bunch of people pulling together,” says Wills. “Here, everybody is involved. The town is big enough to have all the amenities you want, but small enough that you can get your fingerprints on many areas and truly make a difference—in education, art, social programs, whatever you’re passionate about.”
Wills and Moradi aren’t the only young family choosing to move to Lynchburg. In recent years, more people are discovering the appeal of Lynchburg, as the city tops list after list for best places to live in the U.S. While there are a myriad of reasons to move to Lynchburg, we’ve narrowed it down to 12. Come join us!
1. Natural Beauty
The beautiful City of Seven Hills is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the banks of the James River. The lush city is located just miles from the famous Appalachian Trail and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blackwater Creek Trail system and Liberty Mountain Trails calls bikers and hikers outdoors, while James River Adventures provides access to the water.
2. Ideal Climate
Lynchburg residents enjoy the best of all four seasons, from a colorful autumn and a few annual snowfalls to a spectacular spring and perfect summers with warm days and cool nights. Locals take advantage of the year-round farmer’s market with fresh seasonal produce, the spray ground in the summer, fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and beautiful snow days.
3. Location, Location, Location
Lynchburg is centrally located to major highways and interstates but spares its residents the busy traffic. Lynchburg is within a day’s drive to markets like Atlanta, Raleigh, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York and just three hours to Washington, D.C. and Charlotte. Or, take an easy scenic ride via Amtrak. The Lynchburg Regional Airport offers daily nonstop service on American Airlines to Charlotte, for access to major cities around the country. For a weekend getaway, Virginia’s wine country, ski resorts, and Virginia Beach are all close by.
4. Low Cost of Living
The average cost of living in Lynchburg is 14.2% lower than the national average, meaning your hard-earned money goes a lot further. Lynchburg was recently rated #1 in 2020 for “Cheapest U.S. Cities To Live In” by Kiplinger, noting residents spend nearly a fifth less than the national average on housing and well below the national average on transportation and groceries.
5. Health and Wellness
Lynchburg has been ranked among the top 10 cities in the country for happiness and well-being; Gallup-Heathways reported residents had lower rates of stress, depression and obesity. Lynchburg is home to two major hospitals, Central Lynchburg General Hospital and Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital, as well as the state-of-the-art Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center. Lynchburg is also situated between two renowned research hospitals at UVA and Duke University.
6. Millennial Market
Reviews.org ranked Lynchburg the #1 place for millennials to move to in 2019, noting great hiking, low unemployment, an artsy downtown and breweries. The city is home to 45% more millennials than the national average, with a median age of 28. Millennials are also attracted to the lower cost of living and affordability of new homes — the average mortgage is $1,100.
7. Higher Education
Lynchburg has been named among the top 10 college towns in the nation, alongside cities such as Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Lynchburg area is home to six major colleges and universities, including Liberty University, University of Lynchburg, Randolph College, Virginia University-Lynchburg, Central Virginia Community College and Sweet Briar College. The schools provide cutting-edge research, innovative resources and a skilled workforce; in fact, 34.5% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree.
8. Business Opportunity
The unemployment rate in Lynchburg is consistently less than the national average, thanks to its economic diversity. Liberty University is the city’s largest employer, followed by Centra Healthcare. Sectors range from U.S. government suppliers and energy companies to national retailers and manufacturers. Lynchburg also offers an array of support services for start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
9. Revitalized Downtown
Established in 1757, Downtown Lynchburg became an important center for trade during the American Revolution. Now with modern amenities and a recent renaissance, downtown is stronger than ever. Many historic buildings have been brought back to life, housing new restaurants, breweries, rooftop bars, boutiques, high-end hotels and loft-style apartments. Founded in 1783, Lynchburg Community Market is one of the oldest in the country.
10. Arts & Culture
Downtown Lynchburg is home to The Academy Center of the Arts, a beautifully restored Beaux Arts theater. The Academy Center of the Arts hosts the “Big 5” in the arts world: the opera, ballet, symphony, theater and visual arts. The center also supports the local chorus and children’s programs as well as national acts and traveling Broadway shows. Also downtown, the Riverviews Artspace showcases multi-media installations, sculpture, abstract paintings and other contemporary works. The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College offers free admission and an outstanding collection of American artists including Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe and Andrew Wyeth. Tower Theatre at Liberty University is another popular venue for catching a show or concert.
11. Safe Neighborhoods
Lynchburg is one of the top 10 most secure mid-sized cities in the United States, according to Farmer’s Insurance and Sperling’s Best Places. Cities with high rankings had low crime, good air quality, a lower risk for extreme weather or natural disasters, low rates of housing depreciation and foreclosures, steady employment and a longer life expectancy.
Lynchburg Parks and Recreation operates six neighborhood centers throughout the city. Centers foster a strong sense of community and provide recreational programs, after-school care, summer camps and activities for all ages.
12. Family Friendly
Lynchburg offers highly rated preschools as well as public and private K-12 programs. Lynchburg City Schools encompass 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. Special programs include Schools for Innovation, a year-round elementary school, alternative schools, special education, STEM academies and Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology,
The city maintains 17 parks for recreation, outdoor activities and children’s play. A variety of festivals and special events keeps everyone in the family entertained year-round. Area attractions and activities include Amazement Square Children’s Museum, SeaQuest zoo and aquarium, Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, rock climbing, escape rooms, a trampoline park, ice skating rink, museums and more.