South Hampton Roads, or “The Southside,” is a geographic cul-de-sac in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The Southside is made up of five independent cities, each with its own distinct personality. The Atlantic Ocean, the James and Elizabeth Rivers, Hampton Roads Harbor, and the Chesapeake Bay surround Southside. While nice for recreation, all this water means that commuters have to navigate the dreaded bridges and tunnels to get around.
Home to seven of the area’s military installations, the Southside has one of the highest concentrations of military personnel in the entire country. To call it “military-friendly” would be an understatement. Highly rated schools, family-friendly communities, and an array of entertainment and recreation opportunities add to the quality of life factor. The abundance of jobs and institutions of higher-learning excites many spouses. Art and cultural infusions are everywhere, and the restaurants rival those in other metropolitan centers across the country.
Good luck going anywhere in the Southside and not seeing uniforms. While all branches of service are represented in the region, the Southside is mostly populated by the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Believe it or not, there are plenty of native Virginians and civilians that live here as well. Areas like Norfolk and Portsmouth are havens for young professionals. Virginia Beach attracts families, singles, and all who have an affinity for the “salt life.” Those looking for a slower pace and some peace and quiet head out to Western Chesapeake, southern Virginia Beach, and Suffolk.
The Southside is a sprawling area with a smattering of all you would expect in a coastal locale when it comes to home styles and neighborhood vibes. Highrise condos, apartment complexes, colonial-era row homes, and waterfront luxury can all be found in Norfolk. You’ll find affordable historic charm in Portsmouth. Virginia Beach has master-planned suburbs, beachfront bungalows, mansions, condos, and apartments. Farther out from the Norfolk nucleus, you’ll encounter more wide-open spaces in the way of subdivided farmland in Suffolk, and a rural refuge in Pungo (Virginia Beach).