Single residents’ challenges with living in SW Virginia

by Emaryi Williams-

Having her rent increased by almost $70 was a bit of a shock to Renata Farrell, a single resident living in the New River Valley. Farrell lives on the border between Blacksburg and Christiansburg at The Highlands at Huckleberry Ridge apartments. Her monthly rent is currently $1,275.

“It’s definitely expensive. On top of that, I have a cat, so that’s an extra $40,” Ferrell said. “I also have to pay for electricity, water, and my internet. My electric bill has slightly gone up, and my internet bill will be increasing soon as well.”

The Highlands Apartments lights come on as night approaches on Friday, Feb. 7, 2023.
(Photo: Emaryi Williams)

According to HomeSnacks, an online platform that delivers “bite-sized” pieces of information about where people live, the city of Blacksburg is the number one most expensive place to live in Virginia, as of 2023. According to their statistics, the average rent in the city is about $1,141, and the average home costs about $309,800.

“A lot of my graduate student cohorts and colleagues live in Christiansburg or Radford because it’s more affordable,” said Cara Patrick, a graduate student who signed a lease for a single apartment at The Loft at 316 in Blacksburg.

Patrick says that not only is housing expensive, but it’s also competitive, meaning that many people default to settling for really expensive one-room apartments or settling for roommates.

“A lot of the one-bedroom or studio apartments are in the luxury developments, costing around $1,400 to $1,500. So, everyone has to scrap for the cheaper ones that are not in the Hub or the Union, and that’s a big challenge,” Patrick said.

The Lofts CMG Leasing Downtown Office in Blacksburg during the busy traffic hours on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

To save on costs, both Patrick and Farrell say they look outward, toward Christiansburg for financial relief in other areas.

“I had to find more cost-effective ways to live,” Patrick said. “Like I go to ALDI in Christiansburg now because what would cost me like $50 at Kroger, costs me like $30 or less there.”

“When considering costs, my friends and I will go to Christiansburg to go out and eat. ” Renata explained. “Restaurants there a slightly less expensive.”

According to BestPlaces’s 2023 Cost of Living Calculator, food and groceries, housing, average home costs, utilities, and overall living costs are more expensive in Blacksburg than they are in Christiansburg. Transportation is the only specific thing that was listed as more expensive in Christiansburg, while health costs were listed as equal in both cities.

If you plan on living in the Christiansburg-Blacksburg area, both Patrick and Farrell have the same advice – look now and save early.

“Luckily, because I worked all throughout high school, I have money saved because I strongly believe I would not be able to live on my own had I not saved,” Patrick said.

“Look really early. Talk to the apartment places. Try to talk to leasing offices, and talk to people that live there to find out exactly how much things actually cost, so you’re not surprised by how much things are,” Farrell advised.

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