1 of 6
Belshire Court, part of Coach Homes of Southwood in Roanoke City has homes at $400,000 plus.
2 of 6
Hunting Hills in Southwest Roanoke County has been a prime home choice area for many years.
3 of 6
North Roanoke city and county residents have access to arts and other events at Hollins University
4 of 6
Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake's 500-mile shoreline has helped it develop into a full-time residential community
5 of 6
This Roanoke College sports field is near Salem's major sports and events complex, Salem Civic Center
6 of 6
Tim and Jessica Wright
Tim and Jessica Wright, here walking in South Roanoke with daughter Sydney and beagle Billy, live in the Grandin Court area.
Why do we choose to live where we do?
Answers can be pragmatic, such as convenience to work, prestigious location and potential for property to appreciate. Or, they can be as emotional as a desire to be near a favorite watering hole, or that you just plain fell in love with a house.
All of these reasons and more can lead to the choice of a comfortable home in the Roanoke Metro, which includes Roanoke City and County, Salem, Vinton, and Botetourt and Franklin and Craig counties.
Here’s a sampling of some of the area’s most popular places to live.
South Roanoke-Southwest City
Roanoke City relishes its railroad history through museums and has as its centerpiece a mountain that provides recreational opportunities as well as a great place to take visitors so they can see the expanse of the Valley.
Most of the houses in Roanoke City were built before 1960, which means a broad choice of housing styles for prospective buyers as well as opportunities to update properties and take advantage of Roanoke City’s tax abatement program established a decade ago.
Close to downtown, Old Southwest has historic designation and a neighborhood organization that consistently wins national awards with its projects, which include the city’s only dog park. Victorian is the architectural standard in Old Southwest, which also houses one of the city’s popular restaurants, Wildflour.
Close to Old Southwest are two of the highest profile areas, South Roanoke and Raleigh Court.
Colonials, Tudors and ranches are the norm in the established South Roanoke community, which adjoins the downtown district that is home to Carilion Clinic, the Carilion-Virginia Tech Medical School and Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. Restaurants, specialty shops and services and a grocery store make South Roanoke a self-contained area. The Star Line Trolley supported by the city, Carilion and Downtown Roanoke Inc., ferries workers and residents for free Monday through Friday between downtown and South Roanoke.
South Roanoke also is home to townhomes and condos and near Wellington, one of the city’s newer upscale subdivisions.
In Raleigh Court, more Colonials and Tudors are joined by Cape Cod designs. Raleigh Court, which has been especially attractive to young families, is home to Patrick Henry High School, one of two high schools serving the city. Raleigh Court dwellers and residents of adjacent Grandin Court enjoy Grandin Village, an established retail and restaurant section complete with the vintage Grandin Theatre and the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op. The Co-op’s latest venture includes an urban farm in northeast Roanoke.
Outdoor opportunities in this area are extensive. The Roanoke River Greenway in South Roanoke connects the Rivers Edge Sports Complex of ballfields and tennis courts to Southwest. Biking and hiking trails wrap through wooded Mill Mountain, which has a direct link to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
North Roanoke City and County
North Roanoke City, home to William Fleming High School, has become the city’s most significantly diverse community. Many immigrants to the area have established retail shops along Williamson Road that runs from downtown to the Roanoke Regional Airport. Older, affordable and well-designed brick homes flank Williamson Road. This road was a destination for cruising teens in the 1950s and still celebrates its cruising heritage each June with Star City Motor Madness, which raises money for the Museum of Transportation in downtown.
Williamson Road becomes U.S. 11 as it travels into north Roanoke County. The county envelops the city and has more than 29,000 owner-occupied housing units, more than half of them valued from $200,000 to $1 million-plus. Two-thirds of the structures have been built since 1970, in keeping with the timeline of development of suburbs.
Springtree, Pinnacle Ridge and Monterey subdivisions in northeast have been developed since 2002.
North County offers a variety of housing in subdivisions such as North Lakes, which dates to the early 1970s. Here ranches and split foyer-style homes are valued from $135,000 to $255,000 and have remained attractive to both younger families and retirees. In the upper-end price range, Bentley Park off Barrens Road features two-story homes valued at $300,000-plus.
Along Plantation Road, which is a large employment corridor with ITT Exelis and a Wells Fargo Bank service center, is Villages at Tinker Creek, a planned community developed since 2004. Homes are valued from $220,000 to $255,000.
Even with the development, the largest geographic area in the county – Catawba, in North County near the Craig County line – remains rural. Catawba Mountain’s peak, McAfee Knob, rises to 3,197 feet and steadily attracts outdoor devotees. The Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center in Catawba supports agriculture and natural-resource businesses. The center, which leases land to growers, has several programs underway. It spawned the Catawba Farmers Market and is partnering with the USDA National Agroforestry Center for a demonstration planting of medicinal plants, floral products and edibles. In partnership with the County, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the U.S. National Park Service, the center plans to establish a marked connector trail to the adjacent Appalachian Trail.
Green Ridge Recreation Center, near the Roanoke Regional Airport by Roanoke County, is open to all area residents. It features 76,000 feet of fitness and recreational opportunities, from a walking track, gymnasium and indoor pool to a water park.
Valley View Mall, a large upscale regional shopping facility, at the I-581 interchange near Roanoke Regional Airport, has theaters, stores and restaurants. Nearby are Sam’s Club and smaller strip malls with a variety of restaurants and shops.
Hollins University, internationally known for its creative writing program, offers literary events and has an extensive art collection in its Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.
Near the Botetourt-north Roanoke County line, U.S. 11 and U.S. 220 parallel Interstate 81 while Alternate 220 provides access to east Roanoke County and Bedford County. This bustling area marks the entrance from Roanoke into Botetourt County. Housing options range from upscale homes on large lots to older homes in the Town of Troutville to estates with space for horses and historic-designation properties in Fincastle.
Examples of the housing opportunities include an 11-acre farm with modern house, selling for around $650,000, and a renovated 1900 farmhouse for $250,000. Ashley Plantation and Santillane alongside 220 are upscale communities featuring impressive houses against a backdrop of broad views.
This area developed in recent years as a bedroom community for Roanoke, and retail and service outlets have popped up in tandem with the growth. Among these is Botetourt Commons Shopping Center where the Outdoor Trails store serves as a center for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. The trail is only 300 yards away.
Nearby, the mixed-use community of Daleville Town Center features energy-efficient single family houses, shops and an events pavilion. In late 2012, the center broke ground on a new complex that is to include apartments, a parking garage, a swimming pool and a clubhouse.
The LewisGale Imaging Center, which is part of the LewisGale Medical Pavilion, opened at the center in 2011. Across 220, the Orchard Marketplace has a grocery store and space for shops.
Along Alternate 220, which connects Botetourt and Roanoke counties and intersects with U.S. 460, numerous homes have been built on former orchard land in recent years. One of the housing areas, Read Mountain, also includes a 243-acre park, owned by Roanoke County. A 1.9-mile (one-way) hiking trail ends at Buzzard Rocks summit on Read Mountain.
Housing opportunities in a broad range of prices, and including apartments, condos and patio homes, are in this area. At the 460 intersection, are shopping and dining facilities including Lowe’s home building and a Walmart super store.
The Botetourt Center at Greenfield includes Greenfield Education and Training Center, which offers classes from Dabney Lancaster and Virginia Western community colleges. The Center, which serves as an industrial park, includes a walking trail and the Greenfield Recreation Park, 125 acres that include the Sports Complex with championship sports fields, a cross-country running course and a paved walking track.
Ashley Plantation Country Club, a public access facility established in 1999, has three distinctive 9-hole courses and a restaurant.
The county, and bordering Craig County, offer ready access to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, which makes up 22 percent of Botetourt County, and also includes U.S. Bicycle Route 76, part of the trans-America route through Virginia.
Southwest Roanoke County
Southwest Roanoke County is one of the more developed residential areas in the county and also one of its more appealing. At the intersection of Va. 419 and U.S 220 near Tanglewood Mall and the boundary with Roanoke City, are the first structures of South Peak. Planned as a mixed-use community, its first phase includes condos built in an Arts and Crafts design that range from $199,000 to $569,000. In sight of this, the coach homes of Southmont dot a hillside.
Go south on 220 toward Franklin County and pass by Hunting Hills, one of the county’s premier communities with wooded lots, good views and a variety of housing styles. Homes here are valued from $240,000 to above $615,000. Here, too, is a connection to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Back at the 419-220 intersection, the 419 corridor passes by communities with price ranges up to $1 million-plus. Cresthill, the county’s first modern subdivision dating to the 1960s, contains ranches on larger lots with space for gardens and at appealing prices under $200,000. One of the county’s best known residential areas, Penn Forest, developed between U.S. 220 and Virginia 419 around 1964, has grown into three neighborhoods of ranches, split-level, split-foyer and two-story homes in the $170,000 to $275,000 range.
In the 1980s, development moved further out in the county along U.S. 221, which runs off of 419 and parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway. Early communities were Forest Edge and Carriage Hills. The first high-end development was Highfields Farms, followed by Forest Edge, Vista Forest, Strawberry Mountain and Autumn Park with properties ranging from $180,000 to $500,000.
South onto 221 leads to Bent Mountain, more homes and some farms and access to two vineyards. Valhalla Vineyards on Chestnut Mountain can be reached off of 221, and one of AmRhein’s Wine Cellars’ three vineyards is on Bent Mountain.
Back on 419, in west County near the city of Salem, subdivisions Woodbridge, Cherokee Hills and Russlyn Farms ($170,000-$325,000, depending upon the subdivision) are convenient to Interstate 81, which can be appealing to residents commuting to the New River Valley.
South County Library on Merriman Road, a contemporary design facility complete with coffee shops and fireplaces, technology and drive-through book pickup, has two 80-seat meeting rooms and a 200-seat auditorium. Nearby are an elementary school, a park and soccer fields.
Tanglewood Mall complex includes an indoor mall of 41 shops and nearby movie multiplex, a bank, Barnes and Noble bookstore and a grocery store. A short distance away, The Forum is home to specialty shops and next to the Roanoke Athletic Club. Several other shopping destinations are along 419.
LewisGale Medical Center includes nearby physician offices and a hotel designed to serve families visiting patients or people seeking outpatient treatment.
This independent city of nearly 25,000 residents dates to 1802 and has 10 listings on the Virginia and National Registry of Historic Places and the Virginia Registry of Historic Landmarks. Salem also has its own historic registry with 30 structures listed.
Several of the historic homes are on Broad Street, which along with Academy Street has a special cachet for prospective buyers because of this link to the past and because they are right downtown. Residents like being able to walk down the street to the Salem City Market, and houses for sale on these streets, while not the most expensive in Salem, generally are readily snapped up.
With Roanoke College also conveniently located downtown, students add energy to the shops and restaurants that line Main Street. So do regular music events at the outdoor market and the annual Old Salem Days that draws consistent crowds.
Langhorne Place, an older subdivision west of downtown, also appeals with its quiet, stately atmosphere and proximity to the Salem Municipal Golf Course. Nearby with newer structures is The Hill, where homes can run more than $1 million.
Salem is not all history and upscale living, however. It offers a wide variety of properties from newer patio homes in North Oaks and family homes near Salem High School in Milton Gardens. In East Salem, a variety of subdivisions have developed since the 1970s and later and at prices that top out around $500,000 in Country Club Estates.
Also in the East corridor is Ridgewood Farms, a mixed subdivision of single family homes and townhomes.
In North Salem, the North Lakes community attracts young families and retirees with modestly priced homes.
Salem is fiercely committed to sports with its municipal golf course, the Salem Civic Center and a stadium that is home to the Salem Red Sox, a farm team for the Boston Red Sox. The Duck Pond near downtown is popular for residents, especially youngsters and it has a Farmers Market that also serves as a music venue.
The Salem Museum is housed in an 1845 house and has an addition built to green standards with a roof that not only serves as a patio and sitting area but provides rainwater harvesting and low water plumbing fixtures.
Roanoke College attracts international guest speakers for events open to the community and also offers art and music events.
Southeast Roanoke City and County, Vinton, Smith Mountain Lake
Perhaps the most varied mix of properties anywhere exists in this slice of the valley where one of the city’s older communities, Southeast Roanoke, segues into the Town of Vinton in Roanoke County and both are only a few minutes’ drive from Smith Mountain Lake, a major recreation center for the northeast. Greenways also connect Roanoke City and Vinton.
Traffic toward the lake through Va. 116 steadily increased in recent years and encouraged the building of a traffic roundabout on Riverland Road near the community of Garden City. Take a left on the roundabout and head toward a denser section of Southeast, one of the city’s older communities, and then to Vinton. Vinton has a mix of older two-story homes and ranches near the downtown, which offers shops, eateries and a farmers’ market. Newer subdivisions such as Dillon Woods and Chestnut Hills include split-level and ranch houses. Other new construction includes Feather Gardens, a patio home community off Hardy Road (Va. 634) where homes sell for $160,000 and up.
Go right at the Riverland Road roundabout and continue into Garden City, which was annexed into the city in the late 1940s and is tucked behind Mill Mountain. Garden City has kept its rural feeling even as one-story bungalows were joined by new subdivisions such as Rosewalk Lane with one-and-a-half story houses.
Back at the roundabout, take Va. 116, which at various points is named Jae Valley Road and Mount Pleasant Boulevard. Ballyhack in Mount Pleasant is being developed as a members-only golf community. It features an 18-hole course and homesites one acre and up starting in the $170,000s. Loblolly Mill Estates in this area has been designed as a gated subdivision with lots starting at $185,000.
Further on, 116 travels over Windy Gap Mountain where developments feature contemporary homes on wooded lots, many with great views. Prices are in the $220,000 and up price range. The road then intersects Va. 122 at Burnt Chimney, which leads to Hales Ford Bridge, where the lake development first began.
Before reaching the shoreline, the road passes development in Moneta where new homes start just under $200,000 and apartments and condos also are available. Closer to the lake, Westlake Corner offers full service shopping, including a cinema. Bridgewater Plaza at Hales Ford Bridge bustles with activity year-round from visitors to restaurants and shops and also because of a variety of development that includes townhomes, condos and single-family lakefront properties.
Throughout the lake area, prices range for from $100,000 for a condo to more than $1 million, and up to $3 million. For lakefront property, one of the early built homes is likely to cost at least $350,000.
The area’s amenities are many and varied. The Vinton Dogwood Festival, begun in 1956 to raise money for William Byrd High School, developed into a regional event held each spring.
Roanoke River Greenway travels through a popular bird-watching spot in southeast and connects Roanoke City and Vinton and Tinker Creek Greenway.
Smith Mountain Lake, with its 500-mile shoreline offers sailing, bass fishing tournaments and a variety of festivals year-round. I