What Are The 5 Best Neighborhoods In Roanoke, Virginia?

Kirbee Anderson
by Kirbee Anderson

Roanoke, Virginia is a small city resting in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a stopping point for the Appalachian Trail, and the best neighborhoods throughout Roanoke maintain some small-town charm. The city has a less expensive cost of living, but the trade-off is that it does have fewer amenities than larger cities.

Neighborhoods range from an almost rural atmosphere at Mill Mountain to a trendy urban village at Grandin Village. Several neighborhoods make the most of their local businesses by creating mini downtowns throughout the city. If this sounds appealing, check out South Roanoke and Old Southwest Roanoke.

Read on to learn more about some of the best options for neighborhoods in Roanoke to see whether the city is a good fit for you.

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What to Know about Roanoke Before Moving

Roanoke can be a hard place to find employment outside of the medical industry. The major sources of employment in town are the Carilion Medical Center and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Outside of that industry, there are not many opportunities for upper-level, professional positions.

The first medical school class entered the school of medicine in 2010, so it is still early to see how the medical school may shape the culture and job opportunities in the town. Ideally, more businesses will flesh out the neighborhoods surrounding the school bring additional jobs to the area.

Roanoke should not be confused with the Roanoke Colony. Today’s Roanoke is actually land-locked in western Virginia and is about an hour and fifteen minutes west of Lynchburg. One of the best parts about the area is that it is quite near the Appalachian Trail. Heading out for a weekend hike and camp, or longer, is very convenient from Roanoke.

You will find affordable home prices; the median price is only $156,000. Even those with lower wages will be able to get in on homeownership, which is necessary given the per capita income of only $28,752. Don’t worry, there are plenty of luxury homes and estates available in Roanoke at higher price points.

Roanoke also offers very mild weather compared to the rest of the country. It benefits from average highs no higher than the upper 80s, and temperatures rarely go below freezing.

Roanoke lacks the wide variety of neighborhoods you see in larger cities, so it may not be a good fit for everyone. Use this article to check out a few of the best neighborhoods.

5 Best Neighborhoods in Roanoke, Virginia

1. Mill Mountain

Mill Mountain is in the southeast corner of Roanoke, and is known for its great single-family homes as well as the nearby attractions of the Mill Mountain Zoo and Park as well as two greenways. This is the best neighborhood in Roanoke for those who love the outdoors.

You will find a variety of homes in Mill Mountain. There are the average single-family homes, historic homes that need some fixing up, and luxury estates that near $1 million.

The park itself is over 900 acres of open space filled with trails and bike paths, and of course, the zoo is the perfect place to spend a sunny day. This is the highest point in the area, so you’ll also find some great views and scenic overlooks.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants around the base of the mountain, and the medical center is also in this area. Even if you work downtown rather than at the medical center, your commute should still be reasonable since it is only a couple of miles away.

Overall, Mill Mountain is a good area for people who prioritize access to the outdoors and open space.

  • Walk Score: 1
  • Bike Score: 12
  • Transit Score: 26

2. South Roanoke

Also on the southeast side of town, South Roanoke is a favorite neighborhood with families. Be warned, this is also one of the most expensive areas in Roanoke. The median home price is $437,000, almost three times that of the median price of Roanoke as a whole.

These high home prices come with a really desirable neighborhood. First, the medical school is in South Roanoke, so of course, that brings a certain demand. But there’s also a small town center on Crystal Spring Avenue. You will find sports bars, fine dining, and even an old-time soda fountain.

Both the education levels and household incomes in South Roanoke have increased significantly in the last decade.

Roanoke’s Strategic Housing Plan calls this neighborhood an “Urban Advantage Neighborhood.” This designation is given to neighborhoods that have unique characteristics that differentiate it from other parts of the city. These characteristics indicate that the neighborhood is a small community in itself and has things like a strong commercial area, integrated housing types, good walkability, and neighborhood “anchors” like schools and churches.

One of the selling points of the neighborhood is that an old-fashioned trolley shuttles people to and from downtown Roanoke.

As far as homes in South Roanoke, you will find a good variety of architectural styles. Many of the homes are historical in nature given that the area was settled over 300 years ago. One of the most common types of home design is the foursquare, but you will see a variety reflecting the different styles throughout the long history of the area.

  • Walk Score: 42
  • Bike Score: 27
  • Transit Score: 28

3. Downtown Roanoke

Downtown may not be an option that comes to mind when you think of Roanoke, Virginia, but it is indeed a popular neighborhood! Roanoke’s downtown is the best neighborhood for people who would prefer city living.

The city center does not have skyscraper condos and apartments, but it does have condos and apartments in renovated commercial buildings. Being able to live in a former department store or cotton mill is definitely a conversation starter!

There are also plenty of townhomes and single-family houses thrown in. The best part is that prices start at under $200,000, but they do range way up in price for some of the most luxurious options.

In addition to plenty of businesses, downtown has shopping and Elmwood Park for some outdoor space. This part of Roanoke is home to the symphony, the Mill Mountain Theater, and the Science Museum of Western Virginia.

  • Walk Score: 86
  • Bike Score: 76
  • Transit Score: 50

4. Old Southwest

Just a few blocks from the city center is Old Southwest Roanoke. This is the best neighborhood for a sense of community.

This neighborhood lays claim to one of the largest historic districts in Virginia. It has won several awards like the Best Neighborhood Project of the Year and the Best Neighborhood Organization of the Year.

The neighborhood maintains its historic feel through single-family homes with older architecture, unique colors, and stained glass windows. The well-kept parks in Old Southwest further lend to the old-time style while embracing modern amenities. Amid the old oak trees of Highland Park are a disc golf course and a dog park!

The neighborhood community association arranges events big and small for the neighborhood, and residents can access an online calendar of events to stay up-to-date. One of the major events is the Parlor Tour of Homes to celebrate the 100-year-old-plus homes in the neighborhood. Smaller events include neighborhood potlucks and Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which connects people willing to donate their time to residents needing help with home upkeep.

The median home price in this neighborhood is $225,500. While that is above the median price for Roanoke as a whole, it’s still on the low side for the United States overall.

  • Walk Score: 67
  • Bike Score: 68
  • Transit Score: 42

5. Grandin Village

Roanoke does have a part of town that is part neighborhood and part tourist attraction – Grandin Village. Grandin Village is by far the coolest neighborhood in Roanoke.

This neighborhood describes itself as a “fun, walkable urban village.” Urban villages are areas that are planned as mixed-use communities where people can live, work, and play in the same highly bikeable and walkable area. Grandin Village is actually a very early example of an urban village, and it dates back to the early 1920s.

Grandin Village focuses on the local and eclectic. Even the movie theater is independently and locally owned. You will find many outdoor dining and shopping options with a variety of local and ethnic cuisines. There is also a bank, spa, and salon in the village.

There is a big emphasis on farm-to-table in Grandin Village demonstrated through popular restaurant menus and frequent farmers markets.

The neighborhood places an emphasis on embracing the eclectic. Vintage clothing shops, quirky antique shops, and local artisans all have a place in the retail environment there. In total, there are over 80 businesses in just one square mile.

Homes, even new builds, maintain an old-fashioned aesthetic. Prices are above the Roanoke average, but they fall into a wide range depending on the style of the home. This is one part of town where you can easily find rentals and condos, and even some mixed-use housing with housing above retail.

  • Walk Score: 37
  • Bike Score: 31
  • Transit Score: 26

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Takeaways Regarding Roanoke, Virginia Neighborhoods

As with all cities, the best neighborhood in Roanoke is the best one that fits your budget and lifestyle. Roanoke has some advantages on the budget front as it has a low median home price and a less competitive real estate market than many areas.

While land-locked cities of Roanoke’s size are not everyone’s cup of tea, it does have great access to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and plenty of local outdoor space at Mill Mountain. Neighborhoods throughout Roanoke provide tiny communities based around local businesses and community events. This makes Roanoke a great fit for those who put a priority on community connection.

Kirbee Anderson
Kirbee Anderson

Kirbee is a licensed attorney and real estate broker, but DIY projects of all kinds call to her. Kirbee loves being at home with her husband, daughter, and dog and investing her time and energy into projects to make their home a unique and comfortable place for all of them. Her favorite projects include gardening, building new items, and creating solutions to manage clutter.

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