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A Definitive Guide to Living in Roanoke, VA

Are you a prospective mover considering living in Roanoke, VA this year? Rent-a-Space offers resources to help you settle into your new home and get to know the neighborhood, including affordable storage units in Roanoke, VA and its surrounding areas. The city has lots to explore, whether you prefer nature or a downtown scene. Check out our Ultimate Mover’s Guide to Roanoke VA for our recommendations on the best places to eat and visit!

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Explore the Economy

Quick Facts

Population: 99,143

Median Home Value: $135,100

Median Household Income: $44,230

Historically, Roanoke’s economy has been built around the manufacturing and transportation sectors. Indeed, Roanoke, VA was formerly the headquarters of Norfolk and Western Railway until its merger with the Southern Railway created the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982. Currently, Norfolk Southern continues to operate maintenance facilities and a rail yard in Roanoke, although its marketing department has since moved out and closed its downtown office building in 2015. Still, the manufacturing and transportation sectors continue to be dominant factors in the Roanoke economy, largely due to the city’s central location within the Western Virginia area.

Beyond the city’s manufacturing and transportation industries, Roanoke, VA is noted as a large health care and retail hub. Notable employers and companies headquartered within the area include Advance Auto Parts, the Valley View Mall, New Horizons Healthcare, and the city’s largest healthcare employer, the Carilion Clinic. Formerly known as Carilion Health System, this Virginia-based non-profit integrated health care organization provides care for nearly one million Virginians and West Virginians, and is responsible for the employment of 13,200 employees, with 737 physicians covering more than 70 specialties at 225 practice sites. Indeed, a recent economic study conducted by Carilion has noted the following impact on the Roanoke region:

  • Carilion Clinic contributed more than $3.2 billion to the state’s economy and supported nearly 24,000 jobs in 2018, the year before the health system announced a $1 billion expansion.
  • Carilion’s impact accounted for nearly 10% of the Roanoke metropolitan statistical area’s $17 billion gross domestic product that year.
  • Carilion is Virginia’s largest private employer west of Richmond and has a $1 billion annual payroll.
  • The company directly employed 13,317 people during its 2018 fiscal year and contracted with another 4,100 Virginians as vendors.

Moving forward, Roanoke, VA’s economy is expected to trend toward growth, an outlook largely influenced by the city’s overall affordability, as well as its diverse talent pool as dictated by the area’s collection of universities and medical centers. Are you a prospective mover considering living in Roanoke, VA this year? Be sure to consider the city’s diverse and promising economic outlook prior to planning your visit this year!

Explore the Culture

Culturally, Roanoke, VA is an exciting city, and the city is notably host to a number of significant theaters, museums, performance centers, and more. Pictured above, perhaps Roanoke’s most signature cultural attraction is the Taubman Museum of Art. Formerly the Art Museum of Western Virginia, the Taubman Museum is an art museum in the heart of Downtown Roanoke that features a permanent collection of more than 2,000 works of art, including prominent 19th- and early 20th-century American art, as well as significant modern and contemporary art, photography, design, and decorative arts, and several smaller collections including Southern folk art. Notable artists featured within the museum include Norman Rockwell, George Inness, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence, and Audrey Flack, among many others.

Additionally, beyond the city’s museum and theater scene, Roanoke is noted to host a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Chili Cook-Off, Festival in the Park, Local Colors Festival, Henry Street Festival, Big Lick Blues Festival, and Strawberry Festival. Of the aforementioned, Roanoke’s Festival in the Park is perhaps the city’s largest celebration. Celebrated annually in September since 1968, this festival is a multi-day event that features numerous musical and entertainment acts, kids activities, commercial exhibits, an exhibition from the antique car club of Roanoke, various food vendors highlighting local Roanoke restaurants, and much, much more.

Are you a prospective mover considering living in Roanoke, VA this year? Be sure to take note of the city’s diverse and exciting cultural scene, including the city’s numerous theaters, festivals, museums and more!

Explore the Cuisine

Overall, Roanoke, Virginia’s culinary scene is remarkedly diverse, and the city is host to a number of celebrated restaurants highlighting a variety of culinary styles. We’ve highlighting a few of our favorite Roanoke area restaurants you might want to consider visiting below. Be sure to check some of them out this year!

  • Viet Sub – Viet Sub is a sandwich shop specializing in Vietnamese banh mi in a no-frills setting with outdoor seating. Despite their limited menu, this Roanoke staple is known for their generous portions, and affordable prices.
  • The River and Rail Restaurant – At The River and Rail serves Southern bistro-style cuisine in an elegant and elevated restaurant setting. Executive Chef Tyler Thomas is noted for his use of locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients in his menu that includes NC Catfish, Black Angus Hanger Steak, Black Grouper and more. This restaurant is the ideal setting for a romantic date night, or a celebration event such as an anniversary, or graduation party.
  • Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint – Established in 2009, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint is a joint venture between two childhood best friends, Aaron Ludwig and Mike Sabin. This casual bar-chain serves a variety of creative burgers, and is noted to feature an extensive craft-beer list showcasing numerous local brews.
  • Local Roots – Local Roots Restaurant is a casual contemporary-American restaurant that offers a menu highlighting the absolute best of the Roanoke region, from locally-farmed and sourced vegetables and meat to the handcrafted dining room tables produced by area artisans. Menu highlights include a local cheese board, the LR Pappardelle, and the restaurant’s signature dish, their Brasstown Beef Sirloin.
  • TJs Backyard BBQ – Frequently cited as Roanoke, VA’s “Best Barbeque Restaurant”, TJ’s is a casual barbeque eatery that specializes in a variety of smoked meats, and a number of mouth-watering sides. Highlights of their menu include the restaurant’s Smoked Brisket, Rib Tips, Chicken Wings, and more!

Alternatively, beyond the city’s culinary scene, Roanoke, Virginia is host to a number of celebrated and innovative breweries, brewpubs, and distilleries, such as:

  • Big Lick Brewing Company, LLC – Located in the heart of Downtown Roanoke, Big Lick Brewing Company is Downtown Roanoke’s premier brewery, beer garden and taproom. Overall, this brewery produces craft beer with an emphasis on quality and variety, and the venue features an extensive outdoor seating area frequently used for events and celebrations.
  • Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and Brewery – Originally opened in Charlottesville, VA in 2013, Three Notch’d Brewing Company has since expanded to add additional locations in Roanoke and Virginia Beach. This brewpub is known for their innovative craft beer selection, as well as their elevated pub-style menu.
  • A Few Old Goats Brewing –  Originally opening in 2018 as a 2-barrel nano-brewery located on the west end of Downtown Roanoke, A Few Old Goats Brewing features a rotating draft-list of small and seasonal batches of beer. Additionally, this brewery hosts food trucks on a near weekly basis. Stop in today!

Are you a prospective mover considering living in Roanoke, VA this year? Be sure to take note of the city’s diverse and exciting culinary scene, including the area’s numerous exemplary restaurants and breweries!

Explore the Excitement

Largely due to its location between the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke is an excellent site for avid hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers. Notably the city’s surrounding area is host to a number of acclaimed and celebrated hiking trails and destinations, including the Sharp Top Mountain hike, Apple Orchards Falls, the Mill Mountain Star Trail, and McAfee Knob. Of the aforementioned, McAfee Knob is the most notable of the hikes. Indeed, McAfee Knob is one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, and a bucket list item for hikers around the world. Over the course of its 4.4 mile climb, hikers will ascend to a peak of 3,197 feet that offers spectacular panoramic views of the immediate surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain area. This is one hike every outdoor enthusiast should consider if they are ever in the Roanoke, VA area.

During the winter these same mountain ranges provide a recreational area for winter sports, including cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowmobiling. Notable area ski resorts include the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre in Lynchburg, VA, Wintergreen Ski Resort, and the Omni Homestead Resort in Hotsprings, VA. The Liberty Mountain Snowlflex Centre is of particular note, specializing in year-round mountain activities open to Liberty University students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Developed by Briton Engineering, Snowflex is a synthetic multilayered material that simulates the effects of snow, and the facility currently offers a variety of ski and snowboarding runs, tubing runs, and an Olympic trampoline where visitors can practice aerial tricks.

Are you a prospective mover considering living in Roanoke, VA this year? Be sure to take some time to visit the area’s natural attractions, including its many hiking trails within the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Find Storage Units in Roanoke, VA

As seen, Roanoke, VA is an exciting and diverse city, and the city is notable due to its growing economy, its wealth of spectacular restaurants and breweries, as well as its abundance of natural attractions and cultural attractions. So, now that you’ve read through our city-guide, and you’re considering living in Roanoke, VA; what are your next steps? Look no further than Rent-a-Space in Roanoke, VA!

When you need to store your items for your move, come to Rent-a-Space. We have two self storage facilities in Roanoke VA, as well as one nearby in Salem to serve you. Our Roanoke locations are on Valley Avenue and Patrick Road, and they offer drive-up, temperature-controlled, and interior storage options to help you tackle any organizational project. Storage experts are available on-site or over the phone to answer any questions about the storage process. Talk them through your needs, and they can help match you to the right features and size storage unit. One you find your storage, stop by our storage office to stock up on packing supplies, like boxes and bubble wrap. Rent or reserve your storage unit online today!

Rent-a-Space on Valley Avenue · Rent-a-Space on Patrick Road

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Paige Weary

About the Author: Paige is a Social Media Coordinator at Storage Asset Management in York, PA. She brings the most useful storage tips and tricks to your social media feed and loves a good self-storage pun. Beyond work, Paige spends her free time traveling extensively, her most recent trip being the Andes Mountain region of Bolivia.