Surprising trends in Virginia's population
The latest review of population trends in the Commonwealth offers several surprises. First, says demographer Hamilton Lombard, people are fleeing Northern Virginia.
“The rise in housing prices – Northern Virginia has the most expensive housing on the east coast – is almost certainly a factor in helping push more people out. Since 2020 from Manassas to Potomac, that section of Northern Virginia has lost population.”
Many are leaving the state, but some are heading south.
“Richmond is one of the top destinations for people leaving Northern Virginia, and that’s fueled a lot of its growth," Lombard explains. "Chesterfield County added more new residents than any other county in the state since 2020.”
Hampton Roads is also losing population, but Lombard says some coastal counties are growing along with mountain communities.
“Ones over towards the Chesapeake Bay, parts of the Northern Neck – areas like Richmond County, Westmoreland, or overall in the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies – Craig County, Bath and Highland have grown in population.“
Lombard says remote work facilitates the move away from cities with expensive real estate and traffic congestion.
“The amount of working remotely has not declined for at least a year and a half. If remote work is going to stick around, the future for places like Northern Virginia is really uncertain. Northern Virginia has the federal government. It’s always going to be an attractive place in a certain sense, but it’s very expensive.”
He also notes that immigrants from other countries have helped to keep Virginia’s population growing.