8 of the Most Expensive Mountain Towns in Virginia to Buy a Second Home

Written by Drew Wood
Updated: October 31, 2023
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Virginia is divided into three main geographic regions: the Appalachian Mountains in the West, the rolling foothills of the Piedmont in the center of the state, and the Tidewater, a flat coastal plain extending to the Chesapeake Bay. Each region has its own charm. Residents can choose between a bustling urban center, a peaceful suburb, or a rural, mountain village with natural beauty, wildlife, and a relaxed pace of life. Those who want all three decide to buy a vacation home in the mountains. In this article, we describe some of the most expensive mountain towns in Virginia, along with the average home prices.

Key Points

  • The most expensive places to live in Virginia are in the northern part of the state, with a number of exclusive suburbs of Washington D.C. on the southern side of the Potomac River.
  • In the mountainous western part of the state, the priciest houses are lakefront properties popular with affluent people and retirees.
  • Another expensive cluster of communities is in central Virginia, where the culture is shaped by historic institutions like the University of Virginia and the high culture of the wine country.
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley are other areas that attract people from other parts of the state. Towns and cities there offer easy access to gorgeous national parks, wildlife, and a variety of recreation in all seasons.

The Most Expensive Communities in Virginia

Arlington, Virgina - June 4, 2022: View of Downtown Arlington and Potomac River from the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge

Arlington, Va., and other suburbs of Washington, D.C. have the highest home prices in Virginia.

©PQN Studios/Shutterstock.com

The most expensive houses in the state are found in the greater Washington D.C. area. In the Northern Virginia suburbs, the most expensive community is Great Falls, a community to the northwest of D.C. on the Potomac River. The average home there costs an astounding $1.47 million dollars! This area has the obvious advantage of being close to the national center of power, for those employed by the government or in businesses that serve the needs of the capital and its metropolitan area. People who retire from jobs there, however, sometimes prefer to move to quieter, less congested parts of the state.

Mountain communities in Virginia are parts of the state where you are most likely to interact with people who have been local residents for generations, rather than the large number of out-of-state people who move into the northern and coastal metropolises. There is a more traditional feel to these towns that some people find appealing. They also offer convenient access to national parks, lakes, and rural areas where people who enjoy the outdoors can hike, hunt, fish, ski, and boat to their hearts’ content.

1. Union Hall

Fishing on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

Smith Mountain Lake is a hugely popular recreational site in south-central Virginia.

©Virginia State Parks / Flickr – License

Union Hall is a small community of about 1,100 people in Franklin County on the southwest shore of Smith Moutain Lake. This is the second-largest reservoir in the state, drawing retirees and vacationers from all over the state and region. The area has above-average public schools. The average home price in the community is $769,653.

2. Keswick

Silhouette of a glass of red wine and wine bottle at sunset with Virginia mountains in the background.

Keswick is in the wine country of central Virginia.

©MargJohnsonVA/Shutterstock.com

The town of Keswick is 7.5 miles to the southeast of Charlottesville in central Virginia. This is the heart of Virginia’s wine country, with some 80 wineries in the scenic rolling hills. It has a population of about 26,750 and the average home price is $741,388.

3. Charlottesville

Charlottesville’s biggest claim to fame is Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and the University of Virginia, which he founded. Today it is considered to be one of the 15 “Public Ivy” universities that draw top students and academics from around the world. The local culture is a fusion of genteel Virginia tradition and international influences. The town strictly controls development to maintain the historic and scenic charm of the area. About 47,000 people live there and the average home price is $559,000.

The Rotunda -- near completion of a multi-year renovation project. Located in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia

The Rotunda is the iconic heart of the University of Virginia, a Public Ivy League research university.

©ss9ug/Shutterstock.com

4. Harrisonburg

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a must-see, beautiful in every season.

©digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

Harrisonburg is a city of 52,000 in the Shenandoah Valley, framed by extraordinary views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a college town, the home of James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. Harrisonburg is a quiet, safe college town with nice shopping and dining opportunities. The average home price is $340,000 and some of the best neighborhoods are Reherd Acres, Pleasant Acres, and Sunrise Heights.

5. Lexington

Natural Bridge geological formation in Rockbridge County, Virginia

Natural Bridge is a 215-foot-high natural arch located just 14 miles from Lexington.

©AlizadaStudios/iStock via Getty Images

Lexington, population 7,300, is a city in the southern Shenandoah Valley. Even though the average home price is $312,647, most residents own their homes. It’s a mainly suburban community with a great many young professionals and the amenities they enjoy, such as specialty boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops. Lexington is a short drive from Natural Bridge and the George Washington National Forest. It’s one of the most beautiful mountain towns in Virginia.

6. Roanoke

Roanoke Mountain

Roanoke is the largest city in western Virginia.

©iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

About 100,000 people call Roanoke, Virginia home. It is by far the largest city in the western part of the state, located about 250 miles southwest of Washington D.C., and 50 miles north of the North Carolina border. Although it is a large modern metropolis, it is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is on the route of Skyline Drive, a scenic mountaintop route stretching from Waynesboro, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina. Natural beauty and wildlife abound in the region. People wanting a second home that is the best of both worlds can find one at an average cost of $275,000.

7. Bedford

Bedford is a town of 6,642 people located about halfway between the larger cities of Lynchburg and Roanoke. A commute to either city is only 30 minutes, so this makes Bedford a viable bedroom community for either city. It’s considered a pretty and quiet town, very family-oriented, with a lot of possibilities for outdoor activities. The median home price there is $259,900.

A lightning strike over the layered misty hills viewed from the blue ridge parkway, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Roanoke, Va., about 30 miles from Bedford.

©Bob Pool/Shutterstock.com

8. Big Stone Gap

Of all the mountain towns in Virginia on our list, Big Stone Gap is the most isolated. It is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia near the Kentucky border. The nearest large city is Kingsport, Tennessee, located a 49-minute drive to the southeast. Big Stone Gap was once named “Mineral City” and was a thriving iron- and coal-mining town. Developers hoped it would become the “Pittsburg of the South.” But over time the mining industry declined, and the city renamed itself for a nearby valley in the Appalachians. In recent decades Big Stone Gap has become more noted for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Much of the town has been updated and there are nice walking and biking trails and a children’s park. The average home price is $219,900.

Black Bear on a rock near water

Big Stone Gap is one of the best places to live if you want to be near plenty of Appalachian wildlife.

©Svetlana Foote/Shutterstock.com

Virginia is for Lovers

One of Virginia’s longstanding advertising mottos is “Virginia is for Lovers.” That’s true on more than one level. Lovers of any age can build romantic memories in the state’s cities, alongside beaches and mountains. But lovers of nature can also find much to appreciate in each region of the state. If you’re considering a mountain vacation home in Virginia and find those on this list outside your budget, check out the innumerable other mountain towns in Virginia, like Waynesboro, Staunton, Blacksburg, or Bristol. You just really can’t go wrong in a state that has so much to love.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images


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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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