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D.C. area is biggest source of new RVA residents, Census Bureau data shows

The Richmond metro area has been growing, and new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows where people are moving from — especially the D.C. suburbs, Hampton Roads and the New York and Philadelphia areas. RVA also receives a lot of international migration, particularly from Asia. The data also shows where former Richmonders move to — notably, Atlanta.



By Hannah Eason

Kayla Walker is from the Virginia Beach area but moved to Richmond to pursue a pharmaceutical career. She says diversity, better opportunities and Virginia Commonwealth University’s pharmacy program influenced her decision.

“There’s literally all walks of life in Richmond, versus in Virginia Beach, it’s very military- and family-based,” Walker said. “In Richmond, it’s sort of a whole spectrum of people.”

Walker was one of more than 60,000 people who moved to the Richmond metro area since 2013. The area’s population increased by about 5% during that time period, and new data shows where new Richmond residents have moved from.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data estimating how many people moved from one place to another. The data shows the migration between metro areas, states and counties.

“These data tables highlight the geographic mobility of people between counties, metropolitan statistical areas, minor civil divisions in some states, and municipalities (municipios) in Puerto Rico,” the U.S. Census Bureau stated in releasing the statistics. “The five-year data provide estimates of in-migration, out-migration and net migration of movers and nonmovers between origin and destination of these geographies.”

The Richmond metro area — which includes the cities of Richmond and Petersburg; the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover; and 12 other localities — has seen about 10,000 people move annually from the Washington, D.C., area in recent years. The numbers are estimates from surveys conducted by the bureau, and they have a margin of error. The influx of people from D.C., for example, could be 1,000 higher or lower.

At the same time, about 7,000 people a year moved from the Richmond area to the D.C. area. So the Richmond area had a net gain from the Washington region of about 3,000 people annually, according to the Census Bureau.

Richmond also saw a large amount of migration from the Virginia Beach-Norfolk metro area — about 7,900 people relocated from Tidewater to River City a year. Around 6,300 Richmond residents went in the opposite direction — giving the state capital region a net gain of about 1,600 people a year from Tidewater.

Internationally, approximately 3,000 people migrated to Richmond from Asia, and 1,000 from Europe.

The data shows that the Richmond area also had net gains in migration from the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area (more than 1,700 people per year); the Philadelphia metro area (about 650 annually); Lynchburg (around 550); and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area (about 450).

The Census Bureau estimated that about 500 people moved to Richmond from the Atlanta, Georgia, area. At the same time, however, almost 1,500 people moved from Richmond to the Atlanta region, making a net loss of about 1,000 for RVA.

Grayson Glueck, owner of social media company Grayson Media, was one of the estimated 7,000 people who moved from Richmond to the D.C. area last year.

After graduating from Radford University, she moved to Richmond in 2017. In 2018, she moved to Fredericksburg and started developing her social media marketing, photography and videography company.

“Both places I lived in Richmond had less traffic and people than I have now,” Glueck said. “Where I live now, if you leave between four and five you’re stuck in bumper to bumper.”

Chris Joseph, a real estate agent with 28 years of experience, says there are many reasons the Richmond area is attractive to D.C.-area residents, such as lower taxes, affordability and easy access to the ocean and mountains.

Joseph says many businesses are opening offices in the Central Virginia region, and the ability to work remotely from Richmond has become more common. With transportation options like carpooling, Amtrak and driving on Interstate 95, living in Richmond and commuting to D.C. is still a common option.

“The distance between Richmond and DC is getting shorter and shorter, but takes a lot of time and is very expensive,” the RE/MAX Commonwealth associate broker said. “It’s much more affordable and less stressful when it comes to commuting.”

Recent college graduate Mohamed Bushra moved from Richmond to the D.C. metro area after getting a job at the Embassy of Qatar.

“I wanted to come back to where I grew up,” Bushra said, “and D.C. is a much bigger city with more opportunities.”

While he is closer to his job living in Springfield, he says traffic and affordability are still prominent issues.

“If you’re looking for a one-bedroom, in Richmond you can get that for like $1,000, and I used to think that was expensive,” Bushra said. “But over here, you can pay $2,000 for a studio apartment, and it’s tiny.”

Working in the public relations department of the embassy, and serving as “the connection between the diplomats and the outside world in the U.S.,” Bushra says the traffic can be overwhelming.

He says it often takes him about 90 minutes to drive to work each morning, and a five-mile trip can frequently take him half an hour.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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