By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent
The Tidewater area of Virginia is especially scenic because of the waterways that meander from the Chesapeake Bay. Tidal rivers, such as the York, James, Chickahominy and Rappahannock Rivers are great for boating, fishing and other watersports. Tidal rivers are fed by estuaries, streams, canals and coves and are often connected to deeper waters.
The geographic area of Tidewater, Virginia begins in Virginia Beach and extends as far west as New Kent County and the western shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay, also known as the Northern Neck. There are many desirable places to live the waterfront lifestyle. Avid boaters and fisherman choose the Tidewater area for retirement because they enjoy these activities, or they have wanted to live on the water. There are some ideally situated waterfront homes and lots for sale in the waterfront communities, some include piers, while others have marinas and other recreational facilities.
This overview will highlight waterfront properties for sale, waterfront communities and likely places to find waterfront property in these areas. They include: Williamsburg, York and James City Counties, Gloucester, Gloucester Point, Mathews and Lancaster. This article will exclude waterfront homes on the Southside of Tidewater - Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Here, waterfront home prices may trend higher, because these waterfront properties are located in desirable urban markets.
Buyers need to simply be willing to travel twenty to thirty minutes from an urban area to find better pricing on comfortable waterfront living. A buyer who has the luxury of searching outside an urban area will find a choice of properties in a more rural setting for a more affordable price than urban waterfront homes.
Waterfront homes in a rural area are well worth owning because they provide access to rivers and bays, brackish or salt water, and are often situated on larger pieces of property. Waterfront properties can be held as investment properties, rented for part of or the entire year. Or, they may be primary residences or second homes.
The waterfront home market is beginning to ignite once again, as many put the recession behind them, or decide to retire in their fifties or early sixties. Having a waterfront home is a lifestyle choice and those who choose it are willing to pay for the luxury of being on the water. Many who own waterfront homes also own boats and they want their own dock so they can use their boat at their leisure.
Here are some great examples of waterfront communities in rural Virginia that provide access to the water and in many cases – additional amenities any boater will covet. Many recreation communities also provide facilities to lead an active physical and social life, too.
The Colonies is an established waterfront community in New Kent County, Virginia, just 20 minutes west of Williamsburg and 25 minutes from Richmond Airport. The Colonies is a longstanding bedroom community of waterfront homes. Grocery stores are only 10 minutes away. Even though New Kent is a rural county, amenities are not faraway, making the location convenient. For some locals, The Colonies are a well-kept secret.
Situated on large 2-6 acre lots, many of the homes are waterfront, some are not. Woods and other natural features are well preserved on these properties, adding to the scenic, tranquil setting.
There is a home currently for sale on Colony Trail, with a property on the shoreline of the Chickahominy River. This property comes with a wood pier, so it appeals to boaters who want this convenience. Another waterfront property in The Colonies that is currently available is on Island Trail, where a pier is being constructed. The seller intends to attract a buyer with a boat who wants to live a suburban lifestyle.
Heritage Point in Lancaster, Virginia, is a remote location. This particular waterfront community is located at the northernmost point on the Northern Neck, not far from the Rappahannock River. This recreation community includes a marina, boat ramp, clubhouse, pool, beach, tennis, basketball and deep water access for boating. Although Heritage Point is situated at least an hour’s drive from urban areas, these homes are perfect as a second home or a retirement dwelling and ideal for boaters. Home sites are available in this community.
Multiple waterfront properties are available in these locations, also known as the Northern Neck: Gloucester, Gloucester Point and Mathews, Virginia. These are affordable places to purchase waterfront homes. Southern access to these remote areas is restricted by a bridge across the York River. Here the homebuyer may find almost any type of waterfront home, from a seaman’s cottage, to a single-family residence, to an historic mansion.
Just across the York River from Gloucester Point is York County, Virginia. Here, waterfront living is enjoyed in the seaside town of Seaford; this northeastern tip of land is perfect for waterfront properties, some on the York River, and other properties overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.
This often-ignored area is where the Mattaponi and Pamunky Rivers meet. Scenic waterfront properties can be found here. West Point is not only known for its waterways, but also its excellent schools. Families wanting to enjoy the waterfront lifestyle may find West Point appealing, so will professionals from the Richmond or Williamsburg areas, because it offers a convenient commute to either city.
For many, purchasing a waterfront home is the dream of a lifetime. Perhaps it is the tranquility and beauty of living next to a body of water that is appealing. Or, maybe the idea of boarding a boat docked on the property and enjoying a leisurely day on the water is a desirable way to spend time. Buyers who want waterfront properties need to look more extensively at the selection of homes in the Tidewater Virginia region - outside of urban areas - where the waterman’s way of life has been practiced for centuries.