Roanoke, Virginia

Best Places to Retire in Virginia


Roanoke (population 96,000) is located in the western part of the state, between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains. It is conveniently near both Interstate 81, which is the major north-south corridor, and the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.

The city has roots that date to the early 1800s but really began a period of rapid growth when it became a crossroad for the railroad, which later became the Norfolk and Western Railway. Today it is a regional resource center for transportation, manufacturing, entertainment, healthcare and much more. Its most visible landmark is the city’s 100-foot-tall illuminated star which has stood atop Mill Mountain for over 40 years. Roanoke is called the “Star City of the South” in the local area.

Roanoke is in an area with great natural beauty and exceptional amenities. It has a busy events calendar, a great many cultural opportunities, entertainment, recreation and outdoor activities, plus outstanding healthcare. It also has its own regional airport. The cost of living in the region ranks lower than the national average. Roanoke has been chosen as an “All-American City” five times.

Arts & Culture

The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge is the only full service arts agency west of Charlottesville. It services the cities and towns of Roanoke, Botetourt, Bath Patrick Franklin, Bedford, Floyd, Henry, Rockbridge, Amherst, Pulaski, and Montgomery counties. 

The Roanoke Symphony presents a full schedule of concerts including the Classics series of five concerts, three Pops concerts, Virtuosi Series of three matinee performances, as well as special events. 

Opera Roanoke performs in September, January, and June. 

Mill Mountain Theatre in downtown Roanoke is a Professional Regional Theatre. It offers Broadway quality in an off-Broadway setting.

Showtimers Theatre is a community theater that has been operating since 1951. 

EventZone is a non-profit organization that produces and manages events in Roanoke. 

Roanoke Festival in the Park presents artists and performers in a natural amphitheater setting. It also produces the International Wine Tour, FallFest on the Market and other events. 

Jefferson Center offers six event facilities, including the 1,000-seat Shaftman Performance Hall. It is a primary venue for Opera Roanoke, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.

Roanoke Civic Center is a premier exhibition and cultural complex. It features a spacious coliseum, theater and a multi-purpose hall. It presents major concerts and touring Broadway shows, other shows and special events, the Roanoke Symphony, and hosts many business and civic events. It is also home to the Roanoke Dazzle Basketball Team. 

Virginia Museum of Transportation, located in downtown Roanoke, has a collection that includes antique automobiles and variety of rolling stock including steam, diesel and electric locomotives, and an electric interurban streetcar. 

The O. Winston Link Museum is a part of the History Museum & Historical Society of Western Virginia. Opened in 2004, the museum exhibits the photographic works of Link who captured a remarkable record of the giant steam locomotives, the machinery, and technology that played a central role in building America. He also captured the small town way of life in the region. 

Art Museum of Western Virginia features a permanent collection of 19th and 20th century American art, decorative arts and works by Southern artists. It also offers exhibitions. 

History Museum & Historical Society of Western Virginia has permanent exhibits that feature the history of Southwest Virginia from prehistoric time to the present. It also has galleries for changing exhibits. 

Mill Mountain Zoo is a 3 Ω-acre site that offers exhibits plus 50 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. It has a Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopards, Red Pandas, Japanese Macaques and much more. 


The Roanoke area offers outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation and sports. Among its many choices are canoeing, kayaking, caving, hiking the Appalachian Trail or Peaks of Otter, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. There are also tennis facilities and a number of challenging golf courses to choose from.

George Washington & Jefferson National Forests is a 1.9 million acre site that offers hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horse trails, ATV trails, picnic sites, and scenic areas. 

Nearby Smith Mountain Lake is Virginia’s biggest lake with over 20,000 acres and than 500 miles of shoreline. It offers great opportunities for boating, fishing and other water sports. 

The spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, known for its magnificent views and its access to the natural and cultural history of the Appalachians, passes just west of the city. It extends 469 miles and connects the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains Parks. There are many opportunities to pull off at overlooks to enjoy the views or picnic. There are trails and camping facilities as well as cultural and natural areas. (National Parks Service) 

(Blue Ridge Parkway Association) 

Luray Caverns is a U.S. Natural Landmark. It is known for the variety of formations and natural color. 

Natural Bridge, a National Historic Landmark, offers a scenic nature trail, a living history of an 18th century Virginia Monacan Indian Village, and a sound and light show. 

Virginia’s Explore Park offers a busy event schedule, with “something for everyone.” Activities include trail races, festivals and commemorative events, workshops and historic programs, special events for Seniors, summer concerts, a Fourth of July celebration, and much more.

Salem Avalanche Baseball in Salem (6.9 miles) is a Class “A” minor league professional baseball team. It is an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The stadium is a $10 million facility with sky boxes and picnic areas. 

Roanoke Dazzle minor league professional basketball games are played at the Roanoke Civic Center. 

Virginia Tech is located 35 miles away in Blacksburg. It offers major college athletic games with competitive teams in all the major sports. 


Virginia Western Community College is a two-year public institution with an enrollment of about 7,300 students. 

Hollins University was founded in 1842 as the first women’s college in Virginia. It is a private not-for-profit institution that is nationally acclaimed for its liberal arts and science programs. Enrollment is just over 1,000 students. It also offers co-ed graduate programs. 

Roanoke College (Salem) is a Lutheran-related co-educational four-year liberal arts college Enrollment is 1,900 students. 

Senior Programs

The Department of Parks and Recreation manages the Addison, Breckinridge, Jackson, and Woodrow Wilson Fitness Facilities, serving more than 2,000 senior adults.

The department also offers a number of activities for persons “50 plus.” Included are trips, cards and games, and activities – both wellness and social.


Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital is a full-service acute care facility and is classified as a Level I Trauma Center. The hospital is also a major teaching affiliate for the University of Virginia School of Medicine. 

Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital is the leading referral source for women’s and children care. The hospital shares staff with nearby Memorial Hospital. 


Roanoke Regional Airport is a full service airport with over 70 scheduled arriving or departing flights daily. 


Average temperatures for January are a high of 44 degrees and a low of 25 degrees. The averages for July are a high of 86 degrees and a low of 65 degrees. Snowfall in January averages just 4 inches, with about 7 more inches in February. 


The Roanoke Times – 

Property Taxes

Commissioner of the Revenue, City of Roanoke (Personal Property Taxes)

Commissioner of The Revenue (Real Estate Tax)

(The Commonwealth of Virginia has a unique local government configuration. Cities and counties are entirely separate jurisdictions, and you either pay city or county taxes, but not both.)

State Taxes 

Chamber of Commerce 

State Aging Agency 


Vinton – 4.2 miles
Hollins – 4.3 miles
Cave Spring – 4.6 miles
Salem – 6.9 miles
Daleville – 10 miles
Troutville – 11 miles
Blacksburg – 35 miles
Lynchburg – 55 miles
Greensboro, NC – 83 miles
Richmond – 186 miles

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