Housing Options for VCU Postdoctoral Scholars
We recommend that you wait until you arrive in Richmond to lease an apartment for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to determine from the internet an apartment’s true condition, distance from campus, safety of an area or the character of a potential roommate. Apartments are available at varying prices, within walking and biking distance from the university. The estimated cost for a one-bedroom, unfurnished apartment is $850-$1000 per month. Two-bedroom, unfurnished apartments rent for $900-$1,300 per month. Most landlords require a one-year lease and a security deposit, usually equal to one or two months’ rent.
Temporary housing (short-term while locating more permanent housing)
Some postdocs have found the AirBnB website to be an option for locating temporary housing.
Contact the VCU Postdoctoral Association (PDA), they may be able to connect you with someone who can help you with temporary housing: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a few Student Organizations such as the Indian student Organization or Chinese Student Organization that could provide information about temporary and more long-term housing in the Richmond area.
International postdocs are also encouraged to contact International Student & Scholar Programs at email@example.com for additional assistance in locating temporary housing.
Location of the VCU campus
The VCU campus is in the center of the city of Richmond. It has both a west campus (Monroe Park Campus) and an east campus (MCV Campus). Click here for maps of the campus.
Virginia Commonwealth University signed a three-year paid agreement with the Greater Richmond Transit Company, effective August 1, 2019, to fund unlimited transportation access on Pulse Bus Rapid Transit, local and express routes for all VCU, VCU Health System and Virginia Premier students and employees.
There is shuttle bus service – RamRide - that is free to VCU faculty, staff and students with a vaild VCUCard that travels to VCU’s remote parking facilities Monday through Friday.
If you prefer to be within walking or biking distance of the VCU campus you will want to consider areas such as “Shockoe slip or bottom,” and “the Fan.” The Fan is closer to the Monroe Park campus where many of our undergraduate students reside, so this is likely to be a bit more active (and noisy) than if you look in the Shockoe area which is closer to our MCV campus.
Resources for locating longer-term housing options
The following housing advice and options have been identified by current VCU postdocs.
I'd definitely recommend postdocs to contact their prospective lab-mate for suggestions about where to live.
Contact the Postdoc Association (PDA) at VCU and ask to be connected to someone with similar situations (firstname.lastname@example.org). For example, I have a dog so finding a dog friendly place or a place with a yard would have been useful.
Many MCV professional staff live in properties owned by Main Street Reality.
I've found that living right on the cusp of Church Hill @ 2001 East Broad Street to be really nice in terms of recreational opportunities and easy access to restaurants, bars, groceries, a pharmacy, etc. It is also very convenient for walking to work, which I do each day. Here is the website: www.2001east.com. More generally, I know lots of postdocs who live in the area between 19th and 20th St, bounded by East Main and East Broad.
If children aren't an issue, I would recommend the Near West End, West End, the Fan, Oregon Hill, Church Hill (All streets south of P street) and Forest Hill Ave.
I ended up renting a house so far in South Richmond, that I basically live in Chester. The commute is 20-25 minutes to VCU, and is pretty far from all major attractions, and major Richmond draws. I would not recommend living that far out for new postdocs...it’s very isolating. We are moving in a week and a half to a new rental house in the Near West End, in Henrico Co. In general, this area is very close to most attractions, is safe, and is only 8-12 minutes away from VCU. Although I don't have children, I know this area and the West End have good schools - something that might be important to people wanting to live near the school, but with school age children.
I used a lot of online resources, mainly zillow.com, as well as the Virginia Master List, available through many real estate company websites as it has a rental section. With these services, they should list the rental company actually in charge of the property, and I've found it best look up and directly contact the rental company, rather than trying to go through a website referral contact.
The Richmond police crime index might also come in handy when looking at where to live.
Honest advice about rental companies in Richmond, that I have learned on my own, and have heard from others since moving here: some of the rental property owners are pretty much slumlords. I would recommend that you check out all companies online before seeing a house/property, so you can see the online reviews that others have left.
I think a map of areas around Richmond and their 'livable' descriptions is helpful in locating housing ... something like www.areavibes.com/richmond-va/neighborhoods/ or www.frontdoor.com/places/5-great-neighborhoods-in-richmond or even something that is on the grad student page.
I live in the near West End, near the corner of Patterson and Three Chopt. For someone looking to rent a house and/or not live in the downtown I recommend the area. Houses are usually not listed online so you would have to drive through the area and look for ‘For Rent’ signs.
Housing on Franklin Street is an extremely popular choice for postdocs and grad students
Couple with school going children: West End remains popular choice provided they own a car to drive to Downtown Richmond (Buses are less frequent and no service on weekend)
I probably do not have the greatest recognition of best places to live in Richmond because 1) I am not from Richmond, I'm not American and I have lived here only 2 years, 2) I do not have a car and I have never been outside of downtown Richmond, 3) I do not have any family. But below I am sending some links for apartment buildings in Shockoe area, where I live, that is within 10 min walking from MCV campus and in my opinion it is very good place to live, if somebody wants to live in apartment downtown. For example, my 1 bedroom apartment with everything included (water, electricity, AC/heating, tv, internet, parking) is 1000$.
Be prepared to see a lot of poorly maintained apartments, particularly in the Fan because it caters to undergrads. Keep into account that cheaper/older apartments can get expensive quick once you consider how much they cost to heat/cool. Be sure to visit the neighborhood that you might move into at night in addition to during the day--there are some areas in Richmond that you won't want to be walking around at night. The Richmond police crime index might also come in handy when looking at where to live.
I currently live at 3600 W. Broad, Richmond Va. This is a mid-level high rise with condominium units ranging between $950-$1400. It has a really nice workout facility. The #6 bus stops right in front of the building so you are a 10-15 minute bus ride to downtown campus. Walking distance to Carytown.
I'm older and in my 40's. For older post-docs who do not want the college student hustle and bustle, I would also recommend the near west side Between Boulevard or I-95 and Three Chopt, South of Broad north of Cary.
Horsepen apartments has 6 month leasing for folks who want to get a feel for Richmond and then decide if they want to live in another location.