Housing Needs Study of the Northern Neck of Virginia Cover

Authors: Charles Buki, Karen Beck Pooley, AI Tetrault, Chris Holtkamp, Tec Koebel, Marilyn Cavell, Roger Cooley, Tim P. Sexton
Year: 2009
Publisher: Virginia Center for Housing Research


The Northern Neck of Virginia is an area comprised of four rural coastal counties between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, Highway 301 and the Chesapeake Bay:  Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland.

Population growth overall is and has been essentially flat for some time, growing by 5,200 people from 1990-2000 (11.2%), and slowing from 2000-2008.

Nevertheless, the Northern Neck is an area in significant transition. The four counties are all in the process of moving from an extraction-based and agricultural economy (forestry, fishing, and farming) to one that is more service-oriented.  In response to tourism, an influx of retirees, over-fishing, and growth in demand for waterfront property by seasonal (second home) home buyers from equity-rich Northern Virginia and other external markets, land in many cases has become increasingly valuable for itʼs residential development potential.  As this has led to speculation, rising land values, and increasing housing costs, the nature of these shifts and their repercussions have important housing and policy implications, namely that housing costs have risen and continue to rise faster than local wages, leaving the local workforce challenged to secure housing in the open market it can afford.