Get the essential details on living in Portsmouth.

By Paige Porter

Setting: Beside one of the world's deepest natural harbors,Portsmouth is part of the Chesapeake Bay on the Elizabeth River.It's 17 miles from Virginia Beach, 45 miles from Williamsburg, and93 miles from Richmond, and is within a day's drive of two-thirdsof the nation's population.

Attractions: Portsmouth has close to 80 miles of waterfrontproperty and six commercial marinas. Its location offers mildtemperatures averaging 41.5 degrees in winter and 76.8 degrees insummer. This small city is culturally aware, with a number ofmuseums, theaters, and art galleries, all within a walkabledowntown. Historical and architectural preservation isnoteworthy.

Drawbacks: The public schools are not considered among thebest in the state, but city officials are working to build betterfacilities and strengthen the system. Night owls might bedisappointed to learn that most shops close by 6 p.m. and mostrestaurants by 10. Hurricane season lasts from June toNovember.

Housing Options: In Olde Towne, choose from Admiral'sLanding condominiums, early 19th-century Greek Revival houses, loftapartments, and Swimming Point's grand waterfront homes. Thesuburbs offer an array of housing options, from new developments ofboth large and starter homes (Lake Shores and Westbury) to suchneighborhoods as Glensheallah, dating to the mid-1970s anddeveloped around the water.

Your Next-door Neighbors: Author Alf J. Mapp Jr., former NFLplayer Roger Brown (of the Los Angeles Rams), golfer CurtisStrange, former "Tonight Show" band leader (1968-92) Tommy Newsom,Navy doctors and nurses, a shipyard apprentice, artist, nuclearelectrician, photographer.

What It Costs: A condominium in Admiral's Landing costsaround $160,000. Starter homes in Westbury run from $75,000 to$100,000. Swimming Point homes average $180,000, while houses justoutside Olde Towne in Glensheallah start at around $145,000.Historic homes in Olde Towne run as low as $128,000 (fixer-uppers)to around $500,000 for restored homes.

Where You'd Spend Free Time: On High Street browsing theantiques and vintage stores, visiting the various museums, takingthe five-minute ferry (75 cents) to Norfolk (pronounced "NAW-fook"here) to shop in MacArthur Center.

(published 2001)

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