Colonial Beach : Virginia


What It Is Like to Retire in Colonial Beach

Colonial Beach is an old town on the Potomac River in northeastern Virginia. It is near the birthplaces of Presidents Washington and Monroe. During the 19th Century it was a very famous beach resort. Alexander Graham Bell maintained a summer home in Colonial Beach.  When the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built it opened up the ocean beaches of eastern Maryland, which helped lead to Colonial Beach's decline. The town has been recovering since then. Population is just under 4,000 but growing.  People who have visited here either really like the low-key atmosphere. Your editor thought it quite charming on a recent visit, although probably not a place where he would like to live (too quiet).

One of the more interesting things about Colonial Beach is the network of small lanes that run through town - too small for cars but perfect for bikes and golf carts. In fact most people rely on their golf carts as a primary means of transportation!

Colonial Beach is probably a lot more attractive as an up and coming retirement community than as a home for younger families - reflected in the average age of about 46.  The commute to DC and suburban Washington is tough from here - but if you don't have to commute.... The area is filled with history and the scenery in this area with the second largest beach in Virginia and beautiful farmland, is quite pretty. Updated May, 2018.


Where to Retire in Colonial Beach and Home Prices

Real estate in the Northern Neck area  of Virginia was very hot until the recent crash. Median home value in Colonial Beach was $240,439 in late 2021, according to Zillow. Places near the water will be more, but are good bargains for the area for waterfront. There is a waterfront town home community here, see link at top left to Colonial Beach Active Communities.


What Is Special about Colonial Beach

Colonial Beach is an and historic town as well as having some of the best beaches in Virginia. The town has been promoting itself as a high-end waterfront tourist destination, which, if it succeeds, could have a dramatic turnaround for this town.

What Is Not Special about Colonial Beach

Some commentators of a few years ago knocked the schools and the down at the heels feel of the downtown. But since then the town has been getting nicer and nicer. See Comments from Sally at end of this review.

Who Will Like Retirement in Colonial Beach

Escapees from the DC area looking to retire in a more low-key area on the waterfront will like Colonial Beach retirement.  It has a very casual environment where most people get around by bike, golf cart, or walking.


Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism and local gambling.

Climate and Physical Environment

Colonial Beach is a large beach on the Potomac, across the river from Maryland. Richmond is the nearest big city, about an hour away. Average January temp is in the mid 30's and average July temp in high 70s.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

One Topretirments Member reports the town has a vibrant arts community, updated amenities for the beach including several marinas, and truly friendly people. There are wineries, numerous historical sites, massive murals, fantastic food, and numerous festivals in this little town. For more culture Washington and Richmond are not that far away



The crime rate is about one half the national average.


Medical Facilities

The nearest hospital is about 24 miles in Tappahannock, Va.


Reagan Airport and the Richmond airports are less than 50 miles. Golf carts are a popular way to get around.

Valuable Links

The Town of Colonial Beach
Virginia retirement guide

What people are saying about Colonial Beach

Colonial Beach - 2018
(This comment came in from Sally).I am a current resident of Colonial Beach and I just read your article about the town. I found quite a few things in the article are not entirely accurate. I wonder if the article was written recently. I found only one comment on the article from 2011. I think it would be a great idea to update articles within five years. A lot can change in a town in that amount of time. If you do not have the staff to do that, how about including the date the article was written? It would help to know that an article was written 7 years ago as opposed to last year. We moved to Colonial Beach only 2 years ago because we fell in love with it. We have no connection to the town other than it\'s near Richmond where my parents live. We came from Oklahoma and found the town had a vibrant arts community, updated amenities for the beach including several marinas, and truly friendly people. The article makes no mention of the wineries, numerous historical sites, massive murals, fantastic food, or the festivals which are numerous in this little town. Some of the things in the article led me to believe that the author had never actually visited but had relied solely on information gleaned from commenters on the internet.
Posted by admin on May 27, 2018
Colonial Beach for retirement?
No thanks. I drove there thinking it might have potential as a retirement area, but left very quickly. The pictures are wonderful until you actually visit and see how run-down and rural the area really is. In my opinion, it will take years of clean-up and infrastructure improvement (such as paved roads) before this area can be considered an up and coming retirement area. I found one development where new homes are being constructed, but at about $750K each. I'm sure it was a wonderful place in the 19th century, but it has yet to come into the 20th, let alone the 21st century.
Posted by twb930s on December 21, 2011

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