Colonial Beach : Virginia

Follow Me on Pinterest

What it's 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 is still recovering to some extent. Population is just under 4,000 but growing.  People who have visited here either really like the low-key atmosphere or feel that it just a bit too slow and tattered around the edges.  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.


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. On a 2014 visit here your editor was surprised by the number For Sale signs. Some visitors say the town is a bit run down - it could either be the place to get in on the ground floor.... or not.  Median home value in Colonial Beach was $183,500 in late 2017, and had risen 8.5% since 2016, 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 right 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

A lot of commentators knock the schools and the down at the heels feel of the downtown.

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

There are beachfront type attractions but for the best culture both Washington and RIchmond are less than 60 miles.  Colonial Beach itself does not have much culture to offer.



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 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

Leave a Comment

To comment you must be a registered member of

Login Here


Create Your Free Membership Account

Suggest a community we want to know about your top retirement spots
Please note that all contributions to Topretirements may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then don't submit it here. By submitting content and/or photographs here you agree to give the rights to use them in any manner without cost or attribution.You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource (see Project:Copyrights for details). DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!

Copyright © 2006-2018 All Rights Reserved.