Life in Hampton Roads

The 14th Annual Life in Hampton Roads Survey Report

Compiled by Randy Gainey, Jesse Richman, Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, and Wendi Wilson-John with MacKenzie Kibler, Nana Boateng and Caylin Smith

Download the Complete 14th Annual Life in Hampton Roads Report

Executive Summary

The Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Old Dominion University (ODU) is pleased to present the results from the 14th annual Life in Hampton Roads (LIHR) survey. The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into residents’ perceptions of the quality of life in Hampton Roads. Surveys this year were completed over the telephone as they were last year and prior to 2020. 

Less than two-thirds of respondents rated the quality of life in the region as excellent or good (62.3%). This is lower than last year (69.3%) and is lower than most previous non-COVID years (ranging from 68% to 71% between 2017-2019). Less than a third rated Hampton Roads’ quality of life as fair (31.4%) and 5.5% rated it as poor. Consistent with previous years, respondents rated the quality of life in their city and their neighborhood higher than they did for the region as a whole. About two-thirds rated the quality of life in their city as good or excellent (66.5%) and 28% rated their city as fair. Only 5% rated their city’s quality of life as poor. Neighborhood ratings of quality of life remain the highest, with 81.7% rating their neighborhood as excellent or good. Only 15.3% rated their neighborhood quality of life as fair and 2.9% rated it as poor.

  • Hampton Roads residents had mixed perceptions of the economy but showed some optimism about their own financial situation. Less than half (42.3%) of those surveyed rated the economic conditions in Hampton Roads as excellent (5.7%) or good (36.6%). A similar percentage (43.2%) rated economic conditions as fair and 12.6% rated them as poor. These ratings of the economy are very similar to last year with 42.4% rating the local economy as excellent or good.
  • When asked if they and their family were better or worse off financially compared to a year ago, 28.6% of respondents reported that they were better off and 46.9% reported that they were about the same. Another 23.8% indicated that they and their family were worse off. These numbers show a slightly more positive view of residents’ financial standing compared to 2022 (27.8% thought they were better off, 44.9% thought they were about the same, and 26.5% thought they were worse off).
  • The outlook for home purchasing and inflation, however, may be less optimistic, with 64.1% of respondents saying now is a bad time to buy a house and only 12.1% responding that it is a good time to buy. Only 17.8% think that it is neither a good nor bad time. This is a major decline from 2021 but is consistent with last year's statistics.
  • Respondents were asked to rate their level of work burnout on a scale of 0 to 10, with “0” meaning “not feeling burned out at all and “10” meaning “feeling completely burned out.”  The average rate given for work burnout was 5.6 which is slightly higher than last year (4.8). The most common ratings of work burnout reported were 0 (14.6%), 7 (14.6%), and 8 (10.1%).
  • This year’s survey also included questions about the affordability of various essentials in Hampton Roads and related personal financial issues. More than 70% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that affordable childcare is a problem in Hampton Roads (71%) and that there is not enough affordable housing available in Hampton Roads (77.7%).  More than one in five respondents (22.6%) agreed that they had been concerned they would not be able to pay their rent/mortgage in the past 12 months. The majority of respondents (80.3%) agreed or strongly agreed that they have access to affordable healthcare.
  • Respondents were also asked to rate the quality of medical and healthcare in Hampton Roads.  Just under two-thirds (63.5%) rated the quality as excellent (21.4%) or good (42.1%). This is much lower than last year when 73.6% of respondents rated the quality of care as excellent or good. 
  • This year’s survey included items about how well local public schools prepare students to enter the workforce and for college.  Respondents were slightly more likely to agree or strongly agree that Hampton Roads’ high schools do a good job of preparing students for college (54%) compared to preparing them to enter the workforce (46.9%).  About 20% responded “don’t know” (18%) or “refused” (2%) to each item. 
  • About three-quarters (75.5%) of respondents indicated that they were either very (24.4%) or somewhat (51.1%) satisfied with the local police. Trust in the police was slightly higher than satisfaction with 77.1% of respondents trusting the police either a great deal (32.3%) or somewhat (44.8%).
  • Given the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, this year’s survey included items about the importance of abortion as an issue for voters in 2023. When asked “How important is the issue of abortion to your decision” for the (then upcoming) November election, more than half of respondents (54.3%) indicated that it was “very important,” and more than a quarter indicated that it was somewhat important (27.6%). Overall, 81.9% of respondents indicated that abortion would be at least “somewhat important” for their decision.