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Cost of living leads Virginia Beach employee to live outside the city, she may not be alone

A spokesperson with The City of Virginia Beach told 13News Now it’s in the middle of a market survey evaluating both pay and benefit offerings.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Living in the same city where you work may seem like a basic luxury, but research found some city employees across Hampton Roads can't afford that.

A recent report from The Commonwealth Institute found how the issue impacts the cities of Virginia Beach and Newport News.

"I had to come back to Norfolk which was a little bit more cheaper than living in Virginia Beach," Trina Love told 13News Now Monday, a direct support professional for the Human Services department. 

According to the report, it takes the following thresholds to afford an adequate quality of life in the city for city employees:

  • $43,451 for a single person
  • At least $65,000 with one child added to the mix
  • A minimum of $82,361 when accounting for two children

When comparing city employee salaries against the cost of living, TCI found many employees do not meet these marks:

A review of city employee classifications and maximum hourly pay or salaries for those roles shows that 4 in 10 Virginia Beach city employees could not afford to support themselves on their salary in Virginia Beach at a modest yet adequate standard of living. And 9 in 10 could not attain an adequate standard of living on what they are paid if they have children.

Love, a single mother working approximately a decade in the city sector as a direct support professional, currently lives in the Ocean View neighborhood of Norfolk.

While she loves its proximity to the beach, she's also the first to admit it's as much about cost as it is preference. 

“If I’m living [in Virginia Beach], I’m already strapped trying to make ends meet, make sure the bills are covered. Make sure there’s clothes on our back. Whereas in Norfolk, I’m comfortable, because I can save to eventually buy a house," said Love, who added she falls underneath the salary threshold needed to live comfortably in the city with one child. 

The Commonwealth Institute has previously told 13News Now the agency is unable to determine how many city employees live outside of city limits based on this gap between salary and cost of living. 

A spokesperson with The City of Virginia Beach told 13News Now it’s in the middle of a market survey evaluating both pay and benefit offerings, with results expected in Spring 2022.

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