According to the 2012 US Census population estimates, 312,331 people live in the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area (Botetourt, Craig, Franklin and Roanoke counties, and Roanoke and Salem cities). That’s up from the 2010 Census count of 308,707. More than twice that lives within a 60-mile radius – and area that stretches south to the North Carolina border and northwest to West Virginia. The population has grown by more than 16 percent since 1990.
The Roanoke Valley boasts a stable workforce with a diverse economy. Because the area is a regional service center, the Service Sector accounts for about half the employment. And within that, more than a third work in the Healthcare field.
Roanoke MSA Unemployment Rate (March 2013)
- Civilian Labor Force: 157,911
- Unemployed: 8,492
- Unemployment rate: 5.4%
60-Mile Labor Draw Area Unemployment Rate (March 2013)
- Civilian Labor Force: 340,190
- Unemployed: 20,197
- Unemployment rate: 5.9%
Source: Quarterly Census of Employment, 2nd Q 2012
Cost of Living
From groceries to transportation, healthcare to housing, it is less expensive to live in the Roanoke Valley. The region’s cost of living is consistently below the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s ACCRA Cost of Living Index. The quarterly voluntary survey measures the costs of 57 different goods and services.Source: Council for Community and Economic Research, 2012 Annual Average
The Roanoke Valley is located along Interstate-81, a major north-south corridor. Interstate-64 (east-west) is just to the north and I-77 (north-south) intersects with I-81 to the south. US 460, a four-lane divided highway, runs east to the Port of Hampton Roads and US 220, also four-lane divided highway, connects the region with the Greensboro, NC area.
Public transportation is available throughout the region, provided by Valley Metro. In addition to regular bus service, the free Star Line Trolley connects the downtown business district with the medical center just to its south. The Smart Way Bus the Roanoke Valley with nearby Blacksburg and Virginia Tech.
Roanoke Regional Airport serves the area and offers non-stop service to nine cities (seven by jet) on four airlines: Allegiant, Delta, United and US Airways.
- New York City (La Guardia)
- St. Petersburg
- Washington DC (Dulles)
Norfolk Southern provides freight rail service, while Amtrak passenger service is available through both Lynchburg and Clifton Forge, both just an hour’s drive. Valley Metro provides shuttle service to the Lynchburg station.
There are six public school systems in the Roanoke Valley, with a total of 44,731 students. On the higher education side, there are 21 colleges and universities within about an hour’s drive, including Virginia Tech. Ferrum College, Hollins University, Jefferson College of Health Science, Roanoke College and Virginia Western Community College are in the immediate area, as is the Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine. Such a large number of higher education institutions means nearly 125,000 undergraduates, or 0.108 per capita, a higher concentration of undergraduates than in the Boston-Cambridge, San Francisco-Oakland, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Austin areas.
Colleges and Universities Within an Hour’s Drive
- Ferrum College
- Hollins University
- Jefferson College of Health Science
- National College
- Roanoke College
- Skyline College (formerly ECPI)
- Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine
- Virginia Western Community College
- Central Virginia Community College
- Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
- Liberty University
- Lynchburg College
- New River Valley Community College
- Patrick Henry Community College
- Radford University
- Randolph College
- Southern Virginia University
- Sweet Briar College
- Virginia Military Institute
- Virginia Tech
- Washington & Lee University
There are law schools at both Liberty University and Washington & Lee.