McGaheysville, Virginia, is a sweet little southern town in the Shenandoah Valley. With beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, easy access to national parks and Massanutten Resort, and a lower cost of living than many other cities across Virginia, it’s easy to see how this town could appeal to potential new residents. The locals would love to see you move in!
However, like with any city or town, not everything in McGaheysville can be perfect. Along with deciding how many bedrooms you want, you and your family need to know about schooling, work options, recreation, and more! Locals have voted on the information they think you should know before you buy a home in McGaheysville, Virginia, so keep reading below to learn more.
1. Cell Service is Unreliable on any Network
If you’re the kind of person who needs constant, reliable, easily accessible cell phone service to feel secure, McGaheysville is not for you. A drive through the mountains or forests can repeatedly disconnect you from all cell service. Even your home can have multiple dead spots that leave you reliant on wifi.
Landlines might help you feel more secure in your home, but power outages happen often enough that this is not a sure solution. It’s best to be prepared for emergencies and accept that you may lose contact with people for a little while as you travel. If you visit McGaheysville, plan accordingly.
2. Produce is Expensive
If you come from a midwestern, rocky mountain, or breadbasket state, the price of produce in small towns like McGaheysville might shock you. There’s a reason many small rural towns can be considered food deserts.
McGaheysville has access to Food Lion in Elkton within about 10 minutes in good weather conditions, which has a good stock of frozen and canned foods, but the product is higher priced and can be of poor quality. Martin’s, in Harrisonburg, is better quality but significantly more expensive than other options further away.
If you have a car and time to drive, you can access produce. If you don’t have time to drive, you’ll likely end up stocking frozen fruits and vegetables in your house instead. While this isn’t a problem for everyone, it can be a deal-breaker for the picky and the health-conscious.
3. Deer are Serious Road Hazards
Deer are road hazards in the McGaheysville area for two reasons.
First, the deer will walk into the road and cause accidents. Hitting a deer will mess up your car and scare you badly, and they are wildly unpredictable. You might not see it at all until it steps out in front of you. This can be deadly in rainy or icy conditions!
The second road hazard is that tourists headed to Massanutten Resort think deer are adorable. They’ll stop in the middle of the road and cause a traffic jam on your way home from work or school. While this isn’t really dangerous, it is annoying for locals.
4. Deer Will Eat any Gardens You Plant
If you read point #2 about the cost of production and thought that an easy solution would be to plant a garden, you’re up for a challenge. The local deer population would absolutely love to share the fruits of your labor.
You have limited options in deterring them, mainly involving fences and owning a dog, and these solutions take time to set up. This is worthwhile for determined gardeners, but casual or beginning gardeners should be made aware of the challenge before they move to town.
5. Deer Carry Ticks and Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the name, a tick is a tiny, nasty, blood-sucking parasite that thinks humans are delicious. When a tick bites you, it swells up into a little blood balloon that explodes if you swat it. You need to be extremely careful when removing ticks or you risk leaving the head buried in your skin. Yes, it is disgusting, but it is an important fact to know if you’re moving to a wooded area.
That would be bad enough as-is, but ticks also carry potentially deadly diseases like Lyme Disease. One bite from a tick can be enough to pass this on to you, marking you with a characteristic bullseye rash and many doctor appointments in the future.
Bug repellant, good habits, and antibiotics can all help avoid or treat Lyme Disease, but it is something all new residents should know about before they’re at risk for it.
6. Chiggers Live in Grass, Trees, and Everything Else Outdoors
Chiggers aren’t dangerous like ticks, spiders, or mosquitoes, but their bites are one of the most profoundly annoying things I have ever experienced. They itch for days to weeks, and the tiny bugs are everywhere. If you have the misfortune of being allergic to them, you can end up with blisters that scar.
You can’t sit on a fallen log, brush against a bush, or lay in the grass without becoming a potential buffet to the little monsters. Unless you cover every item of clothing you own in Permethrin, locals will warn you to avoid lazy days leaning on the trees.
7. It Has The Most Difficult to Pronounce Town Name in Virginia
The name McGaheysville is pronounced Mah-GAK-ees-Ville. While this is a fun little fact, and the history behind the name and its use in the Civil War is something many locals would love to tell you about, it is a pain when you’re trying to spell the name for other people. You’ll need to give very careful directions to delivery drivers or anyone you’re speaking to on the phone.
8. You’ll Need to Commute to Work
Work options in McGaheysville are limited. The nearby city of Harrisonburg is a little better, especially since it hosts James Maddison University, but the commute will be at least 20 minutes in perfect conditions. This might not seem like much when compared with larger cities, but high gas prices and low incomes make it difficult for some McGaheysville locals.
9. Schools are Far Away
If you come from a neighborhood where your kids are able to walk to school, you’re in for a change. McGaheysville Elementary is in town, but Junior High and High School can be almost ten miles away and in the opposite direction of your work commute. Add in winter ice or summer rainstorms, and you’re up for an interesting drive.
10. Housing is Expensive Compared to Some Neighboring Cities
McGaheysville homes are cheaper than many houses around the United States, which is great! However, real estate prices in neighboring cities like Elkton and Dayton are lower for equivalent homes. If you’re going to check out the area, you may as well know all the options.
11. There are Limited Choices in Local Churches
Like many southern cities, McGaheysville feels like it has a church on every corner. However, most of them are Mennonite, leaving few options for worship if you belong to another religion. The lack of religious diversity doesn’t cause too many problems with discrimination, thankfully, but it can be a logistical problem for anyone who wants to worship in a different church. Plan for a commute or start up a carpool.
12. Crime Statistics in Neighboring Cities Don’t Match Experiences by Locals
While crime statistics are very low on official reports, locals have had enough adverse experiences to complain about it.
The largest problem is vandalism, with bored teenagers and drunk drivers a small-town given, but the nearby university can lead to problems, too. James Maddison University is known as a party school, and McGaheysville sits right below the popular Massanutten Resort.
Vandalism, drunk driving, and drug crimes top the list of crime hazards in the area, but locals recommend using caution and being careful when walking at night.
13. Summers are Extremely Humid
If you’re from a dry climate or even a moderately humid climate, there’s really no way to explain McGaheysville summers until you’ve experienced them. The feeling is a little bit like drinking the air. If you shower, go swimming or get caught in the rain, you’ll only be able to dry off to a certain point before the rest of the water on your body just cannot evaporate.
That doesn’t mean it’s any cooler, though. On the contrary, the heat and humidity feel like you’re living in a sauna. Forgetting antiperspirant is a mistake you only make once.
If you’re planning on moving here, invest in a dehumidifier and some good mildew spray. Being eternally damp is bad enough without a mold infestation. On the bright side, you’ll save money on moisturizer!
14. Winters are Icy, Making Mountain Roads Dangerous
If you thought the heat of the summer meant that winters would be easy, think again. There may not be much snow, but the constant freezing and thawing mean that cold rain turns roads into sheets of ice. Driving at night can turn deadly in these conditions, and many tourists who visit Massanutten Resort have no experience driving on ice.
Remember, even if you’re from a northern state and you’ve grown up driving in the snow, not everyone else has. They’re the ones you need to worry about.
15. The Schools are Not LGBTQ+ Friendly
This is something that not everyone cares about, but it is a serious concern for some families. If you are worried about your child being bullied or harassed over an LGBTQ+-related issue, or if you’re worried about them having a negative interaction with school faculty over these topics, you’ll want to address that with your child before moving to McGaheysville.
There are some LGBTQ+ resource centers in neighboring towns like Staunton and Harrisonburg. They serve everyone in the Shenandoah valley, including McGaheysville. While this can take some pressure off of a family that feels isolated, it doesn’t always extend to the classroom.
The city is picturesque, sweet, and loved by the locals, but it does retain some of the issues of a southern small town. For the foreseeable future, discrimination in schools is likely to be one of them.
16. The Locals can Hold Some Unfortunate Old-Fashioned Southern Ideas
There’s really no polite or tactful way to say this. Some of the people in southern small towns, McGaheysville included, hold onto some beliefs that the rest of the country has decided to leave behind.
Basically, there’s a good chance that you’ll run into some racist people at some point. This might be a subtle incident, or it might be a student or teacher in your child’s school that has some strong opinions about the United States Civil War and all related topics.
Discrimination can also show up over religious beliefs, income level, place of birth, sexual or romantic orientation, and more. While it is important to remember that not everyone in this town will exhibit this behavior, it is something that some families will need to take into consideration before they can confidently move to McGaheysville.
17. Any Activity Outside the Home Costs Money
In theory, there are lots of parks and lots of outdoor activities around McGaheysville. In practice, all the grass and trees are so full of biting insects that your outdoor options are extremely limited. You can try picnicking with a blanket over the lawn, but the mosquitoes might have you for lunch before you can finish a sandwich.
Any other activity costs more money than most people can practically spend on a regular basis. Cute bars and pubs, mystery rooms, ice cream parlors, and national forests are all available in nearby cities and are very popular, but they add up quickly. Activities for teenagers without an allowance or a car are even scarcer.
If you have children or teenagers, it would be a smart idea to invest in a house with some extra land or extra space. Your kids will probably be spending a lot of time at home. Otherwise, make sure they’ve got time for structured extracurriculars to burn off extra energy. That’s part of staying healthy in a small town.
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