When Todd Miller, a marketing rep for Woolrich, was offered a new opportunity with the company that required him and his wife to relocate to Richmond, he had to act quickly — and on his own.
The company said, "Go find a place to live, and we'll pay for the move," explains Miller. "I just had to take the attitude that this is a nice career move for me, and it's a nice city, so go become a part of it and start exploring."
Miller headed downtown and spent a day on the hunt. He quickly rented a condo to hold him over until he and his wife, Michelle, could sell their house back in Mississippi. "Keep in mind, though, that we were moving from a 3,600-square-foot home to a small two-bedroom condo. But I said, ‘You know what, I'll take it.' "
In retrospect, Miller suggests that others in his situation should "take a little bit more time. There's all kinds of things to explore downtown. ... I wish I had stuck my head in the door and checked out all the neat little places that are tucked away and above restaurants."
Guiding time-crunched newcomers such as Miller and working with businesses that provide corporate assistance is a specialty of pros like Andy Bennett, relocation director of Virginia Realty & Relocation.
And she literally goes the extra mile: In January, she took one client on a 126-mile driving tour of the Richmond region while helping them figure out where to plant roots.
"Richmond has so many different neighborhoods that it's really important to expose the person coming in to everything that we have to offer so that they'll know their options," Bennett says. "You want to let them know that they can live in a four-square in the North Side built in the '20s, a golf community in Chesterfield County with beautiful new homes or in a condominium downtown that overlooks the James River."
At Napier Realtors ERA, relocation director Fran Hessler adds, "We're here to help make the move as smooth as possible. ... Timelines have to be met, schools considered, and sometimes special interests. We provide information so that the client can make decisions that are good for them."
For those who aren't ready to settle in completely or who are simply here on an extended business visit, the area also offers its share of temporary housing.
For example, corporate-housing firm Suite for You provides dozens of fully furnished one- to three-bedroom apartments, condos and town homes throughout the West End, South Side and downtown.
Leslie McRaney, a corporate-housing specialist at Suite for You, says rates vary from $75 to more than $95 a day depending on the size of a unit and the types of amenities one requires. The company provides all of the main conveniences — cable, utilities, phone service, Internet connections and more.
Wynne Residential Corporate Housing, headquartered here, also provides fully furnished housing to corporations, government, medical, military and individuals.
Steve Clary, Wynne's chief operating officer, says that his company also helps with dinnerware, linens, phone bills, utilities and the like. "Everything is taken care of, and there's one monthly bill, usually less than a hotel stay. Our average runs anywhere from $80 to $85 a night," explains Clary, a native Richmonder who lived in corporate housing for a time when he moved back to town from New Jersey.
For those seeking a wow factor beyond convenience and the amenities, Priority Corporate Housing provides temporary accommodations in some of downtown Richmond's loftier addresses — Riverside on the James and Vistas on the James, which offer views of the city and riverfront.
Meanwhile, as part of a nationwide chain, Marriott Execustay enables frequent business travelers to accrue and use customer-reward points while having a wide selection of housing options.
And Marriott Execustay recently introduced online booking, says Ann R. Whitlow, Execustay's general manager. "It's just the way people are doing business these days."
Editor's Note: Portions of this story are reprinted from Richmond magazine's 2008-2009 corporate-relocation guide, Welcome Inc.