Pictured is Duke Dog, Luke Smith and Justine Pasco. Photo courtesy of Rebekah Girven Budnikas, owner of Breathe Harrisonburg.
It was a hot and hazy September morning when Justine picked me up from the airport in Burbank. I had spent the last week attending the first annual Lockn’ Music Festival in Nelson County with friends from my days at JMU, and then visiting my little brother (a sophomore at JMU) in Harrisonburg. I remember looking at the San Gabriel Mountains as the plane descended and thinking that while they were certainly beautiful, they couldn’t quite hold a candle to the Blue Ridge Mountains I had just left.
As we navigated the congested 101 freeway, Justine started telling me about a chance Facebook message she had just received from a former client and friend she had met a few years before while working part-time as a Pilates Instructor to help pay her way through JMU.
Fast-forward seven months - Justine and I have been living in Downtown Harrisonburg for three months already. She’s been the active Manager of Breathe Pilates & Barre Studio since we arrived, and I’m launching a new career as a Realtor with Funkhouser Real Estate Group. Just a few months ago she was working in Hollywood on the ABC show Scandal and I was enjoying a healthy commute to downtown Los Angeles. Now we’re back in the ‘Burg and couldn’t feel better about the way things have turned out.
So, why did we choose to drop what we were doing, leave sunny LA, and move to Downtown Harrisonburg? Here are some of the top reasons we decided to make the move – it’s no coincidence that they’re also the same reasons that we really love living Downtown!
Living in Downtown Harrisonburg provides many of the amenities you can expect in a much larger city, but lacks all of the not-so-great things that generally come along with urban living.Within walking distance of The Livery Lofts are more than 30 unique restaurants and eateries, a biweekly Farmer’s Market, the Friendly City Food Co-op, Court Square Theater, music venues, art galleries, fitness studios, parks, museums, JMU’s campus, numerous locally owned businesses, and all sorts of neat boutique shops. You really can’t beat the walkability of Downtown! And, there’s no traffic or pollution. We have a hard time not bursting into joyous laughter when we talk about the area’s low cost of living and how simple it is to live a high quality life here.
It’s fun to be in a growing, thriving town. There are so many new projects and businesses starting up that it can be hard to keep up with all of the new developments. This is a good thing! It’s exciting to see the local economy continue to improve and think of all of the new opportunities being created. If you’re thinking of starting a new business or project then present day Harrisonburg is a great place to do it. If you’re not feeling particularly entrepreneurial at the moment that’s fine too - there’s plenty to simply enjoy.
Harrisonburg has a prime location in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west. We both love how easy it is to get out of town and enjoy all that the area has to offer. We aren’t the only ones either. Harrisonburg is a designated Appalachian Trail Community and Bike Friendly Community. It’s also a huge bonus for us that it’s less than a two hour drive from Downtown to visit our families in Bath County.
Possibly the nicest thing about living Downtown is the sense of community and local pride. If you live, work, live and work, or just spend a lot of time downtown then you know what I’m talking about. You see the same friendly faces every day and it seems like everyone’s genuinely interested in contributing to the steady improvement and revitalization of what is already a thriving downtown. Fun events like First Fridays, Rocktown Beer and Music Festival, Renaissance Night, Valley Fourth, and Run, Sweat, & Beers are great opportunities to come experience the downtown community.