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Galax, Virginia

Galax is a quaint little town in southwestern Virgina's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. It started out in the 1750s with an English land grant and eventually became a furniture and textile manufacturing hub. Over the last 20 years, though, it has morphed into a tourist destination thanks to its traditional "old-time" music and arts scene.

In fact, people come from around the region for the annual Old Time Fiddler's Convention, a celebration of bluegrass music. The Chestnut School of the Arts offers a bounty of art classes and presents an annual gala and the Fall into Arts Festival, a time to celebrate artists, craftsman and great food.

The downtown is dotted with little shops, galleries and some very good restaurants. The Creek Bottom Brewing Tasting Room and Pub on the outskirts of town gets particularly good reviews.

Outdoor recreation is around every corner, with New River Trail State Park, the Crooked Creek Wildlife Management Area, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grayson Highlands State Park all close at hand.

Cost of Living

Galax is an affordable town with an overall cost of living 30% less than the national average. The median household income is $30,430.

Real Estate

The median home price in Galax is $119,200. This is a 9% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $323,000.

Estimates are that Galax real estate prices will increase by 2% over the next year.

The median rental price is $695 per month.



Galax has 6,400 residents and has lost 2% of its population during the last decade.

The median age is 46.

Twin County Regional Hospital is the local medical center.

The crime rate is slightly higher than the national average.


The combined sales tax rate is 5.3%.

Virginia does not tax Social Security benefits, and residents 65 and older may deduct up to $12,000 per person of other retirement income, subject to income-eligibility limits.

The average effective property tax rate in Galax is .73%. The annual taxes on a $119,200 home are approximately $925.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and finance rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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