Community Investment Radio

Relocation Guide for Winchester and Frederick County: What You Need to Know for a Successful Move

Are you considering a relocation to the city of Winchester or have you recently moved to Frederick County? Keep reading for everything you need to know about living in the Shenandoah Valley.

Founded in 1752, Winchester is a medium-sized city with plenty to offer history buffs as well as people looking for modern amenities and entertainment. Still affordable and within commuting distance to D.C., Winchester is a great place to raise a family and/or to telecommute to a job in the greater metro area. In addition to its proximity to the Northern Virginia/D.C. metro area, you can also drive to other East Coast Cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and even New York (4 hours away).

As part of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester and the rest of Frederick County have an abundance of natural beauty, parks and trails, and historical sites. Vineyards and farms dot the landscape here as well. Keep reading to learn more about Winchester and Frederick County!

What is the cost of living in Winchester and Frederick County?

According to the rankings from Sperling’s Best Places, Winchester’s cost of living is 101.8 out of 100, making it slightly more expensive than the U.S. average but more affordable than the statewide average for Virginia.

Perhaps the biggest factor in Winchester’s cost of living is its hot housing market, where demand outweighs supply and homes sell for a median price of $251,000. Still, that is very affordable compared to home prices in towns closer to D.C. Winchester is a great option for people who want to be within commuting distance of the metro area but can work remotely some or all of the time.

Another benefit of living in Winchester is that real estate taxes are relatively low, with the tax rate for 2020 at $0.93 per $100 of assessed value.

Looking to rent instead of buy? You’ll find that one-bedroom units rent for an average of $770/month in Winchester and two-bedrooms go for about $1,020.

Education in Frederick County

In addition to Frederick County Public Schools, our community also benefits from higher education institutions.

Frederick County Public Schools offers 12 elementary schools, including eight in Winchester; four middle schools, with three in Winchester; and three high schools, two of which are in Winchester. Preschool is also available for eligible students in certain elementary school attendance zones.

If you’re interested in private school in Winchester, here is a sampling of options:

As for higher education in Frederick County:

Neighborhoods in Winchester

As a medium-sized city, Winchester offers a mix of newer and more historic housing in both urban and suburban settings. Popular neighborhoods include:

  • Old Town: Historic downtown neighborhood with residential units as well as retail, dining, and cultural attractions.
  • College Park: Suburban neighborhood adjacent to Shenandoah University
  • Green Acres: Suburban community with midsize homes dating back to 1959.
  • Ash Hollow Estates: Another planned suburban community

Other Major Towns in Frederick County

Transportation and Infrastructure

The Winchester Regional Airport is 70 miles from Dulles International Airport

  • The Winchester Regional Airport is 70 miles from Dulles International Airport.
  • Major roadways include I-81, I-66, US 50, US 11, US 522, VA Primary 7, and VA Primary 37.
  • Public transit options include Win Tran and RouteShout.
  • Commuting to D.C.? You can drive to a Park & Ride Lot and take a commuter bus to a nearby metro station.

Setting Up Local Utilities

Creating new utility accounts may not be the most fun task associated with moving, but we’ve made it easier for you with this handy list of local providers:

  • The City of Winchester’s Public Utilities department provides water and wastewater services to residents. To apply for water and sewer service, fill out the online application or visit the Utilities Customer Service Center in Rouss City Hall. A $170 deposit is required of all first-time residential customers and will be credited back to your account after a certain number of on-time payments. If you are renting your home in Winchester, you’ll need to fill out the Tenant Form and get it signed by your landlord.
  • Winchester receives electricity from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. To open a new account, call SVEC at 1 (800) 234-7832. You’ll pay a $5 membership fee and a deposit may be required, depending on the results of their evaluation.
  • For natural gas, you’ll need to open an account with Shenandoah Gas, a subsidiary of Washington Gas.
  • When it comes to telecom providers, you can choose from a variety of options, including Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, HughesNet, Lumos Networks, Verizon, Visuallink, Wave2Net, and Winchester Wireless.

Healthcare Services

Winchester and Frederick County offer many reliable options for animal hospitals. Also, the Esther Boyd Animal Shelter is a great foundation for those looking to adopt.

Looking for new doctors for your family? Winchester Medical Center, part of the Valley Health System, offers urgent care, internal medicine and pediatric services, as well as a variety of specialty fields in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Medical offices are located on the hospital’s main campus, or within a quick drive. Winchester Medical Center is an award-winning facility and essential resource for residents of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Numerous dental practices can also be found throughout the city.

To care for the pets in your life, you’ll be pleased to find many veterinarian offices and emergency hospitals throughout Frederick County. If you’re looking to adopt a pet, check out the Esther Boyd Animal Shelter or the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties.

Parks and Recreation

FCPRD manages a system of owned or maintained facilities and developed park land, including 3.6 miles of paved multipurpose trail, two miles of unpaved trails, nineteen picnic shelters, nine playgrounds, two fishing lakes, and two outdoor pools.

Winchester’s Parks and Rec department offers a variety of educational, athletic, and arts/crafts programs for children and adults as well as facilities, parks, trails, dog parks, and camps. Jim Barnett Park is the largest park in Winchester with over 170 acres of green space and amenities.

For even more parks and recreational opportunities, visit Frederick County’s Parks & Recreation page.

Local Attractions

Local Media

Frederick County Libraries

Find local branches and use digital resources from the Handley Regional Library System.

Community Banking with F&M

If you’ve recently moved to Winchester-Frederick County, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to bank. F&M has a long local history of commitment to serving and investing in Shenandoah Valley communities. At our branches, you’ll find a friendly group of employees ready to answer your questions about getting a mortgage, taking out a personal loan or business loan, or opening one of our high interest checking and savings accounts.

“Fraud Department” Text Scam

We have been made aware of an unsolicited text and phone call scam circulating through our area. In this reported case, a customer received a text message that appears to be from the F&M Bank fraud department. The text message asks for a simple reply – YES, if you initiated a transaction, or NO, if the charge is fraudulent. An image is below for your convenience.

When the customer responded “NO” and denied the charge, the criminal fraudster followed up with a phone call. The caller ID also appears to be from F&M Bank, Timberville. The caller claimed to from the F&M Bank “fraud department” and asked the customer for more information. The customer became suspicious and began asking questions of the fraudster leading to the fraudster ending the call.

Unfortunately, fraudsters can configure a text message or phone call to appear to come from any source. This scam is extremely dangerous because it seems legitimate. To best protect yourself, never give out your confidential information over the phone or via text.

F&M Bank will not call or text you and ask you to provide sensitive information. If you receive such a call or text message, do not respond. Contact your local F&M Branch using a number you know to be valid. Do not use numbers contained in the caller ID on your mobile phone.

Scam Text

Ask A Financial Advisor – Q&A with Matt Robinson

Matt Robinson, Vice President – Infinex Financial Advisor with F&M Financial Services, Inc.

80 Cross Keys Road, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

(540) 437-3467

mrobinson@infinexgroup.comMake An Appointment with Matt

Question: What is the most rewarding part of your work?

I enjoy being a problem solver for my clients. At the end of the day the client has an issue or problem, and they are looking to me for the solution. It is not an exact science but being able to customize each plan for every client is extremely exciting and rewarding.

Question: How can residents of the Shenandoah Valley area benefit from working with a financial advisor?

The Shenandoah Valley is filled with a diverse population of workers, families, and communities. We are growing at a very fast rate and becoming even more diverse. A financial advisor is well positioned to provide a level of advice and expertise in the form of finances that can greatly benefit the population.

Having a trusted name and person to go to is something more and more people are seeking. In this complex world of speed and efficiency it is easy to understand why people tend to neglect their finances and only focus on what they need to accomplish each day. Working with an advisor is a way to relieve some of that financial burden but more so a way to find a partner in your financial story. We want to walk along with you, not lead.

Question: How should I plan and prioritize my short-term vs. long-term financial goals?

Setting goals is perhaps one of the most important things you can do in mapping out a good plan. I tend to work on goals-based investing, and with that we determine your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. How many goals do you have? Where should we place the most or least risk? In life you must make decisions that are short-term but also recognize that they may have long-term implications.  I work to help my clients realize and implement this to give them the most confidence in their plan.

Question: Why is life insurance important for financial health?

As someone who has delivered a life insurance death check, I can tell you that it’s very important. Someone once told me that “life Insurance is the most selfless thing you’ll ever buy.” That still sticks with me to this day because of the statement’s simple truth. Most times the person that purchases the life coverage will never see a penny of the profit or benefit. They purchase it to help their loved ones in the unforeseen event of a premature death. Life insurance can be there to help keep kids in school, as well as pay off a home. It’s a powerful product!

Question: What should I consider when determining to invest in stocks vs. mutual funds?

Risk is number one. What are you willing to risk and what is your risk tolerance? Once that is decided it can be as simple as matching your goal and risk up with the proper investment vehicle. I have many clients that like individual stocks, and I have clients that love mutual funds. There is no perfect answer but in working with an advisor you will feel confident about the choice you make going forward.

Question: How should my wealth management strategy change in response to COVID-19?

COVID-19 has been a disruptor – not only in our personal and work life but also our financial life. The bad news is that COVID-19 happened, and the good news is that it won’t last forever. Making any drastic financial changes to a portfolio during times of such uncertainty can produce adverse results to your overall plan. If you don’t need the money immediately, or in the foreseeable future, the textbook says to stay invested.

Making some minor changes to sector exposure has been more of the playbook since COVID-19 became an issue. Simply put that means we have moved funds away from the decimated sectors like tourism, hospitality, restaurants, airlines, etc. Some sectors that have done well have been technology and consumer staples. Once again, you shouldn’t make large changes but instead calculated small changes to hopefully enhance your portfolio during these unusual times.

Question: How do index funds play a part in my investment strategy?

Index funds serve a purpose in the investing world. They generally have lower fees but with that comes a passive approach to investing. The opposite would be a more active approach to investing.  Passive index investing is simply following along with a large index, and there is no deviation from the index. During the most recent bull market run, the indexes have shown tremendous growth in the last 10 years. Having a broad-based index apart of your portfolio can be a hedge against some more specified positions all aimed at the idea of diversification*.

*Diversification is a method of helping to manage risk. It does not assure a profit or the avoidance of loss.

Question: What do Virginia residents need to consider when determining where and when they should retire?

This is a million-dollar question! It’s unique to every person as to when and where to retire. Some people need millions of dollars and some need a few hundred thousand. Everyone will have a different situation, but it’s important to understand who you want to be in retirement.

  • Do you want to travel?
  • Do you want to help with kids and grandkids?
  • Do you want a part time job or perhaps volunteer?

There are multiple factors at play with regards to Social Security and Health Insurance. You have to consider the cost of living in the town or city. Having a partner that shares your interests in retirement seems to be a growing trend. Sitting down with someone who sees different perspectives and can help you navigate the new waters of retirement can be such a great experience. It can give you the confidence to go forth into retirement and live the life you want!

Question: Where should I invest my funds in order to save for retirement?

The answer to this is similar to the stocks or mutual funds question. It will all depend on your risk tolerance and your retirement needs. The textbook says to be more aggressive when you are young and bring down your risk the closer you get to retirement. Being an educated investor will help you make better decisions and feel like you are on the correct pathway to a fantastic retirement.

Make An Appointment with Matt

Investment and insurance products and services are offered through INFINEX INVESTMENTS, INC. Member FINRA/SIPC. F&M Financial Services, Inc. is a nonbank subsidiary of F&M Bank. Infinex is not affiliated with either entity.

Securities and Insurance Products:

Not Guaranteed by the Bank | Not FDIC Insured | Not a Deposit | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency | May Lose Value Including Loss of Principal

Virtual Scholarship for High School Seniors

F&M Bank is excited to partner with the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation (VBA) to offer local seniors a unique, virtual scholarship opportunity called Bank Day. The third Tuesday in March was declared Bank Day by the Virginia General Assembly in 1991.

Through this program, high school seniors learn about banking, financial services, career opportunities and the vital role banks play in their communities.  From their experience, the students are required to write an essay. Fourteen scholarships will be awarded on the basis of the essays.

Due to the pandemic, Bank Day will be completely virtual and centralized with content provided from the VBA. Students will have access to a VBA-created Bank Day resource webpage over a three-week window from March 15-April 2, 2021. This resource page will house all relevant information that students will need to research in order to complete their essay for a chance to win college scholarships. As a virtual host, F&M Bank will also be providing supplemental information about ways we support our community.

We are excited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bank Day in 2021! In recognition of this milestone, a total of $29,000 will be awarded to twelve students across the Commonwealth.

  • Six honorable mention winners, each winning a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Six regional winners, each winning a $2,500 scholarship.
  • One of the regional winners will be named the statewide runner-up winner, earning an extra $3,000 scholarship for a total of $5,500 in college scholarships!
  • One of the regional winners will also be named the statewide winner, earning an extra $5,000 scholarship for a total of $7,500 in college scholarships!

Hear from Emily Carder, the 2020 Bank Day statewide winner, about the benefits of participating in this program. Click here to view her video testimonial.

For more detailed information regarding the scholarship program or essay guidelines, please download the below resources.

Interested in participating?

In order to participate, students must be currently enrolled as seniors in a Virginia high school with cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher. Interested students must register online by March 5th through the VBA.

Register Online Today!

In March, students will be contacted directly by the VBA with more information about the program and a link to access the student resource webpage.

Here to Help with PPP Round Two

Economic Impact Payment Guidance

The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department will soon begin delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans.

F&M Bank would like to offer some best practices for checking the status of your Economic Impact Payment in advance of the January 4th official payment date.

Economic Impact Payment Guidance from F&M Bank

F&M Bank receives direct deposit transactions from the Federal Reserve twice daily – 9:00am and 4:00pm. There is often a misconception that a direct deposit could arrive at any time throughout the day, however that is not the case. If you do not see payment after 9:00am within your online banking account, check back after 4:00pm on the same business day. The same guidance applies for an over the phone payment inquiry.

For customers receiving a direct deposit payment, consider utilizing deposit alerts within online and mobile banking. After established, you will receive an alert when your payment has posted.

Additionally, the IRS offers the “Get My Payment” tool on their website. Visit this link to check the status of your payment.

Economic Impact Payment Guidance from the IRS

The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of January 4, 2021. The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.

As with the first round of payments under the CARES Act, most recipients will receive these payments by direct deposit. For Social Security and other beneficiaries who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they will receive this second payment the same way.

Anyone who received the first round of payments earlier this year but doesn’t receive a payment via direct deposit will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. For those in this category, the payments will conclude in January. If additional legislation is enacted to provide for an additional amount, the Economic Impact Payments that have been issued will be topped up as quickly as possible.

To continue reading, please visit the IRS website. Additional guidance and eligibility requirements are provided.

Mail Larceny is on the Rise

The most wonderful time of the year can quickly turn into the most stressful time if you experience fraud. With the holidays approaching, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from predators.

Mail Larceny

This December, the most consistent fraud concern reported by customers comes in the form of mail theft. We have received numerous reports of checks being stolen from mailboxes. Fraudsters target the holiday season as cash is commonly gifted between friends and family members, donations to nonprofit organizations are more common at year-end, and many municipalities collect tax bills during the latter part of the year. This increased activity creates opportunity for criminals.

Protect Yourself

Instead of mailing cash or checks, consider taking advantage of digital payment solutions offered through your financial institution. Here at F&M Bank, we offer various payment methods through our bill pay system within online and mobile banking. This tool gives our customers the option to set up payees (like a municipality, utility company, etc.) for one-time, or recurring payment. A similar option is available for our commercial clients as well.

You can pay a person too. Gift pay is the perfect option during the holiday season for gift checks or charitable contributions! Or, pay a friend or family member with our P2P cash transfer app. Simply type in the email address or phone number of the recipient and send up to $500.00 for a transaction, for free!

Package Theft

With more people staying indoors due to COVID, online shopping has become the convenient and safe way to buy groceries, household items, clothing, and everyday necessities. And while it’s nice having packages delivered in days or even hours, there are multiple ways a delivery might not make it into your hands.

Protect Yourself

Just this week, the Harrisonburg Police Department issued some great tips to help protect yourself and your packages, and we echo their advice. Most of the major delivery companies such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS offer consumers ways to track packages with email or text notifications, ensuring packages aren’t left or forgotten.

In addition, it is a good idea to create a space near your front door, behind planters or other items, so deliveries can be placed out of site from the street. Installing security cameras can both help prevent porch theft and provide important footage in case a porch pirate strikes.

Watch for Fraud this Holiday Season

Fraudsters are always at work, but financial institutions experience increased fraudulent activity during the holidays. This year is no exception. The pandemic created new opportunities for fraudsters, and paired with holiday scams, our customers are reporting increased fraud this season.

It’s extremely important to carefully guard your financial information, especially during a time when online shopping and cash transfers are prevalent. The FTC provides great advice on spotting and avoiding scams. Please, read through the below and put guidance to practice as you’re shopping online or sending cash this holiday season.

Four Signs That It’s a Scam

Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know or impersonate someone you know.

Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So, the name and number you see might not be real.

Scammers will also pose as a family member or friend and can even use a correct name to identify the person they are claiming to be! Be extra cautious in situations like this as fraudsters will prey on your emotions. They’ll claim bail money is needed, or they’re in a bad situation that requires immediate financial support. If you find yourself in a situation like this, hang up immediately and call your family member or friend directly.

Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize.

They might say you’re in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer.

Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.

Scammers pressure you to act immediately.

Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.

Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.

They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.

A commonality in many scam situations is the isolation factor. The scammer wants money fast, but they don’t want you to tell anyone about the transaction. Not a family member, or the bank. This is a major red flag! If someone attempts to isolate you from telling others about the transaction, or how the money is being used, it is a scam.

What You Can Do to Avoid a Scam

Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.

Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers. If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.

Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.

Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

We Can Help

F&M Bank is here for you! Whether you’d like some guidance determining if a call or email is a scam, or if you’ve fallen victim to fraud, please reach out to your local branch. A member of our team will be ready to assist you!

Additionally, we encourage our customers to take advantage of our digital services.  Instead of sending cash or checks to someone you know through the mail, pay a person within our digital banking bill pay feature or P2P. They are great alternatives! Customers can also enroll in e-statements to protect your account information from mail theft. Lastly, consider Identity Theft Protection. This service is a free add-on with our Cash Reward or Cash Back checking accounts!

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