Pulaski is a small town in the New River Valley (NRV) of Virginia. The NRV is the third most economically vibrant area in the state, behind Northern Virginia and Tidewater, and is the 14th highest ranked area for business in the country, according to Forbes. The NRV is home to 2 major universities (Radford U and Virginia Tech) and New River Community College. Pulaski is the seat of Pulaski County, one of 4 counties in the NRV. Unlike most of the other NRV towns, Pulaski was designed by early urban planners. The downtown area and close residential neighborhoods are in a grid of numbered streets and named avenues, named after the nation's founders. The town was a thriving hub of mining and manufacturing in the early and mid 20th century and at one time had the highest per-capita of millionaires in the state. Pulaski Furniture was locally owned and produced world class furnishing. And it was said that 20% of the hosiery and socks in the world were knitted in Pulaski. The 2 downtown theaters brought in world famous vaudeville acts and filled every seat for Saturday morning serials. Then the mines gave out and the furniture and textile plants shut down as corporations bought them and moved the production overseas. Pulaski almost became the sordid ghost town that other reviewers have described. But only almost, and only briefly. Savvy industrialists from all over the world looked at Pulaski and the surrounding county and saw opportunity. One building supply manufacturer built his largest plant in Pulaski and hired hundreds of workers. Other industries from all over the world did likewise. The large Pulaski Furniture warehouse lit up again after decades of sitting dark and empty. Long-time residents who had never really lost faith in Pulaski's ability to rebound were re-energized and formed groups to clean up, paint up and fix up the town. Thanks to one confident investor, the town's old WPA era baseball field has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation and became home to The Pulaski Yankees, a New York Yankees rookie league team that brings in up to 3,000 fans for a regular season game. This in a town of roughly 9,000 residents. One of the empty downtown warehouses was converted into a world-class hotel and restaurant. Other businesses have opened and continue to open in main street stores that have been vacant for years. Pulaski county voters have just approved construction of a $47 million dollar middle school. Volvo trucks employs 2600 workers in Pulaski County and is recruiting more. The New River Trail State Park starts in Pulaski and follow the New River for most of its 57 mile length and attracts bikers from around the country. Efforts are underway to develop a hostel in town to accommodate these and others who come for the New River, mountain trails and National forest adventures.
I've moved quite a few times and have been using this site to scout out info on potential future hometowns. When I saw the high livability score for Pulaski (a place I regret spending several years in), I was so appalled that I created an account just so I could write this review. Let me make myself absolutely clear: I would *never* recommend this town to anyone. It's miserable and shockingly dangerous for such a tiny place.
A little background info: my spouse is a law enforcement officer (which was also true when we lived in Pulaski), so my view of crime in this drug-infested and impoverished area is grounded in reality and experience. And crime is the first thing I feel needs to be addressed with this town. To put it simply, it's through the roof. While living in my neighborhood by downtown Pulaski, random shootings were, on average, at least a weekly occurrence. (Usually, no one was actually hit, but do you really want to take the chance that your children might be hit by a stray bullet while playing outside?) Sometimes I'd watch my neighbors engage in drug-fueled shootouts with the police. Sometimes I'd lie on the floor with my dogs if the gunfire was especially close and I was afraid a bullet might come through a window.
One morning I woke to the sound of screaming as a woman had her skull bashed in a by a man with a hammer. One day some stranger climbed onto my roof. Roaming groups of children used to trespass onto my property and try to beat my dogs and vehicles with sticks (children as young as 2 would run unsupervised in the streets). My neighbors routinely dumped their garbage in my yard, yelled and swore at me, even cut 'f you' into their grass so I'd see it. Whenever I walked anywhere, even with a child along, strange men would follow me and try to get me to get into their vehicles. A house on my street was a notorious place to buy drugs, which caused a ton of problems for me. My property was vandalized. We were constantly surrounded by the convicted felons my spouse would encounter at work. Homeless people live in the small wooded areas by the town's parks and would approached me to harass me for money. I never went anywhere unarmed.
Besides the awful crime rates, anyone considering moving here should also know that there are almost no businesses and no jobs. Most town residents subsist on welfare and it shows. The poverty is extreme and depressing. There is literally not even a single coffee shop or cafe in the entire town. You have to travel to a neighboring town to even shop at a Wal-Mart. There is no culture, nothing to do. Schools are very poor.
The town is also extremely poorly managed. The clerks and people working in the town and utility offices are rude and dismissive of all citizens. They routinely send out inaccurate utility bills and refuse to address the issue, simply threatening to shut off your utilities if you don't pay immediately. One time, my water was randomly shut off during an ice storm (bills were up to date), along with that of dozens of other town residents. I consider the way this town is managed to be criminal.
The police force is surprisingly responsive. During my time there, I was usually treated with respect by the town police, who typically tried to help me with the (many) problems I experienced living there. This is a good thing, because the town is composed mostly of convicted criminals. There is absolutely no culture or sense of community.
In this part of Virginia, if you tell people in surrounding towns that you live in Pulaski, you will often receive a look of surprise, pity or outright laughter.
Also, we had a ton of problems with mosquitoes and spiders, probably because most people living in Pulaski don't keep up with their lawns or houses.
Real estate is very cheap in Pulaski, but it's for a reason. Do yourself an enormous favor and don't move here. I've lived in quite a few different places, and Pulaski was by far the worst. No force on earth could compel me to return there despite the fact that I still own property there, which I can't sell due to the terrible neighborhood. I don't blame people for not buying it, either. So I currently have two houses (my current home and my old place in Pulaski), a financial hardship that I put up with because it's better than living in Pulaski. As you can probably imagine if you've read my entire review, yes, my neighbors vandalized my property after I moved out of it.
If you're considering a move to this part of VA, I recommend the Christiansburg-Blacksburg area for enjoyable, safe small town Virginia life.
Pulaski is a grungy old town that is dying a slow death. No entertainment. No decent restaurants other than one. Compadres. No shopping other than a Peebles. The town is poorly managed and is shockingly out of date. The old part of down town is over run with meth heads and undesirables. It is an ugly, grimy and undesirable place. And no one seems to care. If you are looking to visit, don't waste your time, there is nothing to see. If you are looking for a place to live look at Wytheville, Radford or Christiansburg. Honestly, this place is a dump. There is not a single reason to recommend it.