For what it's worth... The West End (where Mike K and I live) is the only area that - on the net - has not lost property values in this real estate bubble crash and economic recession. There are plenty of good pieces of property for sale, and most of the schools in the West End (VERY important) are as good as the private schools.
South of the river is just the same. Farther west means newer and nicer. But you might be farther away from where you have to work, so... be careful.
A lot depends upon what you want. West Enders tend to be the most geographically heterogeneous. I like that. However... there's no sense of community. You really have to work hard to know your neighbors. Activities help (like karate). The West End is also getting very population dense, and traffic is getting bad around places like Short Pump. So be careful...
I highly recommend you do what I did when moving to the Richmond area, which is what I'm doing in Louisville. Get a reasonably inexpensive rental in an area near where you think you want to buy. With the recession, there are industries out there now wrapped up around renting homes to people who will take good care of them so that the mortgage gets paid (at least in part) and the house is lived in (which theoretically makes it easier to sell). It'll give you a chance to taste before you buy.
If you rent an apartment, do your homework. Go online and check where the sexual predators live. If your apartment demands a credit and criminal background check (and a deposit to cover it), then don't be offended. I just went through such a process for my Louisville rental. That means your neighbors aren't felons, rapists, or pedophiles. Trust me... they cluster in apartment complexes that don't do such background checks.
If you - or anyone else out there for that matter - are a health care analyst or do predictive modeling, well talk to me. My company his hiring (in Louisville), and their appetite (for now) is healthy. This place reminds me a lot of Richmond, only the economy is doing better.
Stay away from the east end, and from Richmond city. Unless you are a student, you don't really need to live there. It isn't safe, and it isn't a good place to raise a family. The exception would be if you're very good at home repair, and want to be part of a gentrification project in some really historic neighborhoods (e.g. Monument Avenue).