Best Places To Raise A Family In West Virginia For 2020

We used science and data to determine which cities in West Virginia have the best set up for children: a lot to do, good schools, and no crime.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best cities for families in West Virginia.

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West Virginia isn't just any Appalachian state, it's actually one of the safest, most family friendly states in America.

Ask any West Virginian and they will tell you that there are a ton of family friendly activities everywhere you turn. The Mountain State is just one big playground for little and big kids alike. If you're looking for a state with affordable, family friendly staycations, West Virginia is your place. There are 37 State Parks and four National Parks that dot West Virginia's landscape. Amusement parks like Jaydee's Family Fun Center in Inwood and Ace Adventure Park in Oak Hill will keep your family entertained for an entire weekend. And if museums and zoos are more your family's style, check out the Oglebay Good Zoo in Wheeling, and/or the Youth Museum in Beckley.

In all family, friendly seriousness, West Virginia has some of the best schools in the country. Blue Ribbon elementary schools, gold star high schools, and colleges like West Virginia University in Morgantown have been delivering the next generation to work at major West Virginia companies like American Public Education Inc in Charles Town.

To take a closer look at the top ten family friendly places in West Virginia for 2020, grab your family, a hot apple dumplin', and head to a sunny spot on the Shenandoah River and read on.

To narrow down the most family friendly cities in West Virginia, we looked at several factors: crime, education, family friendly activities and percent of households that currently have children. The cities also had to have a population of at least 5,000.

We ended up with 17 family friendly West Virginia places. Needless to say, it was quite difficult to narrow down the most family friendly place in West Virginia for 2020.

Drum roll... kudos to Buckhannon for taking the number one spot.

More importantly, if you care about your family living where crime is low, schools are awesome, great jobs are plentiful, and there's a ton of stuff to do, look below at West Virginia's top ten. And if you don't find your favorite there, head to the bottom.

Check out some more reading about West Virginia and the best places for families in the country:

The 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In West Virginia For 2020

Buckhannon, WV

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Population: 5,566
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 52
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 20.9%
More on Buckhannon: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Buckhannon is the only incorporated city in, and the county seat of, Upshur County, West Virginia, United States, and is located along the Buckhannon River. The population was 5,639 at the 2010 census. Buckhannon is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, held annually on the third week of May. The city is located 115 miles northeast from the capital city of Charleston and 140 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Fairmont, WV

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Population: 18,507
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 50
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 26.4%
More on Fairmont: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Fairmont is a city in Marion County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 18,704 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Marion County.

Oak Hill, WV

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Population: 8,458
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 69
Closest Major City: Winston-Salem
Households with kids: 29.0%
More on Oak Hill: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Oak Hill is a city in Fayette County, West Virginia, United States and is the primary city within the Oak Hill, WV Micropolitan Statistical Area. The micropolitan area is also included in the Beckley-Oak Hill, WV Combined Statistical Area. The population was 7,730 at the 2010 census. Country singer Hank Williams was discovered to be dead while the car in which he was a passenger was stopped in Oak Hill, and Oak Hill is generally accepted to be his place of death.

Review Of Oak Hill by HomeSnacks User

Oak hill is a cute city with Pride and the city council has been trying to engage the community lately and has been investing in outdoor adventure areas

Though the downtown areas has seen a decline the city has been getting cleaner than that of the early 2000's

Weirton, WV

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Population: 18,894
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 41
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 23.4%
More on Weirton: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Weirton is a city in Brooke and Hancock counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located primarily in Hancock County, the city lies in the northern portions of the state's Northern Panhandle region. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 19,746. It is a principal city within the Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area, which had a population of 124,454 residents, and by extension part of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area.

Bluefield, WV

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Population: 10,022
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 65
Closest Major City: Winston-Salem
Households with kids: 30.4%
More on Bluefield: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Bluefield is a city in Mercer County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 10,447 at the 2010 census. It is the core city of the Bluefield WV-VA micropolitan area, which has a population of 107,342.

Martinsburg, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,497
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 63
Closest Major City: Arlington
Households with kids: 29.7%
More on Martinsburg: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Martinsburg is a city in and the county seat of Berkeley County, West Virginia, United States, in the tip of the state's Eastern Panhandle region. Its population was 17,687 in the 2016 census estimate, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the ninth-largest municipality in the state. Martinsburg is part of the Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Review Of Martinsburg by HomeSnacks User

You are wrong about Martinsburg having a terrible commute. The MARC Train connects it with DC, the AMTRAK connects it with DC and Chicago, and it is on the junction of two great highways, RT 45 and RT 81.

As far as crime - there are save neighborhoods and not so safe neighborhoods, like any city. Just like DC. My wife and I lived in Martinsburg for 7 years and never had any problems.

Bridgeport, WV

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Population: 8,466
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 59
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 31.8%
More on Bridgeport: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Bridgeport is a city in Harrison County, West Virginia, USA. The population was 8,149 at the 2010 census.

Morgantown, WV

Source: Public domain
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Population: 30,539
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 82
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 16.1%
More on Morgantown: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Morgantown is a city in and the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia, situated along the banks of the Monongahela River. With a permanent population of 31,073 per the 2015 U.S. Census estimates, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia. The Morgantown metropolitan area has a population of 138,176, and is the 3rd largest in West Virginia. West Virginia University adds several thousand seasonal residents to the city and surrounding area from September through May. Morgantown is best known as the home of West Virginia University and the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system.

Wheeling, WV

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 27,190
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 45
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 23.1%
More on Wheeling: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located almost entirely in Ohio County, of which it is the county seat, it lies along the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Wheeling was originally a settlement in the British colony of Virginia and later an important city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wheeling was the first state capital of West Virginia. Due to its location along major transportation routes, including the Ohio River, National Road, and the B&O Railroad, Wheeling became a manufacturing center in the late nineteenth century. After experiencing the closing of factories and substantial population loss following World War II, Wheeling's major industries now include healthcare, education, law and legal services, entertainment and tourism, and energy.

Review Of Wheeling by HomeSnacks User

Wheeling is a relatively safe, small town located in a tri-state area of the Ohio Valley within 60 minutes of Pittsburgh, PA with the nearest international airport.

The waterfront of downtown can also be lively in the summer with various music events. The Center Market area is a cute, trendy spot with a local brewery, a wine bar, a hair salon, a coffee shop, a creperie and some antiques shops. Don't miss Ogelbay Park, a wonderful resort with upscale dining, golf, tennis, and more and the Festival of Lights at Christmas.

Moundsville, WV

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,651
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 39
Closest Major City: Pittsburgh
Households with kids: 19.6%
More on Moundsville: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Moundsville is a city in Marshall County, West Virginia, along the Ohio River. It is part of the Wheeling, West Virginia metropolitan area. The population was 9,318 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County. The city was named for the nearby ancient Grave Creek Mound, constructed 250 to 100 BC by indigenous people of the Adena culture.

Moundsville was settled in 1771 by English colonists Samuel and James Tomlinson. Fostoria Glass Company was headquartered in Moundsville from 1891 to 1986. The retired West Virginia State Penitentiary operated in Moundsville from 1867 to 1995.

How do you determine which place is best for families in West Virginia anyways?

To give you the places in West Virginia which are best for families, we have to look at a handful of metrics. Of course, we want to measure the type of people who live in each city, and make some assumptions about what's family-friendly and what isn't.

So we researched the internet for a database that contains all that information.

How we crunched the family friendly numbers for the Mountain State

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using U.S. Census data produced for the state of West Virginia, we looked at every single city in the state. We paid particular attention to:

  • Crime (Both violent and property)
  • Quality of local schools
  • Distance to a major city without necessarily being in it
  • % of households with children
  • Family-friendly amenities nearby (museums, libraries and colleges)

We then gave each city a Family Score.

The higher the score, the better the city is for families. We also limited our results to cities with populations over 5,000 people. For West Virginia, that meant a total of 17 cities. You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Best Places To Raise A Family In West Virginia

If you're looking for a breakdown of cities in West Virginia ranked by criteria that most would agree make a place a great spot for families, this is an accurate list.

Here's a look at the best cities for singles West Virginia according to the data:

  1. Dunbar
  2. South Charleston
  3. St. Albans

For more west virginia reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places For Families In West Virginia?

Rank City Population Amenities Score
1 Buckhannon, WV 5,566 57
2 Fairmont, WV 18,507 55
3 Oak Hill, WV 8,458 45
4 Weirton, WV 18,894 49
5 Bluefield, WV 10,022 36
6 Martinsburg, WV 17,497 41
7 Bridgeport, WV 8,466 44
8 Morgantown, WV 30,539 55
9 Wheeling, WV 27,190 72
10 Moundsville, WV 8,651 65

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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