These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia According To Science

We looked at over 380 places in West Virginia to determine the best of the best.

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West Virginia, home to amazingly awesome pepperoni rolls, fried ravioli, and, of course, great places to live.

But what city or town holds the distinction of being the best place to live in West Virginia? Is it simply the biggest? Or the one with the lowest crime rate?

After researching over 380 places in West Virginia, we were left with this set of top ten:

  1. St. Albans
  2. Vienna
  3. Teays Valley
  4. Dunbar
  5. Pea Ridge
  6. South Charleston
  7. Moundsville
  8. Hurricane
  9. Bridgeport
  10. Brookhaven

To see how we came up with this list, continue on with us as we adventure into the land of numbers, data crunching, and science.

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How We Calculated The Best Place To Live

We believe that in order to be “the best” place to live, a town or city must meet a certain threshold of people. So we limited our analysis to only places with over 5,000. This left us with 33 places

If really small town living is your thing, don’t worry, we calculated the best small towns at the end of the post. We just did not consider them for the overall best place to live.

So how did we determine the rank of the best places?

We ranked each place across a number of criteria from 1 to 33, with 1 being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In West Virginia”.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Housing Vacancy Rate
  • Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Weather

Sources of criteria include the Census, the BLS, FBI Crime Data, and Sperling’s Best Places.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in West Virginia.

1. St. Albans

Best Places To Live In West Virgina


St. Albans came in at number one on our list of best places to live in West Virginia thanks to high scores in population density (2nd overall), housing vacancy (5th), and median income adjusted for cost of living (6th).

In addition to the hard facts that we used to determine this ranking, St. Albans boasts an impressive number of parks and community organizations for a city of its size.

The City Park Amphitheater seems like an impressively cool venue for an impressively awesome place to live.

2. Vienna

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Vienna has grown over the course of its 200+ year history to become a great place to live along the Ohio River.

Vienna ranked impressively high for its crime rate (7th overall) and its short commute times (9th).

If you come into town be sure to check out CJ’s Italian Kitchen and order the ravioli, a specialty.

3. Teays Valley

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Coming in at number 3 on our list for best places in WV is Teays Valley.

The town ranked highly for adjusted median income (3rd overall) and crime (5th overall).

While the average commute time is the highest of any place in our top ten, it’s well worth it for the quality of life you’ll find in Teays Valley.

4. Dunbar

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Ranked 4th in our list, Dunbar scored well in commute time (8th overall) and weather (10th overall). In particular, the comfort index for Dunbar is quite high indicating that the temperature and weather stay fairly consistent through the course of the year.

Dunbar offers an impressive amount to do while maintaining a small town’s charm.

When you come into town be sure to check out Shawnee Park and Ridge View BBQ.

5. Pea Ridge

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Source: RCGVentures

Pea Ridge scored consistent marks across the board to finish at number five on our list. Its population density (5th overall) and low unemployment rate (10th) stood out.

In addition to local parks and walking tails, Pea Ridge also offers some pretty solid food options. Check out Christopher’s Eats for a solid mid-day meal.

6. South Charleston

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

South Charleston has the highest population of any town in our top ten with a little over 13,400 people.

It ranked highly because of its low vacancy rate (2nd overall) of 6.16% and the quality of the weather (8th overall and best in the top ten).

Oh and don’t be fooled by the name, the city is actually northwest, not south, of the city of Charleston.

7. Moundsville

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Source: Wikimedia

Coming in at number seven on our list of best places to live in West Virginia is Moundsville.

Moundsville ranked highly because of the quality of education for its residents (5th overall) and it’s the most densely populated placed in the state.

Named after the many Native American burial mounds created more than two thousand years ago, Moundsville has an impressive amount of history for a small city. In addition to the many historic burial grounds, it’s home to a retired state penitentiary and the Palace of Gold.

8. Hurricane

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Source: Wikimedia

Hurricane is a town that prides itself on community and that’s evidenced by the fact of its low crime rate (9th overall) and low unemployment rate (8th).

While Hurricane got its name sake from the Hurricane Creek, it no longer conjures up the sense of furry its name implies. Instead, get ready to take a stroll through Hurricane Norris Walking Trail or hang out with the locals at The Wine Valley.

9. Bridgeport

Best Places To Live In West Virgina

Source: Flickr user Justin August

Bridgeport is a thriving community in Central West Virginia and a great place to live. It has the highest adjusted median income of any place on our list coming in at just over $77,000.

It also has a low unemployment rate and housing vacancy rate.

Bridgeport has an impressive history for a place of just over 8,000 people. Originally charted in 1816, Bridgeport has continued to grow and prosper throughout the centuries. It is now home to several aerospace companies and many oil and gas companies.

10. Brookhaven

Best Places To Live In West Virgina


Just cracking into our top ten places to live in West Virginia is Brookhaven.

Brookhaven had the lowest unemployment of any place in our research (3.8%) and the lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and weather held it back from being higher on our list.

Brookhaven is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department. It serves not just Brookhaven, but the surrounding area and responds to over 1,300 calls per year.

(Pepperoni) Rolling It Up

So there you have our list of the best places to live in West Virginia with St. Albans taking the top spot.

And now you’ll have to excuse us, after reading up about so much West Virginia culture, we really need to try a pepperoni roll.

And, in case you’re curious, we also ranked the worst places to live in West Virginia. You can read that post by clicking here.

Best Places To Live In WV Complete Rank

City Population Best Place To Live Score Rank
St. Albans 11004 10.81 1
Vienna 10721 11.31 2
Teays Valley 13357 12.31 3
Dunbar 7864 12.75 4
Pea Ridge 6674 13.06 5
South Charleston 13402 13.63 6
Moundsville 9277 13.69 7
Hurricane 6306 14.31 8
Bridgeport 8175 14.75 9
Brookhaven 5181 15.13 10
Nitro 7198 15.5 11
Charleston 51224 15.63 12
Cross Lanes 9419 15.63 12
Sissonville 5465 15.63 12
Wheeling 28662 16 15
Cheat Lake 7972 16.06 16
Buckhannon 5626 16.69 17
Fairmont 18763 16.81 18
Morgantown 29956 16.94 19
Parkersburg 31482 17.25 20
Weirton 19664 17.56 21
Charles Town 5258 17.75 22
New Martinsville 5373 17.75 22
Bluefield 10486 18.94 24
Clarksburg 16507 18.94 24
Huntington 49136 18.94 24
Elkins 7164 19.06 27
Oak Hill 7693 19.19 28
Keyser 5354 19.94 29
Princeton 6427 20 30
Martinsburg 17316 20.88 31
Beckley 17596 21.88 32
Grafton 5191 21.88 32

Best Small Towns

  1. Clearview
  2. Mount Carbon
  3. Charlton Heights
  4. North Hills
  5. Sylvester
  6. Pentress
  7. Belva
  8. Glasgow (tie)
  9. Shrewsbury (tie)
  10. West Milford

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10 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia According To Science

  1. They should include whether a town has a city-manager form of government or a strong mayorial form…Generally there are less politics in a town with a stronger city-manager…more fairness…more appealing to business franchises and development, and more citizen oriented.

  2. This list is laughable: Pea Ridge is indeed a geographic location near Barboursville , however most of it carries a Huntington zip code (no PO on Pea Ridge Road). Christophers Eats that was mentioned- well that’s in Barboursville. So the city of Huntington was on the ‘Worst’ list, but a road where most residents use a Huntington address is on the best list?! Not very scientific now are we??

    1. Lol..when I saw Pea Ridge on the list, I was thinking “isn’t that a shopping center or a strip mall, or something?”…

  3. I lived in Charleston for the first 21 years of my life. St Albans for the next 5 years and Beckley for the next 9 years. I visited several other towns in the valley area regularly. The only negative issue with any of the valley towns are the big chemical companies killing the air and water along the beautiful Kanawha River! Charleston is a river town nestled in the hills with lots to do! Beckley with its high altitude has plenty of fresh air with amazing overlook areas and ski resorts close by. And St Albans is a lazy town with charm as well and lots of activity along the Coal River. Our children were mostly educated in Beckley. When we moved to Charlotte they were at least 1/2 year ahead of the public school education in Charlotte. The only problem with the towns mentioned was the lack of beautifying the areas with flowering trees and flower borders in the towns surrounding roadways and streets. I miss each of the wonderful towns, but love the climate in Charlotte better.

  4. This is the biggest joke for 2015. As noted in other comments, these list really cause one to question anything in the media. Any true West Virginian knows the density and pollution are the areas true Mountaineers run from.

  5. Also, Clarksburg has the absolute BEST peperoni rolls in the entire country (Tomaro’s bakery), yet this somehow doesn’t play into your “scientific calculations” .

    again, go fuck yasef

  6. Most of these are not towns. Do you care if there is a downtown? How far do you have to drive to shop? Can you walk anyplace? This list makes no sense.

  7. Any pepperoni roll not make in North Central WV is not a genuine pepperoni roll… period.

    Also, the Morgantown area has the lowest crime rate for any significant city in our state, and has far more to do than any other 2 cities combined.

  8. Personally, I think a town or city’s location in relation to the slaw line should be a most important consideration.

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