Thinking of taking the plunge and moving to West Virginia?
Well, today we’ll take you on a tour of some of the places you should place highly on your list if you want to live the good life in West Virginia.
West Virginia is 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?
We took a dive into the data for the sixth time to see what has changed over the past year. After researching over 26 places in West Virginia, we were left with this set of top ten based on data from the FBI and Census on quality of life indicators.
The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia For 2020
Median Home Value: $220,100
Median Household Income: $80,666
We bet that the mountains and the hollers won’t be the only attributes that define West Virginia after you read about the #1 best place to live in the state. Yes, Bridgeport, has an impressive history for a place of just over 8,466 people. Originally chartered in 1816, Bridgeport has continued to grow and prosper throughout the centuries all while keeping its cost of living affordable and its unemployment rate one of the lowest in the state. It’s now home to several aerospace companies and many oil and gas companies; so, when you see that $220,100 price tag for a home here, don’t shed a tear, the median income in Bridgeport is $80,666/year.
Bridgeport has some pretty great schools, too. Bridgeport High School and Middle School and Johnson Elementary have all been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Smart and wealthy, folks? We call that West Virginia win.
Median Home Value: $129,200
Median Household Income: $53,776
We can thank West Virginia for the “Golden Delicious” apple and the 2nd best place to live, Vienna. The city’s home prices, low cost of living, and low crime rate are as sweet as an apple, too. In fact, you can get a nice single family home in Vienna for the 7th best median home price in the state, $129,200.
The crime rate here is so low, it’s virtually non-existent. To put this in perspective, there were only 373 recorded at the time of this report. And, Vienna’s low hanging fruit does disappoint either. Living expenses like groceries, transportation, and utilities are right on point with the rest of the state and quite a bit lower than the national average.
Median Home Value: $150,800
Median Household Income: $55,266
With over 70% of West Virginia covered in forest and mountains, we realize that anywhere you move to in the Mountain State will be amazing, but we think that you should definitely give the state’s 3rd best place to live, Hurricane, a hard look.
This small city of 6,477 residents in Putnam County has the 3rd lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.0%. Hurricane’s cost of living is affordable (0.9x lower than the national index of 100) and living expenses like utilities and health services are well below both the state and national levels. And when you’re not busy making the city’s median income of $55,266/year, there’s tons of fun to be had here. In fact, we hear that a day trip to the historic Mud River Covered Bridge is a must!
Median Home Value: $198,300
Median Household Income: $41,071
Whether you’re a fan of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, a fan of Morgantown’s Personal Rapid Transit System, or you just want to live in one of the state’s best cities, Morgantown is for you.
However, if you’re thinking about moving to West Virginia’s 4th best city, you shouldn’t wait as this city of 30,539 residents is one of the fastest growing places in the state. Morgantown also has the youngest population 24; and not surprising, it’s one of the best places in the Mountain State for singles.
We can’t blame the youngsters as the cost of living here is 0.9x lower than the national average, the unemployment rate is the 23rd lowest in the state, and the median income is $41,071/year.
Median Home Value: $114,800
Median Household Income: $49,554
There’s a lot more to West Virginia than rural highways and byways; matter of fact, where the WV Byway 25 meets the WV Highway 60 is the 5th best place to live in the state, St. Albans. And, yes, for most, St. Albans is one of the best because it is located along the Kanawha River, but for those looking for a sweet ‘ol West Virginia deal, this city is affordable, safe, and the amenities here are top notch.
Home prices in St. Albans are the 9th best in the state, and you only have to make $49,554/year to afford St. Albans’s cost of living. In fact, St. Albans’s living expenses like transportation and utilities won’t break your bank.
Median Home Value: $133,100
Median Household Income: $52,038
The 12,686 residents that live in South Charleston think that their city is one of the best cities south of the Mason Dixon Line and we would have to agree. South Charleston is not only one of the most affordable cities in the state, there are a bunch of great schools here and cool stuff to do.
Yes, the cost of living in South Charleston is 1.0x lower than the state average and so are living expenses like housing, transportation, and utilities. In fact, the median home price in South Charleston is the 6th lowest in the state at $133,100 and the median income here is upwards of $52,038/year. You won’t trouble finding a job here, either, as the unemployment rate is the 6th best in West Virginia at 5.2%.
Median Home Value: $107,700
Median Household Income: $42,489
West Virginia’s “Friendly City” is also the state’s 7th best place to live. Why are Wheeling’s 27,190 residents so happy and friendly all of the time? Probably because the cost of living here is super affordable, they don’t have to constantly look over their shoulders because it’s crazy safe here, and education is a priority for the entire city.
The median household income in Wheeling is $42,489/year and the unemployment rate is 5.4%. Quite the combination, right? We tend to think so. Not to mention, this hard work mentality must be trickling down into the Wheeling’s schools, as this is most evident in their eleven–yes, eleven National Blue Ribbon Schools. It’s also super safe in Wheeling. The crime rate is below the national average with a majority of the crimes reported property related.
Median Home Value: $94,900
Median Household Income: $48,775
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel; instead, save yourself time and energy and look at West Virginia’s 8th best place to live, Weirton, if you want a place that’s affordable, safe, and lots of fun. In fact, when we pulled Weirton’s SnackAbility numbers, headliners included a low cost of living, low crime, and a bunch of amenities.
Weirton’s living expenses like health services are comparable to the state average and housing costs are quite a bit lower than both the state and national average. If you want to rent or buy a home, just know that you will be paying some of the lowest prices in the state. Weirton is after all one of the best places to retire in West Virginia; and if we know anything about retirees, is that they are always looking for the best deal.
Median Home Value: $95,200
Median Household Income: $42,411
We’re pretty sure that John Denver was singing about West Virginia’s 9th best place to live, Dunbar, in his song “Almost Heaven,” and this is because Dunbar offers an impressive amount to do while maintaining its small town charm.
The unemployment rate sits as the 5th lowest in West Virginia at 4.6% and incomes are the 11th highest. The cost of living in Dunbar is extremely manageable (1.0x lower than the state average) and homes are affordable. If you want to buy a home in Dunbar, the median home price here is the 17th best in the state at $95,200. And the word on Dunbar’s street, if you don’t check out Shawnee Park, you will be missing out.
Median Home Value: $99,800
Median Household Income: $43,539
How is it that the smallest town on our list has the “loudest” name? We can’t answer that, but we can tell you that West Virginia’s 10th best place to live, Nitro knows how to make an entrance.
Nitro has the 14th best median home price at $99,800 and the median income here is not only the “bomb.com,” it’s $43,539/year. Nitro scored an 8/10 for amenities on our SnackAbility scale, so make sure you get out and experience the city’s seven parks. And, we’re not sure what’s in the water here, but if you’re looking for a place with great schools, you can stop at Nitro: they have one of the highest graduation rates in the state and Nitro High School made US News Best High Schools.
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Charleston with a population of 48,734 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 26 cities, 127 towns, and 176 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in West Virginia have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In West Virginia
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in West Virginia across a number of criteria from one to 26, with one 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:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in West Virginia? That would be Bridgeport.
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.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Bridgeport at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In West Virginia
If you’re looking at areas in West Virginia with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Bridgeport made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in West Virginia for 2020.
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