When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.
But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of West Virginia.
But where exactly in West Virginia? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.
To that end, we have tried to identify the places in West Virginia that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.
What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Grafton don’t mind us spreading the word.
Here are our top ten places in the Mountain State to retire for 2018:
- Grafton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Moundsville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Wheeling (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- New Martinsville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Weirton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Fairmont (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Oak Hill (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Bluefield (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Morgantown (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Buckhannon (Photos | Homes For Sale)
How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Mountain State
To create our list of the best places in West Virginia to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Mountain State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.
This left us with 22 places from across the state.
For these 22, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:
- Low cost of living as measured by rent
- Low crime
- Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
- Nice weather
- Distance to the closest international airport
- Other retirees (High median age)
We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 22, with the lowest number being the best.
Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Grafton, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.
Population: 5,156Median Rent: $510
Distance to Closest Airport: 80 miles
Crime Per 100k: 155
More on Grafton: Homes For Sale | Data
Grafton grew out of early white settlements at the confluence of Three Fork Creek with the Tygart Valley River, part of the headwaters region of the Monongahela River watershed. In 1776, Virginia’s remote District of West Augusta was divided into three counties, including Monongalia County, which included what are now Taylor County and Grafton. James Current (ca. 1730-1822), a Scots-Irish immigrant who fought in the Revolutionary War in 1778, had entered the continent by the way of Maryland and was residing somewhere in Monongalia County with his family by 1782 when he appears on a census there. The Current family story is that he traded a ‘gray horse’ for 1,300 acres of land situated at present day Grafton. James and his wife Margaret, who may have been the pioneering settlers, are buried in Bluemont Cemetery (part of his original property); his is the only known Revolutionary War soldier’s grave in Grafton.
Population: 27,758Median Rent: $583
Distance to Closest Airport: 37 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,368
More on Wheeling: Homes For Sale | Data
The origins of the name ‘Wheeling’ are disputed. One of the more credible explanations is that the word comes from the Lenni-Lenape phrase wih link, which meant ‘place of the head.’ This supposedly referred to a white settler who was scalped and decapitated. His severed head was displayed at the confluence of Wheeling Creek and the Ohio River. The area had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. In the 17th century, the Iroquois from present-day New York state conquered the upper Ohio Valley, pushing out other tribes and maintaining the area as their hunting ground.
4. New Martinsville
Population: 19,307Median Rent: $653
Distance to Closest Airport: 18 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,196
More on Weirton: Homes For Sale | Data
The small village called Holliday’s Cove lanes ? which is now most of downtown Weirton ? was founded in 1793. (It eventually lost the apostrophe.) In 1909, Ernest T. Weir arrived from neighboring Pittsburgh and built a steel mill later known as Weirton Steel Corporation just north of Holliday’s Cove. An unincorporated settlement called Weirton grew up around the mill that, by 1940, was said to be the largest unincorporated city in the United States. By then Hollidays Cove and two other outlying areas, Weirton Heights and Marland Heights, which as their names suggest were on hilltops or ridges surrounding the ‘Weir?Cove’ area, had also incorporated.
Population: 18,699Median Rent: $685
Distance to Closest Airport: 70 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,181
More on Fairmont: Homes For Sale | Data
Prior to the founding of Fairmont, the land that would become Marion County was part of Monongalia and Harrison County. In the 1700s, the earliest development of this area consisted of subsistence farming settlements. In 1789, Boaz Fleming, a Revolutionary War veteran, migrated to this area and purchased a 254-acre farm from Jonathan Bozarth. Oral history indicates that in 1808, Fleming made his annual trek to Clarksburg to pay his brother’s Harrison County taxes. While in Clarksburg, Fleming attended a social gathering that included his cousin, Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison. Fleming complained to Mrs. Madison about having to travel over a hundred miles each year from his home to pay his Monongalia County taxes and his brother’s Harrison County taxes. Mrs. Madison supposedly suggested that he create his own county to save him all that travel. In 1814, Fleming circulated a petition to do precisely that, naming the proposed county Madison County, in honor of Dolley and James Madison.
7. Oak Hill
Population: 8,722Median Rent: $591
Distance to Closest Airport: 158 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,508
More on Oak Hill: Homes For Sale | Data
Oak Hill was settled in 1820. The community was so named on account of an oak tree at the elevated town site. It was incorporated as a town in 1905.
Population: 10,366Median Rent: $549
Distance to Closest Airport: 142 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,096
More on Bluefield: Homes For Sale | Data
The history of Bluefield begins in the 18th century, when two families settled in a rugged and remote part of what is now southern West Virginia, and built a small village with a mill, a church, a one-room schoolhouse, and a fort for defending the small settlement against invasions by the much larger Shawnee Indian tribe on the banks of the Bluestone River. The Davidson and Bailey family had to sell a portion of their land when in 1882, Captain John Fields, of the Norfolk and Western Railway pioneered the area and began building a new railroad through the hills of Bluefield. The city is traditionally thought to be named after the chicory flowers in the area that colored the landscape a purplish blue hue during the summer. However, research has indicated that this settlement which was also known as Higginbotham’s Summit in the 1880s was probably named for the coal fields of the Bluestone River.
Population: 30,364Median Rent: $742
Distance to Closest Airport: 60 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,512
More on Morgantown: Homes For Sale | Data
Morgantown is closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested by settlers and Native Americans, and by the British and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the British, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the American Revolution.
Population: 5,645Median Rent: $639
Distance to Closest Airport: 103 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,056
More on Buckhannon: Homes For Sale | Data
The history of Upshur County begins with the settlement of the Buckhannon River Valley. Brothers Samuel and John Pringle were English soldiers serving in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) who, in 1761, deserted their post at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). They traveled southward and upstream along the Monongahela and Tygart Valley rivers, continuing up what is now called the Buckhannon River. They were said to have arrived in present-day Upshur County in 1764 and took up living in a huge hollow of an American sycamore. They lived there for three years, living off game and fish. Finally one went out for more ammunition and found the war was over. After his return, they moved to the South Branch settlements. John later went to Kentucky, but Samuel returned to the river valley with his new wife Charity Pringle (née Cutright), her brother John Jr., friends Thomas Hughes, and John and Elizabeth Jackson with their sons George and Edward. (Edward was the grandfather of Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.)
Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…
So there you have it, the best place to retire in West Virginia goes to Grafton.
If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:
For more West Virginia reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In West Virginia For 2018
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In West Virginia
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In West Virginia
Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In West Virginia