Once home to lumberjacks, miners, and small-scale farmers, West Virginia has turned from a small backwater into a popular destination. Its stunning natural beauty, rolling hills, and dramatic valleys have turned it into a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts, while it’s friendly towns and charming villages attract legions of homebuyers looking for a safe escape from the hustle and bustle of larger states. If you’re considering making the move to the Mountain State, don’t miss our round-up of the 20 best places to live in West Virginia.
20. Pleasant Valley
Its name isn’t the only lovely thing about Pleasant Valley. The peaceful community of 3,175 boasts affordable housing (don’t expect to pay more than around $142,100 for a home here), friendly neighbors, safe streets, good job opportunities, and an excellent location next to the interstate.
19. Pea Ridge
The median income of the small little town of Pea Ridge may be slightly below the national average at $48,972, but with the average home coming in for the supremely affordable price of just $142,900, you’ll hear few complaints about the cost of living. The crime rate ranks as one of the lowest in the county, while the schools are, if not quite as good as those of our later entries, still decent enough to warrant a mention.
Just $143,300 will get you a good-sized home in the tiny, rural town of Boaz – an investment you’ll have few regrets about after you experience the delightful, small-town vibe, the almost non-existent crime rate, the above average, $59,781 median income, and the top schools. Party central it most certainly isn’t, but if you’re willing to give up all-night entertainment for a peaceful place to raise your family, it makes a great option.
Affordable housing? Check. A decent median income? Check. A great education system? Check. Hurricane may be small, but there’s no denying its attraction. The local public schools score well above average when it comes to graduation rates, while the $152,600 average property price is supremely appealing to those on a budget. Factor in a low crime rate, a welcoming, small-town vibe, and a great range of local events and amenities, and it’s easy to see what makes it such a popular choice.
For affordable housing, the little town of Shinnston is hard to beat. While the national average for a single-family home is $184,700, here’s it’s a comparatively tiny $105,000 (which as Area Vibes notes, makes the cost of living 15% less expensive than the US average). The median income, meanwhile, is almost bang on the US national average of $55,750, making it a great place for those who don’t want to dedicate their entire paycheck to their mortgage. Despite its small size, residents aren’t short on entertainment, with plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants for them to spend their considerable disposable incomes. Outdoor spaces are plentiful, while the low crime rate means kids can play in the pars without worry.
With its close proximity to Parkersburg, Vienna makes a great destination for those who want to enjoy a small-town vibe without giving up entirely on big-city thrills. Low property prices are one of the major boons of the town, with the average home going for no more than around $126,800 (those who’d rather rent, meanwhile, can expect to get by on around $609 per month). The community itself is safe, welcoming and diverse, while the range of food courts, boutique shops, chain stores, swimming pools, ball fields, playgrounds, and outdoor pursuits ensures residents are rarely short of things to do and see.
For just $136,800, you stand the chance of buying a prime piece of real estate in the delightful Williamstown, a friendly, safe community of 2,928 residents. The schools servicing the area are above average, while the median home value of $136,800 explains why so many first-time buyers are falling over themselves to move in. Its small size might make it a bore for those looking for 24/7 entertainment, but if you’re willing to sacrifice nightclubs for a slice of the good life, it’s a great choice.
If a quiet, peaceful town with a slow pace of life, almost no crime, and a friendly community sound like heaven, Westover might be just what you’re looking for. What the town lacks in nightlife, it more than makes up for in safe, clean streets, plenty of green spaces, a great range of retail outlets, good public schools, and the kind of neighbors that greet newcomers with a smile and a pie. While the median income maybe a smidge below the national average, so are the property prices, with most good-sized family homes costing no more than around $141,700. If you fancy moving in, you'd better be quick... as its official tourist board notes, this is a city on the rise, so don't expect the house prices to stay this low for long.
12. South Charleston
While the nightlife in the quiet suburb of South Charleston may be almost non-existent, its close proximity to the big city attractions of Charleston ensures thrill-seekers are never short of entertainment. Thanks to its diverse community, its full to the brim with a great range of restaurants offering cuisine from almost every part of the world, while the abundance of gyms, parks, and green spaces provide plenty of spots to work off those calories. The low crime rate and good selection of public schools make it an attractive destination for families, while the refreshingly low average home value of $119,000 makes it equally attractive to first-time buyers eager to get their foot on the property ladder.
11. Teays Valley
If you’re headed to Putnam County, you’ll struggle to find a better option than the charming town of Teays Valley. Nestled in the footsteps of a majestic mountain range, and offering plenty by way of outdoor recreational pursuits, it’s a nature lovers dream. The above-average median household income of $79,722 indicates the strength of the local economy, while the low crime rate, excellent schools, affordable housing, and outstanding range of amenities and public schools make it an excellent destination for both single professionals and families alike.
With supremely affordable housing (expect to pay no more than $120,500 for a good-sized family home), an almost nonexistent crime rate, a diverse, welcoming community, and a great selection of bars, nightspots, restaurants, and local businesses, the small, quiet town of Athens makes a supremely attractive destination.
If affordable housing is at the top of your wish list, you’ll struggle to do better than the attractive town of Wheeling, where just $104,300 is enough to net a very decently sized, three-bedroom home. Job opportunities are plentiful, while the town's extensive range of amenities, attractions, and events (including the ever-popular Italian festival and monster truck rallies) offer a great lifestyle to its 27,521 strong population.
With a population of 30,099, Morgantown manages to combine the best of small-town living with big-city attractions. Among its chief perks is the diverse, friendly community, who offer all newcomers a warm welcome. With its idyllic location on the Monongahela River, it offers plenty in the way of outdoor recreational opportunities, while the historic old town center has a great range of indoor amusements and attractions. The family-friendly vibe, meanwhile, is complemented by a slew of excellent schools, a low crime rate, and an excellent range of affordable housing options.
Despite offering residents the chance of earning a very robust median income of $70,288, living in the charmingly named Bethlehem comes cheap: expect to pay no more than around $140,100 for a good-sized family home. Other than supremely affordable housing, the rural town offers a slew of attractions, including a great range of top-scoring schools, an active, welcoming community, some great dining options, and all the shops, bars, and cafés you could ever need.
The average property price in the delightful town of Brookhaven may be slightly over the national average at $197,400, but it’s something the robust median income of $66,364 more than compensates for. Along with the affordable cost of living, residents of Brookhaven can expect to enjoy an excellent education system, a good range of both chain stores and unique boutiques, some fabulous dining options, and a crime rate that ranks as one of the lowest in the state.
The family orientated community of Bridgeport has a lot to say for itself. Along with the excellent schools, safe streets, and diverse range of amenities, it boasts a friendly, welcoming community, reasonable property prices (expect to pay around $206,800 for a good-sized family home), a handsome average household income of $82,359, and a great location next to the interstate.
The historic town of Lewisburg is a charming, small affair that’s rich in both architectural and natural delights. At $215,400, the average property price may be a little above the national average, but judging from some of the comments residents have left on Niche, it’s a price well worth paying. “As a current resident of Lewisburg WV, I would say that this small town has earned a sweet spot in my heart. Lewisburg settles in Greenbrier County located in the southeastern part of West Virginia and is known for being the coolest small town in America. Lewisburg is an area rich in history and natural beauty with its vast mountains and popular attractions within the city. Lewisburg is home to many historic districts and landmarks that have become part of the modern city itself, it's historical uniqueness brings the city to life by attracting many travelers and visitors from different states and different countries,” says one, while another comments, “Lewisburg WV is a great historical community with variety of things to do from visiting The Greenbrier Resort to seeing what was voted as the Coolest Small Town. There were several dining options and a movie theatre. I would recommend Lewisburg WV to anyone wanting to see the history and historic homes. The Greenbrier River Trail and rafting are also exciting!!”
3. Cheat Lake
For those looking to raise their family in a safe community, Cheat Lake makes an excellent option. Along with the low crime rate, the town is served by an excellent school system, a booming job market capable of supporting an average income of $87,125, a vibrant, youthful vibe, and a fabulous range of shops, bars, dining options, and retail outlets. Considering the many benefits, the median property price of $273,800 is, while considerably over the national average, more than reasonable.
With 49,384 residents, Charleston is big time by West Virginian standards. Best described as a “small, big city”, it’s the kind of place that always has something going on, whether that’s a new gallery opening (the town’s art scene is legendary), a street fair, or a food festival. The downtown retail scene is a great mix of mom and pop stores and chain stores, while the diverse restaurant scene offers residents the chance to, quite literally, eat their way around the world. As Livability notes, the town’s chief economic sectors of higher education, government, and medicine offer plenty of job opportunities, while its location next to the Kanawha State Forest offers plenty by way of hiking, biking and outdoor purists. Despite being the state capital, housing is surprisingly affordable, with most single-family homes coming in for no more than $149,800.
1. Star City
A star by name and a star by nature… if you’re looking to enjoy the very best that West Virginia has to offer, the small town of Star City is where it’s at. With an average home price of just $156,900, it’s a supremely cheap option, with a list of benefits that belie its extreme affordability. Along with an excellent selection of schools, its home to numerous bars, restaurants, and cafes. Its excellent location and plentiful array of parks, meanwhile, affords plenty by way of outdoor pursuits. The median income of $45,000 may be slightly below the national average, but with a low cost of living, and equally low unemployment, poverty and crime rates, few would mind the slight hit to their income.
Written by Liz Flynn
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