The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia For 2021


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

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best places to live in West Virginia.

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 high 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 seventh 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.

What's the best place to live in West Virginia according to the data? The best place to live on our list of West Virginia's cream of the crop is Hurricane.

A lot of the towns in the top ten have low crime, affordable housing, and good schools. We think that any of them would be a great place to put down roots as a family in West Virginia.

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.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia For 2021

Hurricane, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,482
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $151,600 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (3rd best)
More on Hurricane: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

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 best place to live, Hurricane, a hard look.

This small city of 6,482 residents in Putnam County has the 3rd lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.2%. 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 $55,833/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!

Vienna, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,348
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $134,900 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (2nd best)
More on Vienna: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

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 6th best median home price in the state, $134,900.

The crime rate here is so low, it's virtually non-existent. To put this in perspective, there were only 251 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.

Bridgeport, WV

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 8,556
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $222,800 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (best)
More on Bridgeport: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We bet that the mountains and the hollers won't be the only attributes that define West Virginia after you read about the #3 best place to live in the state. Yes, Bridgeport, has an impressive history for a place of just over 8,556 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 $222,800 price tag for a home here, don't shed a tear, the median income in Bridgeport is $84,382/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.

South Charleston, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 12,475
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $130,700 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (4th best)
More on South Charleston: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

The 12,475 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 8th lowest in the state at $130,700 and the median income here is upwards of $53,713/year. You won't trouble finding a job here, either, as the unemployment rate is the 4th best in West Virginia at 4.8%.

Morgantown, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 30,712
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $210,300 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (20th best)
More on Morgantown: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

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 5th best city, you shouldn't wait as this city of 30,712 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 20th lowest in the state, and the median income is $42,966/year.

Wheeling, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 27,062
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $110,100 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (13th best)
More on Wheeling: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

West Virginia's "Friendly City" is also the state's 6th best place to live. Why are Wheeling's 27,062 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 $44,119/year and the unemployment rate is 6.6%. 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.

Dunbar, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,333
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $98,400 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (5th best)
More on Dunbar: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We're pretty sure that John Denver was singing about West Virginia's 7th 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 5.0% and incomes are the 8th 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 15th best in the state at $98,400. And the word on Dunbar's street, if you don't check out Shawnee Park, you will be missing out.

Elkins, WV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,072
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $122,800 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (9th best)
More on Elkins: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Though the town is small by national standards, boasting just 7,072 residents, Elkins, West Virginia, served as regional economic hub during the late 19th and early 20th century. An important railway stop, the city brought in money from the mining and timber industries.

The railroad has lost importance these days, but Elkins still holds much of its appeal. In fact, it sits at number 8 on the list of the best places to live in West Virginia.

The median income in the area comes in at a modest $38,506. Still, the economy is robust. The town has relatively low unemployment rate of 6.4%, the 9th healthiest pace in the state. Meanwhile, life in Elkins is affordable. The median home value stands at $122,800 and the cost of living is 80% of the national average.

Set in the east-central part of the state, Elkins acts as a local cultural draw. It hosts several annual events, such as the Augusta Heritage Festival. If you want to see a taste of Elkins's glory years, take a tour of Graceland and Halliehurst, mansions built by two of the town's early boosters. (No, it's not Elvis's Graceland, but it's a nice house all the same.)

St. Albans, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,270
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $113,300 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (17th best)
More on St. Albans: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

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 9th 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 10th best in the state, and you only have to make $50,755/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.

New Martinsville, WV

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,162
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $96,000 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (16th best)
More on New Martinsville: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

New Martinsville is located in northwestern West Virginia, along the Ohio River, right across from the state of the same name. The town of 5,162 people offers more than a pleasant view, however. It also stands as the number 10 top spot to live in the state.

The town's median income comes in at $43,953, the 9th highest amount in the state. And you can stretch those dollars pretty far in New Martinsville. The cost of living is about 80% the national average. Meanwhile, the median home value sits at $96,000. The unemployment rate in the region is 6.8%.

New Martinsville sits in a relatively rural region. Still, if you want a taste of city life, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is less than two hours away. Or take a scenic drive 45-minutes north to Wheeling, West Virginia.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in West Virginia

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 48,006 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'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

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
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in West Virginia? That would be Hurricane.

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 Hurricane 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.

Hurricane made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in West Virginia for 2021.

Best Towns To Live In West Virginia

  1. Bethany (Pop. 1,029)
  2. Washington (Pop. 1,245)
  3. Winfield (Pop. 2,300)
  4. Cassville (Pop. 1,111)
  5. Pleasant Valley (Pop. 3,181)
  6. Mineralwells (Pop. 1,482)
  7. Bethlehem (Pop. 2,489)
  8. Bolivar (Pop. 1,225)
  9. Tornado (Pop. 1,294)
  10. Barrackville (Pop. 1,221)

Best Small Towns To Live In West Virginia

  1. St. George (Pop. 50)
  2. Mitchell Heights (Pop. 496)
  3. North Hills (Pop. 920)
  4. Belva (Pop. 138)
  5. Brandonville (Pop. 125)
  6. Hedgesville (Pop. 322)
  7. White Hall (Pop. 647)
  8. Clearview (Pop. 534)
  9. Charlton Heights (Pop. 432)
  10. Pratt (Pop. 469)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in West Virginia according to the data:

  1. Huntington (Pop. 46,667)
  2. Bluefield (Pop. 9,889)
  3. Grafton (Pop. 5,061)

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In West Virginia?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Hurricane 6,482 4.2% $151,600
2 Vienna 10,348 3.7% $134,900
3 Bridgeport 8,556 1.8% $222,800
4 South Charleston 12,475 4.8% $130,700
5 Morgantown 30,712 9.7% $210,300
6 Wheeling 27,062 6.6% $110,100
7 Dunbar 7,333 5.0% $98,400
8 Elkins 7,072 6.4% $122,800
9 St. Albans 10,270 6.9% $113,300
10 New Martinsville 5,162 6.8% $96,000

How Is Your Town In ?

Talk To A Relocation Expert

Need help figuring out where to move? Email YouTube star Nick Johnson at [email protected].

It's $200 for a phone consultation, and you'll go over politics, weather, cost of living, schools, culture and more to discover which city is the PERFECT place for your family to move to.

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.

16 thoughts on “The 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia For 2021

  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. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. Clarksburg one of the worst to live in? Definitely not! My family lives there,in Clarksburg, and they have a very nice house, nice neighborhood, their kids go to a nice school, and the school is always doing community service projects to make their surroundings look nice! Clarksburg is a very nice city and has the far best bakery in the state. Robert C. Byrd high school has the best student section at every game at every sport, very great sportsmanship and very very supportive of each other. Clarksburg schools are not cocky towards other schools.

  9. Wow I am surprised Jefferson County towns are not on the list like Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry and Charles Town for best to live. Our county unemployment rate is nationally low, our schools are also top ranked and the community is low in crime.

  10. Really? New Martinsville? With one of the highest concentration of Meth, heroin and other opioids? Oh yeah, I want to live there. Data is skewed somewhere

  11. I call bull crap on this… total bull crap. You have not visited all the towns and community’s in Wv… by the way.. southern Wv still exists…

  12. I live in clarksburg and it is one of the worst cities I have ever been in my entire life. You can’t go anywhere without seeing druggies with their babies on street corners shooting up with the others. There are break ins, drug attics, robberies, I mean seriously, Clarksburg should be number one on every list that’s titled “worst cities to live in”, because it is. There might be school spirit, but that doesn’t make Clarksburg a good place. RCB might win games, but that does not make Clarksburg a good place. Washington Irving Middle School might win games, but that does not make clarksburg a good place. Clarksburg might have the best middle and high school in the state, but that does not make Clarksburg a good place. It won’t be a good place until these people get themselves cleaned up and get a life. Nothing schools will ever do will make up for the issues in Clarksburg.

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