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Best Places to Live in West Virginia

If you take some country roads to the place where you belong, you’ll arrive in West Virginia. Whether you’re a mountain mama or papa, West Virginia is a nature lover’s paradise—with lakes, rivers and mountains galore to hike, bike, ski and whitewater raft. It’s no wonder one of the state’s nicknames is Almost Heaven.

West Virginia has a little bit of everything—from small towns and rural communities to suburbs and big cities. And wherever you are in the Mountain State, you’ll find affordable housing and a low cost of living.

If you’re serious about moving to West Virginia, the state’s Ascend program pays remote workers up to $12,000 to relocate to several of the state’s communities.1

Here’s our list of the eight best places to live in West Virginia.

Lewisburg

Located in the Allegheny Mountains, Lewisburg was named the “Coolest Small Town in America” in 2011.2 What makes Lewisburg so cool?

For starters, Lewisburg’s historic downtown is filled with art galleries, antique shops and restaurants. You’ll definitely want to try the cod and lobster pasta at Stardust Café. And Carnegie Hall has art exhibits and pop and classical concerts throughout the year. The 10-day State Fair of West Virginia also calls Lewisburg home.

The city has plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking at nearby Greenbrier State Forest. And Lewisburg has easy access to the Greenbrier Valley Airport and is about 10 miles from The Greenbrier, a luxury golf resort in White Sulphur Springs.

When it comes to jobs, the health care and education industries are the two biggest employers in Lewisburg.3

Population

3,8904

Median Household Income

$47,5635

Median Monthly Rent

$1,8006

Median Home Value

$270,2007

Unemployment Rate

3.6%8

Average Annual Rainfall

44.1"9

Morgantown

Morgantown is nestled along the Monongahela River in the rolling hills of north central West Virginia. As home to West Virginia University, the largest university in the state, Morgantown is known for college athletics. The university also is the city’s biggest employer.10

Morgantown is a paradise for nature lovers—fishing, hiking, kayaking, skiing—all kinds of outdoor adventures await. Nearby Coopers Rock State Forest has canyon overlooks and 50 miles of trails.

Pizza and beer is kind of a theme in this college town—and downtown Morgantown has tons of local restaurants and breweries. Mountain State Brewing Company serves up beer and wood-fired pizza. And the city celebrates local brews every February during the Cabin Fever Craft Beer Festival.

Morgantown has been ranked among the top cities to raise a family, and its public schools also score high. For music lovers, the historic Metropolitan Theatre and the Ruby Amphitheater on the river host concerts throughout the year.

Population

30,22011

Median Household Income

$41,10312

Median Monthly Rent

$1,30013

Median Home Value

$231,10014

Unemployment Rate

2.9%15

Average Annual Rainfall

53.9"16

 

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Cheat Lake

The Cheat Lake community surrounds the 1,730-acre man-made reservoir of the same name. Cheat Lake is about 10 miles from Morgantown, and it’s part of the Morgantown metropolitan area.

Cheat Lake is a rural, suburban area, and as you might guess, lake life is big there—boating, swimming and fishing. If you want to move there and don’t plan to open a bait shop or something else lake-related, you’ll have to find a remote job or something in Morgantown.

You’ll experience all four seasons in West Virginia, and Cheat Lake is especially beautiful in the fall when the trees ignite in vibrant hues of red and yellow.

See how much house you can afford with our free mortgage calculator!

You don’t need a whole lot of other things to do when you have a lake nearby, but Cheat Lake does have a few restaurants. The Whippoorwill Bar & Grill (called the “Whipp” by locals) serves beer and burgers by the lake.

Population

10,03417

Median Household Income

$109,73218

Median Monthly Rent

$1,11219

Median Home Value

$335,00020

Unemployment Rate

2.9%21

Average Annual Rainfall

53.9"22

Charleston

Located along the banks of the Kanawha River, Charleston is both the capital of West Virginia and its largest city. Charleston has the conveniences of a big city, but the natural beauty you’d find in a more rural area. The gold-domed state capitol building is Charleston’s signature landmark.

Downtown Charleston has an artsy vibe, with local shops, restaurants and galleries. People rave about the Wagyu burger at Hale House restaurant.

For entertainment, Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences is a one-stop shop. You can check out an art exhibit, step into the planetarium, or go to a concert all under the same roof. Nearby Haddad Riverfront Park offers scenic views of the river, and it has an amphitheater that hosts concerts throughout the year.

For nature enthusiasts, Kanawha Forest has more than 9,000 acres for hiking, camping, mountain biking and fishing.

Health care and city and state government are big employers in Charleston, but chemical production also plays a key role in the local economy.23

Population

48,41524

Median Household Income

$58,90225

Median Monthly Rent

$1,00026

Median Home Value

$172,80027

Unemployment Rate

3.5%28

Average Annual Rainfall

52.3"29

Weirton

Weirton is a small city along the Ohio River in West Virginia’s northern panhandle (yes, Oklahoma and Florida aren’t the only states with panhandles). The narrow northern panhandle juts up between Ohio and Pennsylvania, making Weirton the only city in the country that touches two other states.

Weirton is a quiet town that ranks among the safest cities in West Virginia, making it a good place to raise a family.30 And it’s just 35 minutes from Pittsburgh and all that big city has to offer.

Weirton has its share of local stores and restaurants (the gyros at Theo Yianni’s Greek American Restaurant are a must). And, like everywhere else in West Virginia, it has plenty of outdoor activities. The Panhandle Trail is a relaxing place to run, walk or bike. And nearby Tomlinson Run State Park is great for fishing and hiking.

Steel was a huge industry in Weirton for decades, but health care (notably the regional Weirton Medical Center), is now the town’s biggest employer.31

Population

18,97132

Median Household Income

$57,37333

Median Monthly Rent

$75034

Median Home Value

$114,20035

Unemployment Rate

5.2%36

Average Annual Rainfall

47.1"37

Bridgeport

Bridgeport is about 30 miles south of Morgantown. It’s a small, suburban town with good schools and what every suburb needs: a giant mall (called Meadowbrook) with an Auntie Anne’s to satisfy pretzel cravings.

Bridgeport’s location in the I-79 corridor makes it ideal for businesses, and the city has a new business park called White Oaks and Charles Pointe, a $1.4 billion mixed-use development. Bridgeport is also close to Clarksburg, where the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Center employs thousands of people.

A suburb wouldn’t be a suburb without a great park, and Bridgeport City Park, with walking trails and sports fields, fits the bill. The Bridge Sports Complex has even more indoor and outdoor space for sports of all kinds.

And when it’s time to eat, the chicken marsala at Oliverio’s Ristorante is always a crowd pleaser.

Population

9,25538

Median Household Income

$96,06339

Median Monthly Rent

$1,32540

Median Home Value

$255,30041

Unemployment Rate

3.0%42

Average Annual Rainfall

56.7"43

Wheeling

Wheeling is planted along the banks of the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. From above, Wheeling looks like a model train town, with bridges across the river and streets lined with trees, houses and businesses.

Wheeling is an industrial town that has made a comeback, but the coal and natural gas industries are still big employers.44 The once-rundown historic buildings in downtown Wheeling are now brimming with local shops and restaurants (you can’t go wrong with the fish sandwich at Coleman’s Fish Market). And the Capitol Theatre, a Victorian gem, hosts concerts and plays throughout the year.

For outdoors lovers, Wheeling’s park system has 24 miles of paved trails for walking, running or biking. Oglebay Park is more resort than park, with golf, skiing, a zoo and a spa! And if you’d rather watch sports than play them, Wheeling has a minor league hockey team: the Wheeling Nailers.

Population

26,90045

Median Household Income

$46,51646

Median Monthly Rent

$79547

Median Home Value

$131,60048

Unemployment Rate

4.8%49

Average Annual Rainfall

48.4"50

Huntington

Huntington sits on the Ohio River where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia meet. Huntington is the second largest city in West Virginia, but is also part of the Huntington-Ashland-Ironton metro area that covers three states and has a population of more than 360,000.51

Huntington has a thriving cultural scene that includes the Huntington Museum of Art and the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Downtown Huntington has lots of boutiques and restaurants along Third and Fourth avenues. The Peddler restaurant serves house-brewed beer and is famous for duck-fat fries (yes, please).

And for outdoor activities, look no further than Ritter Park, with its walking path, playground, tennis courts and dog park.

Marshall University is one of the city’s largest employers, and the tech and health care industries are big in Huntington. Amazon also recently built a large customer service center in the city.

Population

46,63752

Median Household Income

$39,06653

Median Monthly Rent

$85054

Median Home Value

$114,80055

Unemployment Rate

4.0%56

Average Annual Rainfall

48.7"57

Is West Virginia an Affordable Place to Live?

One of the most important things to do before moving to a new area is to make sure you can actually afford the cost of living there. And the cost of housing is the most important factor to consider.

To figure out your housing budget, use the 25% rule—never buy or rent a home that comes with a monthly payment that’s more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

If you’re getting a mortgage, that 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI) and homeowners association fees. Use our Mortgage Calculator to enter your down payment amount and try out different home prices within your budget.

If you want a mortgage you can pay off fast, talk to the home loan specialists we trust at Churchill Mortgage about getting a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Any other type of mortgage will drown you in interest and extra fees and keep you in debt for decades. 

Work With a Pro if You’re Planning to Relocate

If you think West Virginia seems like the place you belong, don’t start packing yet. If you’re serious about making West Virginia your new home, you need a local real estate agent who can help you find the part of the state that’s just right for you.

 

Next Steps

  • Decide where in West Virginia you want to live.
  • Interview at least three local RamseyTrusted agents.
  • Choose one who’s right for you and start your moving journey.
Find West Virginia Agents

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About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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