West Virginia has many wonderful and unique things to offer its residents! In addition to safe cities and retiree-friendly communities, you’ve got the Appalachian Mountains, delectable apples, and beautiful fall foliage to enjoy in this rugged state.
Not sure where to start? No worries, those country roads are sure to lead you to a new home in any of these great cities!
Housing cost to income ratio: 5.59%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.29%
Violent crime index: 19
Nonviolent crime index: 32.2
Cost of living index: 90.3
Located on the Monongahela River, Morgantown gets about 43 inches of rain, 28 inches of snow, and 155 sunny days per year, making it perfect for enjoying lazy days fishing and camping on the river or exploring the Historic Downtown strip. Although it is best known for its Big 12 college West Virginia University, Morgantown is known as one of the best small towns in West Virginia.
West Virginia University plays a large role in this college town. Wear your blue and gold to support the school. With an excellent football team, outstanding scholastics, and NCAA rifle championships, and a long list of alumni scholars, this public research university has an enrollment of over 28,000 students.
With a population of more than 30,000, Morgantown is a vibrant city with a lot to offer in terms of entertainment, parks, major employers, weather, and schools. It’s easy to be active and enjoy the scenic beauty of this area with abundant parks and green spaces. Hike, camp, and fish at Coopers Rock State Forest. Get your adrenaline pumping with thrilling whitewater rafting in the Monongahela National Forest. Bring the dog, some towels, and a picnic to Hazelwood Green with its dog park, playground, and splash pad. This great locale puts you near Deep Creek Lake with its water recreation and skiing. Wisp, Canaan Valley, and Snowshoe Mountain Resort will have you heading down the slopes.
There are many things to do for entertainment in Morgantown. The city has a vibrant arts scene, with several theaters, art galleries, and museums. There are also many live music venues, bars, and restaurants. The West Virginia Black Bears are a minor league team that is affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Catch a game at the Monongalia County Ballpark and cheer on this baseball team. Downtown Morgantown has delicious eateries and shops including Gibbie’s Pub & Eatery and Table 9.
The economy flourishes with major employers like West Virginia University, Mon Health System, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, WesBanco, and United Bank. The public schools in Morgantown are part of the Monongalia County Schools district. Discover 17 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 3 high schools ready to serve your family. There are also several private schools in the city including Trinity Christian School and Covenant Christian School.
Politically it is somewhat liberal, and its communities are diverse and welcoming to all new residents. There are several hospitals in the area including West Virginia University Hospitals and Ruby Memorial Hospital. Morgantown residents have full access to the Mountain Line Transit system which has stops in surrounding suburbs like Star City and Cheat Lake as well as daily routes to Pittsburgh and other big Pennsylvania cities.
With four distinctive seasons, the weather in Morgantown allows you to experience warm summers and snowy winters. Start your search for a new home in this welcoming part of the state. It will be an investment in your family and future. There are some amazing suburbs around Morgantown including Maidsville and Bridgeport.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.83%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.40%
Violent crime index: 28.4
Nonviolent crime index: 59.6
Cost of living index: 72.5
The Parkersburg-Marietta metropolitan statistical area sits in both West Virginia and Ohio. The two cities share the state border and are both located on the Ohio River. Parkersburg is the bigger of the two cities, and it is known as one of the most historical cities in West Virginia. Its rich history mixes well with its modern downtown scene to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere for its residents. Marietta is Ohio’s oldest city and prides itself on being a charming, steadily growing community.
Parkersburg has year-round festivals, art shows, and live music that bring in a wide variety of cultures. You name it, it’s celebrated. Join in the revelry at the Honey Festival, Winterfest, the Downtown Throwdown & Brew Fest, the Harvest Moon Festival, and the Parkersburg Paddlefest to name a few.
Marietta is a bike-friendly community that offers miles of bike trails that lead in and around the city, connecting to shops and restaurants downtown. The city of Marietta emphasizes the importance of community involvement and supports its small businesses every month at a First Friday shopping event. Water recreation along the river allows you to play at your own pace or take a Marietta Riverboat Cruise. Marietta often called Riverboat Town has the only steam-powered sternwheel towboat in the nation that is still afloat.
Local eateries offer an array of options including pub fare, global cuisine, and barbecue. Some local favorites in Marietta include the Marietta Brewing Company with delicious pizza and craft beers and the Galley located in an historic building. Of course, the dining options in Parkersburg are equally enticing. From popular chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse to local favorites like North End Tavern & Brewery, find an array of delicious meals.
The proximity to the Ohio River, as well as the Muskingum and Little Kanawha rivers, gives both cities plenty of opportunity for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping all year long. The area also has the perfect climate for these water activities as it gets about 42 inches of rain and 16 inches of snow and has 179 sunny days per year. Popular spots to enjoy fresh air and be active include Point Park, a riverfront park with an amphitheater in Parkersburg along with Fort Boreman Park with scenic river views and hiking trails. Marietta’s parks offer everything from sporting fields to skating facilities to walking paths.
The strong economy and easy amenities make these cities ideal for new homebuyers. Major industries offer job opportunities in manufacturing, healthcare, and educational services. As a shipping center, Parkersburg has a strong economy. Marietta major employers include Marietta College, Morrison, Inc., Hy-Vac Corporation, and Broughton Foods LLC.
Excellent health care is provided by the 13 hospitals in the area, so whether you live in West Virginia or Ohio, you will be sure to get the medical attention you need. Marietta Memorial Hospital, Selby General Hospital, and Camden Clark Medical Center are at your disposal.
It’s important to have excellent educational opportunities for your family. The Parkersburg-Marietta area has a school district in each city, both offering primary and secondary education. Wood County Schools and Marietta City Public Schools along with some private schools ensure all students achieve their potential.
This area spans about 11 miles and has many great suburbs between the cities such as North Hills, Pettyville, and Blennerhassett. This friendly area is a great place to put down roots.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.14%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.12%
Violent crime index: 42.6
Nonviolent crime index: 60.9
Cost of living index: 73.6
The Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area spans not two, but three states! Better known as the “Tri-State” area, this metropolitan area populates West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio and includes seven counties. Huntington, West Virginia is the second largest city in its state and the most populated in the Tri-State area. Huntington may best be known for being the inspiration behind the 2006 film We Are Marshall, but it is more than a college town.
Home to Marshall University, Huntington is an energetic city full of West Virginian heritage, and it works hard to bring in other cultures with festivals and events that represent all of Huntington’s influences. Join in the fun at the Funktafest Music & Arts Festival and the annual St. George Greek Festival. This city is also well known for its walkability! Most businesses are within walking distance of residential areas and the many walking paths throughout the city are safe and convenient.
Ashland represents the Kentucky side of this triangle and is the largest city in its county. Ashland is quickly turning its small-town charm into a welcoming and booming city by mixing its Southern roots, Appalachian heritage, and modern luxuries inspired by big cities. Its downtown scene, known as The District, is full of locally owned restaurants including Sal’s Italian Eatery & Speakeasy and the Winchester.
Recreation is on point in this area with the inviting Ohio River making it easy to fish and swim. Huntington residents enjoy eleven parks. Find abundant campgrounds like Firefox KOA and Oasis Point – RV Campground & Adventure Lake to relax and create memories. This area gets about 44 inches of rain, 14 inches of snow, and 162 sunny days per year so you can fully embrace the outdoors with activities that pique your interests.
The economy is supported by an array of small business and some key players including King’s Daughters Medical Center, Huntington Alloys Corporation, Marshall University, and Steel of West Virginia, Inc. There are 22 hospitals within driving distance of either city. In addition to the five school districts for primary and secondary education, there are also a variety of post-secondary options including schools of medicine, teaching hospitals, and technical colleges. If you can’t decide which city is right for you, this area has great suburbs to choose from such as Russell, Barboursville, and Pea Ridge.
The gorgeous Appalachian area is the perfect place to blend easy amenities, small-town charm, and a new home. Why not take a look at the many new homes that check off your wants and needs list in the Huntington-Ashland area and surrounding suburbs?
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.39%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.65%
Violent crime index: 48.4
Nonviolent crime index: 34.5
Cost of living index: 75.9
Wheeling is in northern West Virginia along the Ohio River. It is somewhat conservative politically and has an active community. Wheeling has over 20 public playgrounds, courts, and fields for various sports; a dog park; and 24 miles of biking and walking trails throughout the city perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The yearly climate averages about 36 inches of rain, 36 inches of snow, and 188 sunny days which makes for distinct seasonal weather. Wheeling is also family-friendly! You will find residents taking full advantage of parks like Oglebay Park with 1,600 acres with forests, lakes, and a variety of gardens. Spend time boating, fishing, hiking, and biking. Another enticing park is Wheeling Park full of opportunities to play, swim, and golf.
This affordable city in a beautiful part of the state has a cost of living and crime rate below the national average. Home to a variety of schools including West Virginia Northern Community College and a private university, Wheeling University you will find these schools offer a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Additionally, there are six school districts in the area with both public and private campuses for primary and secondary education. The Linsly School is an outstanding private high school. The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority and Eastern Ohio Regional Transportation Authority have routes that stop in surrounding suburbs like Oakmont, Woodsdale, and Park View.
Along with outdoor recreation, Wheeling has its share of entertainment and fun. Try your luck at the casino on Wheeling Island located on the Ohio River. Concerts, plays, and ballets are offered at The Capitol Theatre. The WesBanco Arena stays busy with everything from sporting events to concerts. Catch a Wheeling Nailers hockey game or a West Virginia Miners indoor football game. Enjoy classical and popular music by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
Rest easy knowing there are great hospitals and medical care in the area. The Ohio Valley Medical Center is the largest hospital. Located in the downtown area, Wheeling Hospital has a great reputation for care.
Adding depth to the economy, major employers in Wheeling include WesBanco, the Oglebay Foundation, Century Aluminum, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, and the Ohio Valley Medical Center. Of course, small businesses also enhance the quality of life in Wheeling. Downtown, you will find the Centre Market where farmers offer meats, cheeses, and fresh produce year-round. Buy local at the Market Plaza and the Wheeling Artisan Center.
There are great eateries and places to unwind. Stop by the Wheeling Brewing Company for a variety of craft beers. Vagabond Kitchen and Figaretti’s Restaurant are two top-notch restaurants offering flavors to tempt the taste buds. Overall, Wheeling is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It is safe, affordable, and has many things to see and do. Live in a great area and enjoy West Virginia to its fullest.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.91%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.06%
Violent crime index: 63.4
Nonviolent crime index: 95
Cost of living index: 78.5
The capital city and the most populated city in the state, Charleston is in what can be considered the “sweet spot” of West Virginia. Right between the Western Allegheny Plateau and the Kanawha and Elk Rivers, Charleston is sure to deliver beautiful scenery and backyard views. This location also makes it possible for residents to take advantage of the wonderful climate that this area has year-round. About 46 inches of rain, 28 inches of snow, and 176 sunny days per year make this city’s residents eager to explore exciting outdoor adventures such as fishing, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and rock climbing.
Outdoor recreation spots like Haddad Riverfront Park give you beautiful views of the city skyline and the Kanawha River. Many festivals and concerts are held here. Break out the camping gear and bikes to enjoy Kanawha State Forest. Family fun is found at Coonskin Park with a zoo, playground, and carousel.
Those who are less outdoor focused have everything they need downtown or in Charleston’s Elk City District. Here you will find unique shops, crowd-favorite restaurants, and local businesses that bring the community together. The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority has daily routes that run through downtown and into many of Charleston’s great suburbs like Loudon Heights, South Ruffner, and South Hills West. Sample some delicious spirits at Mountain State Distillery or relax over a savory meal at DT Prime Steakhouse. The Capitol Market is the place to find a variety of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses.
This capital city will keep you entertained. The Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center hosts concerts, sporting events, and trade shows. Don’t miss out on the educational programs, art exhibits, and performances at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences. Plays, ballets, and concerts are also performed at the WV Music Hall.
There are many reasons why someone might want to live in Charleston. The city is relatively affordable, with a cost of living that is below the national average. It is also a safe city, with a crime rate that is lower than the national average. Additionally, Charleston is a great place to raise a family, with excellent schools and plenty of family-friendly activities. Wonderful health care is available at the hospitals including the Charleston Area Medical Center, which is the largest hospital in the state. Other healthcare offerings include St. Francis, a Catholic affiliated hospital offering an array of services. Thomas Memorial Hospital is another great option in the Kanawha Valley.
Charleston is also served by the Kanawha County Schools. This district has been recognized by the WV Department for Education with the Purple Star Award for its commitment to students of military families. As the largest school system in the state, this district serves approximately 24,000 students. There is a selection of private schools to choose from as well. Higher educational institutions include the University of Charleston, a private university, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University.
Living in an affordable city with an array of major employers allows you to enjoy a greater quality of life. Adding to the economy are employers like United Bank, West Virginia University, Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia, and Wells Fargo.
Overall, Charleston is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It is a safe, affordable city with a rich history and culture. It is the complete package with beautiful new homes sure to impress. Take a look at some of the amazing new home options in the Charleston area.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Jessi Gonzalez writes on the topics of home-buying, home decor, and home-ownership for New Home Source. She has a degree from Coastal Bend College and is currently enrolled in the English degree program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.