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. Politically it is somewhat liberal, and its communities are diverse and welcoming to all new residents. Morgantown has one school district, but there are campuses for all grade levels in Monongalia County, of which Morgantown is the seat city. There are 26 hospitals in the area as well. 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.
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. Parkersburg has year-round festivals, art shows, and live music that bring in a wide variety of cultures. Marietta is Ohio’s oldest city and prides itself on a charming, steadily growing community. It 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.
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. There are 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. The Parkersburg-Marietta area has a school district in each city, both offering primary and secondary education. This area spans about 11 miles and has many great suburbs between the cities such as North Hills, Pettyville, and Blennerhassett.
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. This energetic city is 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. 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 and the Ohio River supplies easy access to fishing, camping, and swimming. This area gets about 44 inches of rain, 14 inches of snow, and 162 sunny days per year.
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, that give you the best of both worlds.
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! There are six school districts in the area with both public and private campuses for primary and secondary education. It is also within commuting distance from multiple colleges and universities. 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.
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.
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. Charleston has six hospitals throughout the city, including the Charleston Area Medical Center, which is the largest hospital in the state. Charleston also has eight school districts with a wide selection of both public and private schools for every family.
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.