Is West Virginia a Good Place to Live? (17 Pros and Cons)

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Essential Things To Know Before Moving To West Virginia

Are you wondering if West Virginia is a good place to live? If yes, I will address the question for you and carefully examine the pros and cons of life in West Virginia.

Is West Virginia A Good Place To Live?

West Virginia is an excellent place to live, work, and retire for its low cost of living, access to scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and the relaxed pace of its charming, close-knit communities.

According to, the Mountain State is home to spirited small towns, undiscovered hidden gems, and world-class outdoor adventures. The state is the perfect place for you and your children to learn, grow, and explore.

Local realtor Rex Petrey loves living in West Virginia; however, he warns newcomers about the struggling economy, limited professional job opportunities, low incomes, lack of government services, and persistent health issues among residents. (source)

Putting these comments together, here are West Virginia’s pros and cons.

Pros And Cons Of Living In West Virginia: Side-By-Side Comparison

Living in West Virginia ProsLiving in West Virginia Cons
1. Low cost of living9. Struggling economy
2. Relaxed pace of life10. Limited job options
3. Sense of community11. High poverty
4. Natural beauty12. Subpar schools
5. Scenic outdoor places13. Rough roads
6. Outdoor activities14. Lack of health care
7. Four-season weather15. Excessive crime
8. Great location16. Drug abuse
17. Limited diversity
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living or Retiring in West Virginia

Next, let’s dive deeper into each item on the above list of West Virginia’s pros and cons.

West Virginia waterfall at Grist MillPin

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In West Virginia

1. West Virginia’s Low Cost Of Living Will Balance Your Budget

West Virginia’s cost of living is very low and compares favorably to other inexpensive areas in the country.

The median home value is 30% less than the comparable nationwide figure. (Source: Redfin and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

West Virginia’s property taxes are very affordable, too. The savings result from the combination of modest property values and reasonable real estate tax rates applied to those values.

Apartment rents are the cheapest of all states in the country. (Source: World Population Review)

Groceries, utilities, and clothing run 5-10% less than U.S. averages. (Source: RentCafe)

As a result, you can save money living here. However, costs will vary by location. For example, West Virginia’s popular cities of Charleston, Morgantown, and Fairmont have higher living costs.

Thus, West Virginia is an inexpensive state to live in. Here are several more tips for making the most of your money in the state.

Retire in West Virginia after you have your retirement finances in place. Take advantage of the low cost of living to stretch your retirement income a little farther.

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2. Small Cities And Towns For Relaxed Living In West Virginia

West Virginia has an abundance of small-town and mid-sized city living options.

Thus, you won’t have to deal with big city traffic jams. And you can find plenty of uncrowded spaces here. Better yet, rolling hills and mountains are the backdrop no matter where you choose to live.

So, enjoy finding your place to live in West Virginia and consider some popular choices.

Charleston, the state capital, is the largest city, with about 50,000 people.

Morgantown is similar in size to Charleston and home to West Virginia University.

Huntington has a population of about 30,000. Marshall University, a top-tier public school, is located here.

is West Virginia a good place to livePin

Summersville is home to the popular Music in the Mountains festival. The annual event pays tribute to Bluegrass music, a big part of West Virginia’s creative scene and culture.

Some other good towns to consider for your West Virginia home include:

  • Fayetteville
  • Shepherdstown
  • Lewisburg
  • Harpers Ferry

In these cities, towns, and places, here are some of the positive things you will find.

3. Sense Of Community Living In West Virginia

West Virginia has a small-town feel about it. Residents are friendly here. They know each other by name.

Bumping into a friend or neighbor at the grocery store is an everyday occurrence. You can quickly feel part of the community almost anywhere in the state you choose to live.

4. Immense Scenic Beauty Is All Around

West Virginia is a great state for outdoor lovers. It is a state full of natural beauty and inspiring landscapes.

natural beauty in "The Mountain State"Pin

First, you will always have the mountains nearby. After all, West Virginia’s nickname is “The Mountain State”.

The entire area sits in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Nearly 75% of the land is forested, making it one of the most densely forested states in the country.

5. Scenic Places To Explore When Living In West Virginia

West Virginia has many special outdoor places, including:

  • New River Gorge Bridge
  • Lost World Caverns
  • Dolly Sods Wilderness Area
  • Birthplace of Rivers
  • Berkeley Springs

Make a note to explore Blackwater Falls State Park. You will find a 62-foot waterfall where the Blackwater River leaves the Canaan Valley and enters Blackwater Canyon.

Related: Another state with immense natural beauty

6. For The Active Outdoor Enthusiast Living In West Virginia

pros and cons of living in West VirginiaPin

West Virginia is an excellent state to pursue outdoor activities.

For hiking and camping, there are plenty of great trails and spaces. The Appalachian Trail passes through Harpers Ferry, the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

West Virginia has some of the best whitewater rapids in the country. So tune up your kayak or paddleboat. Get ready to hit the white water as you head downstream.

Finally, the state is great for hunting and fishing, too.

And what makes all of these outdoor adventures possible?  It is the weather!

7. Weather Marked By All 4 Seasons

West Virginia residents enjoy all four weather seasons.

The fall season may be the best time of year. As the summer temperatures cool, the changing leaves put on a color display that is second to none.

However, it is very cold here in the winter. There is a fair amount of snow accumulation, especially higher up in the mountains.

The spring temperatures warm quickly and bring plenty of rain, making for a lush seasonal landscape.

Finally, summers are warm and humid, especially in the lower elevations. At the same time, the summer climate is cooler and more comfortable in the mountains.

Next, here is another one of the perks of living in West Virginia.

8. Proximity To Larger Cities And Other States

disadvantages of living in West VirginiaPin

West Virginia has a prime location and good interstate highways for regional travel.

For example, move to a town in the northern panhandle of the state for easy access to Pittsburg. Take up residence in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia for proximity to Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Charlotte, NC, is also within reasonable driving distance from the southern region of the state.

From northern West Virginia, Ohio is easily accessible where you can:

Okay. That concludes the benefits of moving to West Virginia. However, an article about the pros and cons of living in West Virginia is incomplete without addressing the cons.

Cons Of Living In West Virginia

9. West Virginia’s Economy Is Not The Best

cost of living in West VirginiaPin

West Virginia’s economy ranks poorly based on its business environment, employment, and growth, according to a study by U.S. News.

The state still produces most of the coal in the United States. However, the coal industry is in rapid decline. Other sectors are trying to pick up the slack. They include aerospace, healthcare, chemicals, and alternative energy.

Related reading: Get more for your money in this state

10. Finding The Right Job When Living In West Virginia

West Virginia’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country. (Source: U.S Burea of Labor Statistics) Within the employment market, there are fewer high-paying professional jobs.

As a result, many young people leave the state because they can’t find good opportunities here. And not enough new residents are moving here to bring fresh ideas and energy that could improve things.

Options for moving to West Virginia and earning a good living include:

Choose to live in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle and commute to Washington, D.C. Move to the northern panhandle and commute to Pittsburg. Move anywhere in West Virginia, keep your job, and work remotely.

More reading: This state’s population is shrinking

11. Poverty Rates Are Disappointing

West Virginia’s poverty rate is one of the highest in the country. (Source: Wikipedia)

Some of the areas in the state are much worse than others. Monongalia County is in the northeastern part of West Virginia and has seen poverty rates of over 25%. Thus, one out of every four families in that area lives below the poverty line.

12. The Educational System Is Less Than The Best

West Virginia’s educational system ranks poorly, resulting in sub-par academic performance. Thus, finding a good school district for your kids can be as difficult as finding a high-paying job.

On the other hand, once you get your kids through a decent high school, send them to West Virginia University. It’s a good state school with reasonable in-state tuition.

13. Drivers Beware Of The Poor Road Conditions

West Virginia’s state roads and lesser-traveled backroads are in fairly poor condition, according to Consumer Affairs.

Secondary roads often lack guardrails, good signage, and striping. Maintenance is inadequate following bad weather, and potholes are a problem in this state.

So, be careful when driving. Watch the road rather than the beautiful scenery.

Add this next point to the cons of living in West Virginia.

14. There Is A Lack Of Quality Health Care Services

West Virginia has subpar health care services based on a study performed by WalletHub. The study cited high healthcare costs, limited provider access, and poor patient outcomes.

For better healthcare, consider moving to the neighboring state of Virginia.

welcome to Virginia road signPin

So, for anyone considering the pros and cons of retiring in West Virginia. Do your homework on healthcare service providers when determining where to live.

15. The High Crime Rates Are Troubling

West Virginia has higher than average crime rates. This point holds for both property crimes and violent crimes.

Yes. There are safe places to live in West Virginia. According to, five West Virginia towns with lower crime rates include:

  • New Martinsville
  • Oak Hill
  • Weston
  • Weirton
  • Charles Town

So, for your safety and the peace of mind that comes with it, do your homework before deciding where to settle.

More reading: A state that won’t disappoint you

16. Significant Drug Abuse

West Virginia has high rates of illegal drug use, drug addiction, and overdoses. Certain areas in the state are particularly hard-hit by heroin, methamphetamine, and opioid usage.

17. Limited Racial And Ethnic Diversity

West Virginia lacks ethnic and cultural diversity.

First, more than 90% of the population is white.

Second, the median age in the state is one of the highest in the country. West Virginia also has one of the highest percentages of senior citizens.

So, if you are white and planning on retiring in West Virginia, you will fit in just fine. On the other hand, younger people, foreigners, and people of color may feel out of place.

Regardless of who you are, some have said they have had difficulty being accepted into their new community by native West Virginians.

Okay. That concludes the disadvantages of living in West Virginia. So, allow me to wrap up with some parting comments.

Is West Virginia A Good Place To Live? (Considering The Pros and Cons)

Hopefully, this information has helped you with some important questions. Such as…

  1. Why should I move to West Virginia?
  2. What is West Virginia like?
  3. Is West Virginia a good place to live?

Regardless, good luck with your decision. No matter what you decide.

More Reading About Living In West Virginia And Beyond

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In West Virginia Explained