10 Small Towns In Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in VA are the pits.

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Most Americans have never been to Virginia. However, as the people who live there know, Virginia is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Virginia has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Old Dominion. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 78 of Virginia’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Virginia where you’d never want to live:

  1. Glen Lyn
  2. Troutdale
  3. Clinchco
  4. Goshen
  5. Nickelsville
  6. Drakes Branch
  7. Alberta
  8. Pocahontas
  9. Burkeville
  10. Phenix

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Virginia has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

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How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Virginia, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there’s no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 78 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

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1. Glen Lyn

Glen Lyn, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 85

We begin our journey of small Virginia towns that you’d never want to live in with Glen Lyn, a speck of a town right along the West Virginia border. What makes this place such a crummy little place to live?

If living among 85 other people isn’t already bad enough, almost 3 in 10 of them would be a high school dropout. Your family would earn about $26,000 a year annually, which is right at the poverty line.

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But most importantly, this is the most dangerous place in the entire state, where you’d have a 1 in 18 chance of being the victim of a crime every year. Yikes, indeed.

2. Troutdale

Troutdale, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 210

Way, way (way) down near the North Carolina/Kentucky border is the teeny town of Troutdale, where 22% of residents are out of work. That’s the highest rate by far of any place we measured. Odds are if you lived here, you’d be jobless, broke, or both.

Crime is also up there – this is the 3rd most dangerous small town in Virginia. And, this is the ‘least dense’ place in the state as well, so not only would you be scared of crime, there wouldn’t be many people around to hear you scream.

3. Clinchco

Clinchco, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 567
Median Income: $20,521
Median Home Price: $46,000

Are you surprised to hear that most of these places are near West Virginia? Little Clincho is the poorest place in the state, where your family would earn far below the poverty line annually. Sure, money goes a lot further in rural Virginia, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting ahead, much less surviving on such a low income in today’s America.

Homes are by far the least expensive in the state, and a staggering 60% of residents here never completed high school. Trust us, you’d hate living in Clinchco.

4. Goshen

Goshen, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 450
Median Income: $28,929
Median Home Price: $86,100

Way up in the hills west of Charlottesville is teeny Goshen. If you moved here, don’t plan on much stimulation or entertainment. There’s a church, a post office and a BG’s Bar & Grill in town. Once the novelty of BG’s wore off, you’d have a 30 minute drive to the next nearest town for a hot meal.

Odds are you might be working at BG’s, too. 40% of the folks in town here are high school dropouts. Better get your fry cook skills up to par if this is somewhere you’d consider moving to.

5. Nickelsville

Nickelsville, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 402
Median Income: $28,750
Median Home Price: $59,600

Nickelsville actually has several amenities to keep residents occupied. For groceries, you’d shop at Dollar General, and for dinner, you’d have your choice between Pizza Plus and a place called Teddy’s, which doesn’t even have a website.

We’re sure Teddy is a great guy, but even he might be tired of Nickelsville by now. A quarter of residents are high school dropouts, and crime is the third worst of all small Virginia towns. No wonder home prices are so low. There’s just no demand to live here.

6. Drakes Branch

Drakes Branch, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 494
Median Income: $22,083
Median Home Price: $117,100

If you’re a religious person, you’d fit right in with the Drakes Branch community. There are 4 churches in town. We’re not quite sure how packed the congregations are, since there are less than 500 people in the area, and only 120 people per square mile.

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Just about the entire community lives below poverty, but homes are by far the most expensive of any other small town on this list. Meaning you’d be overpaying to live way out in the sticks off of Route 15 near North Carolina.

7. Alberta

Alberta, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 306
Median Income: $33,478
Median Home Price: $80,000

For such a small place, it’s surprising that Alberta, VA has a town hall. We’re not quite sure what town organizers do all day long here, since there are only 306 people to manage on a day to day basis.

For fun, you could shop at Dollar General or grab a sandwich at the Alberta General Store and Deli. But for real shits and giggles, you’d have to take I-85 an hour up to Petersburg. And if you’ve ever been to Petersburg, you’d know how depressing that prospect sounds.

8. Pocahontas

Pocahontas, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 389
Median Income: $30,000
Median Home Price: $55,000

There’s a lot of history in little Pocahontas, which is way up near the West Virginia border. It’s also one of the centerpoints for this region’s coal boom, and we all know what happened to former coal towns.

For fun, you could always visit the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine and Museum. Plus, there’s a Pocahontas Indian Run in the spring and a Lions Club Car Show and Flea Market every October. If that’s all you have to look forward to, this place would become a real snoozefest pretty quickly.

9. Burkeville

Burkeville, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 455
Median Income: $41,500
Median Home Price: $92,400

Little ‘ole Burkeville is somewhere along Route 460 halfway between Lynchburg and Petersburg. This is the second most dangerous small town in the state, where residents face a 1 in 19 chance of having crime impact them each year.

6% of residents are out of work, and many are broke. That’s likely due to 31% of the population being uneducated.

10. Phenix

Phenix, Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 281
Median Income: $26,000
Median Home Price: $112,500

We round out our list of small Virginia towns that you’d never want to live in with Phenix, a blip of a place on highway 40 southeast of Lynchburg. For some odd reason, there are two post offices here, and, surprisingly, there are two banks in town.

Chances are that most bank accounts are fairly empty – as would yours – as a majority of the population lives in poverty. But hey, there’s something to be said about living out in the middle of nowhere, right?

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In Virginia

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Old Dominion with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Virginia, according to science.

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Best: Occoquan
2nd Best: Wakefield
3rd Best: Belle Haven
For more Virginia reading, check out:

Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Virginia

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City Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Glen Lyn 1 85 $26,000 $71,000
Troutdale 2 210 $24,722 $75,000
Clinchco 3 567 $20,521 $46,000
Goshen 4 450 $28,929 $86,100
Nickelsville 5 402 $28,750 $59,600
Drakes Branch 6 494 $22,083 $117,100
Alberta 7 306 $33,478 $80,000
Pocahontas 8 689 $30,000 $55,000
Burkeville 9 455 $41,500 $92,400
Phenix 10 281 $26,000 $112,500
La Crosse 11 901 $31,944 $86,800
Haysi 12 458 $28,281 $88,300
Brodnax 13 383 $38,000 $80,300
Damascus 14 810 $23,457 $106,300
Fries 15 673 $29,375 $92,700
Iron Gate 16 446 $37,083 $71,900
Pamplin City 17 230 $28,750 $99,300
Claremont 18 428 $37,054 $121,700
Saxis 19 254 $31,771 $103,200
Charlotte Court House 20 882 $37,500 $105,400
Branchville 21 118 $33,750 $109,800
Painter 22 298 $28,438 $129,500
Dendron 23 441 $34,773 $125,800
Pound 24 1 $29,896 $82,500
Hallwood 25 473 $28,375 $79,600
McKenney 26 404 $34,196 $105,200
Virgilina 27 185 $29,219 $109,700
Duffield 28 169 $38,182 $112,500
Cleveland 29 392 $26,250 $70,000
Bloxom 30 511 $35,882 $101,000
Dungannon 31 502 #N/A $77,000
Tangier 32 520 $40,938 $103,100
Port Royal 33 120 $32,500 $137,500
Cheriton 34 607 $26,719 $171,100
Floyd 35 706 $35,515 $126,600
Keller 36 117 $41,250 $233,300
Toms Brook 37 235 $45,893 $140,000
Montross 38 549 $57,250 $185,200
Stanardsville 39 260 $33,646 $176,600
New Castle 40 283 $31,676 $47,800
Newsoms 41 432 $72,917 $147,900
Jarratt 42 645 $49,737 $110,800
Scottsville 43 503 $40,521 $250,800
Ridgeway 44 934 $43,938 $123,400
Boydton 45 518 $39,500 $134,700
Dillwyn 46 742 $35,772 $111,600
Boykins 47 723 $42,321 $135,100
Cape Charles 48 980 $29,904 $292,600
Rich Creek 49 746 $32,625 $99,900
White Stone 50 257 $38,438 $153,100
Ivor 51 417 $42,708 $136,000
Mineral 52 629 $57,333 $189,300
Surry 53 318 $72,857 $202,800
Boones Mill 54 217 $68,750 $92,500 Melfa 55 437 $37,750 $141,000
Chatham 56 1 $42,426 $136,700
Middleburg 57 611 $55,962 $425,000
Madison 58 160 $58,750 $309,400
Mount Crawford 59 408 $57,125 $200,000
Troutville 60 560 $44,861 $187,700
Accomac 61 380 $43,542 $190,900
Nassawadox 62 556 $46,875 $159,400
Remington 63 735 $64,444 $272,700
Urbanna 64 533 $52,014 $288,200
Onley 65 612 $70,804 $186,400
The Plains 66 222 $81,875 $450,000
Monterey 67 282 $50,446 $165,400
Fincastle 68 266 $58,068 $189,800
Parksley 69 1 $45,766 $164,000
Irvington 70 607 $64,107 $331,700
Boyce 71 648 $74,286 $287,800
Quantico 72 463 $41,250 $239,300
Hamilton 73 429 $63,021 $317,000
Round Hill 74 525 $96,429 $358,000
Clifton 75 278 $174,219 $694,900
Belle Haven 76 6 $91,290 $312,900
Wakefield 77 11 $142,917 $581,900
Occoquan 78 806 $84,688 $332,200

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17 thoughts on “10 Small Towns In Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live

  1. Some of us even graduated from college. You should do more research before publishing did you ask the people who live here if they like living here. Most would say yes.

  2. I got ten bucks (big spender for this region) that says those bemoaning these slanderous accusations have never ventured beyond their respective county lines.

  3. I was raised in Clinchco, I attended college in Berea, KY, and have traveled up and down the east coast. I still say Clinchco is not a bad place to live. I have a sister who lives in Washington D. C. and I would rather live here in a small town than in the craziness of a big city.

  4. I see your click bait Bud Tapman and raise you some real science and data¹ about Phenix, Virginia, which you, sir, who sits in a shadow on a rock overlooking an ocean at sunset, know nothing about. We’ve got sunsets in Phenix, too, and rocks. No ocean though.

    Five Reasons and/or Clarifications Why Phenix Is Not One of the Worst Small Towns to Live in in Virginia. Read it here.

  5. You would be surprised how many people want to live in a small town like Nickelsville, Va. Every one knows just about every person and the crime rate is very low. I don’t know where you get you’re information , but it is not correct. As for Teddy’s , it is a Great place to eat and fellowship. Teddy and his wife Trish have put their Heart in this little town, I don’t think
    they would ever move, this is Home to them as well as it is to many others who Love this small town… You need to live it before you Judge it….I Live Here and I Love this small country living….

  6. Retraction is what needs to happen here. This is utter bullshit. Dont get affended my ass. People from these small towns are not all stupid and broke. I have lived around and in these towns my whole life. I have met more stupid people in cities then the small towns of south Virginia. Ya damn bigot.

  7. This is bull crap! To imply that no one finishes school.There lots in Clinchco that have walked the walk. I think that this is all wrong and to belittle the good people in Clinchco is not right. Some may be poor, but we are rich in heart. Come visit our small town and the people who will give the shirts off their backs to help someone in need. We are proud of our town.

    1. You are based in Durham NC according to your web site? Well heres your town review> this is why we live here in Clinchco, we dont have all this crime.

      For Durham, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon.

  8. I will say as a Virginian and Town Planner who has never been to any of these communities, this faux “study” of them makes me want to visit each in order to confirm what I suspect: that these communities are most likely quaint, historic little towns filled with friendly people dealing with challenging economic conditions as best they can. Perhaps that was the point…to get me to spend my tourism dollars in not-so-obvious, off-the-beaten-track places that I would typically not even think to visit. Well played (and placed), advertisement webpage masquerading as pseudo-scientific “place” analysis!

  9. Please explain why the criterion for this article was towns with populations between 100 and 1,000 and the very first town you cite has only 85???

  10. The information about Goshen is way off. It lists Goshen as only have 1 church, a bar & grill, and a post office. There are actually 4 churches in Goshen. Besides the bar & grill, there is a grocery store that also has a grill, a gas station, a Dollar General Store, a flower shop, a produce store, an Inn, a library and two lumber yards. There is a town hall, a war memorial, a rescue squad, and a fire department. A few miles away from town is Goshen Pass – a scenic pass through the mountains where you can kayak the river, fish, swim, and picnic. Camps a few miles outside of town: Grace Bible Camp, Boys Scout Camp, Camp Accovac, Young Life Rockbridge Alum Springs, Camp GoodSam. There are beautiful mountain views, walking trails, hunting and fishing. There is low crime. People who live there like the small-town life. Only 30 & 45 minutes away are the scenic towns of Lexington, Staunton, and Hot Springs. Douthat State Park is nearby and it offers camping, cabins, swimming, fishing, hiking trails, picnicking, mountain biking, boating, and a restaurant/store. So there is plenty to do.

  11. affended my ass. People from these small towns are not all stupid and broke. TFF. I lived in Lynchburg VA., Cincinnati, Columbus OH, Philly, Covington KY and Houston. The small towns are at best boring. And given housing and median income – they are clearly sh##holes. Lynchburg was boring and ridiculously conservative. Most people shopped by mail order.

  12. I would like to say, I agree with the people of these small towns mentioned… I live in Richmond ,va. and with all that goes around this city, I do liv in a fairly nice part just west of the downtown. I also, being a photographer and musician as well, have been able to visit the small towns and backroads which are beautiful places and the people in these towns I have met through travels are very nice… Half if not more of these places mentioned, I have been to at one point or another and wouldn’t hurt my feelings to pick up and move to them.. You can make figures behind a desk about anyplace in the world but there is no place in the world safe without crime,, sure some places may be more than others,, but i’d rather take my chances in a small beautiful historic town than to go downtown Richmond at night,,,,,,,, Also,,, not everyone desires to live like millionaires,, if people are doing what they need to survive or live in these rural areas,, and they are happy,, that’s all that matters,,, saying that they haven’t finished schools and poverty don’t mean anything, There’s plenty of people in this country that never went to school and finished that have become wealthy or famous and I bet they aren’t all from big cities….,,, take a look at Richmond… I bet there’s as many dropouts and poverty in this city than there is in all the small towns mentioned. Just saying, !!! and to all those living in small towns,,,,,,, Great for you!!!!!!!

  13. Baisrnges,When the smoke clears Kara homes will be having a fire sale in Mt. arlington. Prices were up to 500,000.00 but now are down to 350,000.00 for some units. we have looked at them and are very impressed for the low price. They must sell their standing inventory, probably at a heavy loss,it will also help pull down the market even further. Gotta feel sorry for the retirees that bought at the top.

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