The 10 Worst Small Towns In Virginia For 2023

We used Saturday Night Science to determine the worst small towns in Virginia.

Most Americans have never been to small town Virginia. However, as the Virginian who live there know, small town Virginia is an awesome place to call home.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Virginia has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Old Dominion. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.

After analyzing more than 169 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:

These are the worst small towns in Virginia for 2023:

  1. Raven
  2. Independence
  3. Saltville
  4. Bassett
  5. Pennington Gap
  6. Ferrum
  7. Victoria
  8. St. Paul
  9. Appalachia
  10. Gretna

So what is the worst small town to call home in Virginia for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Raven is the worst small town to live in Virginia.

While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Raven home. Everyone

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

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Virginia or the worst places to live in Virginia.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Virginia For 2023

1. Raven

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,133
Median Home Value: $85,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.3% (4th worst)

2. Independence

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,146
Median Home Value: $104,300 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (2worst)

3. Saltville

Saltville, VA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,225
Median Home Value: $87,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (68th worst)

4. Bassett

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,045
Median Home Value: $85,000 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.9% (5th worst)

5. Pennington Gap

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,079
Median Home Value: $87,500 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.0% (worst)

6. Ferrum

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,832
Median Home Value: $103,700 (2worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (30th worst)

7. Victoria

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,022
Median Home Value: $97,600 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (48th worst)

8. St. Paul

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,134
Median Home Value: $155,000 (66th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.6% (3rd worst)

9. Appalachia

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,472
Median Home Value: $62,400 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.7% (11th worst)

10. Gretna

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,310
Median Home Value: $115,900 (39th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (66th worst)

Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in Virginia is lousy or not?

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

We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.

Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey, 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 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which there were many – 169 to be exact.

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

We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in Virginia.

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:

  1. Bethel Manor (Pop. 4,607)
  2. Kings Park (Pop. 4,194)
  3. Hayfield (Pop. 4,348)

For more Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Virginia

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Raven 2,133 18.3% $85,900
2 Independence 1,146 10.3% $104,300
3 Saltville 2,225 4.7% $87,000
4 Bassett 1,045 16.9% $85,000
5 Pennington Gap 2,079 22.0% $87,500
6 Ferrum 1,832 8.7% $103,700
7 Victoria 2,022 6.5% $97,600
8 St. Paul 1,134 19.6% $155,000
9 Appalachia 1,472 13.7% $62,400
10 Gretna 1,310 4.9% $115,900
11 Brookneal 1,064 11.5% $103,200
12 Exmore 1,635 8.3% $137,500
13 Stanleytown 1,139 8.3% $92,200
14 Kenbridge 1,281 5.1% $112,500
15 Mountain Road 1,423 0.0% $108,300
16 Norton 3,696 8.2% $96,200
17 Jonesville 1,313 20.4% $117,200
18 Altavista 3,396 12.1% $112,100
19 Mathews 1,052 14.8% $173,000
20 Cana 1,469 2.6% $109,100
21 Lawrenceville 1,334 15.0% $99,400
22 Horse Pasture 2,006 6.3% $106,800
23 Rustburg 1,944 9.6% $159,200
24 Tappahannock 1,945 11.7% $182,300
25 Clifton Forge 3,549 8.6% $89,300
26 Honaker 1,207 3.6% $75,700
27 Wakefield 1,259 8.3% $109,400
28 Claypool Hill 1,169 9.2% $128,600
29 South Hill 4,636 4.1% $161,700
30 Adwolf 1,646 0.0% $121,500
31 Hillsville 2,863 11.4% $116,200
32 Wise 2,976 7.6% $115,500
33 Stuart 1,431 8.2% $157,000
34 Clintwood 1,379 7.6% $103,400
35 Elliston 1,141 0.0% $132,000
36 Atkins 1,090 1.3% $1,000
37 Mount Jackson 2,041 4.4% $147,600
38 Weber City 1,554 4.6% $112,700
39 Springville 1,223 1.1% $101,100
40 Woodlawn Cdp (Carroll County) 2,260 5.0% $107,100
41 Appomattox 2,214 5.3% $125,000
42 Stanley 2,029 5.0% $167,300
43 Glasgow 1,437 15.0% $110,200
44 Coeburn 1,615 11.6% $106,100
45 Kilmarnock 1,424 4.5% $203,500
46 Cedar Bluff 1,159 5.4% $121,600
47 Waverly 2,696 10.0% $99,100
48 Castlewood 1,238 0.7% $114,300
49 Crewe 2,853 10.9% $116,800
50 Concord 1,005 0.0% $137,100
51 Hurt 1,452 3.2% $117,900
52 Passapatanzy 1,201 12.2% $372,300
53 Louisa 1,999 6.5% $240,700
54 Halifax 1,645 9.2% $179,600
55 Grundy 1,112 0.0% $160,600
56 Gratton 1,009 0.0% $101,000
57 Crimora 2,159 4.9% $131,700
58 Chase City 2,478 3.5% $96,300
59 Amelia Court House 1,004 15.7% $118,800
60 Buchanan 1,147 7.2% $140,900
61 Blackstone 3,402 4.2% $168,200
62 Tazewell 4,459 4.7% $104,600
63 Merrimac 2,663 6.6% $166,300
64 Pembroke 1,064 0.0% $106,100
65 Courtland 1,872 15.0% $189,400
66 Shenandoah Farms 3,463 4.5% $219,100
67 Boswell’s Corner 1,580 3.5% $84,600
68 Shenandoah 2,837 3.4% $156,600
69 Ridgeway 1,252 4.2% $107,200
70 Chilhowie 2,060 1.6% $139,900
71 Captains Cove 1,408 10.0% $175,400
72 Luray 4,784 3.0% $188,000
73 Gate City 1,908 1.8% $144,100
74 Chatham 1,558 1.5% $137,000
75 Colonial Beach 3,838 6.3% $214,400
76 Lebanon 3,158 0.0% $126,500
77 New Market 2,281 1.2% $213,100
78 Shawsville 1,628 0.0% $77,700
79 Amherst 2,504 1.2% $177,300
80 Patrick Springs 2,151 0.9% $105,000
81 Rocky Mount 4,863 5.5% $148,000
82 Rural Retreat 1,518 2.0% $128,800
83 Cape Charles 1,134 8.7% $390,900
84 Timberville 2,943 4.0% $162,600
85 Windsor 2,759 4.3% $186,300
86 Loch Lomond 4,153 10.9% $341,100
87 Lyndhurst 1,654 4.0% $194,600
88 Clarksville 1,542 4.6% $164,900
89 Verona 4,410 3.7% $165,500
90 Chester Gap 1,021 2.5% $213,800
91 Dublin 2,633 3.4% $152,800
92 Emory 1,025 11.3% $182,800
93 Glade Spring 2,068 3.6% $151,200
94 Bowling Green 1,494 6.9% $256,300
95 Greenville 1,476 0.0% $173,800
96 Onancock 1,291 8.6% $196,100
97 Shawneeland 2,366 2.2% $214,900
98 Pearisburg 2,878 6.0% $149,000
99 Middl 1,608 0.0% $212,000
100 Chincoteague 3,285 8.5% $314,900
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

19 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Small Towns In Virginia For 2023

  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.

  14. Bud , I did not appreciate your article on Goshen , Va . I wonder if you ever taken the time to visit the town ? Lots of people come to this area to get away from the hustle and bustle of bigger cities . It is a beautiful area with lots of scenic drives all around the area . There is a very low crime rate here and most residents don’t even bother to lick their houses or cars . I think your stats are inaccurate concerning the drop out rates . My family read this article and my father was especially upset with you . Please come visit my father in Goshen and he will give you the accurate view . My Dad has lived here all his life . He served as town council , charter member of first aid and firemen . PTA president superintendent at the local Methodist church , worked for C&O railroad for 40 years . Anyway , come visit my Dad , HD Carter . Only house with a caboose in back yard .

  15. You folks are out of your mind. Your very first criteria is guaranteed to skew the results. Personally, the lower the population density, THE BETTER. Who freakin’ wants to live in a high density area? That just means more assholes like you to deal with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *