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:
- Glen Lyn
- Drakes Branch
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.
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.
1. Glen Lyn
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.
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.
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.
Population: 567Median 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.
Population: 450Median 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.
Population: 402Median 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
Population: 494Median 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.
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.
Population: 306Median 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.
Population: 389Median 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.
Population: 455Median 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.
Population: 281Median 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.
2nd Best: Wakefield
3rd Best: Belle Haven
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- These 10 Virginia Cities Are Happier Than You Are.
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Virginia
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In Virginia
Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In Virginia
|Charlotte Court House||20|