Worst Small Towns In Virginia For 2020

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

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Virginia.

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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 151 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 2020:

  1. Raven
  2. Pennington Gap
  3. Appalachia
  4. Norton (Photos)
  5. Saltville (Photos)
  6. Chase City
  7. Hillsville
  8. Independence
  9. Honaker
  10. Coeburn (Photos)

So what is the worst small town to call home in virginia for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Raven is the worst small town to live in Virginia.

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.

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.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Virginia For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,666
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $65,900 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.2% (5th worst)
More on Raven:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,974
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $81,900 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (17th worst)
More on Pennington Gap:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,469
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $62,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (8th worst)
More on Appalachia:  Data

Norton, VA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,990
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $91,700 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.8% (13th worst)
More on Norton:  Data | Photos

Saltville, VA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,621
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $83,500 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (72nd worst)
More on Saltville:  Data | Photos

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,401
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $77,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (52nd worst)
More on Chase City:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,671
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 14)
Median Home Value: $100,600 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (128th worst)
More on Hillsville:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,139
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $85,900 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (21st worst)
More on Independence:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,330
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 15)
Median Home Value: $71,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (38th worst)
More on Honaker:  Data

Coeburn, VA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,669
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $78,700 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.1% (6th worst)
More on Coeburn:  Data | Photos

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 determined the worst small towns to live in Virginia for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 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 a lot - 151 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.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

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. Pantops (Pop. 3,569)
  2. Haymarket (Pop. 1,629)
  3. Hayfield (Pop. 4,335)

For more Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Virginia

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Raven 1,666 15.2% $65,900
2 Pennington Gap 1,974 11.8% $81,900
3 Appalachia 1,469 14.8% $62,600
4 Norton 3,990 13.8% $91,700
5 Saltville 2,621 5.5% $83,500
6 Chase City 2,401 7.3% $77,300
7 Hillsville 2,671 2.5% $100,600
8 Independence 1,139 10.5% $85,900
9 Honaker 1,330 8.4% $71,600
10 Coeburn 1,669 15.1% $78,700
11 Victoria 2,043 4.7% $84,200
12 Lawrenceville 1,380 20.5% $82,500
13 Stuart 1,499 12.8% $136,000
14 Castlewood 2,058 15.3% $82,000
15 Weber City 1,534 8.5% $104,200
16 Henry Fork 1,511 7.4% $121,300
17 Meadow View 1,307 10.1% $114,200
18 Gate City 2,406 6.7% $97,500
19 Clifton Forge 3,603 15.5% $77,400
20 Gretna 1,310 7.0% $103,800
21 Rocky Mount 4,747 9.7% $137,500
22 Wakefield 1,022 9.7% $112,500
23 Dryden 1,282 9.9% $92,300
24 Stanleytown 1,297 7.9% $89,400
25 Jonesville 1,248 10.1% $105,300
26 Glasgow 1,487 14.6% $104,700
27 Tappahannock 1,925 11.9% $178,000
28 South Hill 4,411 4.2% $157,000
29 Rustburg 1,477 1.5% $132,000
30 Waverly 2,051 14.3% $135,000
31 Stanley 1,730 10.1% $156,600
32 Horse Pasture 2,136 3.5% $89,800
33 Cedar Bluff 1,081 7.4% $110,300
34 Cana 1,926 0.0% $96,900
35 Altavista 3,442 4.1% $107,200
36 Kenbridge 1,015 3.9% $114,400
37 Ridgeway 1,047 8.9% $110,000
38 Keysville 1,007 1.7% $100,000
39 Louisa 1,724 5.8% $197,400
40 Mount Jackson 2,451 6.0% $141,700
41 Exmore 1,521 3.3% $116,000
42 Ferrum 2,233 12.8% $119,900
43 Shawsville 1,836 0.3% $104,200
44 Luray 4,818 6.7% $162,300
45 Chilhowie 1,855 5.4% $133,200
46 Clintwood 1,434 3.8% $88,000
47 Crewe 2,448 3.6% $119,300
48 Blackstone 3,438 2.2% $117,200
49 Appomattox 1,851 2.6% $125,900
50 Kilmarnock 1,478 2.9% $183,000
51 Orange 4,935 8.3% $215,000
52 Fieldale 1,116 0.0% $81,400
53 Amherst 2,569 7.5% $160,300
54 Verona 3,964 7.7% $157,100
55 Tazewell 4,327 9.8% $107,200
56 Patrick Springs 1,808 2.9% $107,300
57 Merrimac 2,127 16.4% $167,200
58 Adwolf 1,673 7.5% $116,800
59 Shenandoah Farms 3,807 7.0% $226,100
60 Pembroke 1,056 3.4% $95,700
61 Chatmoss 1,405 10.9% $180,300
62 Bluefield 4,984 2.6% $108,600
63 Dublin 2,655 9.4% $128,000
64 Glade Spring 1,429 9.3% $111,700
65 Courtland 1,958 5.2% $168,400
66 Shenandoah 2,888 3.7% $137,600
67 Onancock 1,227 14.4% $196,900
68 New Market 2,341 2.1% $223,100
69 Windsor 2,700 7.1% $159,300
70 Prince George 2,129 3.4% $212,500
71 Timberville 2,613 5.2% $151,700
72 Hurt 1,478 4.5% $118,500
73 Glenvar 1,066 0.0% $174,400
74 Deltaville 1,050 9.5% $287,200
75 Lyndhurst 1,803 5.4% $178,100
76 Chincoteague 2,899 6.9% $235,100
77 Lebanon 3,249 2.7% $157,300
78 Edinburg 1,261 8.0% $185,400
79 Buchanan 1,179 3.1% $123,100
80 Dooms 1,074 0.0% $186,200
81 Gordonsville 1,708 6.6% $192,300
82 Emory 1,306 9.9% $209,900
83 Narrows 2,087 4.0% $97,600
84 Colonial Beach 3,555 7.7% $246,000
85 Wise 3,047 3.0% $132,400
86 Woodlawn Cdp (Carroll County) 2,110 0.0% $111,500
87 Loch Lomond 4,601 8.7% $308,500
88 Rural Retreat 1,644 5.0% $130,100
89 Harriston 1,255 6.5% $171,500
90 Pearisburg 2,669 6.6% $105,000
91 Berryville 4,293 7.1% $309,500
92 Warsaw 1,704 1.7% $205,800
93 Springville 1,326 1.0% $111,300
94 Halifax 1,314 1.6% $158,400
95 Bracey 1,101 3.7% $242,100
96 Cape Charles 1,145 5.3% $339,800
97 Stephens City 1,989 4.8% $202,100
98 Middl 1,516 5.0% $191,700
99 Chatham 1,210 0.0% $139,500
100 Broadway 3,855 5.0% $197,600

How Is The Area In ?

19 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Virginia, 2020

  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.

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