These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In West Virginia For 2018

We used science and data to determine which cities in WV are really ghetto.

This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of the largest cities in West Virginia are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state, and then put out a list.

After analyzing the largest cities here, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places to live in West Virginia:

  1. Keyser (Photos)
  2. Beckley (Photos)
  3. Princeton (Photos)
  4. Martinsburg (Photos)
  5. Huntington (Photos)
  6. Bluefield (Photos)
  7. Morgantown (Photos)
  8. Elkins (Photos)
  9. Clarksburg (Photos)
  10. Grafton (Photos)

In case you’re wondering, Teays Valley is the least ghetto city of all we measured.

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

For more West Virginia reading, check out:


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What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in West Virginia, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of cities with populations over 5,000 based on the 2014 American Community Survey.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

And by the way, West Virginia ghetto folks like to play online sweepstakes games where you can win real money. Click here to see an example where you can sign up and play for free.


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1. Keyser

Source: wikipedia

Income: Lowest
Drop out rate: 23%
Crime: Worst

When you look at the unbiased data, the city of Keyser is the most ghetto place in West Virginia. Let’s see why.

First off, Keyser is the most dangerous place in the state of West Virginia, according to the latest crime data. Residents are also the poorest of all cities in West Virginia, where families average less than the poverty rate each month.

When nearly 1 in 4 residents are without high school diplomas, it’s going to be tough for this city to get out of the ghetto situation they’re in.

Keyser is along Route 220, not too far from the Maryland border.

2. Beckley

Source: wikipedia

Income: 9th lowest
Drop out rate: 21%
Crime: 2nd worst

This Raleigh County city along I-64 is the 2nd most dangerous place you can live in the state. Residents who spend a year within Beckley city limits have a 1 in 14 chance of being the victim of a property crime each year. Beckley is also 3rd in the state for drug stores per capita.

Sociologists have indicated that drug stores and other discount shopping places are a staple of inner city life.

3. Princeton

Source: wikipedia

Income: 5th lowest
Drop out rate: 30%
Crime: 4th worst

Princeton is the first place people come to when they enter West Virginia on I-77. They’d see a pretty ghetto city: Crime is statistically way higher than in other places in the state, and residents are pretty poor.

But 3 in 10 never graduated high school, which is the biggest problem that may plague little Princeton for years to come.

4. Martinsburg

Source: wikipedia

Income: Average
Drop out rate: 24%
Crime: 7th worst

The problem in Martinsburg isn’t the low incomes – those are about on average with the state at about $38,000 a year. So while families here aren’t comfortable, they’re not struggling, either.

But it’s a fairly dangerous and uneducated place with the third most convenience and discount stores in the state.

5. Huntington

Source: wikipedia

Income: 3rd lowest
Drop out rate: 20%
Crime: 8th highest

Huntington is the biggest city on this list. Home of Marshall University, and situated along the Ohio River, this city suffers from really low incomes. About 3 in 10 kids under 10 lives in poverty, and an additional 12% of the elderly does as well.

There were quite a few #ghetto Tweets coming from Huntington. Example: “If I want to go to the ghetto to watch a football game, I’ll go to Huntington.”

6. Bluefield

Source: wikipedia

Income: 6th lowest
Drop out rate: 17%
Crime: Average

Across the board, this Virginia border town isn’t horrible in any one category. It’s below to far below average in all of them, making it technically one of the most ghetto cities in the state.

There were several residents who agreed on Twitter. Example: “The West Virginia side of Bluefield is so ghetto.”

7. Morgantown

Source: wikipedia

Income: 2nd lowest
Drop out rate: 14%
Crime: 10th worst

Home to West Virginia University, Morgantown’s education numbers are only about average. But the crime is far above average, and it’s the 2nd poorest place in the state. Families earn, on average, a tick above the poverty line, and that includes the large number of people who work at the university.

So, most residents here who aren’t affiliated with WVU are simply struggling to make ends meet each month.

8. Elkins

Source: wikipedia

Income: 7th lowest
Drop out rate: 20%
Crime: 3rd worst

Elkins is a little city along Route 33 east of I-79. Here, crime is really bad, when compared to the rest of the state. 1 in 5 residents never completed high school, and families are relatively poor.

9. Clarksburg

Source: wikipedia

Income:11th lowest
Drop out rate: 24%
Crime: 6th worst

Such is the condition of education in West Virginia when a 24% dropout rate is only the 7th lowest in the state. But when you combine a crime rate that’s 6th highest and schools that are poorly funded (the 4th lowest in WV), that’s the sign of a relatively ghetto city.

10. Grafton

Source: wikipedia

Income: 4th lowest
Drop out rate: 30%
Crime: 14th worst

You won’t find a more uneducated population than in Grafton, a small city off the beaten path south of Morgantown. 3 in 10 people here never earned a high school diploma by the age of 25.

Part of that issue might lie in the public school system here, which is the least funded of all schools in the state. So, the kids are off to a slower start than their peers in other areas of West Virginia.

Other Highlights From The Study

Not ghetto at all: The following are the least ghetto areas in the Mountain State: Teays Valley, Hurricane, Cheat Lake, Brookhaven and Vienna. The first two are just west of Charleston, and the second two are northern suburbs of Morgantown.

Charleston proper is about average.

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in West Virginia where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

We also wrote about the 10 Drunkest Cities in West Virginia if you didn’t happen to see it.

The Most Ghetto Cities in West Virginia with detailed information


Desktop users, below is a chart of all large cities in West Virginia, along with their crime numbers.

City Overall Rank Dropout Rate Crime Rate Incomes
Keyser 1 23.00% 197.9 $23,963
Beckley 2 21.00% 172.3 $33,429
Princeton 3 30.00% 126.2 $30,339
Martinsburg 4 24.00% 120.9 $38,258
Huntington 5 20.00% 120.4 $29,149
Bluefield 6 17.00% 99.9 $32,571
Morgantown 7 14.00% 115.3 $27,737
Elkins 8 20.00% 127.2 $32,632
Clarksburg 9 24.00% 121.5 $34,266
Grafton 10 30.00% 100.7 $29,232
Parkersburg 11 21.00% 114.1 $32,783
Fairmont 12 18.00% 94.5 $35,129
Oak Hill 13 26.00% 91.7 $38,159
Charleston 14 15.00% 115.7 $47,582
Wheeling 15 15.00% 100.2 $35,245
South Charleston 16 11.00% 122.3 $41,590
Dunbar 17 14.00% 104.5 $43,039
Moundsville 18 23.00% 89.6 $33,694
Charles Town 19 16.00% 97.8 $64,980
Buckhannon 20 28.00% 50.6 $37,892
New Martinsville 21 24.00% 87.1 $38,469
Sissonville 22 20.00% 66.1 $49,360
Weirton 23 16.00% 51.7 $38,316
Bridgeport 24 9.00% 107.4 $76,351
St. Albans 25 12.00% 73.2 $47,131
Cross Lanes 26 12.00% 81.7 $52,309
Pea Ridge 27 9.00% 84.5 $49,515
Nitro 27 12.00% 93.7 $47,619
Vienna 29 12.00% 69.9 $45,719
Brookhaven 30 20.00% 49.6 $53,793
Cheat Lake 31 10.00% 52.1 $79,185
Hurricane 32 13.00% 74.5 $63,281
Teays Valley 33 10.00% 54.5 $73,762
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.