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Most people's thoughts regarding West Virginia are about coal mining, bluegrass, great white water rafting, and the rugged topography of the Appalachian Mountains.
West Virginia defines itself by its natural beauty, as the state slogan, "Wild and Wonderful," shows. Yet, we all know with certainty that some places in West Virginia are more wonderful than others.
We compiled a list of which places in West Virginia are the least wild and wonderful to live in so you don't have to find out for yourself.
Here's the worst of the worst in West Virginia:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.
We understand there's a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in West Virginia? That would be Grafton.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
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The 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia For 2021
In contrast with Beckley, Grafton is pretty solid in the crime department; only slightly below average.
The education category is where Grafton really loses marks -- it ranks dead last in overall education score and has the highest (read worst) student-teacher ratio in the state.
The semi-good news is that Grafton boasts the lowest unemployment in West Virginia, but with the 6th lowest median income in-state, residents might find this statistic bittersweet.
The main reason that Bluefield is on this list is a very high unemployment rate, but other factors definitely contribute.
For instance, it's the 3rd least densely populated place in West Virginia and has the 3rd lowest home values of any place in West Virginia.
Bluefield does, however, rank among the best places in West Virginia as far as education goes.
Martinsburg ranks as the 3rd-worst place in West Virginia due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 2nd-worst commute of any place in the state.
But Martinsburg does have one good thing going for it -- the most days of sunshine of any place in West Virginia.
Huntington is the most populated city on this list, and second only to Charleston in terms of population.
Huntington has the worst weather in the state. Additionally, its residents earn far less salaries than the rest of the state at $31,162, and crime is well above West Virginia state averages -- worst overall.
Keyser's situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Keyser has the 13th worst crime index of any place in West Virginia, and has the 4th lowest income.
Moundsville, part of Marshall County, is the 6th worst place to live in West Virginia for 2021.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $34,701, and crime 22nd worst in West Virginia.
Additionally, the poverty level is 20.7% in Moundsville.
Clarksburg's unemployment rate isn't so bad, and the median income levels are about average for West Virginia.
But having the 13th worst crime, some of the worst weather, and basically, not a lot to do for fun puts Clarksburg toward the top of the list.
Oak Hill places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in West Virginia.
Oak Hill has the 2nd-highest unemployment rate in the state, making it an undesirable place to live, overall. However, the crime is better than average, at least.
According to science, Parkersburg is the 9th worst place you can live in West Virginia.
Let's see why. Parkersburg has the 13th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Parkersburg is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($91,100), and the 9th-highest unemployment rate in the state (7.3%), and across the board, Parkersburg doesn't sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there's simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We're aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you'd have to drive a ways away.
Princeton ranks in the bottom half for unemployment, income, and crime, making it one of the worst places to live in West Virginia.
However, like its collegiate namesake, Princeton rates highly in education, with the 6th best student-teacher ratio in the state.
With the 12th lowest median income in West Virginia, though, it seems that students are bringing their talents elsewhere after graduating.
How we determined the worst places to live in West Virginia for 2021
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered -- leaving 26 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 26 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".
Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in West Virginia -- Grafton. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in West Virginia. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In West Virginia
If you're looking at areas in West Virginia with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Grafton ranks as the worst city to live in West Virginia for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in West Virginia:
- Bridgeport (Pop. 8,556)
- Vienna (Pop. 10,348)
- Hurricane (Pop. 6,482)
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Where Are The Worst Places To Live In West Virginia?