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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 2020.
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In West Virginia
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The 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia For 2020
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 3rd lowest median income in-state, residents might find this statistic bittersweet.
Martinsburg ranks as the 2nd-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 4th-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.
Beckley takes the 3rd worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Beckley its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 2nd worst in the whole state.
Despite these numbers, Beckley actually does rank as having the best weather in the state, measured in terms of humidity, rain and sunny days each year. At least they have that.
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.
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 5th lowest income.
Welcome to Moundsville, which might be one of the poorest areas in West Virginia. Residents average $31,803 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 20.8% of Moundsville residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $80,700 and the unemployment rate hovers near 8.0%.
Oak Hill places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live in West Virginia.
Oak Hill has the 5th-highest unemployment rate in the state, making it an undesirable place to live, overall. However, the crime is better than average, at least.
You can sure expect that Parkersburg is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 8th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Parkersburg has the 8th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 80 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 29.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Parkersburg, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 6.9% which is the 14th worst 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 $30,362, and crime is well above West Virginia state averages -- 3rd worst overall.
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 10th 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 2020
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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in West Virginia:
- Morgantown (Pop. 30,539)
- Vienna (Pop. 10,446)
- Bridgeport (Pop. 8,466)
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
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- Best Cities For Singles In West Virginia
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In West Virginia?