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:
- Princeton (Photos)
- Martinsburg (Photos)
- Keyser (Photos)
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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in West Virginia for 2017
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
The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
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 2,000 people were considered — leaving 60 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 60 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 — Welch. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in West Virginia.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 3,021Home Values: $48,800 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.8% (3rd worst)
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Welch. The only real difference is Welch is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Welch is at 15.8%, which is the 3rd worst in West Virginia. And households earn a combined $28,112 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Welch is merely $48,800.
Welch is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
Population: 2,589Home Values: $63,100 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.9% (1st worst)
Hinton, WV needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is 18th worst in the state, which is very high considering Hinton is so far removed from the rest of West Virginia.
If you know anyone in Hinton, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
Population: 2,180Home Values: $34,800 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (29th worst)
Richwood has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 18th-highest in the state of West Virginia. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 7.9%.
Additionally, 26.9% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 3,192Home Values: $98,300 (31st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (10th worst)
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Philippi is one of the worst places you can live in West Virginia. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 11.8% unemployment rate for a city of 3,192 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
Population: 2,221Home Values: $105,600 (38th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (9th worst)
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Romney ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 38th cheapest in the state here at $105,600. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Romney.
The median income levels here are the 4th lowest in the state of West Virginia, at $25,925. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 12.3% of people in Romney were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Population: 6,082Home Values: $86,500 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.0% (28th worst)
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 11th lowest median income in West Virginia, though, it seems that students are bringing their talents elsewhere after graduating.
Population: 17,564Home Values: $143,400 (54th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (6th worst)
Martinsburg ranks as the 7th-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 5th-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.
Population: 5,320Home Values: $90,300 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.5% (2nd worst)
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 18th worst crime index of any place in West Virginia, and has the 3rd lowest income.
Population: 2,080Home Values: $84,200 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (36th worst)
Tthe small town of Belington has the 24th lowest income levels in the entire state. At $34,438, many of the people are having trouble making ends meet, and the unemployment rate is 7.0%. Additionally, 17.3% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The cost of a home here is bottom barrell at $84,200.
At least the crime is very minimal here.
Population: 3,077Home Values: $104,600 (37th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (12th worst)
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Williamson is the 10th worst place in the state of West Virginia.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Williamson is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Williamson are the 37th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in West Virginia.
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, Welch ranks as the worst city to live in West Virginia for 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in West Virginia:
- Vienna (Pop. 10,623)
- Hurricane (Pop. 6,388)
- Bethlehem (Pop. 2,589)
For more West Virginia reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Most Affordable Places In West Virginia
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In West Virginia
|16||White Sulphur Springs|