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:
- Martinsburg (Photos)
- Grafton (Photos)
- Beckley (Photos)
- Huntington (Photos)
- Parkersburg (Photos)
- Princeton (Photos)
- Moundsville (Photos)
- Bluefield (Photos)
- Oak Hill (Photos)
- Clarksburg (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. And the worst place to live in West Virginia? That would be Martinsburg.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In West Virginia
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia
How we determined the worst places to live in West Virginia for 2019
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 — Martinsburg. 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.
Martinsburg ranks as the 1st-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.
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 2nd lowest unemployment in West Virginia, but with the 3rd lowest median income in-state, residents might find this statistic bittersweet.
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 3rd 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.
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 $30,359, and crime is well above West Virginia state averages — 6th worst overall.
Parkersburg needs some tough love as it ranks as the 5th worst city to live in West Virginia for 2019. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Parkersburg is the 5th highest in the state, where 1 in 21.4 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
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 15th lowest median income in West Virginia, though, it seems that students are bringing their talents elsewhere after graduating.
Moundsville needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Moundsville. That’s not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Moundsville. Of the 26 cities considered in this ranking, Moundsville had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Moundsville have West Virginia’s 3rd lowest home value rank, but it also had the 5th and 19th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of “Worst City in West Virginia.”
If you know anyone in Moundsville, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
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 2nd 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.
Oak Hill places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live in West Virginia.
Oak Hill has the 4th-highest unemployment rate in the state, making it an undesirable place to live, overall. However, the crime is better than average, at least.
Clarksburg’s unemployment rate isn’t so bad, and the median income levels are about average for West Virginia.
But having the 14th worst crime, some of the worst weather, and basically, not a lot to do for fun puts Clarksburg toward the top of the list.
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, Martinsburg ranks as the worst city to live in West Virginia for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in West Virginia:
- Morgantown (Pop. 30,099)
- Bridgeport (Pop. 8,382)
- Vienna (Pop. 10,547)
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In West Virginia
- 10 Safest Places In West Virginia
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In West Virginia
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In West Virginia