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)
- Princeton (Photos)
- Parkersburg (Photos)
- Grafton (Photos)
- Huntington (Photos)
- Keyser (Photos)
- Oak Hill (Photos)
- Beckley (Photos)
- Moundsville (Photos)
- Bluefield (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 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in West Virginia for 2018
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 5,200 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.
Population: 17,613Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 6)
Home Values: $142,500 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (3rd worst)
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.
Population: 6,056Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Home Values: $87,000 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (10th 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 7th lowest median income in West Virginia, though, it seems that students are bringing their talents elsewhere after graduating.
Population: 30,962Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 15)
Home Values: $86,100 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (5th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Parkersburg is the worst place you can live in West Virginia. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 9.6%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $86,100, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 22.6 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That’s not fun, either.
Parkersburg is a far drive south from Louisville.
Population: 5,156Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 8)
Home Values: $74,300 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.7% (2nd worst)
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 4th lowest median income in-state, residents might find this statistic bittersweet.
Population: 48,735Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 19)
Home Values: $92,300 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (8th worst)
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 $29,834, and crime is well above West Virginia state averages — 3rd worst overall.
Population: 5,261Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Home Values: $98,200 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (1st 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 12th worst crime index of any place in West Virginia, and has the 1st lowest income.
7. Oak Hill
Population: 8,722Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 14)
Home Values: $89,100 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (4th worst)
Oak Hill places 7th 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.
Population: 17,348Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 7)
Home Values: $115,300 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (8th worst)
Beckley takes the 8th 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.
Population: 8,858Rank Last Year: 31 (Up 22)
Home Values: $81,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (6th worst)
You can’t blame them for living in Moundsville since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 6th highest in the state here (9.5%), the residents in Moundsville earn the smallest household income in the state of West Virginia. At a combined income of $31,957, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in West Virginia. Moundsville has the 14th highest crime rate in the state.
Population: 10,366Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 9)
Home Values: $77,100 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (18th worst)
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.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in West Virginia:
- Bridgeport (Pop. 8,364)
- Vienna (Pop. 10,566)
- Hurricane (Pop. 6,460)
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In West Virginia
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia
- 10 Small Towns In West Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In West Virginia