Worst Small Towns In West Virginia For 2020

Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in WV are the pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in West Virginia.

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Most Americans have never been to West Virginia. However, as the people who live there know, West Virginia is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, West Virginia has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Mountain State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 114 of West Virginia's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in West Virginia where you'd never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in West Virginia for 2020:

  1. Pennsboro
  2. Mount Gay-Shamrock
  3. Marlinton
  4. Brush Fork
  5. Oceana
  6. Newell
  7. Williamson (Photos)
  8. Glenville
  9. Wayne (Photos)
  10. Bluewell

So what is the worst small town to call home in west virginia for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Pennsboro is the worst small town to live in West Virginia.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since West Virginia has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in West Virginia or the worst places to live in West Virginia.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In West Virginia For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,073
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $53,300 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.1% (4th worst)
More on Pennsboro:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,178
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $74,200 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 36.8% (2nd worst)
More on Mount Gay-Shamrock:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,152
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $63,100 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (40th worst)
More on Marlinton:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,499
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $69,800 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (21st worst)
More on Brush Fork:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,192
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $51,900 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (30th worst)
More on Oceana:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,349
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $38,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.3% (7th worst)
More on Newell:  Data

Williamson, WV

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,883
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $82,100 (47th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.6% (3rd worst)
More on Williamson:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,692
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $83,700 (50th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.2% (10th worst)
More on Glenville:  Data

Wayne, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,492
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $84,000 (51st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (13th worst)
More on Wayne:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,277
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $74,200 (28th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (107th worst)
More on Bluewell:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in West Virginia, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in West Virginia for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 114 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In West Virginia

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Mountain State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in West Virginia, according to science:

  1. Williamstown (Pop. 2,927)
  2. Winfield (Pop. 2,636)
  3. Bolivar (Pop. 1,270)

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In West Virginia

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Pennsboro 1,073 23.1% $53,300
2 Mount Gay-Shamrock 1,178 36.8% $74,200
3 Marlinton 1,152 8.7% $63,100
4 Brush Fork 1,499 12.1% $69,800
5 Oceana 1,192 10.4% $51,900
6 Newell 1,349 17.3% $38,300
7 Williamson 2,883 24.6% $82,100
8 Glenville 1,692 16.2% $83,700
9 Wayne 1,492 14.1% $84,000
10 Bluewell 2,277 1.9% $74,200
11 Montgomery 1,738 8.5% $76,800
12 Mount Hope 1,185 6.6% $70,000
13 Ansted 1,437 13.5% $75,600
14 Richwood 2,031 7.8% $37,500
15 Spencer 1,997 11.9% $75,000
16 Gassaway 1,019 12.4% $80,400
17 Terra Alta 1,781 9.5% $65,900
18 Sophia 1,220 6.2% $59,900
19 Salem 1,664 6.3% $62,400
20 Gilbert Creek 1,030 7.8% $55,400
21 Rainelle 1,245 7.9% $59,400
22 Belington 1,925 7.0% $77,600
23 Welch 3,287 7.1% $58,300
24 Philippi 3,409 9.8% $98,300
25 Daniels 1,929 9.5% $66,700
26 Logan 1,790 11.7% $114,100
27 Rand 1,618 13.9% $55,800
28 New Cumberland 1,252 13.4% $80,800
29 Granville 2,567 12.7% $76,700
30 Weston 3,993 10.5% $82,100
31 Hinton 2,768 15.1% $74,500
32 Sistersville 1,311 8.5% $75,800
33 White Sulphur Springs 2,745 5.1% $110,500
34 Sutton 1,358 18.4% $68,700
35 Marmet 1,440 13.4% $94,400
36 Benwood 1,440 6.0% $57,100
37 Chapmanville 1,171 12.3% $111,000
38 Point Pleasant 4,194 8.5% $78,400
39 Man 1,009 10.4% $108,200
40 Alderson 1,178 1.8% $90,500
41 Chesapeake 1,899 7.1% $63,900
42 New Haven 1,520 10.2% $76,800
43 Hamlin 1,533 9.3% $85,300
44 Mallory 1,049 2.0% $131,100
45 Buffalo 1,261 16.9% $85,700
46 Elkview 1,609 7.8% $85,100
47 Craigsville 2,213 0.3% $68,500
48 Harrisville 2,256 7.3% $86,100
49 Parsons 1,523 4.2% $71,200
50 Mannington 1,623 8.1% $78,900
51 Monongah 1,089 6.6% $68,600
52 Romney 2,176 8.4% $99,400
53 Bradley 1,888 4.2% $116,700
54 Coal Fork 1,335 2.0% $82,100
55 Smithers 1,058 4.4% $92,000
56 Ripley 3,198 6.1% $112,400
57 Ronceverte 1,970 6.9% $96,700
58 Clendenin 1,064 1.5% $71,000
59 Milton 2,612 11.3% $132,300
60 Moorefield 3,201 0.2% $98,800
61 Prosperity 1,597 1.6% $107,600
62 Mabscott 1,466 7.2% $104,200
63 Belmont 1,040 15.5% $98,400
64 Kenova 3,095 0.0% $75,700
65 Chester 2,314 9.3% $88,600
66 Ravenswood 3,740 3.0% $95,300
67 Petersburg 2,520 4.0% $128,300
68 Mcmechen 1,915 4.2% $73,000
69 Mullens 1,564 1.2% $67,900
70 Piney View 1,267 3.6% $106,300
71 Wellsburg 2,624 1.2% $85,900
72 Lesage 1,022 2.8% $121,200
73 Sissonville 4,951 1.7% $106,600
74 Rivesville 1,113 8.6% $111,600
75 Madison 2,860 8.1% $112,500
76 Paden City 3,132 3.9% $86,500
77 Nutter Fort 1,431 8.4% $95,900
78 Kingwood 2,943 9.1% $126,900
79 Ceredo 1,245 5.0% $97,400
80 Westover 4,205 10.6% $147,800
81 Fayetteville 2,838 3.1% $121,300
82 Follansbee 2,806 5.7% $89,400
83 West Liberty 1,728 11.4% $112,500
84 St. Marys 1,994 9.7% $107,000
85 Shannondale 3,404 7.2% $179,400
86 Shinnston 2,601 5.4% $103,900
87 Stonewood 1,777 4.5% $94,900
88 Blennerhassett 3,319 2.8% $142,800
89 Lewisburg 3,904 3.7% $210,400
90 Shepherd 1,605 11.6% $334,400
91 Athens 1,043 9.9% $119,700
92 Star City 2,196 4.7% $160,800
93 Barboursville 4,185 3.9% $137,800
94 Hooverson Heights 2,561 2.6% $78,600
95 Inwood 3,364 6.5% $166,400
96 Lubeck 1,258 1.4% $113,000
97 Poca 1,045 2.3% $143,200
98 Culloden 3,457 4.0% $130,400
99 Pleasant Valley 3,172 4.7% $149,700
100 Fort Ashby 1,461 2.2% $133,500

How Is The Area In ?

19 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In West Virginia, 2020

  1. You didn’t mention or say how many people lived in all of these town back in the 40,50,60,70 when the cold Mines was booming plenty of jobs, take war, wva they were 2 theater then, stores to shop at car dealers ships and things were still ok up until Obama stop coal sales Mines went out of business everything has come to a halt in all these towns we wander why, the government has shut it down it that plain and simple these people’s are miners, so looked at when times were good there, the grew up there went to school there, and I still love my home town of war, wva
    So in stead of finding all the bad things look into what happen,
    In the pass 3 years I know of 4 Mines that have closed up over 600 or more people out of work.
    I know I am rambling on but dam get you shit right before you Wright an article on something you don’t know about..
    I am done

    1. If your going to speak for your small city and let judgmental ppl know, you nothing to make fun of, please don’t write like your not stupid and use correct spelling, etc. That just makes us look stupider!!

    2. I work in coal industry. Bush exempted oil and gas from any kind of EPA oversight. That hurt us more than Obama (who was against coal).
      Blame AEP for switching immediatemly to gas after they didn’t get ready for new air regulations that they had 20 years to prepare for.
      We have the highest quality and most kinds of coal (in the world) in central and southern WV, but our underground seams are very small compared to the ones In Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are of lower quality, but far less expensive to mine.

  2. I don’t see how Bradshaw came in as number 1 worst. Let me tell you. My husband and I lived in other countries around the world. And other states in the USA. We retired in the little town of Bradshaw. Why? Because the rate is low. Income is average. And the price of homes is average like it would be anywhere in the world for there economy. I think you need to re-do your homework. I would give you an “F”, on this report.

  3. My family was from Rhodell and at one time it was a great little town. It’s a shame that the drug users and pushers have ruined what was once a beautiful little town!! Goes to show you just what prescription pill abuse can do to a small community!

  4. Gauley Bridge might not be a very nice place to live now, but when I lived there it was a nice little town . I’m proud to call Gauley Bridge my hometown.

  5. I was raised in a large town in W.Va. Then I moved to Cairo. it is a nice little town. Where a neighbor is a neighbor. This town used to be a very large Oil Boom town. It might be a little slower pace town now. It is funny that there is a lot of people coming back to Cairo to retire and they are building beautiful homes. I like my small town where you know the people that live here. How do these people rate the towns that they live in??? Come and check out these places before you print the next time!!!!!!

  6. hmm.. If you’re using figures Census’s American Community Survey 2010-2014 showing some of these towns with population of 1, then how are there at least two houses for sale in Gary, with at least three other homes in their direct vicinity, and apparently occupied as evidenced by used wash cloth hanging over the bathtub? Having served as a census taker in previous years, it’s very important to obtain as accurate of a population count as possible, even if the home is only occupied during a certain period of the year. According to Wikipedia, Gary WV has a population of 968 according to 2010 U.S. Census. Perhaps you may need to recheck the actual figures?

  7. I have lived in Davy my entire life (35+ years) and have NEVER been the victim of any crime. I have had chances to leave and have decided to stay. You all need to do a little more research before you write such offensive articles!!! Also, my annual household income is darn sure more than $15-$18,000 a year! You people have no idea what you are talking about! Let me give you a little advice…numbers aren’t everything! Try getting out of you cozy, uppity office and visiting some of these places and you might change what you write about these places! You should think twice about what you’re writing; not only are insulting the place, you’re insulting the people who live there as well!!!!

    1. I grew up in Davy, it’s a shit hole. Between the drugs, no jobs, and people burning houses down. And as for your salary. It says average salary. No every. So I think he’s more correct than you think

  8. I have traveled all over lots of parts of USA. I’ve found the people in West Virginia to be the kindest, most beautiful and soulful people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never felt so welcomed anywhere else like I was there.

    1. Thank you Rose Mascitelli, well said.I have family roots in W.Va. the folks there are some of the finest people you ever want to meet, I try to visit Cairo and other places in W.Va. at least once a year.I for one like that lay back slow pace living.

  9. A Shame WV, nice place. No Jobs No Work. Nothing there but hardships and poor people. I was born there and went to school there. I have lived in Tennessee for 25 years and that is the best thing I ever did was to move out of WV. I Love WV football and watch every game. The ratty politicians have completely had their way up there. Complete Freedom for the wormy ratty bastards. nobody really cares about WV, Nobody. A Sad disgrace for this country. Loving WV Always. jes

  10. I live in War and have spent 55 years here only leaving to go to college and worked 3 years in Ky. I moved back here and never regretted it. All states have their problems and ours is no different. The politicians move money to larger areas for economics. They ignore small isolated communities and cause a lot of the problems. When a state has the ability to do so, it should work with small rural areas to build infrastructure which would enhance job opportunities, reduce poverty, and all the other negative factors. There were 11 children and yes some left to find work but those of us that stayed had good jobs and live in homes valued between $50K and $150K. My parents never were on public assistance and none of their children were. No child was ever in trouble with the law. There are a lot of good people in our communities, they work hard, build their homes and families, and retire. We do not let media define who we are. We are proud to be from WV and our small rural communities. Many of us fight daily to turn things around.

  11. Most people research more than median income. I am very proud of being raised in the Meadow Bridge area. As a writer you should check these places out more thoroughly. That little town pulled together to raise thousands of dollars in supplies when neighboring Rainelle was devastated by a flood. The wonderful people gave thousands of hours of hard work just because they cared. We love God, respect the flag, dote on our elders and support each other. In the state our world is in now you should be so lucky to call this place your home!!!

  12. My hometown is Northfork, we’re rated #12 on your list. If businesses would stop closing, poverty and crime wouldn’t be so high. I am proud of my town regardless of the negativity it receives, by people who never probably ever visited, or lived

  13. Your remarks about Meadow Bridge are pathetic as well as being totally incorrect. I was raised up about one mile outside of M.B. and graduated from the high school there which is now being fought over with the BOE who is trying to shut it down. That area has some of the finest and hardest working people in the world. Yes, it also has some of the laziest and those on welfare, but doesn’t every area? You need to go there and meet the people and stay there for awhile before you pass judgment.

  14. I was born in Welch, lived in iaeger, Bradshaw & Twin Branch. My mother packed us up & to Chicago. My memories were looking at a black & white picture, but my husband set up a vacation, it was amazing how beautiful it was. We got a home on the side of a mountain, no bugs, garbage on the streets homeles people begging for money or stuff that was what I seen everyday, I never thought how much I could just blend in like I just moved away not that long ago. We went to the lil towns I lived in when we were little kids. The state is so beautiful & welcoming, people waving hi, so friendly I think this is where I want to go to finish out my years I have left, people sometimes pass judgement before actually getting the real way the neighborhood is, but that’s the way alot of news gets put out. I’ll say McDowell county is a very beautiful welcoming place to live in. I miss my roots & can’t wait to go back there,

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