10 Small Towns In West Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live


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

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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 104 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:

  1. Bradshaw
  2. Davy
  3. Keystone
  4. Rhodell
  5. Cairo
  6. Meadow Bridge
  7. War
  8. Handley
  9. Iaeger
  10. Gauley Bridge

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.

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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 crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 104 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.

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1. Bradshaw

Bradshaw, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 428
Median Income: $21,667
Median Home Price: $34,300

We begin our tour of small West Virginia towns you wouldn’t want to live in with Bradshaw, a teeny town along highway 80, way, way (way) down near the Virginia panhandle. What makes this place so crummy?

First off, the unemployment rate down here is above 10%, and since there aren’t any jobs for an hour in any direction, if you lived here, you might be in the same predicament. Crime is the 5th worst of any small town in Virginia, and homes cost an average of $34,000 each.

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2. Davy

Davy, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 264
Median Income: $15,227
Median Home Price: $18,200

Not too far away from Bradshaw as the crow flies is the little speck of a place, Davy. This is the most dangerous small town in West Virginia, where you’d have a 1 in 26 chance of being a victim for every year you spend here.

That might be a reason homes sell for around $18,000 each, which might actually be the lowest median home price we’ve ever seen.

3. Keystone

Keystone, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 346
Median Income: $17,386
Median Home Price: $27,500

Is it a surprise that so far, all of these places are in the same general area, close to the Virginia state line, west of I-77?

Here in Keystone, crime is also just about as bad as you’ll see in West Virginia. Homes are very cheap, and families bring in about $17,000 a year annually, which is far below the poverty level. Odds are if you lived here, you’d be broke, too.

4. Rhodell

Rhodell, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 237
Median Income: $23,036
Median Home Price: $18,500

Welcome to Rhodell, West Virginia, where 65% of the population is a high school dropout. If you’re into stimulating conversations with some real go-getters, this certainly wouldn’t be a place you’d enjoy.

If you have $18,500 to spend on a home, and didn’t mind living in a boring place with high crime, then there are certainly some home owners in Rhodell who would welcome you with open arms.

To get there, take the exit for Ghent on I-77 and follow the windy road for about an hour.

5. Cairo

Cairo, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 389
Median Income: $19,904
Median Home Price: $28,100

Not too far east of Parkersburg along Route 50 is little Cairo. You can imagine that many small, isolated West Virginia towns have a problem with chronic unemployment and poverty. In Cairo, 1 in 10 residents is out of work (that’s 39 people to be exact).

If you lived here, your choices for work would be:

  • Fred’s Diner
  • Marshall’s Hardware
  • The Rail Trail Pantry
  • Or The Filling Station

What? Those places don’t sound appealing?

6. Meadow Bridge

Meadow Bridge, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 365
Median Income: $23,088
Median Home Price: $53,500

Meadow Bridge ain’t a barrel full of laughs, either. This teeny place just east from the junction of I-77 and I-64 is pretty isolated, but at least they have a Drive-In Theater. However, if you lived here, you’d most likely have to save up for food and gas, since you’d probably live in poverty.

One perk – you’d be close to the toll roads, where many a West Virginian has made quite a bit of pocket money asking tourists for ‘toll money’ to get home.

7. War

War, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 937
Median Income: $17,163
Median Home Price: $34,800

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Hey now there’s a real boom town! At least there’s lots of people around, so you’d have plenty of people with which to hatch a plan to skidaddle outta’ there if you made this your home.

War residents most likely wage a daily battle just to keep their heads above water. Sure, families here are broke, but crime is the 6th worst of any place we measured.

War is somewhere along a windy mountain road between the booming towns of Bradshaw (Pop. 337) and Cucumber (Pop. 94).

8. Handley

Handley, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 329
Median Income: $29,063
Median Home Price: $48,900

Just south of Charleston along the Kanawha is Handley. This is the 5th least densely populated place in WV, where there ain’t nothin’ in town except Hutch’s Wrecking Yard.

But, Charleston is only a half hour away, so if you managed to pay for gas each way, you’d at least have access to a decent job.

9. Iaeger

Iaeger, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 323
Median Income: $15,795
Median Home Price: $65,000

Judging by the photos we were able to find of Iaeger, it looks like this place is becoming a ghost town fairly quickly. If you checked back in a month, the population might just be under 300 souls.

Incomes here are below even what the government considers extreme poverty, and more than half the community is a dropout. The only reason we could conceive of anyone wanting to move here is to hide from the law.

10. Gauley Bridge

Gauley Bridge, West Virginia

Source: Google Maps

Population: 699
Median Income: $40,272
Median Home Price: $48,600

We finish our tour of small West Virginia towns that you’d never want to live in with Gauley Bridge, which is also downriver from Charleston. While incomes are actually pretty darn good for West Virginia standards, 1 in 10 folks are out of work, and home prices indicate there’s no demand to live here.

The upside? Gino’s Pizza & Spaghetti House and Subway are in town. So you certainly wouldn’t starve.

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.

Best: North Hills
2nd Best: Hedgesville
3rd Best: Mitchell Heights
For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Ranking Of The 100 Worst Small Towns In West Virginia

City Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Bradshaw 1 428 $21,667 $34,300
Davy 2 264 $15,227 $18,200
Keystone 3 346 $17,386 $27,500
Rhodell 4 237 $23,036 $18,500
Cairo 5 389 $19,904 $28,100
Meadow Bridge 6 365 $23,088 $53,500
War 7 937 $17,163 $34,800
Handley 8 329 $29,063 $48,900
Iaeger 9 323 $15,795 $65,000
Gauley Bridge 10 699 $40,272 $48,600
Smithfield 11 182 $15,769 $50,000
Northfork 12 627 $18,036 $31,400
Fort Gay 13 936 $14,722 $65,500
Gilbert 14 664 $26,366 $37,500
Junior 15 445 $26,000 $58,800
Hillsboro 16 359 $16,953 $49,000
Hartford City 17 735 $34,917 $46,800
Lester 18 339 $25,781 $49,600
Anawalt 19 448 $37,083 $24,900
Durbin 20 280 $25,208 $73,100
Anmoore 21 991 $26,679 $66,400
Burnsville 22 575 $31,250 $67,300
Kermit 23 636 $29,583 $60,900
Quinwood 24 313 $27,143 $47,000
Piedmont 25 990 $22,188 $40,000
Rowlesburg 26 924 $37,917 $55,400
Tunnelton 27 335 $33,281 $69,500
Pax 28 225 $13,917 $63,800
Camden-on-Gauley 29 128 $24,583 $58,800
Matoaka 30 275 $14,028 $45,000
Matewan 31 858 $36,750 $52,100
Hambleton 32 219 $25,625 $72,500
Reedy 33 158 $38,750 $50,500
Bramwell 34 525 $34,844 $54,200
Cowen 35 486 $38,100 $44,300
Womelsdorf (Coalton) 36 292 $34,375 $77,500
Pine Grove 37 662 $23,000 $60,700
Huttonsville 38 828 $26,111 $68,800
Mill Creek 39 683 $27,672 $72,400
West Hamlin 40 1 $16,563 $70,300
Ellenboro 41 535 $40,625 $67,300
Delbarton 42 1 $36,591 $59,600
Beech Bottom 43 530 $33,636 $56,100
Bayard 44 422 $33,750 $61,100
Pullman 45 287 $26,250 $81,400
Grantsville 46 569 $29,917 $80,200
Rupert 47 1 $24,696 $62,900
Flatwoods 48 443 $39,063 $47,100
Danville 49 868 $21,923 $85,300
Clay 50 454 $21,685 $80,000
Newburg 51 487 $36,250 $59,600
Gary 52 1 $25,300 $30,600
Kimball 53 366 $39,583 $28,400
Elizabeth 54 993 $32,574 $76,600
West Logan 55 430 $35,536 $66,200
Hundred 56 279 $32,500 $52,500
Smithers 57 916 $22,500 $75,200
Blacksville 58 112 $46,250 $67,100
Sand Fork 59 365 $34,792 $85,000
Harman 60 227 $34,625 $86,500
Thomas 61 495 $30,156 $88,200
Fairview 62 393 $29,750 $64,300
Lost Creek 63 356 $46,071 $103,100
Capon Bridge 64 440 $25,947 $170,500
Wardensville 65 381 $24,702 $129,600
Gassaway 66 810 $33,884 $80,400
Falling Spring 67 266 $29,505 $88,600
Alderson 68 1 $26,875 $86,100
Flemington 69 349 $38,750 $57,000
Albright 70 361 $36,000 $90,000
Ridgeley 71 716 $30,104 $87,100
Jane Lew 72 507 $33,188 $53,000
Middlebourne 73 914 $31,071 $82,000
Clendenin 74 1 $41,875 $79,200
Sylvester 75 483 $44,063 $67,100
Bancroft 76 806 $34,655 $65,000
Paw Paw 77 617 $20,729 $120,400
Hendricks 78 339 $36,875 $80,000
Davis 79 596 $28,125 $109,600
East Bank 80 1 $44,605 $66,500
Windsor Heights 81 469 $45,313 $53,500
Glasgow 82 827 $43,750 $91,100
Valley Grove 83 619 $39,063 $84,700
Triadelphia 84 1 $34,554 $62,900
Whitesville 85 530 $39,250 $76,800
Grant Town 86 563 $47,500 $71,900
Beverly 87 875 $33,333 $105,800
Franklin 88 726 $29,531 $119,400
Pratt 89 524 $43,438 $80,900
Reedsville 90 534 $45,278 $109,300
West Milford 91 895 $48,616 $79,100
Farmington 92 562 $42,589 $70,700
Bath (Berkeley Springs) 93 904 $35,655 $128,400
Pineville 94 1 $48,158 $73,200
Montrose 95 147 $49,167 $96,300
Brandonville 96 163 $42,083 $184,200
Carpendale 97 1 $41,094 $113,600
Union 98 613 $39,464 $117,000
Harpers Ferry 99 205 $91,250 $298,700
White Hall 100 552 $63,750 $173,800
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17 thoughts on “10 Small Towns In West Virginia Where You’d Never Want To Live

  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 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.

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