View of Charleston West Virginia from waterfront at sunset.

10 Best Places To Live In West Virginia

David Collins12-minute read
UPDATED: July 25, 2023

Surrounded by more populated and larger states, West Virginia flies a little under the radar. It is completely within the Appalachian Mountain range and is known for its natural beauty, whitewater rivers, small mountain towns and – as the third most forested state in the U.S. – spectacular fall colors.

The Mountain State has significant historical relevance that goes back to the colonial era, and much of that history is celebrated and preserved. It has the 15th lowest crime index and the lowest median home price in the country at $114,600. One of the most famous and widely photographed landmarks in West Virginia, New River Gorge Bridge, captures what this lesser-known part of the country is all about – with its steel arches 876 feet above the valley floor, it’s engulfed by tree-covered hills on either side. It’s no wonder why singer John Denver called the state “almost heaven.”

What Is The Best Place To Live In West Virginia?

As one of the cheapest states to buy a house, along with relatively low crime and a slower pace of life, West Virginia has hundreds of cities, small towns and hamlets that can be ideal for families, retirees and young professionals. Outdoor enthusiasts also find a niche here – almost any place in West Virginia is close to a mountain trail, whitewater river or game area. But there are modern, sophisticated cities as well. The capital Charleston, the city of Huntington and the university town of Morgantown all have the advantages of city living without much of the crime, pollution and density of the larger eastern cities in nearby states.

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8 Best Cities To Live In West Virginia

After analyzing several key metrics that translate to livability (see Methodology below), we determined the following to be the best places to live in West Virginia.

1. Point Pleasant

Aerial view over the Ohio River near Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
  • Population: 4,031
  • Median household income: $42,927
  • Median home sold price: $114,000
  • Median monthly rental price: $418

Point Pleasant is a quaint river town at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers bordering the state of Ohio. Point Pleasant’s historic downtown is a great place to shop and eat. There are plenty of outdoor recreation activities, with five miles of hiking and biking trails, two boat launches and fishing and kayaking at Krodel Park.

Riverfront Park is the center of civic life with an amphitheater, beautiful water views and murals and monuments depicting the Battle of Point Pleasant, considered by some historians as the first battle of the American Revolution. The town’s rich history is inseparable from the present, as is the legend of the Mothman, which grew out of 1960s sightings of a large birdlike humanoid figure in the 1960s. Point Pleasant’s annual Mothman Festival draws visitors from all over the world. The town’s active summer schedule also includes the Downtown BBQ Jamfest and the Mason County Fair.

For more on living in Point Pleasant, research homes for sale in Point Pleasant or check out Point Pleasant real estate trends.

2. Weirton

Railroad bridge over the Ohio River between Steubenville, Ohio and Weirton, West Virginia.
  • Population: 18,813
  • Median household income: $50,822
  • Median home sold price: $127,833
  • Median monthly rental price: $649

With dramatic views of the adjacent Ohio River, Weirton is a classic midwestern industrial town that has been featured in multiple Hollywood films. The four-mile Northern Panhandle Rail Trail in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains attracts biking and hiking enthusiasts. For indoor activities, there’s the Millsop Community Center, with an indoor swimming pool, basketball courts, gym and meeting rooms.

In town, the 238-bed Weirton Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the region. The city center is a walking district with many bars, restaurants, art galleries, shops and museums. A much anticipated annual attraction is the Weirton Greek Festival, which features Greek food, music and dancing. Although it is a singular, small West Virginia town with its own identity, Weirton is also just a 20-minute drive to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

For more information on living in Weirton, check out Weirton real estate trends or search through homes for sale in Weirton.

3. Keyser

View of windmills in the mountains near Keyser, West Virginia.
  • Population: 4,860
  • Median household income: $44,679
  • Median home sold price: $121,200
  • Median monthly rental price: $633

Keyser is a quaint small town in eastern West Virginia nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. The city maintains five community parks, including Brooks Park, which has an amphitheater and two covered pavilions. Keyser is also home to the Potomac State College, a junior college for the West Virginia University system.

Situated on the south side of the North Branch of the Potomac River where it is joined by New Creek, Keyser’s location allows residents to take advantage of the natural beauty of the area. The Barnum Whitewater Area features a four-mile rail trail along with trout fishing and whitewater rafting on the Potomac. The city’s natural surroundings have been kind to residents. There’s an abundance of small and large animal game hunting in the nearby Allegheny Wildlife Management Area, and owners of the Potomac Highland Winery even discovered that the terrain makes an ideal micro-climate for growing grapes.

For further information on living in Keyser, check out Keyser real estate trends or search homes for sale in Keyser.

4. Wheeling

Aerial view of the Ohio River running through Wheeling West Virginia.
  • Population: 26,568
  • Median household income: $41,911
  • Median home sold price: $89,900
  • Median monthly rental price: $645

Wheeling sits on the banks of the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the fifth largest town in West Virginia. The city’s Oglebay Resort and Conference Center is a self-supporting public park, the only one of its kind, on 1,650 acres. Other recreation opportunities include golfing on courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones and gambling and greyhound racing at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.

Everything from top country and rock acts to the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, play regularly at the Capitol Theater, the largest theater in the state. Wheeling kids can have fun and learn at the SMART (Science, Math, Art, Research, and Technology) Centre Market, which has hands-on displays in a museum/science center setting. There are also annual events for all ages at the Wheeling Heritage Port Waterfront, including the Wheeling Beer Festival, the Heritage Museum Bluesfest, festivals celebrating Greek and Italian heritage and a Pride Festival.

For more on life and living in Wheeling, look at homes for sale in Wheeling and read about Wheeling real estate trends.

5. Weston

  • Population: 3,890
  • Median household income: $36,728
  • Median home sold price: $113,500
  • Median monthly rental price: $641

The historic town of Weston is the county seat of Lewis County in the center of the Mountain State. It is also the town with the lowest crime rate on our list. On the north end of town is Jackson’s Mill, the boyhood home of storied Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.  WVU Jackson’s Mill is a special-mission campus of West Virginia University that serves as a statewide 4-H camp and a top national firefighter training facility. One of the most anticipated events of the year in Weston is the Jackson’s Mill Jubilee country fair that takes place on Labor Day weekend.

There is plenty of outdoor recreation in and around Weston. From musky fishing at Stonecoal Lake to boating, water skiing and bass fishing at Stonewall Jackson Lake. There is also great canoeing and kayaking on the 75-mile West Fork River Water Trail. One of the more unique and imposing structures in all of West Virginia is the now-shuttered Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. It is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and the town embraces this institution’s formidable history by holding a legendary Haunted House each fall.

To investigate Weston further, look at homes for sale in Weston and read about Weston real estate trends.

6. Grafton

Tygart River Dam in Grafton, West Virginia.
  • Population: 4,651
  • Median household income: $34,555
  • Median home sold price: $114,999
  • Median monthly rental price: $553 

Grafton is an idyllic, small mountain town with access to water sports and outdoor recreation at Tygart Lake State Park. The popular lake was created by a dam built on the Tygart Valley River and is surrounded by breathtaking views from the Allegheny Mountains. The two-deck tour boat called “Princess” cruises the lake and is popular with residents and visitors.

Grafton’s Main Street is home to an active arts community with galleries and arts instruction, along with live music throughout the summer months. There is shopping and dining in the historic district.

The city of Grafton embraces its history. The first Mother’s Day was observed in Grafton in 1908 at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, which is now recognized as The International Mother’s Day Shrine. The city is currently partnering with local businesses and arts groups to renovate and reopen the Historic Manos Theater downtown. Another restoration is occurring at the historic B&O Freight Station railroad structure, which will become home to the Grafton Farmer’s Market. The city extends its efforts to maintain its beauty to households, as well. Grafton holds an annual City Wide Beautification Contest with cash rewards for best rejuvenation of a residence or property.

For more information on living Grafton, research homes for sale in Grafton and read about Grafton real estate trends.

7. Bridgeport

  • Population: 9,257
  • Median household income: $84,295
  • Median home sold price: $285,000
  • Median monthly rental price: $1,132

With a foot in its pre-Revolutionary War past and another in today’s technology economy, Bridgeport is a centrally located city with two freeways that make it accessible to anywhere in the state. The relatively new $1.4 billion Charles Pointe development along the I-79 High Tech Corridor is a dynamic mix of offices, residences, hotels and restaurants. Shopping and dining options span everything-from-everywhere-America to only-in-Bridgeport. The Meadowbrook Mall has dozens of familiar national retail outlets, while downtown Bridgeport has unique local shops and excellent farm-to-table dining. As a business and transportation hub, Bridgeport has hotels by several top national chains.

Downtown Bridgeport kicks off the summer with the popular Summer Kickoff and Food Truck Festival. The Bridge Sports Complex has multiple kids’ sports fields and is one of the best in the entire region. The city also built the $40 million Citynet Center, which has a six-basketball-court fieldhouse, an aquatics center and facilities for every indoor recreational activity imaginable. For outdoor fun there are multiple city parks, an outdoor pool, more than one world-class golf course and even the Simpson Creek Covered Bridge, one of only 17 covered bridges in the state.

To investigate life and living in Bridgeport further, check out homes for sale in Bridgeport and read about Bridgeport real estate trends.

8. Dunbar

  • Population: 7,330
  • Median household income: $84,295
  • Median home sold price: $124,900
  • Median monthly rental price: $786

Like many of the best places to live in West Virginia, the town of Dunbar is a river town. It’s located on the Kanawha River and is not far from some of the most exciting whitewater rafting in the United States. Dunbar is a small town with a deep history of its own, but is also adjacent to Charleston, the capital city of West Virginia. It’s a city with affordable housing, low crime, services for families and seniors and a charming downtown.

This growing city is known for its parks, including the Shawnee Sports Complex, a 100-acre array of athletic fields where kids and teams from the entire region compete. The 40-acre City Park and adjacent Grandview Memorial Park sit in the heart of Dunbar. Historic places include the Dutch Hollow Wine Cellars, where abandoned 19th century walk-in wine cellars are preserved in a city park. The Dunbar Wine Cellar Park and Anderson Lake Loop feature a 1.3-mile hike around the seven-acre Anderson Lake.

Look at homes for sale in Dunbar and read about Dunbar real estate trends to get more information one of the top places to live in West Virginia.

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2 Popular Areas To Live In West Virginia

West Virginia is a state known for its colonial era history, friendly small towns, mountains, lakes and rivers. There are no big cities in the state, but among the larger towns that are popular with residents and visitors are the state capital and the home of the state university.

1. Morgantown

Aerial perspective over the Riverfront Downtown City Center in Morgantown, West Virginia.
  • Population: 29,219
  • Median household income: $42,474
  • Median home sold price: $230,000
  • Median monthly rental price: $840

Morgantown is the third largest city in West Virginia and is the home of West Virginia University (WVU). Its greater metro population in 2020 was 138,176. Morgantown sits in the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Monongahela River. It is a hilly town with elevations up to 1,200 feet and nearby mountain peaks of 2,400 feet in the nearby Coopers Rock State Forest. The town has distinct neighborhoods, quaint shops, diverse dining and a lively bar and nightlife scene, all of which help to make it one of the best cities to buy a house in 2023. Fall Saturdays are raucous events in a town named among the Top 15 College Football Towns in America by Bleacher Report.

The university-owned Core Arboretum is a 91-acre green space on the riverfront right downtown. Aside from the resources of the university, Morgantown is home to the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the National Crime Information Center. A cultural hub is the Monongalia Arts Center, with galleries, theaters and education in visual, performing and literary arts. The Metropolitan Theatre hosts local symphony and dance performances as well as major national touring theater and music acts.

For more on life and living in Morgantown, research homes for sale in Morgantown and read about Morgantown real estate trends.

2. Charleston

Long panoramic view of Charleston West Virginia, Capitol City.
  • Population: 48,356
  • Median household income: $49,769
  • Median home sold price: $179,514
  • Median monthly rental price: $751

It says a lot about the lower-key lifestyle of West Virginia that its capital and most populous city has fewer than 50,000 people. In addition to its beautiful West Virginia State Capitol dome, Charleston is home to the University of Charleston, the West Virginia International Yeager Airport and the Charleston Dirty Birds, a minor league baseball club in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Along tree-lined Capitol Street in historic downtown Charleston, residents and visitors walk among cafes, boutique shops, bookstores, galleries and restaurants. What Charleston has more of than anything is trees – 81% of the town is blanketed with deciduous trees, making it one of the best cities to view fall foliage in America.

One of Charleston’s great cultural contributions to American life is “Mountain Stage,” a live music show at the Charleston Theater that is broadcast weekly to 280 Voice of America and NPR affiliates across the country. The annual Vandalia Gathering on Memorial Day weekend is a celebration of West Virginian culture that features bluegrass and other traditional music, dancing, crafts and local food. The Clay Center for the performing arts is home to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra but also hosts national touring acts in all musical genres, plus live theater.

For more information on life in Charleston, research homes for sale in Charleston and read about Charleston real estate trends.

The Bottom Line: Consider Moving To One Of The Best Cities To Live In West Virginia

A quiet mountain oasis in the densely populated eastern United States, West Virginia is one of the most unique states in the country. Virtually any town in the state has easy access to a beautiful Appalachian Mountain trail. And even though some of the largest and most dynamic metropolises are just a few hours’ drive away, West Virginia manages to maintain its own identity and be just far enough away from it all. Even the big towns are small, but they have everything that young professionals or families can get anywhere else.

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Methodology: Finding The Best Places To Live In West Virginia

Rocket Homes collected and analyzed the most recent data on 12 key local and countywide metrics to give us insight into the top cities best for living. The 70 most populated cities analyzed are home to 31.47% of U.S. residents living in the Mountain State. The metrics used in this study include the violent crime rate, property crime rate, unemployment rate, Google search volume, median rent, well-being index, median monthly income, median monthly housing costs, median days on market for homes, median home list price and Freddie Mac primary mortgage market survey interest rates. Some of these metrics were then used to calculate housing cost to income ratio and home affordability index. These metrics were chosen based on public data availability and topical relevancy. Metrics from the U.S. Census are based on 2020 ACS 5-year estimates. In one case, county-level data was used because data is not recorded at the local level.

The housing cost to income ratio was calculated by taking the median monthly housing costs divided by the median monthly income to get the average percentage of income spent on housing costs in a household. The home affordability index was calculated using median listing price for homes in that city, interest rate from Freddie Mac primary mortgage market survey and median yearly income. To interpret the indices, a value equal to or greater than 1 means that the average person has enough income to qualify for a mortgage in that area. The calculation assumes a down payment of 20% of the home price and a qualifying ratio of 25%.

Each metric had data collected on it for the metropolitan statistical area and that area was ranked for each metric from best (1) to worst. Once all the metro areas were ranked from best to worst for each metric, weights were then applied to each metric depending on their individual importance when it comes to choosing the best cities to live in West Virginia. Cities with violent crime rates greater than or equal to 55 and property crime rates greater than or equal to 65 were removed from the ranking. The final scores are sorted to produce the final rankings. If multiple cities ranked within the same county, only the top one or two cities were chosen to be represented in order to showcase the diversity of the state and offer readers a wider representation of the state.





Violent crime rate



Best Places

Property crime rate



Best Places

Unemployment rate



U.S. Census

Google search volume




Median rent



U.S. Census

Well-being index



Share Care

Housing cost to income ratio



U.S. Census

Home affordability index



National Association of REALTORS® and Freddie Mac

Other metrics considered without weight:

Median monthly income


U.S. Census

Median monthly housing costs


U.S. Census

Median days on market for homes


Rocket Homes

Median home list price


Rocket Homes

David Collins

David Collins is a staff writer for Rocket Auto, Rocket Solar, and Rocket Homes. He has experience in communications for the automotive industry, reference publishing, and food and wine. He has a degree in English from the University of Michigan.