Residents in West Virginia will surely tell you its the best Virginia, particularly if they live in one of the 10 places below. That’s because they are the best in the state when it comes to things to do, education, affluence, and more.
Here at Movoto Real Estate, we’re something of number nerds. We rely on good old fashioned facts and figures to provide you with irrefutable evidence that the places we bring you are most certainly the best. So far, we’ve done it for states like Kentucky and Colorado, and today we’re heading to the Mountain State, where Bridgeport ranked at the peak of our list. Of course it wasn’t without some steep competition. Here are the 10 best places in West Virginia:
1. City of Bridgeport
2. CDP of Cheat Lake
3. CDP of Brookhaven
4. City of Morgantown
5. City of Charles Town
6. City of Dunbar
7. City of Clarksburg
8. City of Vienna
9. City of Charleston
9. City of Huntington
What is so special about Bridgeport, and how did Cheat Lake make it to the top? Keep on reading and we’ll tell you the method behind our analysis and just why each of these 10 places ranked above the rest.
How We Did It
West Virginia is a beautiful state with a variety of landscapes, cities, and people. In order to scale the mountainous task of finding the very best places among this great state, we needed a few measurable criteria to keep things simple. So we relied on the following seven:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
Once we had our criteria heel hooked in, we looked at U.S. Census data for all of the places in West Virginia with populations over 5,000 people. Now, in most of our lists, we just look at the places larger than 10,000; but as it turns out, the Mountain State doesn’t exactly have a mountainous population, so we extended our list to include some of the smaller cities, towns, and places. In the end, we ended up with 33 places.
Then, we ranked each from 1 to 33 in the seven criteria above, with one being the best possible score. After that, we averaged each ranking for an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the winner.
To check out the entire list of 33 places, scroll down to the bottom of the post. Otherwise, keep reading to go on a virtual tour of the 10 best places in the Mountain State, starting at the peak with our winner, Bridgeport.
Bridgeport may technically be a city, but its population of just 8,355, close-knit community feel, quaint homes, and rich history still apparent in the culture today certainly make it feel like more of a small town; which may be exactly why residents love it so much.
Of course, having one of the highest median household incomes in the state might have something to do with it, too. In fact, according to our analysis, not only do Bridgeport residents make a higher-than-average salary (a median household income of $66,318), the city also has some of the highest median home prices ($181,500) and median rent prices ($759) in the state, indicating the area’s desirability.
The family friendly cherry on top? Bridgeport is also one of the safest places in the state, with just 878 crimes per 100,000 people.
2. Cheat Lake
This census-designated place in Monongalia County may have a population of just 7,972, but as we quickly discovered, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s lacking. In fact, Cheat Lake ranked No. 1 when it came to median household income and No. 2 and 3, respectively, for its median home price of $253,300 and rent price of $673, giving it an overall good quality of life score.
To top it off, Cheat Lake also had one of the lowest crime rates, just 878 crimes per 100,000 people, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, just 4.6 percent.
Plus, as a part of Morgantown, with its variety of things to do, places to go, and let’s be honest, Black Bear Burritos, which is reason enough to move nearby, Cheat Lakers have the best of both worlds: all of the benefits of the surrounding city, plus a close-knit community to call home. No wonder the real estate prices are so high.
As residents will surely tell you, Brookhaven is truly a haven within West Virginia. It is near enough to Morgantown to enjoy its benefits, including a ton of amenities, and yet far enough away to have its own close-knit community. And we do mean close-knit, with just 5,181 residents; it’s practically one big family.
Brookhaven also scored well with its overall quality of life, for a higher-than-average median household income, home price, and rent price. Plus, with an unemployment rate of just 4.6 percent, Bookhaven tied with Cheat Lake and the City of Morgantown for the lowest unemployment rate in the state.
We’ve been doing a lot of talking about places within the City of Morgantown (Brookhaven and Cheat Lake so far), so it’s probably no surprise that the city itself should land high on our list as well.
Perhaps best known as the home to West Virginia University—or maybe, as we mentioned before, Black Bear Burritos on Pleasant Street, it’s a close call—Morgantown truly has something for everyone, whether you’re a student, a parent, retired, or just looking for some of the best weather in the state (an average summer temp of 71 and quality of air score of 35) or a shorter commute (just 18 minutes on average). It’s no wonder the median home and rent prices here are so high. What’s not to love?
5. Charles Town
This city is one of the most historically and culturally rich on our list. For example, Charles Town was the location of the trial and execution of John Brown, the famous abolitionist whose raid on nearby Ferry sparked the Civil War. Of course, this is just a small sample of the town’s rich history, and much has changed since then, but traces of these stories can be seen in the very buildings dotting the streets of the charming city.
This probably explains the real estate values. Charles Town had both the highest median home price ($257,700) and rent price ($773) in the state, indicating the area’s desirability. It also had the lowest crime rate, just 514 crimes per 100,000, and the best weather, with summer temperatures of just 71 degrees on average and an air quality score of just 16 (lower is better). That’s a good 20 points lower than any of the other places in our top 10.
Located along the Kanawha River in Kanawha County, Dunbar was originally a farming community, and—fun fact—was the birthplace of the Gravely Plow in 1916. Of course, a lot has changed in the past century, and while Dunbar still maintains a rich culture based around its history, it now has a lot more going for it than historic gardening implements.
For example, with a cost of living of just 80, where the national average is 100, Dunbar is by far the least expensive place in our top 10, and yet with a median household income of $43,217, it’s still well above average. Plus, Dunbar residents had one of the lowest commute times on our list, just 19 minutes on average.
Located in Harrison County, Clarksburg is a lovely city, dotted with historical sites like the Jackson Cemetery, the Stuck Log Cabin, and Lowndes Hill Park. The city is rich with arts and culture—made sure of by the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation. And to top it off, it is affordable!
In our analysis, Clarksburg boasts a cost of living of just 81, one of the lowest priced in our top 10, and at just 12 to 1, has the lowest student-teacher ratios. Clarksburg also had a low unemployment rate of just 6.2 percent and a lower than average commute time of 19 minutes.
It’s no wonder Clarksburg was recently named the National Small City of the Year by the National League of Cities.
What began as a 5,000 acre settlement in the late 1700s has grown over the years into a bustling city along the Ohio River. This Wood County city of 10,686 residents has certainly come a long way since its earliest days, and, in fact, scored well in our study for the sheer amount of things it has to do, with some of the most amenities of any place we looked at. Restaurants like Steak n’ Shake, CJ’s Italian Kitchen, and of course, Holl’s Chocolate, are just a few of these amenities, and really, kind of reason enough to live in Vienna (especially those tiramisu truffles at Holl’s. Mmmmm).
Vienna also got points for its low cost of living of 81 (where the national average is 100) and a crime rate of just 1,991 crimes per 100,000 people; that’s 25 percent lower than the West Virginia average.
With a population of 51,018 residents, the capital city of West Virginia is the largest place in the state. As such, it should come as little surprise that Charleston also placed among the best when it came to amenities. It also ranked well in overall quality of life for its high median household income of $42,133 and its median home price of $131,500.
Of course, as you might expect with a larger city, Charleston didn’t exactly rank well with crime. In fact, it came in dead last.
Tying with Charleston for No. 10 was the City of Huntington. Huntington is known as the home of Marshall University; one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, Camden Park; and the Huntington Museum of Art. It’s also known for the Railroad Museum, the largest port in the U.S., and, well, the list goes on. According to our study, it should probably go ahead and add “a helluva place to live” to all that.
With a cost of living of just 79, Huntington was the least expensive place in our top 10, which is good news because residents can actually afford to go out and enjoy the many amenities the place has to offer. (In other words, they can have their delicious Francois Pastry Shop cake and eat it, too.) Huntington also had one of the lowest student to teacher ratios in the state, just 13 to 1, plus an average commute time of just 19 minutes, making this a great place to raise a family
Mounting Evidence Of An Excellent State
We may not have known a lot about the Mountain State before we (virtually) hopped over to check out some of its finest places, but now that we’ve stopped by, the evidence is mounting: this state is awesome. And the best part? That would be the City of Bridgeport. So congratulations, Bridgeportians, and to all of the places on our list. If we ever (actually) hop over, we’ll know just where to go first.