The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Best Cities In West Virginia

If you’re thinking about moving to the Mountain State, consider this list your map to the top. These are the 10 best cities in West Virginia.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

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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)
  • Unemployment
  • 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.

1. Bridgeport

Bridgeport, WV

Source: Google Maps

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

Cheat Lake, WV

Source: Google Maps

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.

3. Brookhaven

Brookhaven, WV

Source: Google Maps

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.

4. Morgantown

Morgantown, WV

Source: City of Morgantown

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

Charles Town, WV

Source: Google Maps

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.

6. Dunbar

Dunbar, WV

Source: Flickr user

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.

7. Clarksburg

Clarksburg, WV

Source: City of Clarksburg

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.

8. Vienna

Vienna, WV

Source: Flickr user Snoopywv

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.

9. Charleston

Charleston, WV

Source: City of Charleston

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.

9. Huntington

Huntington, WV

Source: Flickr user Wvfunnyman

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.

Best Places In West Virginia

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posted on: March 28, 2014
228,129 views, 23 comments


  1. Paul

    The list overall isn’t bad, but the quality of life assessments are totally off base… not even close.

    Morgantown should be near the very top there… many amenities, great sports scene, best arts and entertainment offerings in our state by far, good restaurants, and low crime rates as well as being the state’s only city with organized learning activities for senior citizens.

    Also, Wheeling has the world’s best municipal park system so it is hard to imagine it not being in the top 10 instead of the current 9 and 10, which have much higher crime rates and lack the recreational amenities or proximity to Pittsburgh. Ranking it so low in quality of life? You must not have visited there.

  2. Eric

    Certainly this is a joke! This is promotional because Business Insider Magazine named Huntington and Charleston as the two most miserable cities in the country, so those two cities make top ten in WV is embarrassing.

    • Peter in response to Eric

      Having grown up in Huntington, and moved away as soon as I got the chance, I can agree that it should not be on the list.

  3. Jaspaul Singh

    When did Pea Ridge become a city?

    • Brett in response to Jaspaul Singh

      About the same time Cheat Lake and Brookhaven did

  4. Markel Fertig

    Too bad you didn’t visit Eleanor. You may have changed your minds.

  5. Diann Hayes

    “Coolest Small Town in America” Lewisburg???? not even on the list?????????????????

  6. BAker

    You are out of your mind with this list!

  7. Vic

    Dunbar? Are you out of your mind? Between the HUD housing, rental properties and elderly housing, Dunbar has very little going for it. Unless you like run down, depressing and crime ridden.
    Honestly, Dunbar’s heyday was 1916 and it’s been downhill ever since.

  8. WV Native

    Haha, this is a joke, right? Huntington.. Let’s see, if getting mugged is on your to do list be sure to stop by there and get it taken care of. Hmm, Charleston smells like a chemical factory, don’t swim in the river. Morgantown looks like a construction company dropped a duece on the side of the mountain. Never been to Dunbar, rest of list looks good.

  9. Nancy

    What about Milton, delightful little town, don’t hear about much crime, Blenko Glass, covered bridge, Pumpkin Festival????

  10. June

    I have lived in many other states. When I would return to WV I have to admit that I got a little depressed. Charleston looked dirty and crowded. BUT after living just outside of Boston for 10 years, I was so very thrilled to move back here………where people actually made eye contact with you, smiled at you, talked with you (even though they didn’t know you), didn’t get upset at all if you couldn’t find your depit card immediately to check out, and so many other things!!! Yes, WV does have it’s problems, but there is no where you can find friendlier people!! BTW, I live in Elkview – 10 min. from Chas.

  11. deborah mounts

    Lived..grew up in Huntington WV….nothing has changed except more crime and no rental property worth renting…except for HUD housing (which is a joke)….no good paying jobs…I now live in another state across the USA. Wonder why?

  12. Lisa

    I’m a WV girl by far. I lived in and grew up in Lewisburg WV. It is a beautiful little town and got voted The Coolest Smallest town in America.. there is not a lot of crime there and the people are the most heart felt people that I have ever met. We all love our little town. We all take care of eachother. The neighbors are the kind of people that if you needed to borrow a cup of sugar they would give it to you and expect nothing in return. Once again I love my hometown and there are many memories there. I’m forever a WV fan by heart.

  13. Brenda

    I found this list to be a joke. I loved living Charleston but there were many places I wouldn’t drive through. Dunbar has been a dump since the 1970’s. I now live in Williamstown and am planning to move back to the Kanawha Valley but it will be on the eastern area of Putnum County.

  14. Kirk Adkins

    LMFAO definition of irony – this list.

  15. Barbara Hinkle

    Oh, yes, Charleston is a lovely place….just don’t drink the water or breathe the air.

  16. Elle

    My husband is getting transferred to friendly, wv. Any good, safe, cities near by to live? I have a 4 yr old so a good elementary school is very important. Thank you.

  17. teresa

    Ripley WV is by far the best city in WV with the worlds largest small town city 4th of July celebration

  18. leisa

    what about grafton………..the birthplace of mothers day??????

  19. Donna McFarland

    This is a bit off topic but I don’t know where else to post it :(. Can someone enlighten me about the health/environmental negatives? I’ve heard so many things for years about how unhealthy it is to live in W.Va. and I’m real confused. It IS a most beautiful place, the people are the BEST, most down to earth that I’ve ever met …I’d like to think of retirement there, buuut…this truly concerns me. Anyone?

  20. Mary

    I’m thinking about moving to Chicago or west Virginia which one is a good place I have a 17 year old that needs to get a high school diploma and my oldest what to into videos game making

  21. Doug

    Both places have their ups and downs. Having lived in WV all my life, I can say it’s absolutely beautiful, and I’m proud to be a Mountaineer. The folks are friendly for the most part and there’s a lot of natural beauty and history. The downside is that there aren’t a lot of jobs and it seems like drugs are more of an issue these days, which is also dependent on the area. I wouldn’t recommend Charleston or Huntington. As for Chicago, it’s expensive, overpopulated, and there aren’t that many more jobs here. Living outside of the city isn’t awful, especially in towns like St. Charles, Batavia, or Geneva. The winters are avdifferent story. I suppose when it comes right down to it, it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s always good to do your homework on any place you’re planning on moving to.


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