Country roads, take me home…
When it comes to finding the ideal place to put down roots, West Virginia is a state that often flies under the radar. Offering a singular blend of natural beauty, thriving local economies and rich cultural tapestries make the towns and cities featured below fantastic places to live in West Virginia.
Whether you’re a young professional chasing career opportunities, a family seeking quality education and safe neighborhoods or retirees looking for a peaceful retreat, the Mountain State has something for everyone. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the unique qualities that make each town below stand out as one of the best places to live in West Virginia.
- Population: 29,219
- Average age: 24.2
- Median household income: $36,991
- Average commute time: 23.6 minutes
- Walk score: 59
- Studio average rent: $442
- One-bedroom average rent: $750
- Two-bedroom average rent: $742
Morgantown offers a harmonious blend of college-town energy and Appalachian tranquility. Home to West Virginia University, the town hums with a youthful vibe that infuses everything from its trendy coffee shops to its bustling arts scene. The university acts as a hub, drawing in world-class performances, sporting events and academic conferences. At the same time, its healthcare and biotech industries offer solid employment opportunities, making it a stable place to plant roots and raise a family.
Outdoor enthusiasts will never have a dull weekend here. Morgantown is just a stone’s throw away from the Cheat River, offering a playground for kayakers, anglers and hikers. Morgantown is also famous for its Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system — an eco-friendly public transportation marvel — that whisks residents and students around town with futuristic flair. Affordable housing options, highly rated schools and an array of eateries serving everything from Appalachian comfort food to global cuisines make Morgantown an appealing choice for people of all ages and backgrounds.
- Population: 48,018
- Average age: 42.1
- Median household income: $54,101
- Average commute time: 17.1 minutes
- Walk score: 33
- Studio average rent: $549
- One-bedroom average rent: $725
- Two-bedroom average rent: $784
As the capital city, Charleston secures its spot as one of the best places to live in West Virginia through a compelling mix of political gravitas and natural beauty. It’s where marbled government buildings stand just a short walk from artisan boutiques and casual eateries. The Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center serves as the heartbeat of entertainment in the city, hosting concerts, sporting events and even the annual state dance festival. Job opportunities are abundant here, particularly in healthcare, education and government, making it a prime location for career-driven individuals and families alike.
Even if you’re not into politics or live shows, Charleston knows how to keep its residents engaged. The Kanawha River snakes through the city, providing a waterway for boating or a scenic backdrop for an afternoon jog. An appealing blend of modern amenities and a serene Appalachian setting make Charleston an irresistible place to call home.
- Population: 46,025
- Average age: 35.6
- Median household income: $33,012
- Average commute time: 17.9 minutes
- Walk score: 49
- Studio average rent: $690
- One-bedroom average rent: $750
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,050
Huntington presents an engaging mix of academic excellence and industrial strength. This riverside town is home to Marshall University, an institution that contributes not just educated graduates, but also a youthful energy that permeates the city. You’ll find eclectic shops, buzzing cafes and a range of art galleries, thanks to this infusion of student spirit. Huntington is also a working town with deep roots in manufacturing and healthcare, providing diverse employment prospects for its residents.
Ritter Park is a community favorite, with trails for runners, gardens for botany enthusiasts and playgrounds for the little ones. The Ohio River provides an inviting setting for a variety of water activities, from fishing to boating. On the food front, Huntington surprises with a diverse menu of options that defy its small-town status, offering everything from classic American fare to sushi bars. Top-notch schools and community-centered events like the annual ChiliFest round out Huntington’s appeal as a hometown with both heart and hustle.
- Population: 26,568
- Average age: 43.9
- Median household income: $43,483
- Average commute time: 18.9 minutes
- Walk score: 37
- Studio average rent: $620
- One-bedroom average rent: $745
- Two-bedroom average rent: $910
Wheeling stakes its claim as one of the best places to live in West Virginia by elegantly blending its rich history with a dynamic present. As a gateway to the West in the early days of America, this city has a storied past visible in its Victorian architecture and historic sites like the Capitol Theatre, a 1928-built venue that still hosts shows today.
When it comes to recreation, Wheeling doesn’t skimp. The Ohio River offers ample opportunities for boating, fishing and scenic picnics. The Wheeling Heritage Trails system provides miles of well-maintained paths for bikers, runners and anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors. On weekends, residents flock to the Wheeling Artisan Center to shop for local crafts or head to Centre Market to enjoy quality food with a side of live music. With its strong sense of community, excellent school system and plentiful entertainment options, Wheeling is the sort of place that wins you over and convinces you to stay for the long haul.
- Population: 9,257
- Average age: 45.2
- Median household income: $87,936
- Average commute time: 16.9 minutes
- Studio average rent: $610
- One-bedroom average rent: $620
- Two-bedroom average rent: $740
Bridgeport doesn’t just make the list, it shines brightly as one of the best places to live in West Virginia, thanks to its top-rated schools, booming economy and family-friendly atmosphere. This growing city is a hub for the aerospace and healthcare industries, drawing in professionals and families with its promise of well-paying jobs and a high standard of living. Those eager to ascend the corporate ladder will find companies like Pratt & Whitney and United Hospital Center offering a plethora of career opportunities.
Beyond its corporate and educational accolades, Bridgeport is a town that knows how to kick back and enjoy life. Options for recreation abound, from golf courses that would delight even a PGA pro, to the sprawling Bridgeport City Park with its sports fields, hiking trails and summer concert series. Add to this the appealing mix of dining options — everything from old-school Italian joints to modern farm-to-table experiences — and you’ve got a city that satisfies every palate. Combining a robust economy with a laid-back lifestyle, Bridgeport truly offers the best of both worlds.
- Population: 18,209
- Average age: 34.2
- Median household income: $47,618
- Average commute time: 24.1 minutes
- Walk score: 40
- Studio average rent: $830
- One-bedroom average rent: $840
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,050
If you’re looking for small-town charm with big-city conveniences, Fairmont effortlessly earns its spot as one of the best places to live in West Virginia. Fairmont is a hub for technology and education, serving as the home for Fairmont State University, which not only educates but enriches the community through cultural and sporting events. Job seekers will find a range of opportunities in healthcare, education and technology. But Fairmont doesn’t lean solely on its academic and economic credentials; it also has a thriving arts scene, featuring galleries, theatres and even a symphony orchestra.
Fairmont sits along the Tygart Valley River, providing ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking and enjoying serene waterfront views. The local parks are generously dotted with playgrounds, skate areas and baseball fields, ensuring that families have ample space to spread out and play. Foodies can explore an array of culinary delights, from mouth-watering pepperoni rolls right from the Fairmont bakery where they first came to life — The Country Club Bakery — to upscale dining experiences. Coupled with affordable housing and a strong sense of community, Fairmont proves that you can indeed have it all.
- Population: 1,494
- Average age: 21.2
- Median household income: $53,125
- Average commute time: 17.2 minutes
- Studio average rent: $830
- One-bedroom average rent: $840
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,375
Anchored by Shepherd University, Shepherdstown easily ranks as one of the best places to live in West Virginia. As the oldest town in the state, it exudes a sense of timelessness through its cobblestone streets and centuries-old brick buildings. However, the presence of the university injects a youthful energy that manifests in trendy boutiques, indie bookstores and a surprisingly strong arts scene. From live music festivals to theater performances, the town’s cultural calendar is perpetually filled, offering an intellectual and artistic smorgasbord for locals and visitors alike.
But Shepherdstown isn’t just for the intellectually curious or artistically inclined; it also serves up a treasure trove of outdoor adventures. Situated along the Potomac River, kayaking and fishing are practically local pastimes. For outdoorsy types, the C&O Canal National Historical Park provides ample hiking and biking trails to explore. With its low crime rate, strong sense of community and high standard of living, Shepherdstown checks all the boxes for anyone looking for a charming yet modern place to call home.
- Population: 3,868
- Average age: 48.6
- Median household income: $37,875
- Average commute time: 15.0 minutes
- Walk score: 73
- Studio average rent: $630
- One-bedroom average rent: $900
If you’re a fan of the arts and outdoor beauty, Lewisburg secures its spot as one of the best places to live in West Virginia. This quaint town in the Greenbrier Valley isn’t just a postcard-perfect scene; it’s a thriving cultural hub with a robust calendar of events, ranging from live theater at the Greenbrier Valley Theatre to the annual Lewisburg Literary Festival. Once named the “Coolest Small Town in America”, it’s a place where artists find inspiration, bringing visitors from all over to experience its unique creative ambiance. The town also has excellent schools and healthcare services, making it an ideal place for families and retirees alike.
When the curtain falls and the paint dries, Lewisburg offers a wealth of outdoor adventures to keep you active. Whether you’re an angler tossing lines into the Greenbrier River or a hiker eager to explore the surrounding Appalachian Mountains, there’s something for everyone. With an inviting mix of culture, convenience and the great outdoors, Lewisburg proves you can have sophistication and nature all in one stellar package.
- Population: 18,835
- Average age: 38.5
- Median household income: $45,901
- Average commute time: 28.8 minutes
- Walk score: 45
- Studio average rent: $775
- One-bedroom average rent: $682
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,877
Martinsburg holds its own as one of the best places to live in West Virginia, particularly for those seeking a blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. Conveniently located along the MARC commuter rail line, it offers easy access to Washington, D.C., making it a perfect base for professionals craving a peaceful retreat without losing the pulse of the city. Job prospects are abundant in healthcare and manufacturing, but the commuting option opens the doors to countless additional opportunities in the nation’s capital.
The nearby Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers are a paradise for fishing, kayaking or lazy scenic floats. For land-based fun, hiking trails offer miles of woodland exploration. Families enjoy quality time at the local parks, where weekend soccer games and barbecues are common scenes. Shopping centers and farmers markets offer everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts, making errands more of a pleasure than a chore in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
- Population: 29,403
- Average age: 41.8
- Median household income: $38,960
- Average commute time: 20.5 minutes
- Walk score: 46
- Studio average rent: $625
- One-bedroom average rent: $700
- Two-bedroom average rent: $780
Straddling the banks of the Ohio River, Parkersburg defies expectations and proudly stands as one of the best places to live in West Virginia. This city refuses to be boxed into stereotypes, offering a captivating blend of industrial ingenuity and natural beauty. Parkersburg serves as a regional center for the petrochemical industry, providing robust job opportunities, while also boasting an array of museums, historical landmarks and even a wildlife refuge for bald eagles. You get the sense that this city is all about balance, serving as a stable foundation for working professionals, families and everyone in between.
The Ohio River supports boating and fishing, while Parkersburg City Park has a zoo, skate park and swimming pool to keep the entire family entertained. For the culturally inclined, the Smoot Theatre showcases local talent and brings in performances that you’d typically expect in much larger cities.
Downtown features an intriguing mix of antique stores, specialty shops and restaurants that offer everything from farm-fresh West Virginia produce to international delicacies. With low housing costs, excellent schools and a quality healthcare system, Parkersburg presents a compelling argument for anyone seeking an enriched life without the big-city chaos.
There’s a West Virginia apartment waiting for you
As we’ve seen, there’s a wealth of options when it comes to the best places to live in West Virginia. Each town and city offers a unique set of advantages, whether it’s the career opportunities in bustling economic hubs, the familial warmth in close-knit communities or the serene natural landscapes that offer a break from the frenetic pace of modern life.
West Virginia proves that the quest for a balanced life doesn’t require a compromise between economic stability and a high quality of life. The state serves as a microcosm of what’s possible when communities invest in education, infrastructure and cultural enrichment, making any of these towns not just a place to live, but a place to thrive.