Article Overview: Living in West Virginia, Moving to West Virginia
Living in West Virginia, much like the John Denver song, has its moments of pure, unadulterated beauty, but it’s not all ‘country roads and mountain mommas’. Sure, the cost of living is low, especially when it comes to housing.
You can own a home here without draining your savings, and the natural scenery? It’s as stunning as ‘Country Roads’ suggests — rolling hills, serene rivers, and forests that change colors with the seasons.
However, the reality is a bit more complex and I’m not hear to sugar coat it. Economic opportunities are limited, particularly in rural areas. And the state’s embrace of the Almost Heaven mentality is somewhat ironic because living here, you’ll get there faster (more on that below).
If you’re thinking about moving to West Virginia you should be armed with the facts – both the good and the bad. Let’s get started.
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Pros of Living in West Virginia
Table of Contents: Living in West Virginia
Table of Contents: Living in West Virginia
- Pros of Living in West Virginia
- Cons of Moving to West Virginia
- FAQ – Living in West Virginia
- Map of West Virginia
- Summary of the Pros & Cons of Living in West Virginia
- Pros vs Cons of Living in West Virginia
1. The Lowest Cost of Living in America
Living in West Virginia has its perks, and one of the most significant is the low cost of living. From housing to daily expenses, we’re a wallet-friendly state. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, West Virginia has the lowest cost of living in the US.
That means your dollar goes further here than just about anywhere else in the country. With the effects of inflation shrinking everyone’s spending power West Virginia is a place where you can actually still afford the lifestyle you want.
2. Spectacular Natural Scenery
We didn’t need a national park to appreciate the natural splendor here in West Virginia but it sure doesn’t hurt.
West Virginia is home to the breathtaking sites like New River Gorge National Park, the stunning Monongahela National Forest, Dolly Sods Wilderness, the Bluestone Wild & Scenic River, and a whopping 35 state parks.
I mean wow. I’ve traveled all over the country to different national parks and public lands in my day, enough to know that West Virginia is a true hidden gem for natural beauty.
3. Outdoor Recreation Galore
Easily one of the best parts of living in West Virginia is the incredible access to world class outdoor recreation opportunities.
For hiking enthusiasts, there’s a plethora of trails, suitable for all levels of experience including some of the best parts of the Appalachian Trail. And when it’s time to unwind, camping along the New River in New River Gorge National Park is a serene experience (and free).
If you’re looking for a bit of excitement, whitewater rafting on the Gauley River is a thrilling adventure. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding at resorts like Snowshoe Mountain make the cold season enjoyable.
For those who enjoy fishing, hunting, biking, or rock climbing, West Virginia offers plenty of opportunities including the world famous Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area.
4. Prime East Coast Location
First and foremost, living in West Virginia the easy access to major East Coast cities like D.C., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Columbus is a game-changer. These cities are just a short drive away, making family visits, experiencing the bustle of city life, or attending business meetings a breeze.
But it’s not just about convenience; it’s also about opportunities. Being situated right in the heart of the East Coast opens up a world of possibilities. We’ve got a diverse range of job opportunities, educational institutions, and cultural experiences within a day’s drive.
Plus, we’ve got easy access to Amtrak depending on where you live which means you don’t have to drive or fly if you don’t want to.
Living in West Virginia often means enjoying a lower cost of living compared to nearby big cities. So we can have all the perks of urban life without the hefty price tag.
5. Houses Are Still Affordable
In a day and age where owning a home has become so unattainable for so many I’ve got good news – the dream of home ownership is still alive in well in West Virginia.
In fact, West Virginia is ranked as the cheapest state to buy a home in America. The median home value in West Virginia is just $143K, well below the national average.
6. History & Charm
West Virginia’s got a special kind of charm that’s rooted in its history. We’re unique, having split from Virginia during the Civil War in 1863 to remain in the union. That’s a proud part of the state’s identity.
Take Harpers Ferry, for example, where two beautiful rivers meet and where John Brown’s raid happened. That’s the stuff they teach you in school, but when you’re actually there, walking through those old streets, it feels like you’ve traveled back in time.
There’s lots of small towns here that feel like something out of a storybook. Take Lewisburg or Shepherdstown – these places have such quaint main streets, with local shops and buildings that have been standing for over a century.
And then, there’s our coal mining heritage. It’s a tough history, but it’s ours. You can drive down the Coal Heritage Trail and see the old mining towns. It gives you a real sense of what life was like for the miners back in the day.
7. Sense of Community
The sense of community you find in West Virginia is real.
In small towns and rural areas, it’s like everyone knows your name. These are the kind of folks who wave hello when you pass by and aren’t shy to lend a helping hand when a neighbor’s in need.
Our Appalachian roots run deep, and they’re a big part of what keeps us close. We love our traditional music, craft fairs, and storytelling.
Sure we’ve seen our share of tough times, especially with the mines closing. But that’s just made our community stronger. We stick together, whether it’s through big community projects or just looking out for each other in everyday life. That sense of togetherness is what makes living here really special.
Cons of Moving to West Virginia
1. We’re Uneducated
Now I can’t predict the future but I’ve got a hunch I’ll be getting some strongly worded comments about this one but hear me out.
Facts are stubborn things – West Virgina is the most uneducated state in the country. It’s embarrassing, and despite years of maintaining this status nothing seems to change.
When you’re the least educated state in the country that leads to predictable outcomes many of which I’ll be detailing below. It impacts every square inch of the state and perpetuates the cycle of less desirable outcomes for our residents.
2. Terrible Educational System
Predictably, we has a terrible education system. The good news here is that we’re no longer dead last. The bad news is that we’re not far from it – West Virginia has the fourth worst education system in the country. I guess that’s improvement?
The schools in this state are a joke and it makes raising children here a difficult task. Personally my wife and I have held off having kids because of this. Where can we possibly go to give them a decent education?
Private schools aren’t cheap but they’re really the only option to give your kids a chance it seems.
3. Extreme Poverty
Poverty in West Virginia is a stark and persistent reality, and I’ve seen it affect countless lives in my years here. The evidence is clear: West Virginia ranks 4th in the nation for percentage of residents in poverty with a full 16% of its residents living below the poverty line.
High unemployment rates, limited job opportunities, and low wages have created financial struggles for many families.
Rural areas face additional challenges, including limited access to education and healthcare, exacerbating the cycle of poverty. It’s really sad to witness the impact of poverty on our communities, from food insecurity to inadequate housing. If you’re thinking about moving to West Virginia consider how this might affect your own situation.
4. Basic Infrastructure Woes
Living in West Virginia it’s very apparent our roads and transportation systems are a major concern. Potholes, inadequate maintenance, and aging infrastructure make driving a daily ordeal. It’s not just an inconvenience; it’s a safety issue.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, West Virginia’s roads are in poor condition, with nearly a third of our major roads in need of repair. Bridges are also a worry, as many are aging and structurally deficient. Public transportation options are limited, especially in rural areas, which can isolate residents who rely on them.
Furthermore, our broadband internet coverage is inadequate, hindering education, remote work, and economic development. It’s a frustrating reality in a digital age.
While some of these issues are being addressed thanks to the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, there’s still a long ways to go to get us up to speed with the rest of the country.
5. The Worst Healthcare System in America
If you thought the cons of living in West Virginia couldn’t get any worse you were sadly mistaken. West Virginia has the worst healthcare system in America. Lucky us.
Access to healthcare facilities can be a nightmare, especially in remote areas where hospitals are scarce. The stats don’t lie; we’ve got some of the highest rates of chronic illnesses like obesity and diabetes in the nation. It’s a daily struggle for many due to limited access to doctors and specialists.
The shortage of healthcare professionals is evident; wait times for appointments can be painfully long. Our economic hardships make matters worse, with poverty and lack of insurance blocking people from essential care.
Mental health and addiction services often fall short of the demand, particularly in our fight against the opioid crisis. And let’s face it, health disparities persist; income, education, and where you live can determine your health outcomes here.
6. The Most Unhealthy State in the US
It’s no surprise that with an awful healthcare system comes a lack of general well-being. But the reality of it here on the ground is grizzly. Full stop, West Virginia is the most unhealthy state in America.
Our state tops the charts in several devastating health categories, including cancer incidence, diabetes prevalence, cancer and diabetes mortality, heart disease mortality, kidney disease mortality, and chronic lower respiratory disease.
It’s disheartening to note that we’re also near the bottom for healthy lifestyle habits and overall health outlook.
To compound these issues, West Virginia faces a devastating opioid crisis, with the highest drug overdose death rate in the country. Smoking rates are excessively high, affecting 22.80% of our population, and obesity is a significant concern, with the second-highest rate of obese adults in the nation.
7. Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in America
As a longtime resident, it’s impossible to ignore the devastating impact of drug addiction and overdose in our state. West Virginia has the highest drug overdose mortality rate in America by nearly double that of the next state.
The evidence is all around us, and it’s heart-wrenching. West Virginia has been at the forefront of the opioid epidemic, with some of the highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the nation. Our communities have been ravaged by prescription painkillers, heroin, and deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The toll on our families is undeniable. Addiction fractures relationships, shatters homes, and leaves a trail of heartbreak. Many of us have lost loved ones to overdoses, and it’s a pain that lingers.
While strides have been made to increase access to addiction treatment and harm reduction programs, the reality is that resources can still be scarce, leaving some without the help they desperately need. Our state is grappling with this crisis, and it’s a battle we face daily. We must continue to address this issue honestly and compassionately to work towards a better future for West Virginians.
8. A Tragically Low Life Expectancy
The state’s embrace of the Almost Heaven mentality is somewhat ironic because living here, you’ll get there faster. West Virginia has the second lowest life expectancy in America.
The average life of a West Virginian is a devastating 72.8 years. That’s 7 years less than that of someone born in Hawaii where life expectancy is over 80.
Economic hardships also play a role; poverty and lack of insurance hinder many from seeking timely medical attention. The evidence is clear in our income levels and health disparities compared to wealthier states.
The opioid crisis has hit us like a wrecking ball, leading to addiction-related deaths that further drag down our life expectancy. These are tough truths to face, but it’s essential to acknowledge these challenges to work toward a healthier future for West Virginians.
FAQ – Living in West Virginia
Is West Virginia a good place to live?
Is West Virginia a good place to live?
West Virginia is good place to live for those who cherish nature, prefer a slower pace of life, and seek a lower cost of living. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with abundant hiking, fishing, and hunting opportunities. Retirees looking for a peaceful, affordable place and individuals or families seeking to own a home without financial strain will find it attractive. However, it’s less suited for those looking diverse urban experiences, need quality medical care, or families looking for good educations for their children. The state’s rural charm and community-focused lifestyle appeal to those who prioritize natural beauty and simplicity over metropolitan amenities and conveniences.
What’s the cost of living in West Virginia?
What’s the cost of living in West Virginia?
West Virginia has the lowest cost of living in America. Housing prices are significantly lower than the national average, making homeownership more accessible. The costs for utilities, groceries, and healthcare are also generally affordable. However, this affordability can be offset by limited job opportunities and lower average incomes compared to other states. The rural nature of much of the state can mean additional costs in terms of transportation and accessing certain services.
What is West Virginia known for?
What is West Virginia known for?
West Virginia is known for its stunning Appalachian landscapes, including the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and the scenic Shenandoah Valley. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like hiking, whitewater rafting, and skiing. The state’s rich history is tied to the coal mining industry, and it’s celebrated for its unique Appalachian culture, including music, folklore, and crafts. West Virginia also played a significant role in American history, particularly during the Civil War, after separating from Virginia. The song “Country Roads” by John Denver, famously referencing West Virginia, highlights its natural beauty and rural charm.
Map of West Virginia
Summary of the Pros & Cons of Living in West Virginia
- Lowest Cost of Living in America
- Spectacular Natural Scenery
- Outdoor Recreation Galore
- Prime East Coast Location
- Houses Are Still Affordable
- History & Charm
- Sense of Community
- We’re Uneducated
- Terrible Education System
- Extreme Poverty
- Basic Infrastructure Woes
- Worst Healthcare System in America
- Most Unhealthy State in the US
- Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in America
- Tragically Low Life Expectancy
Pros vs Cons of Living in West Virginia
|1. Lowest Cost of Living in America
|1. Terrible Education System
|2. Spectacular Natural Scenery
|2. Extreme Poverty
|3. Outdoor Recreation Galore
|3. Basic Infrastructure Woes
|4. Prime East Coast Location
|4. Worst Healthcare System in America
|5. Houses Are Still Affordable
|5. Most Unhealthy State in the US
|6. History & Charm
|6. Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate
|7. Sense of Community
|7. Tragically Low Life Expectancy
|8. We’re Uneducated
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