5 min read

Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in WV for Every Lifestyle - From Retirees to Families

Thinking about calling West Virginia home? You're in for a treat! This state, known for its stunning natural beauty and friendly communities, offers some fantastic places to live. Whether you're drawn to the quiet of the countryside or the buzz of a small city, WV has got you covered.

Tobi Miles
April 4, 2024
Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in WV for Every Lifestyle - From Retirees to Families

Key Takeaways

  • Affordable Living Across the Board: West Virginia offers affordable housing options for everyone from retirees to young adults and families, with towns like Lewisburg for retirees, Morgantown for young adults, and Charleston for families, ensuring that there's something for everyone's budget and lifestyle.
  • Plethora of Outdoor Activities: The state is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, featuring locations like Coopers Rock State Forest for hiking, Snowshoe Mountain for winter sports, and Summersville Lake for water adventures, catering to a wide range of outdoor interests.
  • Top-Quality Education: With a focus on strong academic achievements and community involvement, West Virginia's school districts, such as Monongalia County Schools for families and Jefferson County Schools for an overall balanced experience, rank highly, offering excellent educational opportunities for children.
  • Vibrant Cultural Scene: West Virginia's rich cultural atmosphere is highlighted in towns like Lewisburg, with its artistic vibe for retirees; Morgantown's energetic scene for young adults; and Charleston’s blend of urban amenities and family-friendly community for families, providing diverse cultural experiences for all age groups.
  • Ideal Weather Conditions and Serene Environments: The state offers a mix of mild weather and distinct seasons in places like Harpers Ferry and Fayetteville, combined with a peaceful, small-town lifestyle that allows residents to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility of West Virginia without the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist spots.

Affordable Housing Options in WV

When you're scouting for the best places to live in West Virginia, your budget is likely a big factor. Thankfully, WV boasts a variety of affordable housing options that cater to just about anyone, whether you're a retiree looking to stretch your pension, a young adult starting out, a family looking for more room, or anyone in between. Let's dive into some neighborhoods and towns in West Virginia that offer great living at a price that won't break the bank.

For Retirees

  • Lewisburg - This small town not only has charm in spades but also some of the most affordable housing for retirees. With a thriving arts scene and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s a place where your retirement savings can go far.
  • Bridgeport - Known for its safety and serene environment, Bridgeport offers a peaceful setting with all the necessary amenities close at hand.

For Young Adults

  • Morgantown - Home to West Virginia University, Morgantown is vibrant, full of energy, and most importantly, affordable. It's the perfect spot for young adults looking for education opportunities or kickstarting their careers.
  • Huntington - With a growing job market and lively downtown area, Huntington is ideal for those seeking affordability without sacrificing social life.

For Families

  • Charleston - The state capital offers diverse neighborhoods, good schools, and plenty of parks. It strikes a good balance between affordability and family-friendly activities.
  • Teays Valley - A suburb that provides a quiet, safe environment for families, with the added advantage of being budget-friendly.

Considering Weather and Lifestyle

If weather and lifestyle are part of your decision-making, here are a few options:

  • Fayetteville - Known for its outdoor adventures and mild weather, it's perfect for the active types.
  • Parkersburg - If you prefer a mix of four distinct seasons without extreme temperatures, Parkersburg could be your spot.

Avoiding Crowds

  • Thomas - A small town with a big arts scene, perfect if you're looking for peace and quiet without complete isolation.
  • Shepherdstown - Offers a cozy community vibe while hosting unique festivals and events.
  • Martinsburg - Affordable

Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

West Virginia is your go-to paradise if you're itching for some time outdoors. Whether you're into hiking, skiing, fishing, or simply enjoying a picnic in nature's embrace, this place has got you covered. Let's dive into some of the best spots that'll make every outdoor lover's heart beat faster.

For the Hikers and Nature Lovers

  • Coopers Rock State Forest: Just a stone's throw away from Morgantown, this gem boasts breathtaking views and miles of hiking trails. It's perfect whether you're looking for a serene walk in the woods or a challenging hike.
  • New River Gorge: Famous for its stunning bridge, this area offers more than just a pretty view. Hiking, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing are just the beginning of what you can do here.

Skiing and Winter Sports

  • Snowshoe Mountain: When the snow falls, Snowshoe becomes the place to be. With slopes for all levels, even the most adventurous skiers and snowboarders will find their thrill.
  • Canaan Valley Resort: Another winter wonderland, offering skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. It's family-friendly and has something for everyone, regardless of your experience level.

Fishing and Water Adventures

  • Summersville Lake: Crystal clear waters and gorgeous surroundings make it a top spot for boating, water skiing, and, of course, fishing.
  • Gauley River: If you're up for some epic rafting experiences, the Gauley River's wild rapids are calling your name. Don't worry; there are calmer sections for more relaxed river outings too.

For Those Seeking Solitude

  • Dolly Sods Wilderness: Want to escape the crowds? This unique landscape of high-altitude plateaus offers peace, quiet, and stunning views. It's ideal for backpacking and experiencing raw nature.
  • Seneca Rocks: For a more secluded adventure, this striking rock formation provides challenging climbs and rewarding vistas.
  • Bridge Day at New River Gorge: An adrenaline-pumping festival where you can watch or participate in BASE jumping. It's a once-in-a-year event that attracts thrill-seekers from all over.
  • Forest Festival in Elkins: A celebration of local culture, music, and, most importantly, the great outdoors. It's fun for the whole

Top-Rated School Districts

When you're hunting for the best place to call home in West Virginia, the quality of local schools is probably high on your list—especially if you've got kids or are planning to. West Virginia may surprise you with its variety of top-notch school districts that stand out for their academic achievements, extracurricular opportunities, and supportive communities. Here's the scoop on some of the best around.

For Families: Monongalia County Schools

If you're raising a family or planning to, Monongalia County should be on your radar. It's not just about the strong academic records; it's the community vibe that makes it a winner. With a focus on student engagement and a broad range of extracurricular activities, your kids won't just be book-smart—they'll be well-rounded too.

  • Extra Perk: Morgantown, the heart of Monongalia County, is home to West Virginia University, adding a college-town flavor that brings additional cultural and educational opportunities.

For the Best Overall Experience: Jefferson County Schools

Nestled in the state's Eastern Panhandle, Jefferson County strikes an impressive balance—providing solid education while being close enough to the D.C. metro area for cultural and recreational escapades. The schools here are known for their commitment to excellence in academics, arts, and athletics.

  • Why It Stands Out: The unique blend of accessibility to big-city amenities and the charming, historic towns make it an attractive spot for those who want the best of both worlds.

For Rural Serenity: Hampshire County Schools

Prefer the quiet of the countryside? Hampshire County might be your sweet spot. This area combines quality education with the peace and tranquility of rural living, making it perfect for families yearning for a slower pace without skimping on their children's schooling.

  • Added Bonus: Hampshire County's emphasis on outdoor education and activities means your kids get a classroom beyond walls.

Hidden Gem: Kanawha County Schools

Kanawha County, where Charleston—the state capital—is located, offers an eclectic mix of urban and suburban living. The schools here receive high marks for diversity and offer a range of programs that cater to different interests and needs.

  • Don't Miss: The culture and vibrancy of Charleston itself, with festivals, museums, and a historic downtown area, enrich the educational experience beyond the classroom.

Vibrant Cultural Scene

When you're scoping out the best places to live in WV, the cultural scene is a big deal, especially if you love a lively environment filled with festivals, arts, and diverse cuisine. Let's dive into some spots that boast vibrant cultural atmospheres, making them great contenders for your new home base.

For Retirees: Lewisburg

Lewisburg is like a slice of cultural cake for retirees who crave an artistically rich lifestyle. Here, you'll find:

  • The Greenbrier Valley Theatre, offering year-round performances.
  • Several galleries and the annual Lewisburg Literary Festival to keep your creative juices flowing.
  • A peaceful, yet vibrant small-town vibe that's perfect for those looking to enjoy their golden years in style.

For Young Adults: Morgantown

Morgantown, home to West Virginia University, is a bustling hub for young adults. It offers:

  • A lively bar and nightlife scene.
  • The Morgantown Art Walk, if you fancy exploring local art in a fun, casual setting.
  • Affordable living options, making it easier to balance fun and finances.

For Families: Charleston

Charleston, the state’s capital, blends urban amenities with a close-knit community feel, ideal for families. Highlights include:

  • The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, where education meets fun.
  • Year-round festivals that celebrate everything from food to culture.
  • A variety of parks and recreational areas for weekend family outings.

For Best Weather: Harpers Ferry

If you're chasing the sun but want to avoid blistering summers, Harpers Ferry is your spot. It offers:

  • Mild summers with plenty of outdoor festivals and events.
  • Gorgeous fall colors perfect for hiking and exploring the historic town.
  • A strategic location at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, providing stunning views and cool breezes.

For Avoiding Crowds: Fayetteville

Looking for a low-key spot with a chill vibe? Fayetteville is a hidden gem that boasts:

  • A small-town atmosphere with a tight-knit community.
  • The annual Bridge Day festival for those times you do want to mingle in a big-event setting.
  • Proximity to the New River Gorge, offering outdoor adventures without the tourist crowds.
  • The Mountain


West Virginia's got something special for everyone, whether you're soaking in the artsy vibes of Lewisburg, diving into Morgantown's lively streets, embracing family life in Charleston, adventuring through Harpers Ferry, or finding peace in Fayetteville's serene outdoors. It's all about what fits your lifestyle and preferences. So take your pick and start your next chapter in a place that feels just right for you. Remember, home is where the heart is, and in West Virginia, you're sure to find a spot that makes your heart sing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cultural scene like in West Virginia?

West Virginia boasts a diverse cultural scene with each city offering its unique attractions. From artistic communities in Lewisburg for retirees to the energetic social scene in Morgantown for young adults, and the blend of urban amenities in Charleston for families.

Which West Virginia city is best for retirees seeking an artistic lifestyle?

Lewisburg is highlighted as the best option for retirees seeking an artistic lifestyle due to its vibrant cultural scene.

Where should young adults move for a bustling social scene in West Virginia?

Young adults looking for a bustling social scene should consider moving to Morgantown, known for its energetic environment.

What does Charleston, WV, offer families?

Charleston offers families urban amenities blended with a close-knit community feel, making it an appealing option for family living.

Which city is recommended for those interested in outdoor activities?

Harpers Ferry is recommended for individuals seeking mild weather coupled with opportunities for outdoor activities.

Why might someone choose Fayetteville, WV?

Someone might choose Fayetteville for its low-key atmosphere and abundant outdoor adventures, appealing to those seeking a peaceful lifestyle with access to nature.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
April 4, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
Find me on Twitter

Win a $500 Flight!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
*Terms apply. To participate, enter your email to sign up for the newsletter . You must be 18+ and be a resident of the US. No purchase necessary. Begins January 1st  and ends February 28th, 2024. Winner announced on March 31st. For full rules and regulations, visit our Terms & Conditions page. Data  processed according to our Privacy Policy.
Enter Sweepstakes

You may also like...


Win a $500 Flight!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
*Terms apply. To participate, enter your email to sign up for the newsletter . You must be 18+ and be a resident of the US. No purchase necessary. Begins January 1st  and ends February 28th, 2024. Winner announced on March 31st. For full rules and regulations, visit our Terms & Conditions page. Data  processed according to our Privacy Policy.
Enter Sweepstakes