West Virginia is a great place to live overall, but some cities and towns are better than others to live in. There are a lot of things that make a town a great place to live — great schools, fun things to do, good parks and recreation, low unemployment rates, for example. Here are, in my opinion, the 10 best places to live in West Virginia. These are in no particular order.
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Vienna, in Wood County, is home to Jackson Middle School, which is reported regarded as one of the best middle schools in the state. Wood County, at 5.2 percent, also has a lower unemployment rate than any of its surrounding counties. The city is also home to two public parks and the McDonough Wildlife Refuge, where visitors can see different types of wildlife including white-tailed deer, turkey, red and gray fox, and coyote. How cool is that?
Besides being one of the most populated places in the state, Wheeling is also located in one of healthiest counties, according to countyhealthrankings.org. The schools are ranked first in the state as well, according to schooldigger.com. Residents of Ohio County also earn the 5th most income in the state, according to census data. Wheeling is also home to such West Virginia landmarks as the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Oglebay Resort and Coleman’s Fish Market.
There's also something fun to do in Lewisburg, a historic city in Greenbrier County. It has plenty of cute boutiques and nice restaurants. It’s also home to such landmarks at Carnegie Hall, Lost World Caverns, the General Lewis Inn and Greenbrier Valley Theatre. Plus every year the city hosts an entire festival dedicated to chocolate. I’m sold.
Charles Town, in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, is one of the most historic places in West Virginia. It was the site of John Brown’s trial following his raid on nearby Harpers Ferry. It’s also located within an hour and a half of Washington, D.C. It has great schools and relatively high property values, which indicate that people desire to live there. Best of all, Jefferson County typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.
Conveniently located between Charleston and Huntington is the booming bedroom community of Teays Valley. The town’s population has been growing since 2000. In 2014, the population was 13,357, a more than 9 percent growth since 2000, according to best places.net. Putnam County typically has a relatively low unemployment rate --earlier this year it had the 2nd lowest jobless rate in the state, 5.9 percent and behind only Cabell County. Plus behind all the things Putnam County has to offer — the Waves of Fun pool for instance — and the two nearby bigger cities, there’s always something to do.
Bridgeport has been called one of the best small towns in West Virginia. It’s also conveniently located near the state’s I-79 High Technology Corridor as well as two hours north of the state capital of Charleston and two hours south of Pittsburgh. The schools in the area exceed both at sports and on standardized testing.
Ripley is a beautiful, quiet little town in Jackson County. It has two public parks that between them offer a swimming pool, walking trails, basketball courts, softball fields and playgrounds. It’s also home to Cedar Lakes, another recreational area. Each year it has a Fourth of July parade that’s been called the country’s largest small town Independence Day celebration.
Charleston, the state capitol and largest city, is still small enough to feel like a village. There are great restaurants and bars, and close-knit communities, too. Plus its George Washington High School is one of the best in the state.
Moundsville in Marshall County is home to a home host of interesting West Virginia landmarks. Theres the Palace of Gold, the former West Virginia State Penitentiary and the Marx Toy Museum to name a few. It’s also got a lower cost of living than the national average — according to areavibes.com it is 4.8 percent less than the state average and 14.1 percent lower than the national average. Residents in Marshall County make more on average than many other counties in the state.
Fayetteville is where a lot of the rest of the state comes to play. There’s great hiking trails and whitewater rafting. Local restaurants like the Secret Sandwich Society and Pies and Pints are some of the best in the state. Areavibes.com listed it as the 10th best place to live in the state. A possible downside for those of you with children is that schools buildings in Fayette County have been in poor condition, something that officials have been trying to deal with lately.
I clearly don’t have the only opinion about this topic. What do you think? What are the best places in live in the Mountain State?