What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In West Virginia?
West Virginia is one of those states that few people know about unless they are actually from there. If you are considering a move to this state, expect a culture shock. This is especially true if you are coming from a place like NYC. While the state gets a bad rep from many, the truth is that it can be a nice place to live for the right person. But, are YOU that person?
West Virginia boasts extremely low home prices, a low tax rate, and a low cost of living. Most areas are relatively quiet, and the outdoor recreation can’t be beaten. However, extreme poverty, terrible schools, rampant drug use, and a rough job market make it hard for many to live here.
If you want to move to West Virginia, you probably are going to have a lot to get used to. This guide will give you the inside scoop on what you should expect to see if you head to this state.
What Are The Perks Of Living In West Virginia?
Contrary to popular belief, West Virginia is not all bad. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, the truth is that you can still find a lot of parts enjoyable—these perks below at the reason why people still love it.
1. Incredible Nature
West Virginia is right in the heart of the Appalachian Trail, making it one of the best places for people who love to hike and camp.
Multiple national parks, ample campgrounds, and plenty of fishin’ holes mean that nature lovers will never run out of new places to discover. The state is also famous for its hunting and its biodiversity.
Since much of West Virginia is free from towns and people, there are a lot of areas that allegedly could have species once thought to be extinct. So, you never know what you might see here.
2. Low House Prices + Low Cost Of Living
The median home price in West Virginia is around $96,400. Most homes, even the luxurious ones, are valued at under $150,000 throughout the state.
Knowing this, there are few states out there that offer the cost of living as low as West Virginia. You can expect the cost of living to be notably lower than the average state.
Due to the sheer sparseness of the population in most areas, renting is very rare. However, it is still done from time to time.
Cost Of Rent
3. Everyone Knows Everyone
Not a fan of feeling like “a drop in the bucket?” West Virginia will hold a lot of appeal for you, then! Even the most populated parts of West Virginia are still spread out.
This gives the entire state a very small-town feel, and it’s expected that you will be able to name your neighbors within a week of moving in.
With that said, this is a double-edged sword. Many parts of West Virginia involve people who are not amenable to new faces.
So, it depends on where you move. If you don’t have relatives in and around the area you’re moving to; you might want to do your due diligence first.
4. The Taxes
Are you a retiree looking for a place that features low taxes? You’re not alone, and it’s not surprising to hear that West Virginia has a pretty epic reputation when it comes to tax rates.
Very low property and income taxes mean that those who are gainfully employed won’t have to worry about Uncle Sam eating up their paychecks.
5. Lax Attitudes On Housing Regulations
Many people find the lax attitudes of West Virginia to be a very refreshing thing. It’s incredibly unusual to hear of homeowners’ associations, and there’s plenty of space to just spread out and do what you want to do.
Want to spray paint a mural on your home? Go for it. No one will say a thing about it. Want to set off fireworks in your backyard? In some parts, it’s a regular pastime.
When you own a home in West Virginia, there’s a very big belief that it’s your property that you can do whatever you want to it that comes with it. This is especially true in Appalachia, where you can be king of your street.
What Are The Cons Of Living In West Virginia?
Though there are some benefits to living in West Virginia, the truth is that there are a lot of serious problems that face the state. This is why it’s considered to be an “approach with caution” type of state.
Crime is higher than the national average in West Virginia for both property and violent crimes. However, this is only half of the story.
Most of the cities and some of the small towns have a severe problem when it comes to crimes. This much is true. However, the vast majority of the smaller cities have almost no crime to speak of.
Many parts of West Virginia are the type of place where you are expected to leave the doors open during the day. When everyone knows everyone, it doesn’t make sense to keep them locked.
2. Drug Use
Drug addiction has put West Virginia in a severe crisis. The drug addiction and overdose rates are skyrocketing throughout the state, especially when it comes to hard drugs.
Areas are particularly hard hit by meth and heroin; however, there is also a higher incident rate of drunk driving in the state. People who are prone to addictions should not even consider living here.
3. Bad Economy
West Virginia is the 6th poorest state in the nation, with 15 percent of all households falling under the state’s poverty guidelines.
So, that’s why the average income level is so low and why the home price is as low as it is. Finding employment can also pose a problem, particularly for people who are new to the area.
What’s alarming is that the unemployment rate is stuck at 15 percent, even after the economy started to recover. Depending on where you live, unemployment could get as high as 25 percent.
4. Diversity Issues
This is a double-whammy. West Virginia is notorious for having almost no diversity to speak of, and to make matters worse; the area also suffers from extreme racial inequality.
Certain parts of the state are known as “sundown towns,” which means that people who are not white may find themselves in actual physical danger.
5. No Food Variety
Well, it’s not any food variety. You can find all-American food, Southern fare, as well as the occasional pizza joint. However, West Virginia is not exactly known for being a gourmet hotspot by any means of the word.
Due to the lack of diversity in the state, finding international cuisine will not be accessible by any means of the word.
Even if you live in one of the cities here, there’s a good chance that you won’t find anything more adventurous than sushi, or maybe Thai.
If you’re a foodie, this isn’t very pleasant. At the very least, you can enjoy some severe distiller creations, though. Appalachian moonshine is a thing.
6. Limited Arts
Don’t get us wrong. There is an arts element to living in West Virginia, especially when it comes to bluegrass.
After all, this state is where bluegrass began. Buck dancing, too, is a significant thing here. However, if you were hoping for many art galleries, theater companies, and fine arts, you’re going to be disappointed.
West Virginia’s “high arts” sector is almost entirely relegated to the city portions, unlike other states. Even then, you’re probably going to be underwhelmed.
7. No Big Cities
Does West Virginia have cities? Yes. However, the term “city” is pretty loose here. The truth is, most cities in West Virginia aren’t cities by most other state standards. They are densely populated, and they do have a higher population than most small towns around.
However, it’s not like you’re going to see skyscrapers. Even tall apartment buildings aren’t going to be a thing.
For some people, this can be a great thing. For others, especially those who used to live in a major city, it could be a rough time.
It takes several hours to get to a city that’s as city-like as Baltimore. If you are not okay with that kind of distance and that level of being far away from a big city, then West Virginia is not for you.
Does West Virginia get a lot of snow?
The average snowfall total in America is around 28 inches. West Virginia clocks in at slightly more, approximately 32 inches in total every year.So, the snowfall here is slightly above the norm. The bigger issues that come with this state is in the amount of rainfall they get.West Virginia gets an average of 144 inches of rain per year—well above the national average of 100! If you love rain, you probably will find West Virginia an enjoyable place to be.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
More by Ossiana Tepfenhart