Moving to West Virginia? Check out our guide to Starting a Business in West Virginia.

Wilder and freer than its neighbor Virginia, West Virginia has a character all its own. The Mountain State is the only state entirely located within the Appalachian region, and as a result is a prime spot for all manner of outdoor activities, including camping, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, and more. Sweetening the pot for potential residents are West Virginia’s low cost of living and affordable real estate. So what are you waiting for? Check out our overview of West Virginia’s five best cities to live in for help on where to settle in the state.

1. Wheeling

Our choice for West Virginia’s best city to live in is Wheeling, which is situated along the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachians. Once a manufacturing stronghold, Wheeling’s economy has now diversified into the healthcare, tourism, and energy sectors.

2. Morgantown

Morgantown is another idyllic riverside city that is home to West Virginia University, which adds a spice of life to the community and supplies it with plenty of jobs. Inhabitants of the city reside in a slew of semi-independent neighborhoods annexed during the city’s growth.

3. Charleston

Third on the list is Charleston, the state’s capital and most populous city. Compared to other “largest cities”, Charleston retains a relaxed, small-town character, yet boasts a strong economy as home to the headquarters of many large businesses, including Appalachian Power and Mountaineer Gas Company.

4. Fairmont

Fairmont is a pleasant small city in Marion County that is home to Fairmont State University and located near two excellent state parks, Pricketts Fort State Park and Valley Falls State Park.

5. Clarksburg

The city of Clarksburg, the county seat of Harrison County in the north part of the state, rounds out our list at #5. Clarksburg is the cultural hub of the area and hosts many festivals, including the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival.

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We ranked a total of 2,509 qualified cities (those with populations above 25,000 and enough data for analysis) by five factors: employment (number of establishments, median earnings); housing (owner-occupied housing with a mortgage, monthly housing costs); quality of life (work commute, poverty levels); education (percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher); and health (obesity ratios).