Retiring in West Virginia

2 mins readLast updated March 30, 2023by Kate Morgan

West Virginia is a hidden gem for retirees seeking a serene and picturesque environment with access to outdoor activities, fresh seafood, and a rich cultural scene. With its rolling hills, lush forests, and small-town charm, West Virginia offers a unique retirement experience that draws many retirees each year. While there is no official count of how many people retire to West Virginia each year, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the state had a population of approximately 1.8 million people in 2020, with over 18% of the population being over the age of 65, making it one of the top states with a significant retirement population.

What age can you retire in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, there is no specific retirement age mandated by law. This means that individuals can retire whenever they choose, as long as they are financially able to support themselves. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in West Virginia: 

However, like any location, there are both pros and cons to retiring in the state. 

Why do people retire to West Virginia?

  • Tax benefits: West Virginia offers a Homestead Exemption program for eligible residents aged 65 or older, which provides property tax relief. Additionally, the state exempts Social Security benefits and up to $8,000 of retirement income from state income taxes. 

  • Low crime rate: West Virginia has a lower crime rate compared to other states, making it a safe and peaceful place to live. 

  • Natural beauty: West Virginia is known for its stunning natural scenery, including the Appalachian Mountains, verdant forests, and numerous lakes and rivers. The state also offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating. 

  • Cultural scene: West Virginia has a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. The state also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Appalachian String Band Music Festival. 

What puts people off retiring to West Virginia?

  • Cold winters: West Virginia experiences cold winters with significant snowfall, which may not be appealing to all retirees. However, many retirees enjoy the winter season and take advantage of outdoor activities such as skiing and snowshoeing. 

  • Limited healthcare options: West Virginia's rural areas may have limited access to healthcare facilities, which could be a concern for retirees with medical needs. However, the state is actively working to improve access to healthcare services in these areas. 

  • High cost of living: West Virginia's cost of living is generally lower than the national average, making it an affordable option for retirees on a fixed income. However, some areas of the state may have higher costs of living, and retirees should carefully consider their budget and lifestyle before moving. 

  • Limited job opportunities: West Virginia has a relatively small economy and limited job opportunities, which could be a concern for retirees looking to supplement their retirement income. 

Best places to retire in West Virginia

If West Virginia is your chosen retirement state, here are some of the best places to retire in: 

  1. Morgantown: Home to West Virginia University, Morgantown is a vibrant college town that offers retirees access to excellent healthcare facilities, cultural events, and recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. 

  2. Wheeling: Located in the northern panhandle of the state, Wheeling is a historic city with a low cost of living and a charming downtown area. Retirees can enjoy local festivals, historic tours, and outdoor activities such as golfing and boating on the Ohio River. 

  3. Lewisburg: This charming town is located in the heart of the Greenbrier Valley and is known for its quaint shops, historic architecture, and annual food and cultural festivals. Retirees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and golfing. 

  4. Shepherdstown: Located in the eastern panhandle of the state, Shepherdstown is a small college town with a vibrant arts scene and a strong sense of community. Retirees can enjoy local theaters, galleries, and shops, as well as outdoor activities such as kayaking and hiking along the Potomac River. 

  5. Parkersburg: Situated along the Ohio River, Parkersburg is a small city with a low cost of living and abundant recreational opportunities. Retirees can enjoy fishing, hiking, and boating on the river, as well as local festivals and cultural events. 

In conclusion, retiring in West Virginia has its pros and cons. The state's stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and friendly communities make it an attractive destination for many retirees. However, like any location, West Virginia has its challenges. Harsh winters can be a concern for some, and the state's rural areas may have limited access to healthcare facilities and other services that retirees may need. It's important to seek expert financial advice to carefully consider all of the costs associated with retiring in West Virginia, including property taxes, insurance, and living expenses, before making a decision about whether the state is the right choice for your retirement. 

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.