West Virginia – Retirement Guide

West Virginia   Retirement Guide

Known as the “Mountain State,” West Virginia lies in the midst of the scenic Appalachian Mountains, a topography that attracts a number of outdoorsy retirees. Much of the state is forested, and large swaths of land have been designated as state parks, national forests or wildlife management areas. This means retirees have no shortage of trails to explore on foot or by bike, as well as opportunities to camp, bird-watch, canoe, kayak and fish.

The state lacks a major metropolitan area — which is a bonus, according to locals who enjoy the slower pace West Virginia offers. Charleston, the state’s capital, is home to just over 51,000 people, and most of West Virginia is characterized by small, quaint towns.

Retirees may be interested in relocating to one of the state’s college towns, such as Morgantown (home to West Virginia University), Buckhannan (West Virginia Wesleyan College) or Wheeling (Wheeling Jesuit University). Thanks to the presence of colleges, these communities offer a number of cultural attractions, including theater and musical performances, as well as a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars.

Pros: Beautiful mountain scenery, many state parks and forests with outdoor activities
Con: High poverty and obesity rates

At a Glance
Best For: Mountain lovers
Population: 1,855,364
Cost of Living: 14% below national average
Median Home Cost: $109,100
Unemployment: 7%
Top State Income Tax: 6.5%

Folk music also remains popular throughout West Virginia, and owes much to its Appalachian roots; live, fiddle-filled performances can be found in venues around the state.

West Virginia is typically quite affordable, thanks to a cost of living that is 14 percent below the national average, low property taxes, and a median home price less than $110,000. Retirement income, including Social Security benefits, is taxable, although taxpayers 65 and older may exclude the first $8,000 of retirement income ($16,000 if filing jointly).

Living in West Virginia does have its downsides for some retirees. More than 17 percent of residents live below the poverty level (compared with 14.5 percent for the United States as a whole). West Virginia also ranks as the state with the most obese residents in the nation; more than 33 percent of residents are considered obese.

Photo by disoculated via Flickr. All statistics were up to date as of publication. See these sources for the most current data.