The heart of coal country, West Virginia originally became a state when it splintered from Virginia prior to the Civil War. The state is ranked 41st in size, 38th in population, and next-to-last in household income. But it's still beautiful country, filled with stark mountains, rolling hills, and verdant forests. It's Appalachia through and through, and the people here have long made a living off coal mining and logging. West Virginia is almost entirely mountainous, giving it the nickname of the "Mountain State" and making it difficult for urban centers to experience growth. (Its capital and largest city, Charleston, has just 51,400 residents.) Yet, it's the outdoors that keep people coming back to hike, fish, raft, ski, backpack, hunt, and rock climb. It also has many close-knit communities, where people watch out for each other to make sure they're safe.
Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.
In the northeast of West Virginia, about a two hours' drive south of Pittsburgh, you'll find Grafton, a town of roughly 5,209 residents. It's the safest city in the state, seeing just 4 violent crimes and 5 property crimes last year, but locals will be quick to point out that Grafton has several other claims to fame. Mother's Day was founded in Grafton on May 10, 1908, and to this day the International Mother's Day Shrine stands in Grafton. It's also one of the first cities in the country to observe Memorial Day, and both of the state's national cemeteries are located in the city. Outdoors enthusiasts also have access to nearby Tygart Lake State Park and Pruntytown State Farm.
2. CHARLES TOWN
Founded by Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of President George Washington, Charles Town is located in the northeast corner of the state, just a hard hat's throw from Maryland. When Washington laid out the streets of Charles Town, he named them after his wife and his brothers. These days, it's a very safe place to live, and it saw only 2 violent crimes and 24 property crimes last year.
Originally settled by subsistence farmers, Fairmont has grown into a place that has been home to many notable people. Home to about 18,741 residents, Fairmont is one of the safest cities in West Virginia, experiencing 1.65 violent crimes and 12.70 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. It's home to Fairmont State University, which enrolls approximately 4,200 students. As far as notable people, Fairmont has been home to Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Air Force officer and “The Fastest Man Alive” Frank Kendall Everest, Jr., among others. Fun fact: Fairmont is the port city that's farthest from the ocean, thanks to a connection with an inland waterway.
Located right on the Pennsylvania border, this city of around 19,273 residents is close enough to Pittsburgh that some residents commute there for work. While steel production has declined, the local economy has diversified, and today Weirton remains a very safe city, seeing just 1.25 violent crimes and 15.93 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. Perhaps surprisingly, Weirton has been depicted on film several times, serving as a backdrop for movies depicting the Rust Belt. It has appeared in The Deer Hunter, Reckless, Super 8, and the Disney documentary, America's Heart and Soul.
Established in 1794, Vienna was settled by Dr, Joseph Spencer, who was given the land as a result of his participation in the Revolutionary War. Until the 1940s, this town of roughly 10,515 residents was known for its Vitrolite production. These days, it's known for safety, and seeing just 6 violent crimes and 19.69 property crimes per 1,000 people last year.
The Top 20 Safest Cities in West Virginia, 2017
2. Charles Town
6. Oak Hill
16. St. Albans
19. South Charleston
To identify the safest cities in West Virginia, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."
The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.