Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Morgantown, West Virginia
Tucked into Beautiful Rolling Hills, Lively Morgantown is Home to West Virginia University and Has Safe, Leafy Neighborhoods, an OLLI and Relatively Reasonable Prices
At the crossroads of Interstate 79 and Interstate 68 in north central West Virginia, friendly Morgantown sits along the banks of the Monongahela River and is a secluded place, tucked into beautiful rolling hills. It has a rural, blue collar sensibility while being home to West Virginia University (25,000 students).
Morgantown has landed on numerous "best places to live and retire" lists and is an active place. The city's economy and identity are closely tied to WVU, but Morgantown is also a port city that ships large amounts of coal. The downtown, which borders WVU, has a mix of restored 19th-century structures, modern retailers and restaurants. Suburban neighborhoods are tree-lined and distinct. Parks are many, and two biking and walking trails traverse the city and run along the pretty riverfront. WVU's Creative Arts Center has a robust theater and dance performance schedule, and WVU football games are all-consuming affairs. In fact, the city, except for pubs and bars, nearly closes down during football games.
WVU also has an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) with classes for people age 50 or better. About 15 minutes outside of town, beautiful Cheat Lake has marinas, restaurants and more.
Population: 30,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 25%
Cost of Living: 20% below the national average
Median Home Price: $295,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the teens, 20s and 30s. On average, the area receives 15 inches of snow and 40 inches of rain per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients: Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission: Yes
Public Transit: The city is known for its fun, innovative Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT), an electric "people mover" rail system with 69 pods (mini-buses) that have just eight seats each. The pods run on eight miles of track and connect the disjointed WVU campus and downtown. PRT's control center is said to resemble a 1970s NASA control room. Half of the Morgantown's population rides PRT every day.
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
Is West Virginia Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Somewhat
Cons: The poverty rate is above the national average. This is only partly due to the large student population. Aside from university and a few pharmaceutical and manufacturing jobs, employment opportunities are mostly low wage.
Notes: WVU is known as one of the top five party schools in the country (Princeton Review), often securing the number one spot on that list. Morgantown has grown 1% within the last 10 years, and it doubles in size during the school year. Some parts of town are best left to students. Home prices have increased 3% since a year ago.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes, although WVU's rowdiness should be considered.
The Mountain State was one of only two states to enter the union during America's Civil War. It is the only state to form by seceding from a secessionist state (Virginia). West Virginia's sovereignty became official on June 20, 1863.
Known for its tree-covered mountains and river valleys, West Virginia is relatively small and can be divided into two major land areas. Roughly 1/6th of the land belongs in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region. Running from the northeast to the southwest and marked by parallel ranges and river valleys, this zone is dotted with caves, underground streams, and some of the highest mountains in the state. The Appalachian Plateau covers the state's western majority and is characterized by flat-topped highlands and rounded hills.
West Virginians often experience hot, humid summers and cold winters. The state is known as one of the foggiest locales in the country. High evapotranspiration rates from expansive forests and cold air drainage into mountain valleys combine to cement that reputation. Tornadoes are infrequent, but flash flooding and thunderstorms can be a common hazard.
Although coal has played a significant role in West Virginia's development, the state's economy has diversified. Forestry, tourism, banking, and the manufacture of chemicals contribute to revenue. Federal R&D facilities like the National Radio Astronomy Observatory employ local residents. The state's energy portfolio includes natural gas, wind, and hydro-electric facilities.
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