Located in the Appalachian region, West Virginia is one of the most mountainous states of the eastern US, and depends heavily on its well-maintained infrastructure. If you move to West Virginia, get ready to take in its rich Appalachian heritage and traditions.
Moving to West Virginia? Here are some things to keep in mind for a safe, stress-free move.
Map out your route carefully and, if you’re driving your moving truck yourself, stick to the main highways and major service areas. Side roads can run for miles without service areas and you don’t want to run out of gas.
Check with the West Virginia Department of Transportation to see if any road construction is planned along your route.
If you’re renting a moving truck, make sure to bring a well-stocked roadside emergency kit with road flares in case you break down on a mountain road. Be aware that there’s a lot of trucking year-round, including logging trucks. To be safe on the road, check your mirrors regularly and don’t panic if a huge truck comes up behind you.
To avoid traffic and save on gas, don’t drive during busy weekday commute times. Instead, plan on moving to WV on a weekend, when roads are quieter.
Travel along the main interstate highways for the best access and safest roads. Pay strict attention to speed limits, especially on mountain roads, and check your brakes frequently on down-hills.
Moving permits aren’t required when moving to West Virginia. In general, streets are accessible, but check local parking restrictions and street cleaning schedules with your municipality ahead of time.
Winters can be severe, with heavy precipitation, fog and storms, which make navigating roads hazardous. If possible, schedule your move during the milder summer months, between April and October, but do all heavy lifting after dusk to avoid summer heat.
Because summers are hot and humid and winters are harsh, make sure to have your utilities, especially heat and electricity, hooked up before moving to WV.
Be sure to change your address with USPS before moving to West Virginia. You can do this online or by filling out a form at your local post office.
Cities and Metro Areas
From scenic Charleston along the Kanawha River to sleepy Weirton, where many Pittsburg professionals find affordable housing, moving to West Virginia means finding a location that fits both your employment and lifestyle needs. Other cities include Huntington, a seat of industry; revitalized Parkersburg, with its educational opportunities; Morgantown, one of the best small towns in which to live in the US; and fast-growing Martinsburg and Clarksburg, where many private and federal organizations are located.
Cost of Living
One of the most important factors to consider when relocating is the cost of living in West Virginia. If you live in a major urban area in any part of the country, the high population density drives up the costs of homes, rents and insurance. Other factors such as state taxes, location and climate can determine the cost of living as well.
The cost of living in West Virginia is approximately 16.6 percent lower than the country’s median. Playing a big part are the low energy costs, resulting from the use of locally mined resources, and the relatively low costs of land. Another important factor when it comes to determining the cost of living in West Virginia is the price of homes. The median home price is $91,600, over $300,000 lower than in a state like California.
Highways and Public Transport
Those moving to West Virginia will be relieved to know that the state is traversed by six interstates that provide access to all major urban areas, as well as connections to the surrounding states. East of Charleston, the West Virginia Turnpike is formed by a merging of the I-64 and I-77. The WV Turnpike runs south of the city to the Princeton exit. In the major cities Charleston, Wheeling, Morgantown, Beckley, Huntington, Fairmont and Clarksburg, public transportation is provided by buses.
In West Virginia’s major cities, you’ll have easy access to commercial airports, such as Yaeger Airport in Charleston. There are commercial airports in Morgantown, Huntington and a number of other cities as well. The cities provide public transportation systems, but outside of urban areas you’ll need a reliable vehicle. Railroads and rivers are used mainly for hauling goods to and from coalmines and other major industrial plants.
The first thing to consider when planning your move is the current availability of West Virginia jobs. In 2011, unemployment in the Mountain State was 9.7 percent, which is slightly higher than the national average of 9.1 percent, and jobs in West Virginia decreased by 0.91 percent over the last year. However, if you do your research and search West Virginia job listings, it’s possible to find the right position and employer for you.
Moving to West Virginia means you’ll be living in a predominantly humid climate. Because the state is so mountainous, elevation plays a large role in determining the different climates. Those moving to WV to the Charleston and Huntington areas in the southwest should prepare for a subtropical climate, with humid, warm summers and mild, often overcast winters.
However, the rest of the state has a continental climate, which means winters are cold and often severe. In the mountains, temperatures are cooler the higher you get, and winter snowfalls can be heavy. Summers are warm, but are also the time of year when most of the rainfall occurs; skies are often overcast and dense fogs occur frequently. Fortunately, moving to West Virginia means you’re less likely to be exposed to extreme weather conditions such as tornadoes than in most other states east of the Rockies.
With this humid continental climate, WV has its share of pollen-producing plants. Those with allergies should take precautions during the spring, summer and fall.
If you’re moving to West Virginia with children, you’ll be happy to hear this state prides itself on its educational institutions. Here are some of the highest ranked schools and most notable universities in WV:
- Elementary Schools: Three of the top 10 elementary schools are in Charleston, Kanawha County. They are Kenna Elementary School, Weberwood Elementary School and Chamberlain Elementary School.
- High Schools: The top-ranked high schools in West Virginia are Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, George Washington High School in Charleston and Hurricane High School in Hurricane.
- Higher Education: Moving to WV allows you access to a number of excellent higher educational institutions, such as Marshall University in Huntington, University of Charleston in Charleston and West Virginia University in Morgantown.
The government of West Virginia has a comprehensive website with clear information about living in and moving to WV. Here you’ll find out about taxes, state mortgages, employment opportunities and more.
- Excise taxes are assessed through each County Assessor’s Office.
- Paying tolls can be done on the WV Turnpike or at the Department of Transportation.
- To register to vote, simply fill out the online form at Secretary of State’s website or register at your county courthouse.
- Trash & recycling are determined by municipality, which will have information on all waste management issues.
- The West Virginia DMV requests that all new residents have vehicles registered and titled within 30 days of moving to West Virginia. Costs include $10 for the title, $5 for any lien and a $30 registration fee.