Anyone from West Virginia? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We are thinking of leaving our four acres in Oregon in a couple of years and relocating somewhere more rural and with cheaper land. We're looking at West Virginia, even though we've never been there. I've searched real estate databases (,, etc.) and gotten a feel for the lay of the land, but I'd love to hear from people who live there. I'd like to hear both good and BAD experiences. We're looking at the Elkins or Beckley area. Thank you.

-- Patrice (, November 24, 2000


Wee live an hour from Beckly, although we live in Virginia. It seems to have a good economy because it is on a major thruway, I-77. It has a nickname from the men around here as the Sodom and Gommorah of this area. The town has a reputation of prostitution and skin bars and multitude of sex oriented shops. Big interstate billboards with maps of these establihments are everywhere. That is all I know of the area.

-- Joel Rosen (, November 24, 2000.

There was a thread a few months ago about West Virginia. Try looking in the archives.

-- Cheryl (, November 24, 2000.

We live on a farm in rural Preston Co., West Virginia, which is just north of Elkins. We own approximately 40 acres. We love it here. My husband is a born and bred mountaineer. I am a "transplanted" mountaineer. Life is good in WV. It is a very good place to raise a family. The crime rate is low. Education is fairly good. You can purchase land reasonably cheap, unless you choose to live in a more conjested area of the state. My husband loves the area because of the great hunting. I would be happy to answer any questions that you have of the area.

-- Tambra L. Harris (, November 24, 2000.

There is an archive thread...but I want to reiterate that the Morgantown-Fairmont-Clarksburg area has lots of job opportunities, a university, several colleges and much diversity. We are about 2 hours from Pittsburgh, PA, 2 hours from the state capitol, 4 hours from DC, 6 hours from the Delaware beaches.

-- Anne (, November 24, 2000.

Thank you for your answers, everyone. We are fortunate that we have a home business and can relocate anywhere, subject only to the whim of FedEx and UPS. We could be in the middle of Timbuktu if UPS went there.

Can anyone tell me about the winters in West Virginia? How cold do they get in, say, the northern versus the southern parts of the state?

Also, someone (a realtor, I think) mentioned that the southern part gets chiggers (I hate chiggers) but the northern part doesn't. Anyone?


-- Patrice (, November 25, 2000.

Lived in WV for 30 years and chiggers are all over the state. As far as winters go, you will get occasional spurts of zero weather in the winter but usually they only last a few nights at the most. The mountain area gets more snow than the rest of the state of course with higher elevations getting several feet sometimes. You can generally depend upon 7-8 months of pleasant weather unless you find the summer heat unpleasant.

-- Marci (, November 25, 2000.

Marci gave you a great (and honest) answer. But I have to say that I have never seen a chigger in my life. I know the northern panhandle and north central WV intimately. But like baby pigeons, I bet they exist even if I haven't seen them!

Last year was a very mild winter. UPS and FEDEX deliver to our rural door. I get bees and chickens (and packages) delivered with no problems.

There are approx. 5-7 days a year we tell folks it is too bad to travel out to them, mostly due to our decision not to risk life/limb for work. We have 2 home businesses and no 4-wheel drive. Up until recently I have driven a Honda hatch and a Nissan sedan. No snow tires or anything extra. My dead end road gets plowed regularly as needed.

Curious about the weather? Go to and enter the zip codes of the areas you are interested in. 26062 for northern panhandle and 26505 for Morgantown, home of WVU Mountaineers. I do not own a dryer and hang laundry out year-round, and occ. have to use the basement line. I do at least one load a day. I have not had a dryer for 10 years. Perhaps this tells you something about the weather.

-- Anne (, November 25, 2000.

Patrice, my grandparents have lived their entire lives in the Davis and Blackwater Falls area of West Virginia (north central area of WV), and have never experienced a "chigger", nor a mosquitoe, they are not native to the area. However, Tucker county can experience up to 265 inches of total snowfall a season, great if you love skiing, not so great if you don't enjoy the "winter" frolicks. Beautiful country in all four seasons, though, I'd be hard pressed to pick a more gorgeous area to live in anywhere else on this Earth, John Denver was right! Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 26, 2000.

Maybe you are thinking of ticks which are prevalent here, though I have never seen a chigger. I get the dog treated with the lyme disease vaccine and take proper precautions for myself and family.

-- Anne (, November 26, 2000.

No, believe me, I'm NOT thinking of ticks. We have hordes of 'em here in Oregon, both deer and wood ticks. I don't mind them, actually; I guess I've gotten used to them. Chiggers, however, affect me badly; I've spent some time in Oklahoma and had a nasty reaction to them.

How are the summers? How are the springs? What's the usual planting dates for gardens? How do the "locals" accept newcomers? (We get along with most people, we're not overbearing know-it-all city folks or anything.) What's the homeschooling attitude like? (We're homeschooling our two girls.) How's the government interference in terms of county regulations, home businesses (NOT retail from your house, of course), etc?

-- Patrice (, November 26, 2000.

Can't speak for the locals, that would be too general as I would be surely proven wrong. It always helps to have a few acquaintances to help introduce you around. Being open and friendly, stating your position clearly (no, I don't plan to clearcut the old Jones place) helps. We wouldn't let hunters on our land the first few years to curtail some abuses. We are respected now, and have let different neighbors hunt since.

WV is the oldest state in regards to the aging population. The county I live in has the oldest pop. in our state. So there are a lot of senior centers and benefits. Some young families wish there were more community centers.

There's a statewide homeschooling group as well as one here locally.

We live in an un-zoned rural area so I have no trouble having clients come here to the house for my home-business. For our other business, that is unnecessary since the work takes place elsewhere (on-site).

There is a 6% sales tax on everything, even food. Gas is about $1.49 now. We pay 5% when we buy a new vehicle. There is personal property tax, as well as WV income tax. My real estate taxes are reasonable. Bus service is limited to odd times in the rural areas. But there are handicapped services, etc.

The cancer center in Morgantown is renowned. There are 2 hospitals and a rehab hospital there. There are colleges throughout the state, both public and private. The university is in Morgantown.

Call 1-800-call-WVA for tourist info. We have many state parks, golfing, whitewater rafting, fishing, climbing, hiking, skiing and more.

Frost dates for me are May 15 and Sept. 15. However I usually have a longer lasting garden than that. We have 4 distinct seasons. Some plants can't be left out all winter (canna bulbs for example), but there are perennials that grow well, including kitchen herbs. Check out La Paix Farm (she has a site on-line) for an example of herb gardens and greenhouse growing here in WV. I believe there is a link there to the Mountain State Growers and Buyers Assoc. (MSOGBA).

Are you planning a visit here? Elkins gets more snow than where I'm at, my relatives live there and love it. There is a wonderful Augusta Heritage Festival there that has weeks worth of courses (dancing, caning, instrument making, etc.), as well as the Forest Festival in October. Davis and Elkins College is there as well. Its a lovely old town. Though I am against it, they are contemplating some new highway connectors called Corridor H that would increase traffic through to Elkins.

-- Anne (, November 26, 2000.

My husband might start taking "scouting expeditions" next spring (May or so) to some various places we're thinking on moving. He's planning on spending about a week or so poking about an area, taking pictures, getting real estate ideas, talking to people, investigating the sources for some of the wholesale supplies we need for our business, etc. Originally we both wanted to go, to take a sort of mini-vacation together, but I don't think we can leave the girls (ages 2 and 4) for that long with my parents, who after all are getting on in years. Plus it's too expensive with two of us. Plus we have livestock, someone has to stay home and milk the cow.

Thank you all so very much for your info. So far West Virginia sounds like an excellent possibility. I'll eagerly read any more details that anyone has!

-- Patrice (, November 27, 2000.

It wouldn't be fair of me to omit the following downsides:

We get thunderstorms and wind and the occ. tornado.

We have flooding from all the rivers (WHY do people rebuild in a flood plain??)

Most landowners don't own the mineral rights-sold off during hard times 70 years ago.

Most folks have to buy mine subsidence insurance since a great deal of the state is under-mined, which causes your house to tilt, crumble or crack.

-- Anne (, November 27, 2000.

I have lived around Elkins for 30 years. I am a gardener, an artist, and a field biologist - I've worked pretty much all over the state. I've lived in a few other states and overseas, have traveled to many places, and I haven't found any place I'd rather be. W. Va. is not perfect, but all things considered, it's darn close (for me anyway). I often work in and around Beckley, and I haven't seen what Joel mentioned - maybe because I'm focused on a different kind of wildlife. It is one of the most prosperous parts of the state, as he said. I've been attacked by chiggers once in WV - in the extreme southwestern part. I think you may also encounter them in the eastern panhandle, but most people here have never seen one. Ticks are more common, but not a problem around Elkins. In the higher mountains, all kinds of biting bugs are rare except for no-see-ums, and they are only a problem in local spots. I have run into bad mosquitoes only in the SW counties. Blackflies can be bad in a few places. The last few years have been uncommonly dry, with mild winters. Normally (can we still talk about "normal" weather?) winters in the mountains reach 0 to 15 below (I've seen 25 below a few times), and average over 70 inches of snow. Pickens, about 20 miles from where I live got 266 inches in the winter of '59 - '60! Snow cover usually doesn't last more than a week at a time. Summers in the mountains are never really hot and can be chilly at night. Spring and fall are usually incredibly beautiful (If your husband comes in May, he'll probably fall in love with the area). Tornados are rarer than honest politicians. I, too, figure on a frost-free season from early May to early September, but all depends on your elevation. I'm at about 2500', 10 miles south of Elkins. I can grow most anything. Zone 5. Marginal for peaches. Regarding the "locals": there's good and bad wherever you go, and people tend to generalize from brief experience, but I love the people here. They are the main reason it would be hard to live anywhere else. Don't be quick to judge them by their looks and the way they talk. I've found them to be strong in their own beliefs while tolerant of others, and mostly generous and helpful. In rural areas you'll find little to nothing in the way of local regulations, building codes, zoning, etc. Property taxes are low. It's socially OK to be out of work and/or poor. There's not a lot of easy money around, but this is a good place to live well on a little. Land is relatively cheap. Mine subsidence is a problem in some areas. I lived over deep-mined land for 8 years. Once a new dip appeared in my road (no problem), ; another time my well, drilled into a perched water table above the mines, suddenly drained (problem). Most of the coal and gas is west of a line drawn from eastern Preston Co. to western Mercer Co. (and passing thru Elkins). East of that line is most of the limestone. Sorry I've gone on so long, but I love where I live. It's not for everyone. We do have real winters - which I don't like. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to drive for hours to find a town big enough to buy what I want. I really wish there was better public transportation. Hey, if I can answer questions, let me know.

-- Sam in W.Va. (, November 28, 2000.

Hey Sam in W.Va, how funny, I'm a field biologist too! Worked three years for BLM, now for the last three years working for Boise-Cascade. Since the babies came, I work only nights (seasonally) hooting owls. What a life.

Doubt there's much owl work in West Virginia, though. What do you do for the DNR?

-- Patrice (, December 01, 2000.

Hi Patrice,,,I sent you an email, but wanted to share what I know about chiggers with everyone interested.***they are most everywhere in WV. I noticed that a lot of folks say they have never "seen" a chigger. The answer is simple,,they are so small that it is hard put to "see" them.. The adults can be seen, they are red and move fast, very tiny. :-) ,,The juvenile ( young)ones cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are found mostly around blue berry or huckle berry patches,,so that's when a person is most likely to get attacked by them. I have had a terrible case of "chigger" bites and believe me it isn't fun! Last for a week or so,,at least mine did. Although I have seen them other places,but never was bitten anywhere but berry patches. ****WV winters are not extreme and as mentioned it varies as to where a person lives in WV. Sometimes a persons veiw of winter is according to how well they are prepared for it, and how much they have to struggle.****Of course the higher elevations get more snow and may last longer on the ground. I have seen winters that the snow stayed on ground from beginning to end. Than I have seen winters where we hardly had any snow,,(never stayed) long. I would gage the winters in WV on a scale from 1-10 as 5. I LOVE WV MORE THAN ANY PLACE I HAVE BEEN. IT TRULY IS "ALMOST HEAVEN",,,feel free to email me if you like....Pat J.

-- Pat Johnson (, December 09, 2000.

Be careful about contractors. If you're going to hire a building contractor, I could tell you who ripped me off, BIG TIME!

-- Suzi Nutter (, December 22, 2001.

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