West Virginia located in the eastern part of the state, this is one of the poorest states in the entire nation. Not a lot of people flock to move to West Virginia as it has very little to offer, but from an off grid living stand of point, this can be an excellent place. Currently, West Virginia’s population is around 1.8 million, and the population is kind of stagnating, neither growing nor shrinking. This is one of the smallest states in the country and it doesn’t have any cities with a population above 100k people.
Living off the grid in West Virginia is legal, arguably it is one of the best states for off grid living. The price of property is around 60% cheaper than the national average, the property tax is low and the cost of living is also low. On the other hand, the state does not offer any statewide incentives for renewable energy but you can still apply for the federal tax credit. The unemployment rate is fairly high and you will have some trouble getting a job in certain fields.
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Most of the people in West Virginia live in rural communities or hollows as they are called locally, and quite a lot of people do actually live off the grid. The biggest cities in West Virginia are Charleston with 48k, Huntington 47k, Morgantown 32k and Parkersburg with 30k people. The few people that actually move here tend to move to the smaller cities and the rural communities. One of the main problems why West Virginia is not attracting new people is because the state’s economy is extremely poor, in fact, this is one of the poorest states in the nation.
As a lot of people do live below the poverty line, the state can not get enough money from taxes to maintain the infrastructure and to finance the education system. At first glance the education system might seem excellent as the graduation rate is around 90% which is extremely high, the truth is that the local authorities are just lowering the requirements for graduation. Now you might think that lowering the bar for graduating isn’t that bad, but the problem comes when these people try to find a job, or even worse if they try to get a job out of the state.
Due to its poor economy West Virginia has a big problem also maintaining the roads, there are a lot of potholes. The condition of the roads are better in the biggest cities but that is not saying much. People who live in West Virginia tend to love nature, and you will see small towns thrive in the middle of nowhere, most people tend to have a more or less self-sufficient lifestyle and a lot of houses tend to have their own vegetable gardens. If you are looking for a state which has a better economy then check out my recent article Off grid living in South Carolina ( The Palmetto State ).
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West Virginia climate
The climate of West Virginia is a humid subtropical one, which basically means that the summers are hot and the winters are cold. The average temperature during summertime is around 70°F which can go as high as 87°F. During the wintertime, the average temperature is around 25°F, although due to the high humidity there will be a fairly large temperature difference between night and day, both during the summer and wintertime. If you want to take a look at how is off gird living in Canada then check out my recent article Best places to live off the grid in Canada ( 1-13 Best to Worst ).
Best crops to grow in West Virginia
You have plenty of options in West Virginia when it comes to growing crops, you can grow corn for grain, soybeans, tobacco, wheat, and hay. In fact, West Virginia grows a lot of hay, some of it is exported while some are used to feeding the local livestock. You will also be able to grow plenty of fruits and vegetables in this state, in fact, West Virginia produces a lot of peaches, although is not as famous for them like Georgia is. If you want to grow livestock instead of crops then check out my recent article Off grid living in Nevada ( Silver State ).
Freshwater availability in West Virginia
Due to its geographical location West Virginia doesn’t have any problems with freshwater, there is plenty of water for everybody. In some communities, you will see that almost every house has a well, while in others you will see water tanks and cisterns where people store the harvested rainwater. The annual rainfall in West Virginia is around 44″ and in the regions, with higher elevation, the average annual rainfall is around 56″.
West Virginia wildlife
Although West Virginia is considered to be a fairly small state, it still has a diverse wildlife like white-tailed deer, groundhogs, weasels, opossum, gray and red foxes, squirrels, and bats. In the local rivers and lakes, you will find hybrid striped bass, trout, largemouth bass, crappies, smallmouth bass, and muskellunge. You will need a license both for fishing and hunting as well, https://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/license.shtm.
Generating power off the grid in West Virginia
- Solar power: As West Virginia is mostly a mining state, the local authorities do not actually offer any incentives for renewable energy. Although if you want to set up a solar power system then you still can apply for the federal tax credit or investment credit which is at 30%.
- Wind energy: There are no statewide incentives for wind power, but you can still use the federal tax credit.
West Virginia off grid laws
There are no laws prohibiting you to live off the grid in West Virginia, you can also harvest rainwater legally, although you will most likely need to set up a septic tank system. If you have children then you should probably homeschool them as the local education system is fairly bad, the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed and there are a lot of people who actually homeschool their children in this state.
West Virginia road access
As West Virginia is a fairly small state there are plenty of roads, the problem comes with their quality as the local authorities do not have enough money to maintain the local infrastructure. Potholes are everywhere and it is not uncommon for the authorities to fil up a pothole only for it to get damaged only a couple of months later.
Price of land in West Virginia
This is where the negative aspects like the high poverty and the high unemployment rates turn into cheap real estate. The price of land and housing in West Virginia is around 60% cheaper than the national average if you have some money put aside then you will have no problem finding suitable land for building your homestead and grow the crops you want. In fact, there are a lot of listings of farms on sale in this state.
West Virginia property tax
The property tax in West Virginia is at 0.59% which is well below the national average of 1.08%. Due to the cheap cost of housing and property, the property tax is almost negligible as most of the surrounding states either have a higher property tax, higher cost for housing, or both.
Cost of living in West Virginia
The cost of living is around 22% lower than the national average, most notably housing costs 60% less, utilities 15% less, transportation 10% less and you will also pay around 5% less for groceries. On the other hand, you will pay around 6% more for healthcare services, although the healthcare system in West Virginia is in a fairly bad shape.
West Virginia jobs
The unemployment rate in West Virginia is at 4.8% and it is steadily going down, currently, it is above the national average which is at 4.2%. The main problem with the local economy is that West Virginia used to be a mining state, and it used to produce a lot of coal, but in recent years a lot of coal mines have closed due to low demand. Even the few remaining coal mines that are still open do not need a lot of people as what took hundreds of people a couple of decades ago can be done with machines and a dozen people operating them.
Even though the local economy is in a fairly bad shape the minimum wage is actually above the national average, currently, the minimum wage is at $8.75 and the national average is at $7.25. The biggest industries where most of the people work are mining, agriculture, manufacturing, chemical, and biotech industries.
West Virginia crime rate
The crime rate in West Virginia is lower than the national average which is to be expected as there are no big cities. The crime rate is around 2.95 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Apple Grove, Matoaka, Northfork, Anawalt, and Henderson. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Moorefield, Buckhannon, Morgantown, Charleston, and Martinsburg.
West Virginia natural disasters
West Virginia has a couple of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, blizzards, and winter storms. Generally speaking, West Virginia is a fairly safe state as the natural disaster are fairly rare, the biggest threats come from floods, blizzards, and storms.
Overall West Virginia is a good state for off grid living, low crime rate, low taxes and low cost of living are what you need for a great off grid living state. The problem with the low taxes becomes apparent when you take a look at the local infrastructure, the bad health, and education systems, so you will be probably better off homeschooling your children.