CHARLES TOWN – While two West Virginia localities recently topped Gallup’s list of “most miserable cities” in the nation, Charles Town was cited as among the country’s least-miserable and also included in a different poll as one of the best places in the Mountain State for young families.
[cleeng_content id="934223826" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Charles Town came in No. 5 among West Virginia communities where families raising young children can “thrive and prosper,” according to NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based financial literacy and consumer advocacy organization.
Founded by George Washington’s younger brother Charles and chartered in 1786, Charles Town was the only place in the Eastern Panhandle to make NerdWallet’s Top Ten.
Meanwhile in Gallup’s ranking, the D.C. metro area – which includes Alexandria, Va., suburban Maryland and Jefferson County – boasted the highest well being among the nation’s 52 largest metropolitan areas, with San Francisco coming in No. 2.
To come up with its list, NerdWallet looked at Census Bureau data as well as information from the non-profit GreatSchools. It then ranked 36 West Virginia towns and cities based on their public school ratings, economic growth, median home value, median income and the cost of home ownership.
Coming in at the top of the list in West Virginia was Bridgeport in the north-central part of the state. Public schools in this Harrison County community near Morgantown earned a perfect 10 out of 10 score from GreatSchools.
Also finishing ahead of Charles Town:
n Hurricane, a fast-growing community 25 miles south of Charleston where 63 percent of public school teachers hold a master’s or other advanced degree and residents can fish and picnic in a city park and enjoy a water park and skate park;
n Nitro, another suburb of Charleston that’s home to Nitro High, a school recognized by the College Board for the state’s highest scores in AP Math and Science; and
n Vienna, the Wood County community adjoining Parkersburg that boasts a number of parks and a 277-acre wildlife refuge as well as an acclaimed middle school that’s been named a National Blue Ribbon School and West Virginia Exemplary School.
In placing Charles Town at No. 5, NerdWallet cited its schools’ eight-of-10 rating from GreatSchools as well as the city’s population and income growth over the past decade.
Finishing behind Charles Town were four other West Virginia towns: Wheeling, South Charleston, Fairmont, Sissonville and Buckhannon.
Meanwhile, the “Ten Most Miserable Cities in America” list placed Charleston as the most miserable in the nation and Huntington as No. 2. Both cities had low rankings for physical health, healthy behavior, emotional health, job satisfaction and access to basic necessities.
To come up with the list, Gallup conducted phone interviews with a random sample of 353,563 adults in Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Huntington, part of the tri-state metro area along with Ashland, Ky., and Ironton, Ohio, actually finished better in 2013; it had been listed “most miserable” in both 2011 and ’12.
Many Huntington residents commute to jobs in the state capital so their daily trek has them driving an hour from the second-most miserable city in the country to spend the workday in the nation’s most-miserable locale.
NerdWallet, which has been featured in The New York Times and Forbes, is a consumer-friendly website that aims to help individuals set financial goals and make better decisions about money.
Go online to nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/best-towns-west-virginia-young-families/ for more on the NerdWallet list.