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Old 12-13-2019, 09:33 PM
 
Location: Jewel Lake (Sagle) Idaho
30,020 posts, read 18,893,210 times
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I have never been to West Virginia and am looking for recommendations for areas for retirement, or perhaps slightly pre-retirement. I'm currently in N. Idaho, and love a lot about the area. I'm on a nice, 20 acre property, with some great mountain and lake views. Really like living in the mountains, love the low humidity, and the ability to get away from the crowds whenever I choose. Lots of unpopulated national forest here-IIRC about 25 million acres of NF land in the state. I enjoy hunting and fishing (though I haven't done much of either lately due to lack of time) but my real passion is motorcycling, especially backcountry/ADV riding (aka dirt roads/backcountry camping). Much as I love Idaho, it has 2 main problems. First, LONG winters. My driveway will frequently ice over by Thanksgiving and not be ice free until March. 2nd...it's expensive here! We have had lots of Californians "cash out" of their state, bring a big wad of money and drive housing costs way up. Near Coeur d'Alene, you can't expect much on 5 acres in a new-ish home within 1/2 hour of town for less than $500k.

I'm currently 57, and look to move within 3 years. I'm a mechanical design engineer, might need to pick up some full or part time work (or contract) for a couple years to supplant the income. So, what am I looking for? Rural acreage, ideally around 5 acres (20 is a bit much to keep maintained, but nice!). Paved road to near the house (I have about 4 miles of dirt road now-keeping the bike/truck clean is a lost cause). Mountains. 4 seasons, but with modest snow season, would really like to see some bare ground every month. I want snow-just not for 5 months! Not TOO much humidity. 30-45 minutes to a modest-sized city (for work or shopping). Politically conservative/libertarian area-pro gun, near or adjacent to national forest. I'm leaning to the center/southern part of the state for what I would perceive as a shorter winter, and suspect I'd prefer not to be adjacent to VA or MD due to the political bend of those states(though things may not be an issue on the good side of the border). And ideally a pretty strong motorcycling community-though with some digging this can be found most anywhere. Oh, and generally "good people"-I'm pretty much a good-ol-boy, that just happens to live in the North.

What I don't care about? Fine dining. Concerts/arts. "Culture".

I welcome any thoughts or ideas. I plan to spend a few days in WV next summer. My brother lives in Alabama and I'm planning on riding the bike over to see him-long as I'm in the area I want to stop by and check the area out. Thanks for any input.
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Old 12-14-2019, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Southern West Virginia
533 posts, read 165,391 times
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One thing about weather in WV, is that there is more of a difference as you go from east to west than from north to south. The higher mountains are in the eastern part of the state, and that is also where most of the National Forest land is located. The Monongahela National Forest makes up a pretty good sized area.

I think the summers are much better in the higher elevation, eastern parts of the state (the brown areas on the elevation map below). Coming from idaho, I think you’d like milder summers in the higher elevations. Summers by the Ohio River are hotter and more humid than where I live. If you are used to Idaho, I would think that the winters almost anywhere in WV would seem mild in comparison.

Living next to the MD or VA border won’t be an issue. I live in Mercer Co, which is right on the border with Virginia, and people here are very pro 2nd Amendment (as are the people in VA just over the border in Tazewell Co. and Giles Co. in VA). Southwestern Virginia is very similar to WV in most ways.

When you say close to a modest sized city (30-45 mins away), what is your idea of a modest sized city? Some people have different views on the definition of that.

I will tell you that houses and property are much cheaper than anywhere out West. Your money will go much further here. As far as motorcycle riding, there are tons of great winding roads here. US Route 219 from Monroe Co. up through Pocahontas Co. is a good ride (so I hear; I don’t ride).

Culturally, the northern half of the state feels more northern, while the southern part feels more southern. There is a big difference in accents when you compare someone from Wheeling to someone from Bluefield. However, WV is really different culturally from most states. The whole state has an Appalachian culture, it is just that the northern parts have a more norther Appalachian culture and vice versa is true for the southern part.

I will say that I like where I live because it is far enough north (within the US; although I’m about as far south in WV as you can get) to get good snow (30 in per season), but I’m only about an hour from North Carolina. Only about 5.5 hours from the beaches in coastal NC and SC. You would also be closer to your brother that is in Alabama.

For reference, here is a population density map and elevation map for WV:




Here is an average precipitation map and a snowfall map from the winter of 2017-2018. The snowfall from that year is pretty typical, with eastern parts receiving more snow that low elevations by the Ohio River:





From what you have said, these are the counties that I think you should look into:

Southern Counties:
Mercer, Monroe, Summers, Greenbrier, Fayette, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Nicholas

Northern Counties:
Preston and Randolph

Last edited by user491; 12-14-2019 at 08:36 AM..
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Old 12-14-2019, 02:37 PM
Status: "John 3:16/Romans 10:9 !" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Ashe Co. NC
1,344 posts, read 953,267 times
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Southern Counties that border VA.. beautiful, cost of real estate, cost of living, easy to get to larger cities, friendly, previous posters details right on target!
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Old 12-14-2019, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Jewel Lake (Sagle) Idaho
30,020 posts, read 18,893,210 times
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User491, thank you for your detailed, thoughtful reply. I'm doing some research into the areas you recommended. Thanks for the elevation map-I didn't realize just how low some of the western part of the state are. Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties look pretty appealing. Looking on Zillow (which I've been doing a lot of lately) home prices seem much more reasonable than my area. I'm a little concerned about the snowfall map-but like I said, I don't mind snow, so long as it melts in a few days. Any particular cities you might suggest in those counties?

As far as your "modest sized city" question-I ask myself the same thing! I about an hour from Coeur d'Alene, and work in that city, with a population of about 50k. And I never see anyone I know around town. It's just big enough to be pretty...anonymous. Just a little too big-but still-it does have the basic big box stores (Lowes and Home Depot). But really, I guess I have in mind somewhere around 3000-5000 or so within half an hour. Small enough to actually feel neighborly. Up to a 50 minute commute if necessary to pick up work in a larger city might be OK as well. Honestly, I need to get out there and spend some time in the area.
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Old 12-14-2019, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Southern West Virginia
533 posts, read 165,391 times
Reputation: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
User491, thank you for your detailed, thoughtful reply. I'm doing some research into the areas you recommended. Thanks for the elevation map-I didn't realize just how low some of the western part of the state are. Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties look pretty appealing. Looking on Zillow (which I've been doing a lot of lately) home prices seem much more reasonable than my area. I'm a little concerned about the snowfall map-but like I said, I don't mind snow, so long as it melts in a few days. Any particular cities you might suggest in those counties?

As far as your "modest sized city" question-I ask myself the same thing! I about an hour from Coeur d'Alene, and work in that city, with a population of about 50k. And I never see anyone I know around town. It's just big enough to be pretty...anonymous. Just a little too big-but still-it does have the basic big box stores (Lowes and Home Depot). But really, I guess I have in mind somewhere around 3000-5000 or so within half an hour. Small enough to actually feel neighborly. Up to a 50 minute commute if necessary to pick up work in a larger city might be OK as well. Honestly, I need to get out there and spend some time in the area.
Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs are in Greenbrier County, and they are nice towns. White Sulphur Springs is where the Greenbrier Hotel is located.

As far as Pocahontas County, the further north you go, the more rural it gets. The two main routes in Pocahontas County, running north to south, are US Route 219 and WV Route 92. Route 92 is less rugged, staying in the valley most of the time. There are many farms along WV 92. US Route 219 is very rugged, with many switchbacks. Pocahontas County is definitely one of the most rural counties in the whole state. It just depends on how far out you want to live. In Pocahontas County, the snow sticks around much longer than in other areas to the south. Snow can stay on the ground for weeks in the highest elevations in Pocahontas County.

I think you should look at Summers County and northeast Mercer County too; you would be close to Beckley, which is the biggest city in that region. The Lerona and Pipestem areas in Mercer County are nice, and there are some great areas in Summers County too. Check out this property in Summers County that was for sale:

https://www.landandfarm.com/property...ounty-7957167/


Like you said, you will be able to get a better feel for the area once you come to visit.

Last edited by user491; 12-14-2019 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:27 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
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No worries about picking a county adjacent to Maryland. All three of the MD counties that border WV are more culturally and politically similar to our WV neighbors than we are to the rest of Maryland.
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Old 12-16-2019, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Jewel Lake (Sagle) Idaho
30,020 posts, read 18,893,210 times
Reputation: 17417
Quote:
Originally Posted by user491 View Post
Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs are in Greenbrier County, and they are nice towns. White Sulphur Springs is where the Greenbrier Hotel is located.

As far as Pocahontas County, the further north you go, the more rural it gets. The two main routes in Pocahontas County, running north to south, are US Route 219 and WV Route 92. Route 92 is less rugged, staying in the valley most of the time. There are many farms along WV 92. US Route 219 is very rugged, with many switchbacks. Pocahontas County is definitely one of the most rural counties in the whole state. It just depends on how far out you want to live. In Pocahontas County, the snow sticks around much longer than in other areas to the south. Snow can stay on the ground for weeks in the highest elevations in Pocahontas County.

I think you should look at Summers County and northeast Mercer County too; you would be close to Beckley, which is the biggest city in that region. The Lerona and Pipestem areas in Mercer County are nice, and there are some great areas in Summers County too. Check out this property in Summers County that was for sale:

https://www.landandfarm.com/property...ounty-7957167/


Like you said, you will be able to get a better feel for the area once you come to visit.
White Sulphur Springs is actually an area I had considered and started researching. My concern, with the resort, is that it might be too "touristy". Touristy can be both good and bad. The good is that it brings some money to the area, usually means investment to the downtown to keep the area looking nice, and entertainment and events. The negative is that money tends to be congregated with a few of the resort/hotel owners, and perhaps real estate, with a low average wage due to the service industry. City leaders can focus on tourism to the detriment of industries like manufacturing. I work in and live near a resort town, see both sides of the coin here.

Looking into Pocahontas County, it looks seriously rural (like much of Idaho!). Great to visit, might be a bit much even for me as far as a place to live. Though many weekends we never leave our property so there is that. Beckley looks interesting. I tend to think of West Virginia as a southern state (my area is about 100 miles north of Toronto if you follow the line of latitude across. Yet Beckley gets considerably more snow than Coeur d'Alene (though I get 2-3x what town does up here in the mountains). Sounds like I can plan on keeping the Kubota and getting some use out of it! The average daily highs in the summer are actually lower in Beckley, which really surprised me. How is the humidity there? I'm sure higher than here, but I hope not as overwhelming as say Alabama! The elevation is right between where I work (about 2100) and live (2600).

That property you posted looks pretty spectacular! Thanks for taking the time to provide the comments you have.
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Old 12-17-2019, 08:50 AM
 
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White Sulphur isn't that touristy and outside of the golf tournament, the Greenbrier generally keeps everything on property. The atmosphere and clientele of the hotel are about as opposite from Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach as you can get.
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Old 12-17-2019, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Cumberland
5,257 posts, read 8,456,448 times
Reputation: 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
User491, thank you for your detailed, thoughtful reply. I'm doing some research into the areas you recommended. Thanks for the elevation map-I didn't realize just how low some of the western part of the state are. Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties look pretty appealing. Looking on Zillow (which I've been doing a lot of lately) home prices seem much more reasonable than my area. I'm a little concerned about the snowfall map-but like I said, I don't mind snow, so long as it melts in a few days. Any particular cities you might suggest in those counties?

As far as your "modest sized city" question-I ask myself the same thing! I about an hour from Coeur d'Alene, and work in that city, with a population of about 50k. And I never see anyone I know around town. It's just big enough to be pretty...anonymous. Just a little too big-but still-it does have the basic big box stores (Lowes and Home Depot). But really, I guess I have in mind somewhere around 3000-5000 or so within half an hour. Small enough to actually feel neighborly. Up to a 50 minute commute if necessary to pick up work in a larger city might be OK as well. Honestly, I need to get out there and spend some time in the area.
I just noticed this. I think it is important to point out that while elevations are relatively low in the western part of the state, it is still very rugged and broken country. This area is the cliched "hill and hollow" region where narrow little valleys cut all around steeply sided hills.

That map is good, but doesn't show enough detail to really get a feel for the geography.

I wouldn't worry much about While Sulphur Springs being too touristy. That area is the most rural and isolated place I have ever visited east of the Mississippi. There area is profoundly rural, and a few tourist attractions (like the Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County) do little to change that.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Southern West Virginia
533 posts, read 165,391 times
Reputation: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
White Sulphur Springs is actually an area I had considered and started researching. My concern, with the resort, is that it might be too "touristy". Touristy can be both good and bad. The good is that it brings some money to the area, usually means investment to the downtown to keep the area looking nice, and entertainment and events. The negative is that money tends to be congregated with a few of the resort/hotel owners, and perhaps real estate, with a low average wage due to the service industry. City leaders can focus on tourism to the detriment of industries like manufacturing. I work in and live near a resort town, see both sides of the coin here.

Looking into Pocahontas County, it looks seriously rural (like much of Idaho!). Great to visit, might be a bit much even for me as far as a place to live. Though many weekends we never leave our property so there is that. Beckley looks interesting. I tend to think of West Virginia as a southern state (my area is about 100 miles north of Toronto if you follow the line of latitude across. Yet Beckley gets considerably more snow than Coeur d'Alene (though I get 2-3x what town does up here in the mountains). Sounds like I can plan on keeping the Kubota and getting some use out of it! The average daily highs in the summer are actually lower in Beckley, which really surprised me. How is the humidity there? I'm sure higher than here, but I hope not as overwhelming as say Alabama! The elevation is right between where I work (about 2100) and live (2600).

That property you posted looks pretty spectacular! Thanks for taking the time to provide the comments you have.
White Sulphur Springs is not very touristy in the sense that you are thinking. There are smaller communities near there too that are more rural. The humidity is going to be worse than Idaho, but at 2,000 ft or higher the humidity is lower than most places east of the Mississippi. Thinking about humidity in terms of dew points makes more sense than relative humidity. Our dew points in the summer can be as low as the 50s or as high as 70 (which doesn’t happen often), but dew points are usually in the low to mid 60s here. Beckley has pretty much identical weather, maybe 1-2 degrees cooler. It gets more humid as you go down in elevation and less humid as you go up.

It is nowhere near as humid as Alabama, which regularly has 70 dew points or higher. We are much less humid than the Midwest too and also not as hot. I know that when I looked at Minneapolis's weather this summer, they were usually hotter and more humid than my area. Early summer is less humid, but once July gets here and the Gulf of Mexico heats up, the humidity can increase. It is also nice that it cools off at night here more as you go up in elevation. Come out here in July or August if you want to experience the humidity at its peak to see what you think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattec View Post
White Sulphur isn't that touristy and outside of the golf tournament, the Greenbrier generally keeps everything on property. The atmosphere and clientele of the hotel are about as opposite from Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach as you can get.
I agree. It attracts a more upscale clientele. You have to have money if you plan to stay at the Greenbrier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westsideboy View Post
I just noticed this. I think it is important to point out that while elevations are relatively low in the western part of the state, it is still very rugged and broken country. This area is the cliched "hill and hollow" region where narrow little valleys cut all around steeply sided hills.

That map is good, but doesn't show enough detail to really get a feel for the geography.

I wouldn't worry much about While Sulphur Springs being too touristy. That area is the most rural and isolated place I have ever visited east of the Mississippi. There area is profoundly rural, and a few tourist attractions (like the Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County) do little to change that.
Yes, lower elevation does not mean less rugged. The southwestern part of the state is extremely rugged but lower in elevation. You have very narrow valleys and steep hillsides. Right beside of the Ohio River is pretty flat though.
On the other hand, the Greenbrier Valley is at higher elevation than the rugged southwestern part of the state, but is much, much flatter with wide valleys and tall mountain ridges.

I like the higher elevations (2,000 ft or above) for more snow in the winter and more comfortable summers.

Last edited by user491; 12-17-2019 at 08:27 PM..
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