West Virginia's innate strengths of exceptional natural beauty, a large variety of arts, crafts, mountain culture & history, excellent recreational opportunities, a low cost of living, and an abundant supply of important services are key to welcoming you home to West Virginia!
Within a days drive for 60% of the nation's population, West Virginia is the choice retirement destination for those who wish to maintain an active retirement lifestyle. And being within a days drive of home means that it's easy to get back for a visit or to have friends and family come and visit you, and maybe consider setting down roots in West Virginia, too!
Geographically speaking, West Virginia lies in the Appalachian Highlands of the eastern United States, an area of forested mountains and narrow valleys. It is a mix of small urbanized areas and large expanses of rural lands.
West Virginia's distinct but basically mild four-season climate is attractive to retirees currently residing in the harsher climates of the northeast, midwest, and southern United States - particularly those who enjoy the outdoors and related activities.
West Virginia's climate is known as humid continental, with warm summers and cool winters. It can vary considerably between nearby areas depending on the region within the state, but any variation is mainly due to differences in altitude. Statewide, the four seasons are nearly equal in length.
The average state temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit in July and 32 degrees Fahrenheit in January.
Quality of Life
A study comparing various salient factors for 17 of West Virginia's cities and towns to United States averages has shown that West Virginia does indeed offer a higher quality of life alternative to retirees who desire to relocate.
Quality of Life measures such things as population density per square mile, air and water quality, commute time, and comfort index.
West Virginia's population density is 12.8% less than the national average. This provides our citizens more elbowroom to breathe our cleaner air and enjoy a water supply that rates right alongside the U.S. as a whole.
Our highways and byways are less crowded as indicated a by a commute time 15% less than the national average.
And although our comfort index is some 10% lower than the national index, our slightly higher summertime humidity is in large part due to our beautiful forested mountains that provide the best autumn vistas in the eastern United States.
Cost of Living
A recent analysis indicated that the cost of living in West Virginia was 23.0% less than that of the Northeastern United States.
Cost of Living is an index that compares costs between areas. It weights and combines the six measurements of housing, food and groceries, transportation, utilities, health care, and miscellaneous expenses such as clothing, services, and entertainment. State and local taxes are not included in any category.
The average cost of living in the United States is represented as a value of 100. A value of 95 would mean that it costs 5% less than the national average to live a particular geographic area, and a value of 110 would mean that it's 10% more expensive.
The overall Cost of Living Index (COLI) for the 17 West Virginia cities rated is 97.0.
There are three separate revenue streams to fund the governmental operation of West Virginia: Income, Property, and Sales tax.
Personal Income Tax
This is a graduated tax, with these graduations beginning at $10,000 and continuing through $60,000. Only that portion of Social Security benefits that is included in Federal adjusted gross income is subject to state income tax.
Military Retirement Exemption
The first $22,000 in benefits derived from military retirement is exempted from West Virginia personal income tax obligations.
Property taxes are levied on both real and personal property in West Virginia. In general, real property is land and anything permanently attached to land, and personal property is all other objects or rights that can be owned. The West Virginia Department of Tax and Revenue supervises the collection of these taxes which is done by local county officials. The primary beneficiaries of the Property Tax are county boards of education. Property is assessed according to its use, location and value as of July 1 of each year. Each county and municipality can impose its own rates of property taxation within the limits set by the West Virginia Constitution. The West Virginia Legislature sets the rate of tax of county boards of education. All county boards of education Statewide use this rate.
Overall Property Tax Burden
West Virginia's owner-occupied residential property tax burden is among the lowest in the nation. According to a recent study by the Tax Foundation, West Virginia ranked 49th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in share of median family income necessary to pay local property taxes in 2006. West Virginia also ranked 49th in median annual property taxes paid on a home of just $422 in 2006.
This exemption is for residents sixty-five and older who own and occupy their home exclusively for residential purposes. The homeowner who has legally resided in West Virginia for two consecutive taxable years prior to filing a claim qualifies for an exemption from ad valorem property taxes on the first $20,000 of the assessed value of the homestead.
Other Property Tax Burden Reduction Programs
In addition to the Homestead Exemption, West Virginia offers other property tax burden reduction programs. The State provides a refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 to any homeowner whose residential property tax burden exceeds 4% of the homeowner's annual gross income. Residents sixty-five years or older may choose to defer the payment of an increase in their residential property tax bill if the increase is in excess of $300 in any single year. Lower income senior citizens may also qualify for a refundable State tax credit equal to at least a portion of local property taxes paid.
Currently, the general tax rate is six percent. Food for home consumption is taxed at a lower rate of three percent. Prescription drugs, insulin, and purchases made with food stamps are exempt from taxation.
Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax
The State of West Virginia imposes no taxes on estates or inheritances.