Are rural areas the next hot housing market in West Virginia? White Diamond Realty examined what’s driving more families to move out of the city — and into the luxury of country living. Along the way, we found an emerging market in North Central West Virginia that’s beginning to look like the next big thing.
Remote work fuels uptick in rural home purchases
In mid-June, Ascend West Virginia — a privately-funded talent attraction and retention program — announced that its second round of awardees are now relocating to the Mountain State. Unlike the first round, which focused on the Morgantown area, this latest class of remote workers is moving to the Greenbrier Valley. The third round will incentivize remote workers interested in relocating to the Eastern Panhandle. These areas are notable for being somewhat rural compared to Morgantown, yet they have proven to have great appeal for remote workers.
As Governor Jim Justice said while welcoming these new residents, “West Virginia is quickly becoming a sought-after place to start a business, live in paradise, and raise a family.”
Justice is right. The state’s relaxed vibe, unceasing beauty, and affordable luxury all appeal to homebuyers seeking to escape the daily commute, crowded conditions, and high costs associated with urban life. With new economic pressures mounting due to inflation and rising interest rates, this exodus out of the cities is likely to continue.
Although some remote workers have returned to corporate offices as the COVID pandemic appears to wane, the trend of working from home is not going away. In fact, Realtor.com found that a nearly half of recent homebuyers prefer remote or hybrid work models, and the trend is even stronger for younger buyers, which suggests that this trend could transform the entire real estate market for years to come.
The ongoing exodus from city life explains why both the Greenbrier Valley and the Eastern Panhandle are seeing growth that rivals the Morgantown area, but prices are jumping up quickly in these areas as buyers and investors realize the potential. What about savvy home shoppers looking for an undiscovered gem? Is there an area where buyers get even more for their money without sacrificing the features that make West Virginia a great place to put down roots?
According to White Diamond Realty’s Julie Knight, one of the most promising markets in North Central West Virginia is Doddridge County. For example, Julie represents a 92-acre property in West Union that includes two homes, two out-buildings, beautiful pasture, a private well, and a pond. She says the property is far more than a remote retreat, it’s a real opportunity for a home buyer looking for a great location and future growth potential. According to Julie, the property would make a terrific horse farm, an excellent hunter’s retreat, or even a profitable subdivision opportunity.
What does Doddridge County offer? For one thing, this rural area has a relatively strong economy, lower unemployment, and higher wages than comparable alternatives. What’s more, the real estate market in Doddridge is more affordable than places like the Eastern Panhandle, which already have a cost-of-living index far lower than major metropolitan areas.
Doddridge is also a forward-looking county. Thanks to large investments in the county’s digital infrastructure, installation of a state-of-the-art fiber optic and wireless system is underway throughout the county, so that all residents are eligible for unlimited broadband for around $50 a month. For remote workers, the importance of such connectivity cannot be overstated, suggesting that properties here will hold their value when compared to counties where broadband access remains non-existent.
Most importantly, Doddridge County is extremely livable. The county seat of West Union is a bustling center of trade amid the rolling hills and hardwood forests of the Allegheny Plateau. Outdoor lovers will find plenty to appreciate in Doddridge, including camping, hiking, swimming, fabulous fairs, and one-of-a-kind festivals. Raising a family? Doddridge County boasts one of the top school systems in the state.
Speaking of schools, Doddridge is just an hour’s drive from Morgantown — where West Virginia University is located — and a mere twenty minutes from Salem University. Thinking of taking winter vacations in a warmer climate? You can fly direct to Florida (and other locations) from the North Central West Virginia Airport, located about 35 miles from West Union. In other words, Doddridge has everything that appeals to remote workers relocating to other areas, with one major exception: it is still flying under the radar.
To find out more about available properties in Doddridge County, contact Julie Knight at White Diamond Realty. She’s not just an expert in the housing market, she has the kind of insider’s expertise that can only come from being born and raised in Doddridge County. If you want to get a head of the trend and put down roots in an idyllic rural setting on the upswing — before everyone else knows about it — contact Julie at 304.680.6404.