If you’re from North Carolina, you know how great you have it there. It’s not quite the deep south, a little bit of east coast, and a lot of awesome. If you just moved here, join the party! You now realize that the Tar Heel State is one of America’s finest states.
You have the mountains, the ocean, and some of the best college basketball teams in the nation. What else could you want? Oh yeah, great barbecue. South Carolina can’t hold a candle to it.
But is it all cheery in North Carolina? Of course not. Just like every other state, North Carolina has its issues. There are some places that are having a hard time right now. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which North Carolina cities need a little tender loving care.
After analyzing 127 of the Tar Heel State’s most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in North Carolina? That would be Wadesboro.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In North Carolina
The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019
Unfortunately for the Town of Wadesboro, crime has been an issue for a while now. They need some tough love down there; residents had a 1 in 65 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. In fact, for a city of under 6,000 people, the 83 violent crimes in town in 2019 really puts things into perspective.
Residents here are really having a hard time making ends meet, too.
Lexington takes the 2nd worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Lexington its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 48th worst in the whole state.
Selma, NC needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 10.9%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 50th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 22.2 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 4th worst in North Carolina.
Monroe residents had a 1 in 19.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Monroe is through the roof, as more than 10.0% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $147,300, Monroe has the 58th-lowest home prices in the state of North Carolina.
Lumberton is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Lumberton residents earn the 16th-lowest salaries in the state. At $32,054 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $103,300, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 9th highest in North Carolina per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 38th highest in the state, at 9.3%.
It’s not the adults in Dunn who need a hug, it’s the kids. The public schools are some of the least funded in the state. In addition, the crime is really high for a city of its size.
Their motto is, “Where community matters.” So at least they have one another.
Dunn is kind of out in the middle of nowhere north of Fayetteville.
When you’re looking at science and data, Smithfield is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of North Carolina. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of North Carolina. Smithfield is the 43rd most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 20.8 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $128,600, which is the 39th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Smithfield.
Income levels are just about $34,551, the 28th lowest in North Carolina.
When you add it all up, Smithfield really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Henderson is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It’s that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 82 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 22.3 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 16.7%, which isn’t horrible, but the 4th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $26,256 a year in combined household income.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Roxboro is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of North Carolina. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 78th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Roxboro had a 1 in 28.8 chance of being robbed in 2018. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Roxboro, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Roxboro’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (19.7%) and income levels of its residents ($23,250).
As we noted in an earlier article, Kinston has one of the highest crime rates in North Carolina. And the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state as well, at 8.7%
People in Kinston make just above the poverty line in combined income. This little city southeast of Goldsboro has a Walmart, but there’s no real excitement down there.
How we determined the worst places to live in North Carolina for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 127 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 127 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in North Carolina — Wadesboro. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in North Carolina.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In North Carolina
If you’re looking at areas in North Carolina with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Wadesboro ranks as the worst city to live in North Carolina for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Carolina:
- Cary (Pop. 159,715)
- Davidson (Pop. 12,325)
- Elon (Pop. 9,939)
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