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 ranks as the 2nd worst city in North Carolina. Located in Davidson County, Lexington has the 7th lowest income levels in the state of North Carolina ($29,199), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 15.3%.
There’s probably not many people in North Carolina that would be surprised to see Selma on this list. In fact, if Selma wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Selma has the 50th worst crime rate in North Carolina. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 39 violent crimes in Selma in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 163 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Selma are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($87,600), the unemployment rate is the 22nd highest (10.9%), and the annual household income is 6th lowest in North Carolina, at $28,933. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Monroe’s main issue is crime. It’s the 20th most dangerous place in the state of North Carolina. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Monroe, you have a 1 in 19.1 chance that you’ll be the victim of a property crime. That’s really high, especially for a city of its size. That’s a lot of stolen lawn mowers, cell phones and cameras. Perhaps it’s because the folks here live in far nicer homes than some of the other cities to top this list. They’re targets.
The unemployment rate is higher than the state average at 10.0%.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in North Carolina, Lumberton came in 5th. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (9th worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 9.3%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
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.
Smithfield is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Smithfield is the 43rd most dangerous place you can live in North Carolina.
Residents in Smithfield have a 1 in 20.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Smithfield, where average homes are valued at only$128,600. That’s the 39th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
You might have passed through Henderson once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Henderson needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 16.7%, residents earn about $26,256 a year, and home prices are just over $92,000. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Henderson.
When you’re looking at science and data, Roxboro is the 9th 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. Roxboro is the 78th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 28.8 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $100,700, which is the 16th 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 Roxboro.
Income levels are just about $23,250, the 2nd lowest in North Carolina.
When you add it all up, Roxboro really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
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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