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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 130 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 Roxboro.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In North Carolina
- Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
- Most Dangerous Cities In North Carolina
The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina For 2020
While numbers in North Carolina are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare North Carolina cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Roxboro average $84,200, which is the 2nd lowest in the state. Say what you want about 'cheap living,' the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Roxboro.
Plus, 36.2% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 38th highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Roxboro city limits, you have a 1 in 26.0 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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 204 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 80 violent crimes in town in 2020 really puts things into perspective.
Residents here are really having a hard time making ends meet, too.
What the heck is going on in little Selma? The crime is the 54th highest in the state of North Carolina. Here, residents have a 1 in 27.5 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn't have something stolen from you, there's a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we've seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 7.3% of Selma residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 53rd highest in the state.
Out of all the places to live in North Carolina, Reidsville ranks as the 4th worst -- not something to brag about.
Reidsville's unemployment rate stands at 7.8%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $32,375 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 11th cheapest in the entire state at $100,000. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Reidsville. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 16th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 20.1 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 133 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Lexington is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Lexington is the 9most dangerous place you can live in North Carolina.
Residents in Lexington have a 1 in 38.6 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 Lexington, where average homes are valued at only$106,000. That's the 15th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
If you live in Albemarle, you're either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn't matter, because science says it's the 6th worst place to live in the state.
You've got the 10th highest crime rate in North Carolina, which saw 119 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 18.6 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 133 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Albemarle.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Albemarle sports the state's 27th highest unemployment rate (8.7%), and families bring in a combined $38,988 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $116,900.
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.
If you live in North Carolina, you may or may not be surprised that Henderson ranked, at least on paper, as the 8th worst place to live in the state. It has the 18th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 5th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Henderson is the 105th most densely populated city in North Carolina. Draw your own conclusions.
Monroe doesn't have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 9.2%, and people average less than $47,303 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $152,200, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in North Carolina.
And again, in terms of the overall 'enjoyment' factor, it's not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
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 2020
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 130 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 130 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 -- Roxboro. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in North Carolina. You can download the data here.
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, Roxboro ranks as the worst city to live in North Carolina for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Carolina:
- Apex (Pop. 48,254)
- Davidson (Pop. 12,666)
- Cary (Pop. 163,266)
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In North Carolina
- Richest Cities In North Carolina
- Safest Cities in North Carolina
- Best Cities For Singles In North Carolina
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In North Carolina?