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:
- Wadesboro (Photos)
- Lexington (Photos)
- Selma (Photos)
- Monroe (Photos)
- Lumberton (Photos)
- Dunn (Photos)
- Smithfield (Photos)
- Henderson (Photos)
- Roxboro (Photos)
- Kinston (Photos)
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
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.
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 2017 really puts things into perspective.
Residents here are really having a hard time making ends meet, too.
The unemployment rate in Lexington is a sky high 15.3%, which is the 9th highest in the state. Ouch.
The median income in Lexington is $29,199. That means 31.0% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 21.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
While the median household income in Selma is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Selma still has the 22nd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 50th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Selma household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
Monroe is by far, the largest place that’s lousy to live in the state of North Carolina. In fact, it’s one of the largest cities in the Tar Heel State.
There’s a lot more entertainment in Monroe than in the cities we mentioned above, so at least folks here can take their mind off of these statistics. Monroe has the 32nd highest unemployment rate in the state, and homes are valued far below the rest of the state average.
Plus, crime is sky high here, in comparison to the rest of North Carolina. There were four murders here in 2016, and residents have a 1 in 19.1 chance of being robbed. Since the average person has 300 Facebook friends, if everyone you were friends with lived in Monroe, 6 of them would have had something stolen from them last year.
Lumberton’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Lumberton has the 9th worst crime index of any place in North Carolina, and has the 16th lowest income.
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, the city of Smithfield is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of North Carolina. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Smithfield, located in Johnston County, have the 43rd most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $128,600, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of North Carolina, that is.
Henderson, NC needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 16.7%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 33rd highest in the state. You have a 1 in 22.3 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
You can’t blame them for living in Roxboro since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 2nd highest in the state here (19.7%), the residents in Roxboro earn the smallest household income in the state of North Carolina. At a combined income of $23,250, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in North Carolina. Roxboro has the 78th highest crime rate in the state.
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.
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)
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In North Carolina
- 10 Safest Cities in North Carolina
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
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