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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
If you live in Roxboro, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 38th highest crime rate, per capita in the state of North Carolina. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 26.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 73 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you'd have a 1 in 113 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 2nd lowest salaries in North Carolina At $27,170 a household, that's simply not enough to get by for most folks.
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.
You might have passed through Selma once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Selma needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 7.3%, residents earn about $28,440 a year, and home prices are just over $89,500. 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 Selma.
Reidsville has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 16th-highest in the state of North Carolina. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 7.8%.
Additionally, 23.8% of the population lives below the poverty line.
You can sure expect that Lexington is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 5th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Lexington has the 91st-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 119 violent crimes here in 2020, and residents have a 1 in 38.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Lexington, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits -- the unemployment rate sits at 13.8% which is the 10th worst in North Carolina.
When you're looking at science and data, Albemarle is the 6th 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. Albemarle is the 10th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 18.6 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $116,900, which is the 27th 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 Albemarle.
Income levels are just about $38,988, the 36th lowest in North Carolina.
When you add it all up, Albemarle really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
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.
Henderson is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $98,200. That means it ranks as the 9th lowest in North Carolina.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Henderson has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 5th worst in the state, it's one of the worst places you can live in North Carolina.
If you're looking to live in North Carolina, Monroe might not be the best choice as it places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Tar Heel State for 2020.
The average family earns $47,303 a year out here, and 20.2% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 9.2% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it's just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you're in Monroe, every year, you have a 1 in 22.6 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it's an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it's the 34th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
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?