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 2019 really puts things into perspective.
Residents here are really having a hard time making ends meet, too.
you’re looking to live in North Carolina, Lexington might not be the best choice as it places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.
Lexington doesn’t have the worst crime in the state, but it’s sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Lexington may not be your first choice for a vacation.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Selma is the 50th most dangerous city in North Carolina. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 22.2 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Selma might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Selma are really low. People here earn about $28,933 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Selma are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in North Carolina than in Selma.
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Monroe 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 93 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 19.1 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 10.0%, which isn’t horrible, but the 32nd-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $45,803 a year in combined household income.
Lumberton places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live in North Carolina. Here, 21.6% of the adult population lack’s even a high school degree. That makes Lumberton have the 14th highest adult drop out rate in North Carolina.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $103,300 each — the 19th lowest in North Carolina.
As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of demand to live here.
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.
Out of all the places to live in North Carolina, Smithfield ranks as the 7th worst — not something to brag about.
Smithfield’s unemployment rate stands at 7.7%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $34,551 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 39th cheapest in the entire state at $128,600. 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 Smithfield. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 43rd worst in the state. You have a 1 in 20.8 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 168 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Henderson is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Henderson is the 33rd most dangerous place you can live in North Carolina.
Residents in Henderson have a 1 in 22.3 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 Henderson, where average homes are valued at only$92,000. That’s the 6th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Roxboro ranks as the 9th worst city in North Carolina. Located in Person County, Roxboro has the 2nd lowest income levels in the state of North Carolina ($23,250), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 19.7%.
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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