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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 131 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 2021.
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 2021
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 53 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 99 violent crimes in town in 2021 really puts things into perspective.
Residents here are really having a hard time making ends meet, too.
Lexington is the 42nd most dangerous place in the state of North Carolina. That's part of the reason it's the 2nd worst place in North Carolina.
The fact remains, that when you're within Lexington city limits, you have a 1 in 23.2 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Lexington also has the 13th highest unemployment rate in the state at 11.0%? Or that homes are only valued at $104,200?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Lexington.
Monroe seems to be the have's and have not's. While the annual average income levels here are respectful ($51,754), about 1 in 11.7 people here are without jobs. Homes are valued at only $164,000.
But the biggest eye opener is the sheer crime here. It seems as if just about everyone in town without a job is pillaging the community. Monroe has the 20th highest crime rate in North Carolina, where 1 in 105 people has a statistic chance of being attacked, raped or murdered each year.
Plus, 1 in 18.7 people are robbed.
If you're headed past Monroe and stop for gas, make sure you lock your doors.
You can sure expect that Reidsville is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 4th in our analysis. It is. In fact, Reidsville has the 15th-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 105 violent crimes here in 2021, and residents have a 1 in 15.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Reidsville, 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 9.5% which is the 18th worst in North Carolina.
Roxboro is the 5th worst city in North Carolina for 2021. When you're comparing other cities to Roxboro, things just don't look great, at least according to science.
Roxboro is the 40th most dangerous place in North Carolina, according to FBI statistics. And the residents here have a hard time keeping a job -- at least in comparison to the rest of the state. The unemployment rate is 12.1%, worse than the state average.
Home values are really low ($83,500), and residents earn just $31,427 a year.
Selma has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 72nd-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 7.2%.
Additionally, 35.3% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Henderson, where there's absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 7th worst city in North Carolina.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Henderson has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 9.5%, and families earn around $31,408 a year. It's also the 14th highest in North Carolina for crime, where 1 in 18.1 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Out of all the places to live in North Carolina, Albemarle ranks as the 8th worst -- not something to brag about.
Albemarle'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 $44,269 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 26th cheapest in the entire state at $119,000. 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 Albemarle. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 17th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 18.1 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 109 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
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.
According to science, Laurinburg is the 10th worst place you can live in North Carolina.
Let's see why. Laurinburg has the 24th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Laurinburg is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($103,200), and the 4th-highest unemployment rate in the state (14.6%), and across the board, Laurinburg doesn't sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there's simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We're aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you'd have to drive a ways away.
How we determined the worst places to live in North Carolina for 2021
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 131 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 131 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. 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, Wadesboro ranks as the worst city to live in North Carolina for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Carolina:
- Cary (Pop. 166,268)
- Chapel Hill (Pop. 60,998)
- Elon (Pop. 11,516)
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- 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?