Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Charlotte.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Charlotte ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Charlotte area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Charlotte proper, although Tega Cay certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Charlotte are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 41 biggest suburbs of Charlotte to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in North Carolina lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Charlotte in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Charlotte for 2018:
- Kings Mountain (Photos)
- Lincolnton (Photos)
- Monroe (Photos)
- China Grove (Photos)
- Gastonia (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Charlotte that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Charlotte too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Charlotte for 2018
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 threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Charlotte.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 41 suburbs to evaluate around Charlotte.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 41 in each category, where 1 was the ‘worst’.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the ‘Worst Suburb near Charlotte.’ We’re lookin’ at you, Kings Mountain.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
1. Kings Mountain
Population: 11,053Unemployment Rate: 16.4%
Median Home Price: $103,400
Median Income: $37,023
We’ll get the ball rolling with Kings Mountain, the absolute worst place to live around Charlotte according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Kings Mountain beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 4th worst in the Charlotte area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Kings Mountain.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Population: 10,593Unemployment Rate: 15.1%
Median Home Price: $123,000
Median Income: $31,967
Welcome to Lincolnton. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 29.4 miles to Charlotte. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $31,967 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Population: 4,602 Unemployment Rate: 10.5%
Median Home Price: $122,400
Median Income: $32,886
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Charlotte suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Dallas on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Charlotte suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Population: 34,212Unemployment Rate: 11.0%
Median Home Price: $146,700
Median Income: $44,267
If you live in Monroe, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 11th lowest Charlotte suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Charlotte. Remember, we looked at 41 cities for this study.
Monroe is about 20.9 miles to downtown.
Population: 7,989 Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Median Home Price: $129,100
Median Income: $41,341
York has the distinction of being a Charlotte suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, York has the 9th lowest home values in the metro Charlotte area, where the median price is $129,100. To put that into perspective, in Tega Cay, the median income is $185,862, which is the best in the area.
York has an unemployment rate of 7.5% which ranks 18th worst.
Population: 5,593 Unemployment Rate: 9.8%
Median Home Price: $120,900
Median Income: $45,833
Clover has 5,593 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 19.8%.
Population: 3,535 Unemployment Rate: 9.1%
Median Home Price: $109,000
Median Income: $40,031
Ah, Ranlo. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Charlotte.
It’s the place with the 12th most out of work residents in the Charlotte metro area (9.1%).
Population: 3,616 Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Median Home Price: $122,100
Median Income: $48,024
Lowell is a city about 15.8 miles from Charlotte, but Charlotte probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Lowell has the 2nd most uninsured people, 14th worst incomes, and has the 16th highest unemployment rate (7.8%) in the entire Charlotte metro area.
Homes only cost $122,100 for a reason. That’s cheap for Charlotte standards.
9. China Grove
Population: 4,163Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Median Home Price: $98,700
Median Income: $41,707
If you absolutely have to live near Charlotte, then China Grove might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Charlotte suburb.
About 8.7% of residents are out of work.
Population: 73,877Unemployment Rate: 10.5%
Median Home Price: $135,900
Median Income: $43,003
Rounding out the ten worst Charlotte suburbs to call home is Gastonia.
Located 20.2 miles outside the city, Gastonias is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 5th highest unemployment rate (10.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Charlotte where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Charlotte with Kings Mountain casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Charlotte aren’t all bad. Tega Cay takes the cake as the best place to live around Charlotte.
For more North Carolina reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places To Live In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Charlotte Suburbs