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 Davidson 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 2019:
- Lincolnton (Photos)
- Kings Mountain (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.
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
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Charlotte 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 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 from 2013-2017, 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, Lincolnton.
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.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Lincolnton, the absolute worst place to live around Charlotte according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Lincolnton beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Charlotte area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 9th 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 Lincolnton.
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.
Welcome to Kings Mountain. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 29.4 miles to Charlotte. Income levels here are the 5th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $39,070 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.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Charlotte suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Monroe 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.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,093 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $127,700 (6th lowest)
More on Dallas: Data
If you live in Dallas, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Charlotte suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Charlotte. Remember, we looked at 41 cities for this study.
Dallas is about 21.3 miles to downtown.
China Grove has the distinction of being a Charlotte suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, China Grove has the 1st lowest home values in the metro Charlotte area, where the median price is $102,400. To put that into perspective, in Davidson, the median income is $170,500, which is the best in the area.
China Grove has an unemployment rate of 10.8% which ranks 3rd worst.
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,940 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $125,000 (5th lowest)
More on Clover:
Clover has 5,731 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 21.2%.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $35,896 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (25th highest)
Median Home Value: $132,400 (8th lowest)
More on York:
Ah, York. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Charlotte.
It’s the place with the 25th most out of work residents in the Charlotte metro area (5.4%).
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $43,480 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $115,500 (3rd lowest)
More on Ranlo: Data
Ranlo is a city about 17.7 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. Ranlo has the 6th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 9th highest unemployment rate (8.4%) in the entire Charlotte metro area.
Homes only cost $115,500 for a reason. That’s cheap for Charlotte standards.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $48,969 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $122,900 (4th lowest)
More on Lowell: Data
If you absolutely have to live near Charlotte, then Lowell might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Charlotte suburb.
About 5.8% of residents are out of work.
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 (9.5%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Charlotte where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Charlotte with Lincolnton casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Charlotte aren’t all bad. Davidson takes the cake as the best place to live around Charlotte.
- Tega Cay
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 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Charlotte Suburbs