These Are The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs For 2018


We used science and data to determine which Cary suburbs are the real pits.

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Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Cary.

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 Cary ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Cary area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Cary proper, although Apex certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Cary are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

We examined the 18 biggest suburbs of Cary 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 Cary in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Cary for 2018:

  1. Sanford (Photos)
  2. Butner (Photos)
  3. Angier (Photos)
  4. Durham (Photos)
  5. Hillsborough (Photos)
  6. Wendell
  7. Clayton (Photos)
  8. Garner (Photos)
  9. Knightdale (Photos)
  10. Raleigh (Photos)

Read on to see how we determined the places around Cary that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in North Carolina check out the best places in North Carolina overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Cary 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:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Cary 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 Cary.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 18 suburbs to evaluate around Cary.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 18 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 Cary.’ We’re lookin’ at you, Sanford.

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. Sanford

Sanford, North Carolina

Population: 29,048
Unemployment Rate: 9.5%
Median Home Price: $132,200
Median Income: $42,070
More on Sanford: Data | Jobs

We’ll get the ball rolling with Sanford, the absolute worst place to live around Cary according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Sanford beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 1st worst in the Cary area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 3rd 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 Sanford.

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.

2. Butner

Butner, North Carolina

Population: 7,692
Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Median Home Price: $127,200
Median Income: $46,642
More on Butner: Data | Jobs

Welcome to Butner. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 24.7 miles to Cary. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $46,642 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.

3. Angier

Angier, North Carolina

Population: 5,079
Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Median Home Price: $151,800
Median Income: $43,354
More on Angier: Data | Jobs

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Cary suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Angier 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 Cary suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

4. Durham

Durham, North Carolina

Source: Public domain

Population: 251,761
Unemployment Rate: 6.5%
Median Home Price: $183,900
Median Income: $52,115
More on Durham: Data | Jobs

If you live in Durham, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Cary suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 7th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Cary. Remember, we looked at 18 cities for this study.

Durham is about 14.7 miles to downtown.

5. Hillsborough

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Population: 6,428
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Median Home Price: $205,300
Median Income: $50,240
More on Hillsborough: Data | Jobs

Hillsborough has the distinction of being a Cary suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Hillsborough has the 9th lowest home values in the metro Cary area, where the median price is $205,300. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $98,041, which is the best in the area.

Hillsborough has an unemployment rate of 5.9% which ranks 10th worst.

6. Wendell


Population: 6,298
Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Median Home Price: $127,100
Median Income: $47,295
More on Wendell: Data | Jobs

Wendell has 6,298 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 17.1%.

7. Clayton

Clayton, North Carolina

Population: 18,553
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Median Home Price: $162,000
Median Income: $60,989
More on Clayton: Data | Jobs

Ah, Clayton. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Cary.

It’s the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the Cary metro area (7.6%).

8. Garner

Garner, North Carolina

Population: 27,625
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Median Home Price: $164,800
Median Income: $59,812
More on Garner: Data | Jobs

Garner is a city about 12.2 miles from Cary, but Cary 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. Garner has the 10th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (6.3%) in the entire Cary metro area.

Homes only cost $164,800 for a reason. That’s cheap for Cary standards.

9. Knightdale

Knightdale, North Carolina

Population: 13,787
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Median Home Price: $171,300
Median Income: $67,167
More on Knightdale: Data | Jobs

If you absolutely have to live near Cary, then Knightdale might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Cary suburb.

About 5.9% of residents are out of work.

10. Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina

Population: 441,326
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Median Home Price: $218,200
Median Income: $58,641
More on Raleigh: Data | Jobs

Rounding out the ten worst Cary suburbs to call home is Raleigh.

Located 10.2 miles outside the city, Raleighs is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 9th highest unemployment rate (6.1%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Cary where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Cary with Sanford casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Cary aren’t all bad. Apex takes the cake as the best place to live around Cary.

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cary Suburbs

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
1 Sanford 29,048 9.5% $132,200 $42,070
2 Butner 7,692 7.2% $127,200 $46,642
3 Angier 5,079 11.1% $151,800 $43,354
4 Durham 251,761 6.5% $183,900 $52,115
5 Hillsborough 6,428 5.9% $205,300 $50,240
6 Wendell 6,298 3.1% $127,100 $47,295
7 Clayton 18,553 7.6% $162,000 $60,989
8 Garner 27,625 6.3% $164,800 $59,812
9 Knightdale 13,787 5.9% $171,300 $67,167
10 Raleigh 441,326 6.1% $218,200 $58,641
11 Fuquay-Varina 22,722 7.5% $208,100 $70,226
12 Rolesville 5,583 10.3% $259,000 $91,000
13 Carrboro 20,867 3.4% $326,700 $53,513
14 Chapel Hill 59,005 5.4% $390,300 $65,373
15 Wake Forest 36,472 5.7% $270,300 $81,200
16 Morrisville 22,600 3.9% $291,400 $92,769
17 Holly Springs 30,126 4.0% $249,500 $98,041
18 Apex 43,893 4.7% $278,400 $95,283

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