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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..
We examined the 27 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.
What's the worst suburb of Cary? Zebulon ranks as the worst suburb of Cary for 2022 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.
Read on to see how we determined the places around Cary that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
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:
- Best Places To Live In North Carolina
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The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs To Live For 2022
We'll get the ball rolling with Zebulon, the absolute worst place to live around Cary according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Zebulon beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd 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 Zebulon.
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 Sanford. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 29.0 miles to Cary. Income levels here are the 6th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $47,017 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 Cary suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Coats 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.
If you live in Butner, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 10th lowest Cary 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 Cary. Remember, we looked at 27 cities for this study.
Butner is about 24.7 miles to downtown.
Wilson's Mills has the distinction of being a Cary suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Wilson's Mills has the 8th lowest home values in the metro Cary area, where the median price is $163,900. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $126,793, which is the best in the area.
Wilson's Mills has an unemployment rate of 3.07% which ranks 2worst.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $50,322 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (2highest)
Median Home Value: $163,900 (8th lowest)
More on Wilson's Mills: Data
Franklinton has 2,341 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 15.121742844938062%.
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Income: $45,938 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (highest)
Median Home Value: $102,500 (2nd lowest)
More on Franklinton: Data
Ah, Lillington. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Cary.
It's the place with the 26th most out of work residents in the Cary metro area (1.46%).
Youngsville is a city about 25.1 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. Youngsville has the 13th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 2nd highest unemployment rate (8.12%) in the entire Cary metro area.
Homes only cost $264,500 for a reason. That's cheap for Cary standards.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $55,972 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $264,500 (16th lowest)
More on Youngsville: Data
If you absolutely have to live near Cary, then Angier might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Cary suburb.
About 2.3% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Cary suburbs to call home is Archer Lodge.
Located 25.7 miles outside the city, Archer Lodges is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 27th highest unemployment rate (0.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $70,000 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (27th highest)
Median Home Value: $181,900 (9th lowest)
More on Archer Lodge: Data
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Cary for 2022
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 2016-2020, 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 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 27 suburbs to evaluate around Cary.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 27 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, Zebulon. You can download the data here.
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.
Summary: The areas around Cary where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022
Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Cary with Zebulon 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.
- Holly Springs
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
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Detailed List Of The Worst Cary Suburbs