The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs For 2023

We used data and Friday Night Science to identify the worst suburbs of Cary for 2023. The worst Cary suburbs are Wilson’s Mills and Coats.

The suburbs of Cary call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Cary to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

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 Saturday Night Science to determine which Cary ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Cary area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of 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.

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Cary? Wilson’s Mills ranks as the worst suburb of Cary for 2023 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.

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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs To Live For 2023

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,506
Median Income: $53,690 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $182,000 (8th lowest)
More on Wilson’s Mills:

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

And in the world of worst rankings, Wilson’s Mills beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 6th worst in the Cary area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 8th 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 Wilson’s Mills.

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.

Coats, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Gerry Dincher from Hope Mills, NC | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,109
Median Income: $40,125 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $105,500 (lowest)
More on Coats:

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

This city is 27.1 miles to Cary. Income levels here are the lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $40,125 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Sanford, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Bigbird78 | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,024
Median Income: $51,311 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $150,600 (3rd lowest)
More on Sanford:

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Cary suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Sanford 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Cary suburbs.

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

Zebulon, NC

Source: Wikipedia User James Willamor | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,958
Median Income: $44,389 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $170,000 (6th lowest)
More on Zebulon:

If you live in Zebulon, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Cary suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 2nd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Cary. Remember, we looked at 27 cities for this study.

Zebulon is about 28.0 miles to downtown.

Butner, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,295
Median Income: $63,548 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $170,000 (6th lowest)
More on Butner:

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

All snarkiness aside, Butner has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Cary area, where the median price is $170,000. The median income is $127,575.

Butner has an unemployment rate of 6.71% which ranks 6th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,409
Median Income: $58,472 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $134,300 (2nd lowest)
More on Franklinton:

Franklinton has 2,409 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 13.657119136571193%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,757
Median Income: $65,929 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (27th highest)
Median Home Value: $184,500 (10th lowest)
More on Archer Lodge:

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

It’s the place with the 27th most out of work residents in the Cary metro area (0.0%).

Lillington, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Dincher | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,389
Median Income: $52,643 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.8% (26th highest)
Median Home Value: $167,500 (4th lowest)
More on Lillington:

Lillington is a city about 26.5 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. Lillington has the 8th most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the 26th highest unemployment rate (0.79%) in the entire Cary metro area.

Homes only cost $167,500 for a reason. That’s cheap for Cary standards.

Angier, NC

Source: Flickr User Mangrove Mike | CC BY 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,312
Median Income: $56,277 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (2highest)
Median Home Value: $170,800 (7th lowest)
More on Angier:

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 3.59% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,503
Median Income: $59,974 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $321,600 (20th lowest)
More on Youngsville:

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

Located 25.1 miles outside the city, Youngsvilles is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 4th highest unemployment rate (7.4%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Cary for 2023

To figure out how bad a Cary suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

It’s Saturday Night Science.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Cary.

We also limited the analysis to places with 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 looking at you, Wilson’s Mills.

We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Cary.

Summary: The areas around Cary where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Cary with Wilson’s Mills 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.

  • Apex
  • Morrisville
  • Holly Springs

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cary Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Wilson’s Mills 2,506 $53,690 $182,000
2 Coats 2,109 $40,125 $105,500
3 Sanford 30,024 $51,311 $150,600
4 Zebulon 6,958 $44,389 $170,000
5 Butner 8,295 $63,548 $170,000
6 Franklinton 2,409 $58,472 $134,300
7 Archer Lodge 4,757 $65,929 $184,500
8 Lillington 4,389 $52,643 $167,500
9 Angier 5,312 $56,277 $170,800
10 Youngsville 2,503 $59,974 $321,600
11 Durham 279,106 $66,623 $264,100
12 Pittsboro 4,433 $49,745 $314,900
13 Clayton 25,486 $63,166 $224,400
14 Wendell 9,847 $67,321 $226,400
15 Garner 30,859 $70,007 $236,600
16 Creedmoor 4,860 $77,716 $182,400
17 Raleigh 462,219 $72,996 $285,400
18 Hillsborough 9,342 $77,114 $321,000
19 Knightdale 18,614 $72,118 $246,600
20 Fuquay-Varina 33,135 $85,047 $303,400
21 Carrboro 21,237 $76,599 $396,800
22 Chapel Hill 60,920 $77,037 $454,300
23 Rolesville 8,995 $127,575 $357,200
24 Wake Forest 46,387 $104,006 $328,200
25 Holly Springs 40,198 $120,229 $383,400
26 Morrisville 28,824 $106,891 $358,800
27 Apex 58,066 $121,313 $371,200
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

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