The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs For 2021

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

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Cary.

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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Cary for 2021:

  1. Butner
  2. Franklinton
  3. Coats
  4. Sanford
  5. Zebulon
  6. Wilson's Mills
  7. Lillington
  8. Angier
  9. Youngsville
  10. Archer Lodge

What's the worst suburb of Cary? Butner ranks as the worst suburb of Cary for 2021 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.

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:

The 10 Worst Cary Suburbs To Live For 2021

Butner, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,727
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $45,366 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $136,700 (5th lowest)
More on Butner:  Data | Photos

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

And in the world of worst rankings, Butner beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 5th worst in the Cary area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 5th 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 Butner.

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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,260
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $39,018 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (highest)
Median Home Value: $99,900 (2nd lowest)
More on Franklinton:  Data

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

This city is 30.0 miles to Cary. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $39,018 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.

Coats, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,418
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Income: $35,352 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $97,600 (lowest)
More on Coats:  Data | Photos

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.

Sanford, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 29,456
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $46,915 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $142,200 (6th lowest)
More on Sanford:  Data | Photos

If you live in Sanford, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 7th lowest Cary suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Cary. Remember, we looked at 27 cities for this study.

Sanford is about 29.0 miles to downtown.

Zebulon, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,404
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $46,849 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $130,100 (4th lowest)
More on Zebulon:  Data | Photos

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

All snarkiness aside, Zebulon has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Cary area, where the median price is $130,100. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $119,615, which is the best in the area.

Zebulon has an unemployment rate of 5.14% which ranks 9th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,613
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Median Income: $55,114 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (24th highest)
Median Home Value: $129,400 (3rd lowest)
More on Wilson's Mills:  Data

Wilson's Mills has 2,613 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 12.687427912341404%.

Lillington, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,571
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Median Income: $40,000 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $159,400 (8th lowest)
More on Lillington:  Data | Photos

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

It's the place with the 23rd most out of work residents in the Cary metro area (2.75%).

Angier, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,893
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $48,306 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $157,800 (7th lowest)
More on Angier:  Data | Photos

Angier is a city about 19.4 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. Angier has the 4th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 18th highest unemployment rate (3.51%) in the entire Cary metro area.

Homes only cost $157,800 for a reason. That's cheap for Cary standards.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,003
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $50,956 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $242,600 (16th lowest)
More on Youngsville:  Data

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

About 6.33% of residents are out of work.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,902
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $66,103 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.5% (27th highest)
Median Home Value: $183,000 (10th lowest)
More on Archer Lodge:  Data

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 (0.55%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Cary for 2021

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 2015-2019, 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, Butner. 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.

The areas around Cary where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Cary with Butner 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
  • Holly Springs
  • Morrisville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cary Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Butner 7,727 $45,366 $136,700
2 Franklinton 2,260 $39,018 $99,900
3 Coats 2,418 $35,352 $97,600
4 Sanford 29,456 $46,915 $142,200
5 Zebulon 5,404 $46,849 $130,100
6 Wilson's Mills 2,613 $55,114 $129,400
7 Lillington 3,571 $40,000 $159,400
8 Angier 5,893 $48,306 $157,800
9 Youngsville 2,003 $50,956 $242,600
10 Archer Lodge 4,902 $66,103 $183,000
11 Durham 269,702 $58,905 $224,100
12 Pittsboro 4,195 $44,399 $255,100
13 Wendell 7,308 $59,236 $191,400
14 Hillsborough 7,115 $64,598 $261,200
15 Clayton 21,681 $62,676 $192,900
16 Garner 29,462 $65,064 $190,000
17 Knightdale 16,001 $69,684 $196,600
18 Raleigh 464,485 $67,266 $248,300
19 Carrboro 21,230 $58,702 $368,800
20 Creedmoor 4,501 $78,330 $169,400
21 Fuquay-Varina 27,426 $79,000 $255,900
22 Rolesville 7,488 $119,615 $316,200
23 Chapel Hill 60,998 $73,614 $399,700
24 Wake Forest 42,111 $92,210 $297,300
25 Morrisville 26,280 $101,738 $331,800
26 Holly Springs 34,874 $112,029 $320,900
27 Apex 51,370 $111,435 $327,800

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.


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