The 10 Worst Durham Suburbs

The worst Durham suburbs are Roxboro and Butner based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Durham to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Durham are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Durham ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Durham area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Durham proper, although Cary certainly tries.

We examined the 25 biggest suburbs of Durham 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 Durham in terms of quality of life.

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

The 10 worst suburbs around Durham for 2024

  1. Roxboro
  2. Butner
  3. Oxford
  4. Haw River
  5. Graham
  6. Franklinton
  7. Green Level
  8. Creedmoor
  9. Swepsonville
  10. Hillsborough

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Durham? Roxboro ranks as the worst suburb of Durham for 2024 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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 Durham too.

The 10 Worst Durham Suburbs To Live For 2024

Roxboro, NC

Source: Wikipedia User FotoDawg | CC BY 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,131
Median Income: $39,787 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $197,436 (2nd lowest)
More on Roxboro: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

And in the world of worst rankings, Roxboro beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the worst in the Durham area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 2nd 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 Roxboro.

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.

Butner, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) | GFDL
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Population: 8,374
Median Income: $68,604 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $258,713 (5th lowest)
More on Butner: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

This city is 13.9 miles to Durham. Income levels here are the 8th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $68,604 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.

Oxford, NC

Source: Wikipedia User John Taylor | CC BY 2.0
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Population: 8,685
Median Income: $42,016 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $232,049 (4th lowest)
More on Oxford: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

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

4. Haw River

Haw River, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Bureau of Labor Statistics, State of North Carolina (1897) & State Library of North Carolina | CC BY 2.0
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Population: 2,894
Median Income: $57,404 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $209,057 (3rd lowest)
More on Haw River: Crime

If you live in Haw River, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 5th lowest Durham suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 12th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Durham. Remember, we looked at 25 cities for this study.

Haw River is about 26.8 miles to downtown.

Graham, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Dantripphoto | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 17,136
Median Income: $51,482 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $259,204 (6th lowest)
More on Graham: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

All snarkiness aside, Graham has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Durham area, where the median price is $259,204. The median income is $145,166.

Graham has an unemployment rate of 8.07% which ranks 2nd worst.

6. Franklinton

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Population: 2,477
Median Income: $59,911 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (highest)
Median Home Value: $342,186 (9th lowest)
More on Franklinton: Crime

Franklinton has 2,477 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 15.018167137666532%.

7. Green Level

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Population: 3,111
Median Income: $42,695 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (25th highest)
Median Home Value: $166,502 (lowest)
More on Green Level:

Ah, Green Level. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Durham.

It’s the place with the 25th most out of work residents in the Durham metro area (3.06%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,871
Median Income: $78,750 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $343,602 (10th lowest)
More on Creedmoor: Data | Crime

Creedmoor is a city about 16.0 miles from Durham, but Durham 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. Creedmoor has the 10th most uninsured people, 14th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (5.5%) in the entire Durham metro area.

Homes only cost $343,602 for a reason. That’s cheap for Durham standards.

9. Swepsonville

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Population: 2,464
Median Income: $84,737 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $335,184 (7th lowest)
More on Swepsonville:

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

About 4.37% of residents are out of work.

Hillsborough, NC

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


Population: 9,534
Median Income: $86,250 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $440,106 (16th lowest)
More on Hillsborough: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Rounding out the ten worst Durham suburbs to call home is Hillsborough.

Located 12.8 miles outside the city, Hillsboroughs is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 3rd highest unemployment rate (7.19%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Durham for 2024

To figure out how bad a Durham suburb is to live in, we used Saturday Night Science to identify the kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2018-2022, 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 Durham.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 25 suburbs to evaluate around Durham.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 25 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 Durham.” We’re looking at you, Roxboro.

We updated this article for 2024, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Durham.

Summary: The areas around Durham where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2024

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

The worst suburbs of Durham are .

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

  • Cary
  • Apex
  • Holly Springs

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Durham Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Roxboro 8,131 $39,787 $197,436
2 Butner 8,374 $68,604 $258,713
3 Oxford 8,685 $42,016 $232,049
4 Haw River 2,894 $57,404 $209,057
5 Graham 17,136 $51,482 $259,204
6 Franklinton 2,477 $59,911 $342,186
7 Green Level 3,111 $42,695 $166,502
8 Creedmoor 4,871 $78,750 $343,602
9 Swepsonville 2,464 $84,737 $335,184
10 Hillsborough 9,534 $86,250 $440,106
11 Raleigh 465,517 $78,631 $431,992
12 Garner 31,684 $77,171 $374,654
13 Mebane 17,899 $78,419 $339,769
14 Youngsville 2,421 $73,472 $402,931
15 Knightdale 19,127 $79,364 $363,028
16 Fuquay-Varina 35,428 $94,142 $496,644
17 Carrboro 21,242 $76,933 $438,237
18 Pittsboro 4,555 $62,513 $534,931
19 Chapel Hill 58,919 $85,940 $603,034
20 Morrisville 29,756 $114,075 $486,190
21 Wake Forest 48,047 $115,159 $513,842
22 Rolesville 9,696 $145,166 $497,136
23 Holly Springs 42,023 $127,755 $550,787
24 Apex 65,541 $129,688 $591,542
25 Cary 174,880 $125,317 $600,101
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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