Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Durham.
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 Durham ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Durham area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Durham proper, although Cary certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Durham are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 22 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.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Durham for 2018:
- Roxboro (Photos)
- Butner (Photos)
- Oxford (Photos)
- Haw River (Photos)
- Pittsboro (Photos)
- Hillsborough (Photos)
- Garner (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Durham that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Durham 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.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Durham 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 Durham.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 22 suburbs to evaluate around Durham.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 22 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 lookin’ at you, Roxboro.
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.
Population: 8,329Unemployment Rate: 23.9%
Median Home Price: $99,600
Median Income: $21,516
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 1st worst in the Durham 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 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.
Population: 2,253 Unemployment Rate: 12.6%
Median Home Price: $96,000
Median Income: $33,750
Welcome to Franklinton. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 26.5 miles to Durham. Income levels here are the 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $33,750 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.
Population: 7,692Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Median Home Price: $127,200
Median Income: $46,642
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Durham suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Butner 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 Durham suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Population: 14,506 Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
Median Home Price: $128,600
Median Income: $32,020
If you live in Graham, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Durham 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 Durham. Remember, we looked at 22 cities for this study.
Graham is about 27.7 miles to downtown.
Population: 8,707Unemployment Rate: 13.6%
Median Home Price: $137,200
Median Income: $33,528
Oxford has the distinction of being a Durham suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Oxford has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Durham area, where the median price is $137,200. To put that into perspective, in Cary, the median income is $98,041, which is the best in the area.
Oxford has an unemployment rate of 13.6% which ranks 2nd worst.
6. Haw River
Population: 2,634Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
Median Home Price: $98,100
Median Income: $42,917
Haw River has 2,634 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 16.0%.
Population: 4,058Unemployment Rate: 10.6%
Median Home Price: $209,700
Median Income: $51,563
Ah, Pittsboro. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Durham.
It’s the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the Durham metro area (10.6%).
Population: 6,428Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Median Home Price: $205,300
Median Income: $50,240
Hillsborough is a city about 12.8 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. Hillsborough has the 12th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 12th highest unemployment rate (5.9%) in the entire Durham metro area.
Homes only cost $205,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for Durham standards.
Population: 27,625Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Median Home Price: $164,800
Median Income: $59,812
If you absolutely have to live near Durham, then Garner might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Durham suburb.
About 6.3% of residents are out of work.
Population: 13,592 Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Median Home Price: $172,400
Median Income: $56,037
Rounding out the ten worst Durham suburbs to call home is Mebane.
Located 22.0 miles outside the city, Mebanes is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 9th highest unemployment rate (6.7%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Durham where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Durham with Roxboro casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Durham aren’t all bad. Cary takes the cake as the best place to live around Durham.
For more North Carolina reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Durham Suburbs