The 10 Worst Durham Suburbs For 2023

We used data and Friday Night Science to identify the worst suburbs of Durham for 2023. The worst Durham suburbs are Roxboro and Oxford.

The suburbs of Durham call to all types of people looking to escape city live. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Durham 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 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 Apex certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Durham are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

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.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Durham for 2023:

  1. Roxboro
  2. Oxford
  3. Butner
  4. Haw River
  5. Graham
  6. Franklinton
  7. Green Level
  8. Youngsville
  9. Garner
  10. Mebane

What’s the worst suburb of Durham? Roxboro ranks as the worst suburb of Durham for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Durham 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 Durham too.

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Durham Suburbs To Live For 2023

Roxboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,097
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $33,883 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $84,900 (lowest)
More on Roxboro:  Data | Photos

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 2nd worst in the Durham area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 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.

Oxford, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,658
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $39,399 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $143,800 (5th lowest)
More on Oxford:  Data | Photos

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

This city is 29.4 miles to Durham. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $39,399 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.

Butner, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,295
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $63,548 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $170,000 (7th lowest)
More on Butner:  Data | Photos

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.

Haw River, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,579
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Income: $44,191 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (19th highest)
Median Home Value: $101,200 (2nd lowest)
More on Haw River:  Data | Photos

If you live in Haw River, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Durham suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 19th 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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 16,793
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $45,152 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $150,900 (6th lowest)
More on Graham:  Data | Photos

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 $150,900. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $127,575, which is the best in the area.

Graham has an unemployment rate of 6.55% which ranks 7th worst.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,409
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $58,472 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $134,300 (4th lowest)
More on Franklinton:  Data

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: 3,015
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,514 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (25th highest)
Median Home Value: $103,100 (3rd lowest)
More on Green Level:  Data

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 (1.3%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,503
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $59,974 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $321,600 (17th lowest)
More on Youngsville:  Data

Youngsville is a city about 23.6 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. Youngsville has the 13th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 4th highest unemployment rate (7.4%) in the entire Durham metro area.

Homes only cost $321,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Durham standards.

Garner, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,859
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Median Income: $70,007 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $236,600 (11th lowest)
More on Garner:  Data | Photos

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 6.13% of residents are out of work.

Mebane, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,192
Rank Last Year: 11 (No Change)
Median Income: $69,947 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $223,300 (10th lowest)
More on Mebane:  Data | Photos

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 12th highest unemployment rate (5.17%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Durham for 2023

To figure out how bad a Durham 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

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 2023. This is our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Durham.

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

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. Apex takes the cake as the best place to live around Durham.

  • Apex
  • Cary
  • Morrisville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Durham Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Roxboro 8,097 $33,883 $84,900
2 Oxford 8,658 $39,399 $143,800
3 Butner 8,295 $63,548 $170,000
4 Haw River 2,579 $44,191 $101,200
5 Graham 16,793 $45,152 $150,900
6 Franklinton 2,409 $58,472 $134,300
7 Green Level 3,015 $33,514 $103,100
8 Youngsville 2,503 $59,974 $321,600
9 Garner 30,859 $70,007 $236,600
10 Mebane 17,192 $69,947 $223,300
11 Hillsborough 9,342 $77,114 $321,000
12 Pittsboro 4,433 $49,745 $314,900
13 Raleigh 462,219 $72,996 $285,400
14 Creedmoor 4,860 $77,716 $182,400
15 Swepsonville 2,394 $72,171 $222,100
16 Knightdale 18,614 $72,118 $246,600
17 Fuquay-Varina 33,135 $85,047 $303,400
18 Carrboro 21,237 $76,599 $396,800
19 Chapel Hill 60,920 $77,037 $454,300
20 Wake Forest 46,387 $104,006 $328,200
21 Rolesville 8,995 $127,575 $357,200
22 Holly Springs 40,198 $120,229 $383,400
23 Morrisville 28,824 $106,891 $358,800
24 Cary 171,603 $113,782 $404,300
25 Apex 58,066 $121,313 $371,200