These Are The 10 Worst Durham Suburbs For 2019


We used science and data to determine which Durham 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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the worst suburbs around Durham.

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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 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. So without further ado…

We examined the 21 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 2019:

  1. Roxboro (Photos)
  2. Franklinton
  3. Butner (Photos)
  4. Oxford (Photos)
  5. Graham (Photos)
  6. Haw River (Photos)
  7. Hillsborough (Photos)
  8. Pittsboro (Photos)
  9. Garner (Photos)
  10. Raleigh (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.

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.

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:

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Durham for 2019

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 2013-2017, 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 21 suburbs to evaluate around Durham.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 21 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.

Roxboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,273
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $23,250 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $100,700 (3rd 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 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.

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,248
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,714 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $100,000 (2nd lowest)
More on Franklinton:  Data

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 $35,714 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

5
/10

Population: 7,709
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $48,870 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $134,400 (6th 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.

Oxford, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,614
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,625 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $128,300 (4th lowest)
More on Oxford:  Data | Photos

If you live in Oxford, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 3rd lowest Durham suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 3rd worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Durham. Remember, we looked at 21 cities for this study.

Oxford is about 29.4 miles to downtown.

Graham, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,540
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $32,150 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $131,800 (5th 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 5th lowest home values in the metro Durham area, where the median price is $131,800. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $101,341, which is the best in the area.

Graham has an unemployment rate of 5.6% which ranks 10th worst.

Haw River, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,568
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,620 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (21st highest)
Median Home Value: $99,400 (1st lowest)
More on Haw River:  Data | Photos

Haw River has 2,568 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 11.5%.

Hillsborough, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,033
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $51,640 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $221,700 (11th lowest)
More on Hillsborough:  Data | Photos

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

It’s the place with the 7th most out of work residents in the Durham metro area (6.6%).

Pittsboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,037
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $49,277 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $237,200 (13th lowest)
More on Pittsboro:  Data | Photos

Pittsboro is a city about 23.2 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. Pittsboro has the 12th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 5th highest unemployment rate (8.5%) in the entire Durham metro area.

Homes only cost $237,200 for a reason. That’s cheap for Durham standards.

Garner, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 28,048
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $60,797 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $167,700 (8th 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 6.0% of residents are out of work.

Raleigh, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 449,477
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $61,505 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $225,000 (12th lowest)
More on Raleigh:  Data | Photos

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

Located 17.9 miles outside the city, Raleighs is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 12th highest unemployment rate (5.0%), and poverty is far above the area average.

The areas around Durham where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019

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
  • Holly Springs
  • Cary

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Durham Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Roxboro 8,273 $23,250 $100,700
2 Franklinton 2,248 $35,714 $100,000
3 Butner 7,709 $48,870 $134,400
4 Oxford 8,614 $35,625 $128,300
5 Graham 14,540 $32,150 $131,800
6 Haw River 2,568 $44,620 $99,400
7 Hillsborough 7,033 $51,640 $221,700
8 Pittsboro 4,037 $49,277 $237,200
9 Garner 28,048 $60,797 $167,700
10 Raleigh 449,477 $61,505 $225,000
11 Mebane 14,426 $60,851 $178,700
12 Knightdale 14,363 $70,540 $176,600
13 Creedmoor 4,372 $74,755 $151,400
14 Carrboro 21,099 $56,573 $334,500
15 Chapel Hill 59,234 $67,426 $397,700
16 Rolesville 6,308 $96,384 $273,900
17 Wake Forest 38,473 $85,155 $278,600
18 Morrisville 23,873 $95,763 $304,500
19 Cary 159,715 $97,755 $323,000
20 Holly Springs 31,827 $101,341 $264,500
21 Apex 45,899 $100,305 $289,300

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