Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Raleigh.
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 Raleigh ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Raleigh area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Raleigh proper, although Apex certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Raleigh are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 24 biggest suburbs of Raleigh 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 Raleigh in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Raleigh for 2019:
- Selma (Photos)
- Smithfield (Photos)
- Wilson’s Mills
- Coats (Photos)
- Butner (Photos)
- Zebulon (Photos)
- Angier (Photos)
- Wendell (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Raleigh that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Raleigh 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:
- 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In North Carolina
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Raleigh 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 Raleigh.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 24 suburbs to evaluate around Raleigh.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 24 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 Raleigh.” We’re lookin’ at you, Selma.
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.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Selma, the absolute worst place to live around Raleigh according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Selma beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Raleigh area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 1st 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 Selma.
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.
Welcome to Smithfield. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 26.6 miles to Raleigh. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $34,551 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.
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,714 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $100,000 (3rd lowest)
More on Franklinton: Data
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Raleigh suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Franklinton 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 Raleigh suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,558 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $111,600 (4th lowest)
More on Wilson’s Mills: Data
If you live in Wilson’s Mills, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Raleigh suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 9th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Raleigh. Remember, we looked at 24 cities for this study.
Wilson’s Mills is about 23.0 miles to downtown.
Coats has the distinction of being a Raleigh suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Coats has the 2nd lowest home values in the metro Raleigh area, where the median price is $94,600. To put that into perspective, in Apex, the median income is $101,341, which is the best in the area.
Coats has an unemployment rate of 10.0% which ranks 6th worst.
Butner has 7,709 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 17.0%.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $27,581 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $152,300 (12th lowest)
More on Louisburg: Data
Ah, Louisburg. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Raleigh.
It’s the place with the 1st most out of work residents in the Raleigh metro area (14.2%).
Zebulon is a city about 18.2 miles from Raleigh, but Raleigh 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. Zebulon has the 8th most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 11th highest unemployment rate (6.2%) in the entire Raleigh metro area.
Homes only cost $145,000 for a reason. That’s cheap for Raleigh standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Raleigh, then Angier might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Raleigh suburb.
About 10.1% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Raleigh suburbs to call home is Wendell.
Located 13.3 miles outside the city, Wendells is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 23rd highest unemployment rate (2.7%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Raleigh where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Raleigh with Selma casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Raleigh aren’t all bad. Apex takes the cake as the best place to live around Raleigh.
- Holly Springs
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In North Carolina
- 10 Safest Cities in North Carolina
- 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Raleigh Suburbs