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 Cary 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 26 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 2018:
- Selma (Photos)
- Four Oaks
- Wilson’S Mills
- Coats (Photos)
- Butner (Photos)
- Zebulon (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.
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Raleigh 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 Raleigh.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 26 suburbs to evaluate around Raleigh.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 26 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.
Population: 6,325Unemployment Rate: 12.1%
Median Home Price: $85,400
Median Income: $27,982
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.
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 21.5 miles to Raleigh. Income levels here are the 5th 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.
3. Four Oaks
Population: 2,150 Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Median Home Price: $116,700
Median Income: $28,902
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Raleigh suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Four Oaks 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.
Population: 11,746 Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Median Home Price: $123,900
Median Income: $33,415
If you live in Smithfield, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 4th lowest Raleigh suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 6th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Raleigh. Remember, we looked at 26 cities for this study.
Smithfield is about 26.6 miles to downtown.
5. Wilson’S Mills
Population: 2,433 Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Median Home Price: $108,700
Median Income: $43,346
Wilson’s Mills has the distinction of being a Raleigh suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Wilson’s Mills has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Raleigh area, where the median price is $108,700. To put that into perspective, in Cary, the median income is $98,041, which is the best in the area.
Wilson’s Mills has an unemployment rate of 8.0% which ranks 7th worst.
Population: 2,344Unemployment Rate: 11.3%
Median Home Price: $95,200
Median Income: $35,761
Coats has 2,344 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 32.3%.
Population: 7,692Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Median Home Price: $127,200
Median Income: $46,642
Ah, Butner. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Raleigh.
It’s the place with the 11th most out of work residents in the Raleigh metro area (7.2%).
Population: 4,813Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Median Home Price: $139,300
Median Income: $51,108
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 9th most uninsured people, 11th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (7.8%) in the entire Raleigh metro area.
Homes only cost $139,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for Raleigh standards.
Population: 3,530 Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
Median Home Price: $120,600
Median Income: $27,269
If you absolutely have to live near Raleigh, then Louisburg might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Raleigh suburb.
About 5.6% of residents are out of work.
Population: 5,079 Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Median Home Price: $151,800
Median Income: $43,354
Rounding out the ten worst Raleigh suburbs to call home is Angier.
Located 23.0 miles outside the city, Angiers is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 4th highest unemployment rate (11.1%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Raleigh where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
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. Cary takes the cake as the best place to live around Raleigh.
For more North Carolina reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places To Live In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Raleigh Suburbs