Worst Raleigh Suburbs For 2020

We used science and data to determine which Raleigh 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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst suburbs around Raleigh.

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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 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 2020:

  1. Selma (Photos)
  2. Franklinton
  3. Smithfield (Photos)
  4. Wilson's Mills
  5. Butner (Photos)
  6. Coats (Photos)
  7. Four Oaks
  8. Louisburg
  9. Angier (Photos)
  10. Zebulon (Photos)

What's the worst suburb of Raleigh? Selma ranks as the worst suburb of Raleigh for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Raleigh 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 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:

The 10 Worst Raleigh Suburbs To Live For 2020

Selma, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,577
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $28,440 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $89,500 (1st lowest)
More on Selma:  Data | Photos

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 1st 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,076
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,500 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.6% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $101,400 (3rd lowest)
More on Franklinton:  Data

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 $41,500 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.

Smithfield, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,117
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,579 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $140,700 (8th lowest)
More on Smithfield:  Data | Photos

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Raleigh suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Smithfield 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,552
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $45,809 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $122,000 (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 8th lowest Raleigh suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the 8th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Raleigh. Remember, we looked at 26 cities for this study.

Wilson's Mills is about 23.0 miles to downtown.

Butner, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,699
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $47,647 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $132,900 (6th lowest)
More on Butner:  Data | Photos

Butner has the distinction of being a Raleigh suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Butner has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Raleigh area, where the median price is $132,900. To put that into perspective, in Cary, the median income is $114,107, which is the best in the area.

Butner has an unemployment rate of 7.47% which ranks 5th worst.

Coats, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,368
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,688 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $99,300 (2nd lowest)
More on Coats:  Data | Photos

Coats has 2,368 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 31.46114864864865%.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,159
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $42,788 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $133,800 (7th lowest)
More on Four Oaks:  Data

Ah, Four Oaks. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Raleigh.

It's the place with the 12th most out of work residents in the Raleigh metro area (4.65%).

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,490
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $29,941 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (1st highest)
Median Home Value: $155,200 (10th lowest)
More on Louisburg:  Data

Louisburg is a city about 26.5 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. Louisburg has the 19th most uninsured people, 2nd worst incomes, and has the 1st highest unemployment rate (11.01%) in the entire Raleigh metro area.

Homes only cost $155,200 for a reason. That's cheap for Raleigh standards.

Angier, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,376
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $45,775 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $151,900 (9th lowest)
More on Angier:  Data | Photos

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 7.52% of residents are out of work.

Zebulon, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,166
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $53,676 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $125,900 (5th lowest)
More on Zebulon:  Data | Photos

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

Located 18.2 miles outside the city, Zebulons is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 22nd highest unemployment rate (3.51%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Raleigh for 2020

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 2014-2018, 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. You can download the data here.

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.

The areas around Raleigh where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2020

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.

  • Cary
  • Apex
  • Morrisville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Raleigh Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Selma 6,577 $28,440 $89,500
2 Franklinton 2,076 $41,500 $101,400
3 Smithfield 12,117 $36,579 $140,700
4 Wilson's Mills 2,552 $45,809 $122,000
5 Butner 7,699 $47,647 $132,900
6 Coats 2,368 $34,688 $99,300
7 Four Oaks 2,159 $42,788 $133,800
8 Louisburg 3,490 $29,941 $155,200
9 Angier 5,376 $45,775 $151,900
10 Zebulon 5,166 $53,676 $125,900
11 Durham 264,310 $55,851 $207,900
12 Archer Lodge 4,771 $64,168 $168,500
13 Clayton 20,324 $62,059 $174,900
14 Wendell 6,828 $56,011 $165,000
15 Garner 28,731 $61,873 $175,400
16 Creedmoor 4,429 $77,854 $163,700
17 Fuquay-Varina 25,932 $74,618 $232,100
18 Carrboro 21,216 $59,202 $350,800
19 Knightdale 15,198 $70,376 $183,000
20 Rolesville 6,957 $114,107 $318,700
21 Chapel Hill 59,561 $68,640 $409,200
22 Wake Forest 40,159 $88,394 $285,000
23 Holly Springs 33,341 $104,822 $283,700
24 Morrisville 25,007 $96,489 $317,700
25 Apex 48,254 $105,404 $307,800
26 Cary 163,266 $101,079 $337,700

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