The 10 Worst Raleigh Suburbs

The worst Raleigh suburbs are Wilson’s Mills and Smithfield based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Raleigh to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Raleigh are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Raleigh ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Raleigh area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Raleigh proper, although Cary certainly tries.

We examined the 27 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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 worst suburbs around Raleigh for 2024

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

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Raleigh? Wilson’s Mills ranks as the worst suburb of Raleigh for 2024 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

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.

The 10 Worst Raleigh Suburbs To Live For 2024

1. Wilson’s Mills

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,581
Median Income: $59,309 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $272,732 (4th lowest)
More on Wilson’s Mills:

We’ll get the ball rolling with Wilson’s Mills, the absolute worst place to live around Raleigh according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Wilson’s Mills beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 7th worst in the Raleigh area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 4th 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 Wilson’s Mills.

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.

Smithfield, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,527
Median Income: $37,000 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $283,417 (6th lowest)
More on Smithfield: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $37,000 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Butner, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,374
Median Income: $68,604 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $258,713 (2nd lowest)
More on Butner: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Raleigh 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Raleigh suburbs.

But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.

Selma, NC

Source: Wikipedia User DanTD (talk) | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,449
Median Income: $29,325 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $260,426 (3rd lowest)
More on Selma: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you live in Selma, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the lowest Raleigh suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 11th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Raleigh. Remember, we looked at 27 cities for this study.

Selma is about 27.8 miles to downtown.

5. Louisburg

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,099
Median Income: $41,813 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 28.3% (highest)
Median Home Value: $298,160 (7th lowest)
More on Louisburg: Crime

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

All snarkiness aside, Louisburg has the 7th lowest home values in the metro Raleigh area, where the median price is $298,160. The median income is $145,166.

Louisburg has an unemployment rate of 28.34% which ranks worst.

6. Coats

Coats, NC

Source: Wikipedia User Gerry Dincher from Hope Mills, NC | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,324
Median Income: $42,566 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $230,306 (lowest)
More on Coats: Crime

Coats has 2,324 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 20.51724137931034%.

Zebulon, NC

Source: Wikipedia User James Willamor | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,421
Median Income: $50,934 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $341,201 (10th lowest)
More on Zebulon: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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

It’s the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the Raleigh metro area (9.02%).

8. Four Oaks

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,269
Median Income: $66,014 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $275,597 (5th lowest)
More on Four Oaks: Crime

Four Oaks is a city about 29.1 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. Four Oaks has the 2nd most uninsured people, 9th worst incomes, and has the 8th highest unemployment rate (5.85%) in the entire Raleigh metro area.

Homes only cost $275,597 for a reason. That’s cheap for Raleigh standards.

9. Franklinton

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,477
Median Income: $59,911 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $342,186 (11th lowest)
More on Franklinton: Crime

If you absolutely have to live near Raleigh, then Franklinton might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Raleigh suburb.

About 14.68% of residents are out of work.

Angier, NC

Source: Flickr User Mangrove Mike | CC BY 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,348
Median Income: $54,936 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (23rd highest)
Median Home Value: $318,115 (8th lowest)
More on Angier: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

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 23rd highest unemployment rate (3.37%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Raleigh for 2024

To figure out how bad a Raleigh suburb is to live in, we used Saturday Night Science to identify the kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2018-2022, 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 dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Raleigh.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 27 suburbs to evaluate around Raleigh.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 27 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 looking at you, Wilson’s Mills.

We updated this article for 2024, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Raleigh.

Summary: The areas around Raleigh where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2024

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Raleigh with Wilson’s Mills casting itself ahead of the pack.

The worst suburbs of Raleigh are .

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
  • Holly Springs

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Raleigh Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Wilson’s Mills 2,581 $59,309 $272,732
2 Smithfield 11,527 $37,000 $283,417
3 Butner 8,374 $68,604 $258,713
4 Selma 6,449 $29,325 $260,426
5 Louisburg 3,099 $41,813 $298,160
6 Coats 2,324 $42,566 $230,306
7 Zebulon 7,421 $50,934 $341,201
8 Four Oaks 2,269 $66,014 $275,597
9 Franklinton 2,477 $59,911 $342,186
10 Angier 5,348 $54,936 $318,115
11 Archer Lodge 4,894 $73,750 $323,187
12 Creedmoor 4,871 $78,750 $343,602
13 Durham 284,094 $74,710 $395,610
14 Clayton 26,837 $71,698 $366,122
15 Knightdale 19,127 $79,364 $363,028
16 Youngsville 2,421 $73,472 $402,931
17 Garner 31,684 $77,171 $374,654
18 Wendell 10,575 $91,316 $361,432
19 Fuquay-Varina 35,428 $94,142 $496,644
20 Chapel Hill 58,919 $85,940 $603,034
21 Carrboro 21,242 $76,933 $438,237
22 Wake Forest 48,047 $115,159 $513,842
23 Morrisville 29,756 $114,075 $486,190
24 Rolesville 9,696 $145,166 $497,136
25 Holly Springs 42,023 $127,755 $550,787
26 Apex 65,541 $129,688 $591,542
27 Cary 174,880 $125,317 $600,101
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

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