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The 20 Worst Places to Live in North Carolina


Deciding what makes a good place to live and what makes a bad place to live is more than just a matter of opinion. Decent schools, plentiful job opportunities, low crime rates, low poverty rates, high incomes, short working commutes, a booming property market... all of these variables can be assessed on the basis of cold, hard facts.

If you're considering heading to North Carolina, you'll find plenty of places that score highly across the board. Unfortunately, you'll also find no shortage of places that don't.

Before you decide on where to settle, be sure to check out our round of the 20 worst places to live in North Carolina.


20. Kinston

According to Only in Your State, Kinston is a city that accounts for a far higher percentage of North Carolina crimes than any one city has a right to.

Move to this less than inviting city, and your chance of being the victim of a property crime skyrockets to 1 in 15.58. The violent crime rate isn't much better, with 226 aggravated assaults, robberies, murders, and manslaughters reported in 2018 alone.


19. Laurinburg

According to Zippia, Laurinburg is one of the very worst places in North Carolina to get a job. With an employment rate of 11.60%, it's easy to understand their reasoning.

Unfortunately, Laurinburg's problems don't end there. With a crime rate that's through the roof, spiraling poverty, and almost a complete absence of things to see and do, it's a deserving entry to our list.


18. Pineville

Travel a little south of Charlotte and you'll land on Pineville, a small suburb that shares none of the bigger city's charms. Crime is high and getting higher by the year, unemployment is grim, and the standard of living is generally low.

It's not the worst place to live in North Carolina by any means, but it's got a long way to go if it wants to become one of the best.


17. Dunn

If you've got a family, do yourself (and them) a favor and steer clear of Dunn. In general, North Carolina isn't known for having the most generous student funding program.

According to The Progressive Pulse, the state ranks 46th in per-pupil funding (more than $4,400 below the national average) and next to last in the nation when it comes to its funding effort.

But even by the standards of the state, Dunn is doing a lousy job of investing in its future. It's public schools receive some of the lowest amounts of funding in the state -something which may explain why its graduation rate and test scores are way below average.

To add misery to misery, its crime rate is 114% higher than the North Carolina average and a worrying percentage of its population are living below the poverty line.


16. Goldsboro

Goldsboro is a fairly sizeable city of 34,085 people. It's got a good selection of bars, a healthy amount of restaurants, and plenty of things to see, do, and experience. Sounds like a fun place, right?

Wrong. Unless your idea of fun runs to living in one of the worst cities for property crime in North Carolina, you're unlikely to have a great time here.

Violent crime isn't quite so bad, but the city still manages to rank as the 16th worst in the state for murders, rapes, and assaults.


15. Albemarle

In fairness, there are worse places to live than Albemarle. After all, there are places where people are earning less than the $44,269 most Albemarle residents are doing.

There are cities with unemployment rates that are higher than Albemarle's rate of 7.8%. There are places where the thought of a crime rate that gives you a 1 in 18.1 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 109 chance of being attacked, raped, or murdered sounds positively idyllic.

The problem is, no one wants to live in those places. And judging by its shrinking population, not many people want to live in Albemarle either.

Roanoke Rapids

14. Roanoke Rapids

Looking for a job? Then don't waste your time searching in Roanoke Rapids, a city that currently boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. It's not always been that way - rewind a few decades and the town's textile industry was booming.

These days, it's crumbling, robbing the city of jobs and making the prospect of job growth almost laughable. As a result, most households are struggling to make ends meet. Even the ones fortunate enough to still have a job are barely making do on incomes of just $35,388.


13. Henderson

If affordability is your main priority, you might want to cast your sights in the direction of Henderson, a medium-sized city of 14,948 residents where $100,100 will get you a decently sized family house.

If, on the other hand, your priorities run more towards keeping you and your family safe, you might want to give it a miss. Move here, and you stand a 1 in 18.1 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

Your chance of being the victim of a violent crime is a little lower, but not by enough to shout about. Your chance of landing a job isn't the best either, with 9.5 % of the population struggling to find employment.


12. Selma

Selma might be many things, but desirable it most certainly isn't. The average home value of $105,200 is a full 46% lower than the North Carolina average - a huge indication of just how little people want to live here.

Then there's the crime rate to consider, which currently stands 35% higher than the North Carolina average. 49 in every 100 people live below the poverty line. 7.2 % are unemployed.

Public transportation is practically non-existent and there's precious little sense of community. All in all, it's not exactly the kind of place that dreams are made of.


11. Roxboro

Roxboro doesn't have a whole lot going for it these days. Not only is its crime rate way higher than the state average, but its unemployment and poverty rates are also soaring.

Considering that property value is usually a good indication of the desirability of a place, it's little wonder that the median home value in this little corner of North Carolina is a tiny $83,500.


10. Williamston

If you've ever heard of the Western theme park, Deadwood, you might have thought it's worth a visit. It may well be, but its home town of Williamston is anything but. Williamston is a town in need of some serious TLC.

With just 5,217 residents to its name, it would be tempting to think it lives up to its motto of "easy living with hometown values." It doesn't. It does, however, live up to its reputation as one of the most dangerous places to live in North Carolina.

Last year, it reported 1,265 violent crimes per 100 thousand residents and 6,670 property crimes per 100 thousand residents. Whatever kind of spin you put on them, those numbers don't make for happy reading.

Neither does the fact that, according to Area Vibes, the median household income is 37% lower than the national average and the unemployment rate is 73% higher than the national average.


9. Reidsville

Reidsville's main problem is its crime rate. 105 violent crimes were reported last year, giving its 13,915 residents a worryingly high chance of landing up the victim of an assault, a rape, or a murder.

The property crime rate is even more worrying, with residents standing a 1 in 15.6 chance of having their homes broken into, their cars stolen, or their personal belongings suddenly going AWOL. At 9.5%, the unemployment rate doesn't make for pleasant reading.

Little wonder that most homeowners struggle to get much more than $103,000 for their property.


8. Andrews

If you want to live in the kind of place where career opportunities abound, avoid Andrews. 14.4% of the population is unemployed, and even those households with at least one working member are only earning the tiny income of $22,644.

Add to that a median home value of $70,000, a poverty rate of 38.3%, and a complete absence of things to do, and it's easy to understand why its population is shrinking on a yearly basis.


7. Monroe

In the interests of balance, it's worth pointing out that Monroe isn't all bad. In fact, it's got several good points, including a not entirely terrible median income of $51,754.

Sure, it's still below the national average, but considering we've already seen plenty of places with sub $30,000 incomes, it's really not worth getting in a tizzy over.

So, what exactly is the problem? For a start, 1 in 11.7 people are unemployed. Secondly, it's got a crime rate that gives its residents a 1 in 105 chance of being murdered, raped, or attacked. We'll take our chances and stay well away.


6. Garland

If small-town living conjures up images of friendly neighbors, welcoming communities, and good old fashioned values, then you're going to be disappointed with Garland. With just over 1000 residents to its names, it's certainly small.

But as for charming... forget it. According to Home Snacks, Garland ranks as one of the very worst small towns in North Carolina. Why? Its crime rate, for a start. Its unemployment rate isn't exactly attractive either, and as for its poverty rate.... well, it doesn't take a genius to work out that a figure of 53.6% is not good.

Not good at all. Neither is the fact that most homes can only reach an asking price of $67,100 and most households are earning just over $25,000 a year. All in all, a very poor showing.


5. Lexington

Lexington is a town of 18,861 residents and a crime rate that's rapidly spiraling out of control. Residents have a 1 in 23.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

Violent crime is also on the rise, as is unemployment and poverty. The school system is underfunded, the amenities are somewhat limited, and there are no signs of things improving any time soon. Sound like fun to you? No, us neither.


4. Whiteville

Road Snacks ranks Whiteville among the ten most dangerous cities in North Carolina. And indeed, the crime figures are frightening. Residents stand a 1 in 10 chance of having their personal belongings stolen.

The chance of something even worse happening isn't that much better, thanks to a violent crime rate of 1461 crimes per 100k. With unemployment becoming an increasing problem, people are also struggling to make ends meet.


3. Gaston

There might be worse places to live in North Carolina than Gaston, but they're few and far between. What's so bad about it? For a start, there's the unemployment rate, which currently stands at a depressing 14.5%.

Then there's the fact that most households are earning a tiny income of just $31,563. The median home value of $60,900 speaks volumes about the desirability of the town, as does the complete dearth of recreational, cultural, and entertainment opportunities.


2. Wadesboro

Wadesboro is a town in crisis. Crime is growing yearly, with residents now standing a 1 in 53 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. In 2020, the town reported 99 violent assaults, rapes, attacks, and murders.

Not a huge number on first reading, but a massive one when you learn the town has only 5,305 residents in total. Unemployment and poverty are growing in line with the crime figures, with unemployment now standing at a dismal 15.3%.


1. Yanceyville

Like the idea of living somewhere that Road Snacks ranks as one of the very worst small towns in North Carolina? Us neither. Yanceyville is a town in trouble. It's a town with just 2,248 residents but with more problems than a town ten times its size.

Unemployment is a whopping 16.8%, poverty is a tragic 47.9%, and your chance of finding a job that pays more a minute $18,649 is about as slim as finding someone willing to pay more than $88,400 for your house.

Factor in the fact that there's almost nothing to do here, and you're looking at a place that's really best avoided.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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