When looking for a place to call home, many families look for quality education, natural beauty and a thriving economy with diverse opportunities. North Carolina hits all those marks and more, increasingly becoming a great state for raising children.
North Carolina has gone through enormous changes in the past 50 years. Once a primarily agrarian state, North Carolina has grown into a hub for technology, finance, universities and college-educated young adults. Some of North Carolina’s key industries now include aerospace and defense, information technology and biotechnology. But the massive demographic shifts in recent decades are also affecting the election in a big way — turning North Carolina into a swing state in 2016 — and helping North Carolina’s GDP balloon into the twelfth largest in the nation.
In light of the sweeping transformation of the Tar Heel State that have made it an attractive home for families, WalletHub’s analysts compared 87 of its cities based on 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. They range from “median family income” to “housing affordability” to “quality of school system.” Continue reading below for the complete ranking, expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|5||Holly Springs, NC||72.18||48||9||4||7|
|9||Wake Forest, NC||68.69||49||12||13||9|
|17||Indian Trail, NC||63.86||36||52||16||10|
|19||Chapel Hill, NC||63.33||22||21||19||27|
|25||Myrtle Grove, NC||60.68||53||1||47||17|
|29||Mint Hill, NC||56.86||87||27||30||15|
|31||Southern Pines, NC||55.64||45||34||24||51|
|46||Mount Airy, NC||50.26||33||38||55||50|
|51||Mount Holly, NC||48.77||74||28||59||40|
|54||Piney Green, NC||47.15||30||7||79||38|
|56||New Bern, NC||46.87||28||43||70||56|
|57||Hope Mills, NC||46.82||34||48||58||60|
|60||High Point, NC||46.46||59||65||48||61|
|65||Kings Mountain, NC||44.20||71||23||71||73|
|68||Spring Lake, NC||43.41||9||67||80||62|
|72||Rocky Mount, NC||42.04||52||71||54||74|
|75||Elizabeth City, NC||41.17||64||58||60||76|
|82||Roanoke Rapids, NC||33.29||57||87||81||71|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective North Carolina cities on a family’s shortlist. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in North Carolina?
- How can local officials in North Carolina make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within North Carolina, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best North Carolina cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared 87 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socioeconomics.
We evaluated these categories using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 indicating the most suitable conditions for family life.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
In determining our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area. Other cities were not included in the sample due to limited data access.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of children aged 0 to 18 lacking health-insurance coverage.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the median annual family income by housing costs, which account for both rental and sale prices.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the median family income by the cost-of-living index.
Socioeconomics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.
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