2016’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina
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.
No state has gone through more 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. Families who place a high premium on education and a bright future therefore would be in the right place, where child safety is also a high priority. 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 ninth 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 85 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||71.36||57||7||7||3|
|9||Wake Forest, NC||66.85||45||13||13||12|
|18||Chapel Hill, NC||61.86||12||50||14||25|
|23||Indian Trail, NC||58.42||51||71||24||7|
|25||Mint Hill, NC||57.89||83||36||18||9|
|29||Southern Pines, NC||53.70||26||20||34||46|
|35||Piney Green, NC||50.53||18||6||55||24|
|37||Kings Mountain, NC||50.26||81||8||39||57|
|38||Hope Mills, NC||50.17||38||47||32||52|
|40||Mount Holly, NC||49.56||72||29||30||64|
|41||Spring Lake, NC||49.39||1||61||65||39|
|50||New Bern, NC||47.44||13||28||61||62|
|54||Roanoke Rapids, NC||46.02||32||85||31||47|
|56||High Point, NC||44.89||55||57||51||51|
|68||Mount Airy, NC||42.58||25||22||84||55|
|77||Rocky Mount, NC||37.10||56||64||56||80|
|84||Elizabeth City, NC||27.84||64||69||83||81|
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 they live in?
To help families find the best North Carolina cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared 85 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 calculated overall scores for each city using the weighted average across all metrics, which we then used to construct our final ranking.
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
- Number of 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.
- Percentage 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)
- Number of Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Percentage of Children Aged 0 to 17 Lacking Health¬-Insurance Coverage: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- 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)
- Percentage of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Percentage of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Percentage 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, North Carolina Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.
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