10 Best Places To Raise A Family In North Carolina For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in North Carolina have the best set up for children: a lot to do, good schools, and no crime.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for . This is our second time ranking the best cities for families in North Carolina.

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Childhood. This time in people’s lives is most often referred to as the most magical time of life.

Remember stopping by Krispy Kreme on the way home from middle school to get freshly made donuts filled with Cheerwine-flavored jelly? Did you spend your long, hot summer nights chasing fireflies as the heat lightning chased across the sky?

Perhaps you spent time studying with an order of Chick-fil-A waffle fries next to your textbooks. Or maybe you set up an Eno under the piers scattered along the beaches. Was your favorite summer activity tubing along rivers in the mountains?

If this preamble didn’t bring up fond memories, you may not be from North Carolina, a state that can make childhood truly magical.

Why else is North Carolina a great state for families? North Carolina is an affordable state with lots of job prospects and amazing colleges. Vacations are diverse, cheap, and close by.

You can live out in the country in North Carolina and live within 15 minutes of a city. You can have houses with a lot of land or live in downtown apartments. You can send your kids to public school, private school, charter school, or even join the NC masses in homeschooling.

No matter where you pick, North Carolina is a great choice for raising your kids. But which cities are the best of the best for the family?

We looked at 60 cities in terms of “family-friendliness,” i.e. crime levels, schools, etc, and we had a clear winner: Cary, North Carolina.

If you are from North Carolina, you probably would have guessed Cary in an instant. It is one of the safest cities in America and is like one large, happy suburb packed with other happy families. The schools are great, the jobs are excellent, and the neighborhoods are safe. What more could you ask for?

If you are looking for the small-town vibe, Davidson, NC, ranks second on our list, followed by Concord, NC. These towns are close to Charlotte so you can have a night on the town without driving a few hours.

Interested in seeing how your favorite North Carolina city ranked? Read on to learn more about our methodology and to see why each of our top cities are the best for families for 2019.

Or, check out some more reading about North Carolina and the best places for families in the country:

How do you determine which place is best for families in North Carolina anyways?

To give you the places in North Carolina which are best for families, we have to look at a handful of metrics. Of course, we want to measure the type of people who live in each city, and make some assumptions about what’s family-friendly and what isn’t.

So we researched the internet for a database that contains all that information.

How we crunched the family friendly numbers for the Tar Heel State

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using U.S. Census data produced for the state of North Carolina, we looked at every single city in the state. We paid particular attention to:

  • Crime (Both violent and property)
  • Quality of local schools
  • Distance to a major city without necessarily being in it
  • % of households with children
  • Family-friendly amenities nearby (museums, libraries and colleges)

We then gave each city a Family Score.

The higher the score, the better the city is for families. We also limited our results to cities with populations over 10,000 people. For North Carolina, that meant a total of 60 cities.

Read on to see why Cary is where all the families are headed, while Reidsville is probably a place made for singles.

The 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In North Carolina For 2019

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 159,715
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 31
Closest Major City: Raleigh
Households with kids: 38.1%
More on Cary: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Cary is the seventh-largest municipality in North Carolina. Cary is predominantly in Wake, with a small area in Chatham counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina and is the county’s second-largest municipality and the third-largest municipality in The Triangle after Raleigh and Durham. The town’s population was 135,234 as of the 2010 census, making it the largest town and seventh-largest municipality statewide. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the town’s population to be 159,769 as of July 1, 2015. Cary is the second most populous incorporated town in the United States.

Review Of Cary by HomeSnacks User

I grew up in Cary and lived there until I moved away for college. It is a town that I would recommend to anyone for any reason. Cary is a place for everyone, great for seniors, great for raising kids, and great for young adults and professionals. The schools are fantastic, there is a great selection of food, activities, and experiences. It was a wonderful place for me to grow up and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for their forever home.

The schools in Cary were excellent, providing high quality education and service to the community. There are also various restaurants catering to different national cuisine. The only issue I’ve had as a young adult going back to Cary is that there is very little nightlife and the young adult population is on the lower end, mostly being kids coming home from college while on breaks. This is not unmanageable, as a city with a bustling nightlife is nearby, about 15 minutes away.

Davidson, NC

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 12,325
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 33
Closest Major City: Charlotte
Households with kids: 34.2%
More on Davidson: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Davidson is a lakeside town on Lake Norman in northern Mecklenburg County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 10,944 at the 2010 census. It is home to Davidson College. The town is centered on the college from which it takes its name.

Concord, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 87,607
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 67
Closest Major City: Charlotte
Households with kids: 37.7%
More on Concord: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Concord is a city in Cabarrus County, in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 79,066, with an estimated population in 2016 of over, 89,891. It is the county seat and the largest city in Cabarrus County. In terms of population, the city of Concord is the second-largest city in the Charlotte Metropolitan Area and is the eleventh largest city in North Carolina.

Wake Forest, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 38,473
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 49
Closest Major City: Raleigh
Households with kids: 46.4%
More on Wake Forest: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Wake Forest is a town in Franklin and Wake counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina; located almost entirely in Wake County, it lies just north of the state capital, Raleigh. The population was 30,117 at the 2010 census, up from 12,588 at the 2000 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the city’s population to be 34,752 as of July 1, 2013. In 2007, the town was listed by Forbes magazine as the 20th fastest growing suburb in America, with a 73.2 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2006. Wake Forest was the original home of Wake Forest University for 122 years before it moved to Winston-Salem in 1956.

Lincolnton, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,574
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
Closest Major City: Charlotte
Households with kids: 30.1%
More on Lincolnton: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Lincolnton is a small city in Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States, within the Charlotte metropolitan area. The population was 10,683 at the 2010 census. Lincolnton is northwest of Charlotte, on the South Fork of the Catawba River. The junction of State Highway 27 and U.S. Route 321 is located nearby. The city is the county seat of Lincoln County, and is the only legally incorporated municipality wholly within the rural county.

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 59,234
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 73
Closest Major City: Durham
Households with kids: 24.8%
More on Chapel Hill: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Chapel Hill is a town in Orange and Durham counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Its population was 57,233 in the 2010 census, making Chapel Hill the 15th-largest city in the state. Chapel Hill, Durham, and the state capital, Raleigh, make up the corners of the Research Triangle, with a total population of 1,998,808.

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 23,873
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 41
Closest Major City: Durham
Households with kids: 47.1%
More on Morrisville: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Morrisville is a town located in both Wake and Durham counties of the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 18,576 at the 2010 census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the town’s population to be 21,932 as of July 1, 2013. Morrisville is part of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional name originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located midway between the cities of Raleigh and Durham. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau’s Combined Statistical Area of Raleigh-Durham-Cary. The estimated population of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA was 1,565,223 as of July 1, 2006, with the Raleigh-Cary Metropolitan Statistical Area portion estimated at 994,551 residents. The U.S. headquarters of Chinese multinational Lenovo are located in the municipal limits.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 14,970
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 55
Closest Major City: Charlotte
Households with kids: 42.2%
More on Stallings: Homes For Sale | Data

Stallings is a suburban town in Union and Mecklenburg counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 13,831 at the 2010 census.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 31,827
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 49
Closest Major City: Raleigh
Households with kids: 53.7%
More on Holly Springs: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Holly Springs is a town in Wake County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 24,661, over 2 times its population in 2000.

Review Of Holly Springs by Le Dork

Yay, i live in a good town in NC! Holly Springs…

Tarboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,038
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 36
Closest Major City: Raleigh
Households with kids: 25.0%
More on Tarboro: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Tarboro is a town located in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is part of the Rocky Mount Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 11,415. It is the county seat of Edgecombe County. Tarboro is located near the western edge of North Carolina’s coastal plain. It has many historical churches, some dating from the early 19th century.

Review Of Tarboro by Paschasia Basemore

I live in North Carolina and in Tarboro and Tarboro looks nothing like that today the worst city to live in Rocky Mount where the crime rate is extremely high y’all fail to mention that

There You Have It – The Best Places To Raise A Family In North Carolina

If you’re looking for a breakdown of cities in North Carolina ranked by criteria that most would agree make a place a great spot for families, this is an accurate list.

Here’s a look at the best cities for singles North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Reidsville
  2. Mount Airy
  3. Kernersville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

How Is The Area In ?

Detailed List Of The Best Places For Families In North Carolina

Rank City Population Amenities Score
1 Cary, NC 159,715 36
2 Davidson, NC 12,325 33
3 Concord, NC 87,607 42
4 Wake Forest, NC 38,473 31
5 Lincolnton, NC 10,574 58
6 Chapel Hill, NC 59,234 49
7 Morrisville, NC 23,873 59
8 Stallings, NC 14,970 54
9 Holly Springs, NC 31,827 33
10 Tarboro, NC 11,038 37
11 Apex, NC 45,899 52
12 Waxhaw, NC 13,343 32
13 Mooresville, NC 36,577 40
14 Knightdale, NC 14,363 59
15 Huntersville, NC 53,302 57
16 Clayton, NC 19,306 46
17 Jacksonville, NC 73,661 53
18 High Point, NC 109,849 42
19 Pinehurst, NC 15,580 48
20 Albemarle, NC 15,874 68
21 Smithfield, NC 11,824 69
22 Asheboro, NC 25,863 63
23 Mint Hill, NC 25,600 30
24 Archdale, NC 11,509 42
25 New Bern, NC 29,664 69
26 Mount Holly, NC 14,948 50
27 Henderson, NC 15,009 57
28 Newton, NC 12,991 42
29 Matthews, NC 30,760 57
30 Carrboro, NC 21,099 38
31 Fayetteville, NC 210,324 64
32 Rocky Mount, NC 55,373 69
33 Greensboro, NC 284,816 85
34 Kings Mountain, NC 10,929 32
35 Belmont, NC 11,373 47
36 Hickory, NC 40,157 55
37 Eden, NC 15,235 46
38 Southern Pines, NC 13,426 51
39 Kannapolis, NC 46,498 42
40 Lenoir, NC 17,890 40
41 Garner, NC 28,048 60
42 Durham, NC 257,232 71
43 Goldsboro, NC 35,432 47
44 Havelock, NC 20,404 57
45 Kinston, NC 21,004 77
46 Thomasville, NC 26,901 61
47 Greenville, NC 90,347 59
48 Wilmington, NC 115,261 71
49 Asheville, NC 89,318 73
50 Roanoke Rapids, NC 15,107 35
51 Gastonia, NC 74,381 66
52 Boone, NC 18,493 35
53 Mebane, NC 14,426 49
54 Hendersonville, NC 13,620 65
55 Leland, NC 18,023 55
56 Burlington, NC 52,813 59
57 Hope Mills, NC 16,106 31
58 Kernersville, NC 23,988 35
59 Mount Airy, NC 10,198 53
60 Reidsville, NC 13,933 31

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