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.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. 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:

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

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 159,715
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
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


Population: 12,325
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
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.

Review Of Davidson by HomeSnacks User

ive. Does have some problems, but at least it has not run all its middle class and minority people away like Davidson. Lived in Davidson from 1980 to 2015. Loved it! Well, loved it most of the time. Was a great small town for most of that time, but in the last 10 years or so, my ability to live there was not financially viable.

Couldn’t retire there.

When I moved to Davidson, I might see a dozen cars between Exit 30 and Sunset Road. I am happy that Davidson is moving in the direction their citizens embrace. Change is always happening. And I am sure my friends, long time residents and new arrivals are thrilled to be there.

Concord, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 87,607
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 60
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


Population: 38,473
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 45
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


Population: 10,574
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 45
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


Population: 59,234
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 58
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


Population: 23,873
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 57
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


Population: 14,970
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 36
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


Population: 31,827
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 48
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.

Tarboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,038
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 59
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.

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.

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:

Where Are The Best Places For Families In North Carolina?

Rank City Population Amenities Score
1 Cary, NC 159,715 47
2 Davidson, NC 12,325 49
3 Concord, NC 87,607 41
4 Wake Forest, NC 38,473 55
5 Lincolnton, NC 10,574 61
6 Chapel Hill, NC 59,234 64
7 Morrisville, NC 23,873 58
8 Stallings, NC 14,970 38
9 Holly Springs, NC 31,827 46
10 Tarboro, NC 11,038 58

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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