Best Raleigh Suburbs To Live For 2020

We analyzed over 26 places around Raleigh to identify the most in demand places to live.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best Raleigh suburbs.

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

Big city living isn't for everyone--but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks.

There's the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There's traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing--pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you're looking at.

But that's where the suburbs come in--they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities.

Of course, not all suburbs of Raleigh are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

What's the best suburb of Raleigh? Cary ranks as the best suburb of Raleigh for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Cary, you're probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 Raleigh 'burbs better than the rest--but first, a bit about our methodology.

Note: This result may differ from our state wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a larger selection of suburbs.
Or feel free to check out some more reading about North Carolina:

The 10 Best Raleigh Suburbs To Live For 2020

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 163,266
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $101,079
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Poverty Rate: 5.6%
More on Cary: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cary is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Raleigh area. We'll tell you the good about "Awesome Cary."

Everyone here is rich; families average $101,079 a year, which is the 4th highest in the Raleigh region. And only 3.49% are out of work. Homes average more than $337,700 each.

Review Of Cary by HomeSnacks User

Teacher's in cary are very kind and helpful, and can give you the best education you can get. So far as a child I've lived in cary all my life and I want it to stay like that, you can also get very kind, respectful and caring Neighbors.

My favorite places are either restraints because I love.. food or trampoline parks because they are very fun and enjoyable for about anyone. There isn't really anything to watch out for because Cary, NC is the most safest city in America.

Apex, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 48,254
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $105,404
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Poverty Rate: 5.1%
More on Apex: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Apex is the second best 'burb we looked at near Raleigh for 2020.

It ranks 2nd for incomes in the area and only 3.87% of residents lack insurance, good for 4th best.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 33,341
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $104,822
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Poverty Rate: 3.7%
More on Holly Springs: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Here in Holly Springs, it's really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you'll see in the Raleigh metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Holly Springs.

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 25,007
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $96,489
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
Poverty Rate: 5.8%
More on Morrisville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Morrisville ranks as the 4th best suburb of Raleigh for 2020.

You won't find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in Morrisville and the schools are some of the best around.

Wake Forest, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 40,159
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $88,394
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Poverty Rate: 5.8%
More on Wake Forest: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Wake Forest.

Wake Forest gets kudos for having the 7th most expensive homes in the Raleigh area, where houses sell for an average of $285,000. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 59,561
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $68,640
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
Poverty Rate: 18.9%
More on Chapel Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Chapel Hill is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here's why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 4.12% which is 11th best in the area.

According to online reports, Chapel Hill is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the Raleigh area, meaning you need to get in soon.

Rolesville, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,957
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $114,107
Unemployment Rate: 9.9%
Poverty Rate: 3.0%
More on Rolesville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Rolesville.

Rolesville schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it's only 12.0 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Knightdale, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,198
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $70,376
Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Poverty Rate: 3.1%
More on Knightdale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Knightdale is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 9.13% of people lack insurance, good for 14th in the area.

Carrboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,216
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $59,202
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
Poverty Rate: 14.5%
More on Carrboro: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Is 'Everything Better In Carrboro?'


It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it's really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 25,932
Rank Last Year: -
Median Income: $74,618
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Poverty Rate: 8.1%
More on Fuquay-Varina: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2020 is Fuquay-Varina.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It's far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Raleigh for 2020

Figuring out the best suburbs around Raleigh was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High Median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

Then we used the newest American Community Survey data for 2014-2018 to research each suburb.

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Raleigh.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 26 suburbs to evaluate around Raleigh.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 26 in each category, where 1 was the "best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the best quality of life index the "Best Suburb near Raleigh." We're lookin' at you, Cary. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the best of the best. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from best to worst.

Welcome to the Best Raleigh 'Burbs of 2020

We said it once and we'll say it again--life in the big city isn't for everyone. At least not all the time.

So if you're hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city like Raleigh, but don't want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Raleigh Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Cary, NC 163,266 $101,079
2 Apex, NC 48,254 $105,404
3 Holly Springs, NC 33,341 $104,822
4 Morrisville, NC 25,007 $96,489
5 Wake Forest, NC 40,159 $88,394
6 Chapel Hill, NC 59,561 $68,640
7 Rolesville, NC 6,957 $114,107
8 Knightdale, NC 15,198 $70,376
9 Carrboro, NC 21,216 $59,202
10 Fuquay-Varina, NC 25,932 $74,618
11 Creedmoor, NC 4,429 $77,854
12 Garner, NC 28,731 $61,873
13 Wendell, NC 6,828 $56,011
14 Clayton, NC 20,324 $62,059
15 Archer Lodge, NC 4,771 $64,168
16 Durham, NC 264,310 $55,851
17 Angier, NC 5,376 $45,775
18 Zebulon, NC 5,166 $53,676
19 Louisburg, NC 3,490 $29,941
20 Four Oaks, NC 2,159 $42,788
21 Coats, NC 2,368 $34,688
22 Butner, NC 7,699 $47,647
23 Smithfield, NC 12,117 $36,579
24 Wilson's Mills, NC 2,552 $45,809
25 Franklinton, NC 2,076 $41,500
26 Selma, NC 6,577 $28,440

How Is Your Town In ?

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.