15 Safest Cities in North Carolina
October 01st, 2022
Safety is always a priority when looking for a new home. Sure, it's nice to snag a deal on your dream home, but finding a safe community will always be more critical. To make your decision easier, we've researched and ranked the safest cities in North Carolina based on six factors:
- Violent crime rate
- Nonviolent crime rate
- Median household income
- Poverty rate
- Cost of living
- Population density
We scored the 30 most populated cities in North Carolina, sourcing data from the FBI, U.S. Census, and Best Places. Safety is just one factor to consider when buying a house, but it's hard to gauge when you're unfamiliar with an area.
Consult our guide when looking for a home in North Carolina to help you make safer choices and find the perfect home for the next chapter of your life.
Methodology disclaimer: We've included indirect factors like poverty rates to broaden our scale. However, these factors are weighted less than crime rates because poverty rates and income alone don’t determine whether or not a city is safe. We break down how each element was weighted in our methodology section.
Table of Contents:
- Safest Cities in North Carolina
- Other Cities in North Carolina
5 Safest Cities in North Carolina
Violent Crime Rate per 100K
Nonviolent Crime Rate per 100K
UpHomes Safety Rank
1. Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 52 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 833 per 100,000 residents
Fuquay-Varina is a smaller city in North Carolina. It draws people looking for small-town charm with access to all the conveniences (and fun!) of living in a city.
Fuquay-Varina is less than 20 miles from Raleigh. It ranks second for the lowest rates of both violent and nonviolent crimes in our research. Although the cost of living is 1.6% more expensive than the national average, the median income is 23% higher in Fuquay-Varina. These factors earn it our ranking as the safest place to live in North Carolina.
2. Apex, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 48 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 1,135 per 100,000 residents
Located west of Raleigh, Apex is a great midsize city to move to in North Carolina and ranks number two on our list. According to our research, Apex has the lowest violent crime rate and fifth lowest nonviolent crime rate of all the cities we studied.
3. Holly Springs, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 57 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 857 per 100,000 residents
Holly Springs is a town in Wake County where residents boast about access to multicultural events, sports, and a growing downtown space. According to our rankings, it’s the third safest town in North Carolina.
Holly Springs is well-rounded, with the fourth lowest violent crime rate and third lowest nonviolent crime rates, low poverty rates, and the second highest median income on our list.
4. Cary, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 56 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 947 per 100,000 residents
Cary is the second largest city in Wake County after Raleigh. Despite being the second most densely populated city in our study, Cary ranks third for the lowest violent crime rate and fourth for lowest nonviolent crime rate. However, cost of living and population density are high, so Cary is number four for safety overall.
The future in Cary is bright, as it’s expected to receive almost $12 million in federal funding to improve public transit infrastructure. The Cary Community Plan also projects many improvements across the city, such as historic preservation, which should be completed by 2040.
5. Concord, North Carolina
County: Cabarrus County
Violent Crime Rate: 83 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 1,300 per 100,000 residents
With a population of just over 100,000 residents, Concord is the largest city in Cabarrus County and the second largest city in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Concord clocks in with the fifth lowest violent crime rate, seventh lowest nonviolent crime rate, and fifth overall on our list of safest cities in North Carolina.
Concord is the sixth fastest-growing city in North Carolina, with a 33% growth rate between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. The city is working on three new housing projects downtown, which are slated for completion by spring 2024.
6. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
County: Forsyth County
Violent Crime Rate: 107 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 825 per 100,000 residents
West of Greensboro in Forsyth County you’ll find Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Full of historic museums and homes to explore, Winston-Salem also ranks number one on our list for the lowest rate of nonviolent crime and sixth for violent crime and overall safety.
It also has a very low cost of living, hanging 18.7% below the national average. Winston-Salem is also home to Wake Forest University, making it a great place for younger populations or those who prefer a quiet summer.
7. Wake Forest, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 113 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 1,140 per 100,000 residents
Just north of Raleigh, Wake Forest ranks seventh on our list for violent crime rates, sixth for nonviolent crime rates, and seventh for overall safety. Coming in second for the lowest poverty rate on our list, Wake Forest is a commuter city that benefits from the many job opportunities in the Research Triangle.
Wake Forest is proposing a $75 million budget to improve parks and recreation, roadways and transportation, greenways, and parking opportunities throughout the city. These projects will be on the ballot in November 2022.
8. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
County: Orange and Durham Counties
Violent Crime Rate: 128 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 1,906 per 100,000 residents
Chapel Hill is a lively college city home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The area’s violent and nonviolent crime rates are low when considering the very high population density — Chapel Hill is ranked the third most densely populated city on our list, and comes in eighth lowest for violent crime and ninth lowest for nonviolent crime.
Despite relatively low crime rates, this city’s on the second half of our list due to the cost of living. The cost of living in Chapel Hill is 18.4% more expensive than the national average and has a high cost of living compared to the rest of North Carolina.
9. Mooresville, North Carolina
County: Iredell County
Violent Crime Rate: 138 per 100,000
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 1,917 per 100,000
Mooresville, North Carolina is the largest city in Iredell County. While Mooresville has a relatively high cost of living at 6.8% above the national average, its poverty rate is lower than both national and state rates.
Mooresville has low crime rates relative to its high population density — it’s ranked 10th for both violent and nonviolent crime. Although it’s in a different county than Charlotte, it’s considered a part of the Charlotte metropolitan area.
10. Kannapolis, North Carolina
County: Cabarrus and Rowan Counties
Violent Crime Rate: 187 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 2,707 per 100,000 residents
Coming in at number 10 on our list, Kannapolis is a city in North Carolina where the cost of living is more than 15% lower than the national average. It’s ranked 11th for violent crime and 13th for nonviolent crime.
From its roots as a manufacturing center, Kannapolis’ economy is now oriented toward health sciences. The North Carolina Research Campus is home to eight different university programs, and brings many research, education, and other health science job opportunities to Kannapolis.
11. Jacksonville, North Carolina
County: Onslow County
Violent Crime Rate: 258 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 2,067 per 100,000 residents
Jacksonville is seated in Onslow County and contains Camp Lejeune, a large Marine Corps base. The cost of living is 15.7% less expensive than the national cost of living and the economy is stable because of the close proximity to Camp Lejeune. It’s ranked 12th for violent and nonviolent crime, making it the 11th safest city in North Carolina overall.
Jacksonville is a coastal city with easy access to the ocean and the New River. Along with the low cost of living, the city of Jacksonville offers down payment assistance to qualified buyers looking to purchase homes in the downtown area as part of its Neighborhood Housing Initiative.
12. Raleigh, North Carolina
County: Wake County
Violent Crime Rate: 314 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 2,029 per 100,000 residents
Raleigh is the most densely populated and second largest of all the cities on our list. Especially for such a high population and population density, rates of violent and nonviolent crime in Raleigh are relatively low, coming in at 13th and 11th, respectively.
13. Greenville, North Carolina
County: Pitt County
Violent Crime Rate: 405 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 2,927 per 100,000 residents
In addition to being one of the safest cities in North Carolina, residents love Greenville for its affordability and abundance of bike lanes. Transportation is very affordable, with bus fare running from free to $2. There might even be a passenger rail system in Greenville’s future, with a feasibility study currently underway.
Diving deeper into our methodology, Greenville ranks 15th on our list for both violent crime rates and nonviolent crime rates, but its very low cost of living earns it the rank of 13th safest city on our list. Greenville is ideal if you’re looking for a safe, affordable city with a promising future.
14. High Point, North Carolina
County: Guilford, Randolph, Davidson, and Forsyth Counties
Violent Crime Rate: 487 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 3,055 per 100,000 residents
Most of High Point, North Carolina is in Guilford County, though it’s the only city in North Carolina to span four counties. It was once the home furnishings capital of the world, but now the industries that fuel High Point are more diverse, including education, banking, and technology.
High Point ranks 17th on our list for both violent and nonviolent crime. The cost of living in this city is very low, at 18.2% below national data, earning it its spot as the 14th safest city on our list.
15. Hickory, North Carolina
County: Catawba County
Violent Crime Rate: 370 per 100,000 residents
Nonviolent Crime Rate: 3,990 per 100,000 residents
Hickory is a town you’ll find north of Charlotte, and ranks 15th for overall safety on our list. The city has been working on improvements like a 10-mile combined city walk, art walk, and river walk and a downtown revitalization project.
Other Safe Cities in North Carolina
These cities didn’t make our top 15 ranking for safest cities in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a good fit for your next home.
- Wilmington, North Carolina
- Wilson, North Carolina
- Salisbury, North Carolina
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Greensboro, North Carolina
- Durham, North Carolina
- Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Burlington, North Carolina
- Gastonia, North Carolina
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Monroe, North Carolina
- Goldsboro, North Carolina
To evaluate the safest city in North Carolina, we gathered data from the 30 most populous cities in the state. Indian Trail, NC was excluded from the dataset due to a lack of information about crime rates, and Huntersville, NC was excluded due to environmental risks from the 2020 pipeline spill.
We sourced population and economic data from U.S. Census 2021 estimates, crime data from the FBI Crime Data Explorer, and cost of living from the Best Places Cost of Living Index.
We analyzed the following factors and weighted them as noted:
- Violent crime rate: 45%
- Nonviolent crime rate: 30%
- Cost of living: 10%
- Median household income: 5%
- Poverty rate: 5%
- Population density: 5%
Feel at Home With UpHomes
From sunny weather to a low cost of living, there are so many reasons that over 10 million people call North Carolina home. That’s why we’ve compiled the safest cities and towns in North Carolina so you can make the best choice for you and your family.
Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.