Top 10 Safest Cities in North Carolina

by | Nov 22, 2023

Safest Cities in North Carolina

North Carolina has something for everyone: mountains, beaches, big cities, rural areas, great universities, lots of history, and much more. But does it offer safety? Before you set your sights on the Tarheel State, it’s important to do your research. Where will you find the safest cities in North Carolina? And how can you stay safe?

Is North Carolina Safe?

First things first: is North Carolina a safe place to live?

The simplest way to evaluate the safety of a location is to look at its crime rates. This isn’t a perfect system, as crime data tells an incomplete story, but it’s a good place to start.

According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the state experienced about 25.7 “index crimes” per 1,000 residents in 2022, slightly higher than the national average of 23 per 1,000. Index crimes include the most commonly reported crimes, like larceny, robbery, and murder. However, the Bureau notes that shifting reporting standards mean that the most recent figures don’t include every part of the state.

North Carolina experiences an average level of crime compared with other states. The good news is that this rate has been steadily declining. In fact, every index crime decreased from 2021 to 2022 except larceny (0.2% increase) and motor vehicle theft (6.6% increase).

All told, North Carolina is relatively safe and getting safer. But, of course, evaluating the entire state isn’t very helpful when you’re choosing where to live. For that, we need to look at individual cities.

The Safest Places in North Carolina

Where in the state will you feel the safest? When we say “safest,” in this case, we mean the places with the lowest crime rates. Think of these figures as a good litmus test to gauge how likely you are to experience a peaceful, low-crime life.

Top 10 Safest Cities in North Carolina (Any Size)

Unsurprisingly, small towns and rural areas often report fewer crimes. If your ultimate goal is to find the safest places in North Carolina, regardless of size or amenities, look no further. According to NeighborhoodScout, here are the NC towns with the lowest crime per capita.

  1. Lansing: With a population of 126 residents, Lansing earns the honor of being the safest town in North Carolina. To give you an idea of the bustling life you’d lead there, it contains exactly one stop sign.
  2. Pantego: Destructive tornadoes have plagued this town of 170 people over the past few decades.
  3. Whittier: Although it flourished at the height of the lumber industry, Whittier has become an unincorporated community with just 25 residents.
  4. Milton: Just south of the Virginia border, historic Milton refers to itself as a “museum without walls.”
  5. Seven Springs: This town on the Neuse River has been severely impacted by a series of hurricanes, which led all but 55 residents to leave.
  6. Pinetown: Pinetown sits near the Atlantic coast. It’s a classic small town with a post office, a church, and a few local businesses.
  7. Crossnore: The most notable feature of this town is Crossnore Communities for Children, a foster environment that provides holistic education and healing.
  8. Lowgap: Named for its location among the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lowgap boasts a population of about 90 people.
  9. Jackson Springs: The town’s natural springs once drew enough visitors to warrant a large hotel, which burned down in 1933.
  10. Drexel: Compared to the other towns on this list, Drexel is a booming metropolis of 1,760 residents. It hosts an annual fair every August.

The safest towns in North Carolina are barely large enough to be considered towns. But when you know all of your neighbors, you’re certain to feel safer.

The Safest Cities in North Carolina (Population 25K+)

Small towns aren’t for everyone. If you crave urban or suburban living, you’ll need to look at larger cities. It’s possible to find safe cities in North Carolina with more hustle and bustle… if you know where to look. FBI crime data reveals the top 10 safest NC cities with populations of 25,000 or more.

  1. Holly Springs: 7.3 crimes per 1,000 residents
  2. Wake Forest: 9.0 per 1,000
  3. Cary: 9.7 per 1,000
  4. Apex: 10.3 per 1,000
  5. Fuquay-Varina: 10.4 per 1,000
  6. Morrisville: 13.6 per 1,000
  7. Mint Hill: 15.9 per 1,000
  8. Chapel Hill: 16.0 per 1,000
  9. Huntersville: 17.6 per 1,000
  10. Concord: 17.7 per 1,000

All of these North Carolina cities have index crime rates below the national average. So does the state capital of Raleigh—a noteworthy feat for a city with nearly 500,000 residents.

The Most Dangerous Cities in North Carolina (Population 25K+)

Of course, you can’t talk about the safest cities in North Carolina without also talking about the areas that aren’t as safe. Because crime rates in small towns can get skewed so easily by one bad incident, we’ll keep things simple and focus on cities with a population of 25,000 or more. The same FBI data gives these as the North Carolina cities with the highest crime rates.

  1. Asheville: 70.7 crimes per 1,000 residents
  2. Goldsboro: 66.1 per 1,000
  3. Monroe: 62.1 per 1,000
  4. Burlington: 54.5 per 1,000
  5. Salisbury: 49.1 per 1,000
  6. Hickory: 47.7 per 1,000
  7. Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 46.7 per 1,000
  8. Durham: 45.4 per 1,000
  9. Greensboro: 45.1 per 1,000
  10. Fayetteville: 44.0 per 1,000

As always, take crime statistics with a grain of salt. Crime is a complex thing to track.

Tourist towns like Asheville often have elevated crime rates because they play host to vulnerable visitors who aren’t reflected in the city’s population count. Plus, the type of crime matters, too—for example, Monroe and Fayetteville have the highest violent crime rates.

This list should give you a rough idea of which areas experience more crime than others, but it’s always important to take precautions, no matter where you live.

Where Are the Safest Cities in North Carolina?

Lists are great, but pictures are even better. Take a look at this map to find the safest cities in North Carolina, as well as the most dangerous.

Safest Cities in North Carolina Map

As you can see, the low-crime major cities are clustered in two primary areas—namely, the outskirts of the Raleigh and Charlotte metropolitan areas. Many of the safest small towns are near the borders in more remote locations.

But even within safe areas, you’ll find crime. So it’s smart to protect yourself, regardless.

Stay Safe in North Carolina

Whether you live in one of the safest places in North Carolina or somewhere with more crime, security requires your active participation. These tips can help you stay safe in NC or elsewhere.

  • Install home security cameras backed by live video surveillance. A camera system from Deep Sentinel can watch your home at all times and scare off potential intruders before they can cause harm.
  • Build relationships with your neighbors and community members. You can keep an eye out for each other, notice any unusual activity, and maybe even house-sit.
  • Lock your doors at all times. That includes car doors, back doors, and the door from your garage to your home.
  • Explore Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), which encourages property design choices that discourage criminal activity. Examples include planting thorny bushes, picking up clutter in your yard, and installing floodlights.
  • Get to know your local police and the resources they make available to you. Many cities have crime prevention officers who are happy to give advice.

Remember that crime can happen anywhere, so it’s wise to keep your wits about you and take reasonable precautions. No matter where in North Carolina you call home, these tips can help you stay safe.

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