The 10 Best Durham Suburbs To Live For 2021

We analyzed over 22 places around Durham to identify the most in demand places to live.

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best Durham suburbs.

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 Durham are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado...

Here are the 10 best suburbs to live around Durham for 2021:

  1. Apex
  2. Cary
  3. Holly Springs
  4. Morrisville
  5. Wake Forest
  6. Chapel Hill
  7. Rolesville
  8. Fuquay-Varina
  9. Carrboro
  10. Creedmoor

What's the best suburb of Durham? Apex ranks as the best suburb of Durham for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Apex, you're probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We'll tell you what makes each of these 10 Durham '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.

Feel free to check out some more reading about North Carolina:

The 10 Best Durham Suburbs To Live For 2021

Apex, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 51,370
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $111,435
Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
Poverty Rate: 5.2%
More on Apex: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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

Everyone here is rich; families average $111,435 a year, which is the 3rd highest in the Durham region. And only 2.96% are out of work. Homes average more than $327,800 each.

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 166,268
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $104,669
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 4.8%
More on Cary: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cary is the second best 'burb we looked at near Durham for 2021.

It ranks 4th for incomes in the area and only 5.66% of residents lack insurance, good for 8th best.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 34,874
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $112,029
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Poverty Rate: 3.4%
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 Durham 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: 26,280
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $101,738
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Poverty Rate: 7.0%
More on Morrisville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Morrisville ranks as the 4th best suburb of Durham for 2021.

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: 42,111
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $92,210
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
Poverty Rate: 5.3%
More on Wake Forest: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Wake Forest.

Wake Forest gets kudos for having the 8th most expensive homes in the Durham area, where houses sell for an average of $297,300. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 60,998
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $73,614
Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
Poverty Rate: 19.5%
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 3.38% which is 5th best in the area.

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

Rolesville, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,488
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $119,615
Unemployment Rate: 7.9%
Poverty Rate: 2.0%
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 25.0 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 27,426
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Median Income: $79,000
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Poverty Rate: 7.0%
More on Fuquay-Varina: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fuquay-Varina 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 6.27% of people lack insurance, good for 11th in the area.

Carrboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,230
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $58,702
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Poverty Rate: 15.7%
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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,501
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $78,330
Unemployment Rate: 0.7%
Poverty Rate: 10.0%
More on Creedmoor: Real Estate | Data

And rounding out the top ten for 2021 is Creedmoor.

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 Durham for 2021

Figuring out the best suburbs around Durham 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 2015-2019 to research each suburb.

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

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 24 suburbs to evaluate around Durham.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 24 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 Durham." We're lookin' at you, Apex. 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 Durham 'Burbs of 2021

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 Durham, 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 Durham Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Apex, NC 51,370 $111,435
2 Cary, NC 166,268 $104,669
3 Holly Springs, NC 34,874 $112,029
4 Morrisville, NC 26,280 $101,738
5 Wake Forest, NC 42,111 $92,210
6 Chapel Hill, NC 60,998 $73,614
7 Rolesville, NC 7,488 $119,615
8 Fuquay-Varina, NC 27,426 $79,000
9 Carrboro, NC 21,230 $58,702
10 Creedmoor, NC 4,501 $78,330
11 Raleigh, NC 464,485 $67,266
12 Garner, NC 29,462 $65,064
13 Knightdale, NC 16,001 $69,684
14 Mebane, NC 14,952 $64,726
15 Pittsboro, NC 4,195 $44,399
16 Hillsborough, NC 7,115 $64,598
17 Youngsville, NC 2,003 $50,956
18 Haw River, NC 2,458 $40,560
19 Graham, NC 14,925 $36,310
20 Oxford, NC 8,721 $38,606
21 Green Level, NC 2,129 $36,856
22 Butner, NC 7,727 $45,366
23 Franklinton, NC 2,260 $39,018
24 Roxboro, NC 8,298 $31,427

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.