North Carolina’s 20 Safest Cities of 2021

The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.

Here are the 10 safest cities in North Carolina for 2021

1. Holly Springs
2. Elon
3. Pinehurst
4. Wake Forest
5. Davidson
6. Cary
7. Wendell
8. Winterville
9. Fuquay-Varina
10. Morrisville

See if your city made the full list.

In our 2021 State of Safety survey, 56% of respondents in North Carolina said they worried daily about their safety, which is a slight drop compared to last year (57%) but still higher than the national average of 47%.

North Carolina residents also reported fewer personal experiences with crimes and violence—most notably a 58% drop in experiences with property crime year over year. The state's crime rates also moved downward, though property crime rates remained above regional and national averages.

Experience with property crime plummeted 58% year over year in The Tar Heel State.

2021 North Carolina crime rates

North Carolina's violent crime rate went down slightly this year, dropping from 3.8 per 1,000 people to 3.7, representing a decrease of 215 crimes statewide. The state's property crime rate saw a larger decline from 24.9 per 1,000 to 23.6.

In the South Atlantic region, North Carolina's violent crime rate matched the regional average but was the fourth-lowest above Virginia (2.1), West Virginia (3.2), and Georgia (3.4). As for property crime, North Carolina had the third-highest rate below South Carolina (29.4) and Georgia (23.8).

On a national level, North Carolina's violent crime rate matches the national average while its property crime rate is above the national average.

Level of concern and experience with crime in North Carolina

Compared to last year's survey, North Carolinians were slightly less concerned about their safety on a daily basis—but still above the national average. While respondents reported fewer experiences with crime, violent crime and gun violence made only incremental improvements in the last 12 months. Experiences with property crime, however, saw a massive downward swing, making a 58% improvement overall.

Crime concerns in North Carolina

We asked North Carolina residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if North Carolina residents are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.

View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.

Violent crime in North Carolina: Fear vs. reality

North Carolina beats or matches the national average for violent crime, which could explain why a majority of residents feel safe in their home state. But survey respondents do express slightly higher levels of concern for gun violence and police violence happening to them than typical Americans.

  • 55% of residents in North Carolina reported feeling safe in their state, which matches the sentiment of Americans as a whole.
  • 10% of North Carolinians reported having a personal experience with violent crime in the past 12 months—down from 11% last year.
  • As with most states, murder is the least common violent crime in The Old North State, making up 2% of violent crimes (US 1%)—the state's 20 safest cities also averaged 2%.
  • Rape makes up 8% of violent crimes in North Carolina (US 8%). The 20 safest cities have a higher number of instances at 13%.
  • 35% of residents in North Carolina report using some form of personal protection like pepper spray—just above the US average (34%).
  • 44% of survey participants say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 44% of Americans.

Attitudes about police and gun violence in North Carolina

  • 55% of people in North Carolina said gun violence was a top safety concern—slightly higher than the US average of 53%.
  • 6% of survey respondents reported experiencing gun violence in the last 12 months, a small decrease from 7% last year.
  • There were 20 mass shootings in North Carolina in 2020, an 81% increase from 11 in 2019.
  • 43% of North Carolina residents worry about police violence daily—higher than the US average of 40%.
  • 56% of North Carolinians reported having confidence in law enforcement—the same as the US average.
  • There were 88 officer-involved shootings in 2020, up from 79 in 2019.

Property crime in North Carolina: Fear vs. reality

North Carolina residents in our survey reported far fewer personal experiences with property crime year over year. This reflects a downward trend in the state's property crime rate over the past few years. But burglary does appear to be more common in North Carolina than other states.

  • North Carolinians reported 2.4 times fewer personal experiences with property crime this year (10%) compared to last year (24%).
  • Burglary accounts for 22% of all property crimes in The Tar Heel State (the 20 safest cities average 14%), which is higher than the national rate of 16%.
  • 16% of participants reported experiencing package theft, putting North Carolina below the US average of 20%.
  • 60% of people in North Carolina use some form of property protection—close to the national average of 62%.
  • The top form of property protection in North Carolina this year was security systems with 29% of survey participants using them. This is above the national average of 25%.
  • 28% of residents in North Carolina say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the security of their property compared to the US average of 29%.

A closer look at the safest cities in North Carolina

For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.

  • We didn't have a list of safest cities in North Carolina last year when the FBI deemed the state's data underreported, so there aren't any ranking changes to report this year.
  • Holly Springs takes the top spot this year thanks to it having the lowest property crime rate in the state and the third-lowest violent crime rate.
  • Half of the safest cities have populations over 20,000—most safest cities in other states tend to be smaller in size.
  • Cary, North Carolina's seventh-largest city, is the largest city in the top 20—it's unusual for a city of this size (population 172,525) to make the list in any state.
  • Morrisville had the lowest violent crime rate in the state (0.4).
  • 90% of the safest cities had fewer than 100 total violent crimes this year while 4 cities reported violent crimes using single digits—Elon, Davidson, Wendell, and Winterville.
  • There were 14 reported murders among the safest cities.
  • 4 of the safest cities reported less than 100 total property crimes—Wendell, Elon, Boiling Spring Lakes, and Winterville.
  • 75% of the safest cities reported fewer than 500 total property crimes.

The 20 Safest Cities in North Carolina

North Carolina did not report violent crime or property crime numbers before the latest reporting year. Only the most recent data is reflected below.

#1
Holly Springs
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    38,577
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $104,822
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.6
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    6.6
#2
Elon
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    12,214
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $59,962
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.7
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    6.7
#3
Pinehurst
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    16,522
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $75,284
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.7
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    6.8
#4
Wake Forest
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    46,145
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $88,394
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.5
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    8.5
#5
Davidson
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    13,193
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $128,255
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.6
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.2
#6
Cary
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    172,525
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $101,079
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.7
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.0
#7
Wendell
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    8,096
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $56,011
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.7
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.5
#8
Winterville
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    9,922
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $72,584
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.9
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    8.7
#9
Fuquay-Varina
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    30,977
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $74,618
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.8
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.5
#10
Morrisville
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    28,796
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $96,489
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.4
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    13.2
#11
Apex
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    56,276
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $105,404
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.9
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.4
#12
Waxhaw
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    17,203
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $107,356
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.5
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    9.1
#13
Stallings
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    16,173
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $82,753
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.2
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    12.3
#14
Chapel Hill
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    61,457
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $68,640
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    0.9
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    15.1
#15
Boone
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    19,893
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $19,574
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.3
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    13.1
#16
Boiling Spring Lakes
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    6,238
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $57,984
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.6
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    13.3
#17
Concord
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    96,138
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $63,707
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.2
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    16.5
#18
Huntersville
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    58,512
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $97,320
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.4
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    16.2
#19
Mint Hill
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    27,776
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $70,425
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    2.1
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    13.8
#20
Oak Island
(
NEW
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    8,244
  • Circle Dollar
    Median Income
    $64,778
  • Circle Gun
    VC Rate 2021
    1.8
  • Circle Property
    PC Rate 2021
    16.4

How we determined the safest cities

Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your city made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about home security. Learn more about your home security options—and find out which companies we recommend for every budget and lifestyle in our roundup of the Best Home Security Systems.

Didn't find your city in the top 20?

We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.

NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.

2021 Rank
City
Population
VC per 1,000Icon Tooltip  Dark
PC per 1,000Icon Tooltip  Dark
21Black Mountain8.19K1.023.1
22Bessemer City5.55K2.315.3
23Clayton23.84K1.720.8
24Knightdale18.35K2.317.8
25Gibsonville7.36K2.318.5
26Raleigh477.83K2.617.8
27Mooresville38.97K1.726.9
28Mocksville5.32K2.620.5
29Brevard7.93K2.323.7
30Kings Mountain10.97K1.431.3
31King6.88K1.332.3
32Kannapolis50.73K2.622.8
33Cherryville6.06K2.625.2
34Butner7.85K4.214.4
35Havelock20.13K2.626.6
36Matthews33.37K1.733.3
37Southern Pines14.52K3.225.2
38Garner31.14K2.534.6
39Kill Devil Hills7.27K2.638.7
40Newton13.15K3.534.8
41Carolina Beach6.44K4.529.1
42Mebane16.20K2.842.6
43New Bern30.19K4.133.1
44Wilson49.34K4.531.3
45Greenville94.19K4.630.1
46Marion7.84K1.553.5
47Kernersville24.98K2.645.7
48Zebulon5.81K4.140.2
49Hickory41.04K4.043.7
50Morganton16.52K5.037.1
51Wilmington124.75K6.128.8
52Smithfield12.88K5.535.8
53Aberdeen7.89K5.238.1
54Lenoir17.90K4.444.6
55Eden14.77K6.034.7
56Hendersonville14.23K4.347.8
57Elizabeth City17.42K5.143.7
58Rockingham8.69K4.549.6
59High Point113.31K7.332.9
60Selma7.02K7.829.1
61Rocky Mount53.83K7.930.2
62Lexington18.92K6.442.9
63Hillsborough7.32K5.253.5
64Durham280.28K7.338.1
65Washington9.50K7.537.6
66Charlotte-Mecklenburg944.26K7.439.3
67Dunn9.77K5.752.6
68Salisbury33.88K7.441.7
69Greensboro298.03K8.236.9
70Roxboro8.30K7.444.0
71Siler City8.24K8.139.5
72Fayetteville209.61K8.835.3
73Hope Mills15.88K7.048.7
74Oxford8.85K10.326.1
75Burlington54.11K8.546.0
76Waynesville10.15K6.167.5
77Roanoke Rapids14.35K8.949.2
78Goldsboro34.09K7.858.2
79Forest City7.12K4.882.2
80Asheville93.64K7.463.3
81Reidsville13.96K7.563.8
82Albemarle16.13K9.054.7
83Monroe35.63K9.352.8
84Laurinburg14.93K10.751.0
85Henderson14.88K16.355.6
86Pineville9.09K7.5124.4
87Whiteville5.34K14.695.4

Find the safest cities in each state

Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.

Related articles on SafeWise


Sources

FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.

Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.

SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.

Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.

Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.

For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over eight years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.