The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019


We used data and science to determine which places in North Carolina go easy on your wallet.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the cheapest places to live in North Carolina.

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When you think of affordable, does it take you back to your childhood?

Do you remember your mom making you wear your sister or brother’s old clothes?

It’s simple economics, people. The less you have to spend on bills and taxes, the more you will have to spend on things that matter: like your home, good food, and just overall good fun.

This economic formula for affordability is no different for the good people of North Carolina.

Most people think that North Carolina’s cities are filled with a bunch of fancy shrimp and grits restaurants, snobby Tar Heel fans, and a plethora of wealthy tobacco plantation owners.

While all this might be true for some North Carolina cities, the NASCAR fans and BOGO lovers of North Carolina would beg to differ. North Carolina’s cities have a lot to offer to all income levels; and surprisingly, it is actually extremely affordable.

If you ask any North Carolinian, they will say hands down that North Carolina is one of the best states in the country. And in order to be one of the best, they have to have some of the nicest, most affordable places to call home, right?

Now, don’t get your hand-me-downs in a bunch. Just because North Carolina is affordable, doesn’t mean it’s all Dollar Store ‘cheap’. It means the cost of living is doable. And that means that you have more money to do the fun stuff that the Tar Heel State has to offer: like renting a summer beach house in the Outer Banks or taking a snowboarding trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So, grab yourself some of great granny’s sweet tea and a basket of hush puppies and read on.

Yes, North Carolina is the best state for those looking for a little good ‘ol fashioned, inexpensive fun.

It seems like North Carolinians are always on the go having fun around every turn. This fun happens because the Tar Heels know the value of a dollar. More importantly, they know the North Carolina cities where your dollar will go the furthest.

What does the most affordable place to live in North Carolina look like?

Well, after crunching the US Census median housing costs, median income, and overall cost of living data, Sawmill is the most affordable place to live in North Carolina.

If you care about home values, cost of living, and high quality of life, take a look at the list below to find the most affordable places in North Carolina, where, yes, you can have it all.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about North Carolina and the cheapest places in the country:

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,161
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 62.4x (45th cheapest)
More On Sawmills: Homes For Sale | Data

The most affordable city in North Carolina for 2019 is Sawmills. Kudos to the “Biggest Little Town in the Foothills’. They have held strong at number one from last year to become a Caldwell County gold star city.

Located in the northeastern corner of The Tar Heel State, agriculture and forestry have kept their economy moving in right direction.

The median income in this town is around $42,000 with average home prices up around $99,000.

Sawmills scored off our charts scoring an 8/10 on our affordability scale. They are the 3rd most affordable city when we looked at home price to income ratio.

The median income in Sawmills comes in at $41,875 and the median home value is $99,100 for 2019.

Hamlet, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 6,401
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.5x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 60.0x (51st cheapest)
More On Hamlet: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Where North Carolina State HWY 74 meets North Carolina State Hwy 177, is our second most affordable city in the Old North State: Hamlet.

This little North Carolina gem is 5th when it comes to home price to income ratio. We are not surprised considering they have such a strong economy led by a railroad hub with an emphasis in manufacturing and warehousing.

Now if a job in manufacturing is not your thing, it seems there will always be a need for train conductors. #SideHustle

And with a median household income close to $38,000, we’re sure you’ll find Hamlet super inviting and super affordable.

The median income in Hamlet comes in at $37,485 and the median home value is $92,200 for 2019.

Review Of Hamlet by HomeSnacks User

I lived in Hamlet N.C from birth until I turned 24 years old and my entire family still lives there. Hamlet is a wonderful place to live and I always feel safe when I go home to visit. Just like every other town there are bad people and Hamlet does have some.

For the most part people in Hamlet and Rockingham are good people and a tight knit community. Just because the Facebook page doesn’t have a lot of likes means nothing. No one in my family has ever been robbed in Hamlet or Rockingham and I will always feel safe there.

Nashville, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,473
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.5x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 71.7x (23rd cheapest)
More On Nashville: Homes For Sale | Data

Nashville, North Carolina is NOT like Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville, North Carolina is super safe and super affordable.

Nashville is small city located 36 miles East of Raleigh in north-central North Carolina. This little city in Nash County is our third most affordable city in the Tar Heel State for 2019.

This city that claims to be ‘The Original Town of Nashville,’ scored an 8.5/10 in affordability on our snackability scale with a 7/10 for jobs.

Jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, and waste management support Nashville’s economy. Nashville’s $50,000/year median income provides stability, affordability, and some extra cheddar for a beach trip or two.

The median income in Nashville comes in at $49,656 and the median home value is $126,400 for 2019.

Marion, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,752
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (14th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.7x (60th cheapest)
More On Marion: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Marion, North Carolina’s gateway to the West, is our fourth most affordable city in the Tar Heel State for 2019.

Marion scored an 8/10 for affordability on our snackability scale, and we think it has something to do with the fact that their median income is pushing $35,000.

When residents aren’t busy cheering on their hometown hero, Coach Roy Williams, during UNC’s basketball season, they are working in one of Marion’s very profitable industries that includes healthcare, education, and retail.

If affordability equals happiness, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to call the city ‘Where Main Street Meets the Mountains” your next happy home.

The median income in Marion comes in at $34,308 and the median home value is $89,400 for 2019.

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,610
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (11th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 69.8x (27th cheapest)
More On Trinity: Homes For Sale | Data

Trinity is one of the coolest Tar Heel cities. It’s also our fifth most affordable city in North Carolina for 2019.

Trinity’s overall HomeSnacks snackability was an 8/10! Not surprising considering their employment status and degree of affordability both scored off the charts. Busy people don’t have time to waste their money on nonsense.

Why is Trinity super affordable? They are the world’s largest manufacturers of bedding products. And if we know anything about bedding testers, they know proper thread count. More importantly, proper thread count can make or break a solid work day.

With a $50,000/year median income, we’re pretty sure the residents in Trinity are getting their rest.

The median income in Trinity comes in at $50,718 and the median home value is $129,900 for 2019.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,509
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (18th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.0x (19th cheapest)
More On Archdale: Homes For Sale | Data

Just a stone’s throw from Trinity is our sixth most affordable city in North Carolina: Archdale.

You don’t have to live on ramen noodles and the McDonald’s dollar menu to afford this little North Carolina treasure.

This city in Guilford/Randolph County is our 18th most affordable city for home ownership in line with median income.

Once a city with an agricultural-based economy, this Archdale has gravitated towards the traditional with most jobs, now, in manufacturing, healthcare, and tech services.

We get why your city’s motto is ‘Crossroad of Progress’.

The median income in Archdale comes in at $51,154 and the median home value is $135,800 for 2019.

King, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 6,763
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (10th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 80.6x (15th cheapest)
More On King: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

If your city has a Walmart Supercenter, you can bet you are living where it’s affordable; and we might add, convenient.

This is only ‘one’ of the reasons our seventh most affordable city in North Carolina, King, has made the list.

But not the only reason for this north-central Tar Heel city to crush our snackability scale. King received an 8/10 on our snackability scale: the highest score on our top ten list.

Major employers like Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Novant Health, and Wake Forest University, help to keep King’s median household income competitive and the city affordable.

The median income in King comes in at $58,268 and the median home value is $148,600 for 2019.

Cherryville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,854
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (16th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.9x (47th cheapest)
More On Cherryville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

You don’t have to win the lottery to live in this affordable North Carolina city.

And if you’re looking for a strong side hustle to offset your bills, our eighth most affordable city in the Tar Heel State for 2019, Cherryville, is crushing the automotive parts industry.

This city, located slightly northwest of the Queen City, boasts a $42,000/year median household income. No wonder you’re the 16th most affordable city in terms of home ownership to median income.

Cville, you are every North Carolina real estate agent’s dream.

The median income in Cherryville comes in at $42,083 and the median home value is $110,300 for 2019.

Lewisville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 13,516
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 93.2x (6th cheapest)
More On Lewisville: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

Lewisville, located just West of Winston-Salem, is our ninth most affordable city in the Tar Heel State for 2019.

This city in Forsyth County is the 2nd most affordable city in terms of home to income ratio. They are 6th in terms of cheapest rent to income ratio.

These numbers tell us that Lewisville is extremely affordable and that the residents, here, want you to buy or rent: they just want you to call their city home.

Lewisville is pretty popular for its small town vibes, great bicycle trails, and great parks. So, while saving for your first home in this Piedmont Triad Community, might we suggest bicycle mechanic as a lucrative side hustle.

The median income in Lewisville comes in at $79,071 and the median home value is $186,700 for 2019.

Williamston, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,398
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.6x (13th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 52.3x (81st cheapest)
More On Williamston: Homes For Sale | Data | Photos

The furthest East North Carolina city that made our top ten list is Williamston. This little city in Martin County rounds out our list as the tenth most affordable city in the Tar Heel State for 2019.

Williamston crushed our job snackability scale. This city has great job opportunities with manufacturing positions, healthcare work, and agricultural positions up for grabs right now. Heck, something has to keep that household median income up around $32,000/year.

So if you’re looking for ‘Easy Hometown Living with Hometown Values,’ with an affordable price tag, look no further than Williamston.

The median income in Williamston comes in at $32,474 and the median home value is $83,400 for 2019.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Tar Heel State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in North Carolina to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 132 places in North Carolina that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in North Carolina according to the data is Sawmills.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. North Carolina Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in North Carolina, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in north carolina for 2019.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Boone
  2. Elon
  3. Kill Devil Hills

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Where Are The Most Affordable Places To Live In North Carolina?

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Sawmills 21.0 5,161 2.4x 62.4x
2 Hamlet 21.33 6,401 2.5x 60.0x
3 Nashville 23.67 5,473 2.5x 71.7x
4 Marion 26.67 7,752 2.6x 57.7x
5 Trinity 27.0 6,610 2.6x 69.8x
6 Archdale 29.0 11,509 2.7x 75.0x
7 King 29.67 6,763 2.6x 80.6x
8 Cherryville 29.67 5,854 2.6x 61.9x
9 Lewisville 31.67 13,516 2.4x 93.2x
10 Williamston 32.0 5,398 2.6x 52.3x

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