Most Expensive Places To Live In North Carolina For 2020


We used science and data to determine which cities in North Carolina that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the most expensive places to live in North Carolina.

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You're going to need a little more than some pocket change and luck to afford to live in one of the Tar Heel state's most expensive places. For many, you're going to need a miracle and a job that pays at least $19,574/year. Unfortunately, HomeSnacks can't help with a miracle, but we did help by creating a list of the top ten most expensive places in North Carolina for 2020 and the list is below.

Incidentally, if you don't currently have a booming bank account, don't worry. Places that made our top ten list like Wilmington and Asheville might be some of the most expensive places to buy a home, but the least expensive to rent.

Yes, in order to determine the most expensive places in North Carolina, we looked at the American Community Survey for the home price to income ratio and the rent to income ratio for North Carolina places with at least 5,000 residents. This gave us 132 North Carolina places that you're going to need to win a hefty Powerball to live comfortably.

Did we mention that this is our sixth time ranking North Carolina's most expensive places? That's right, we know what we're talking about. So, it would be in your best interest to take a look at our list below before you make any major financial decisions.

What's the most expensive place to live in North Carolina? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Boone is the most expensive place to live in North Carolina.

So hopefully Hamlet (the cheapest place to live in North Carolina) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

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

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In North Carolina For 2020

Boone, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 18,795
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 13.3x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 24.7x (1st most expensive)
More on Boone: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Boone comes in at $19,574 and the median home value is $260,700 for 2020.

Kill Devil Hills, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,035
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.7x (16th most expensive)
More on Kill Devil Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Kill Devil Hills is a town in Dare County, North Carolina. The population was 6,683 at the 2010 census, up from 5,897 in 2000. It is the most populous settlement in both Dare County and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Kill Devil Hills Micropolitan Statistical Area is part of the larger Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC Combined Statistical Area.

The median income in Kill Devil Hills comes in at $53,000 and the median home value is $237,100 for 2020.

Asheville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 90,531
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 47.8x (26th most expensive)
More on Asheville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Asheville is a city and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 12th-most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The city's population was 89,121 according to the 2016 estimates. It is the principal city in the four-county Asheville metropolitan area, with a population of 424,858 in 2010. Asheville is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center, the world's largest active archive of weather data.

The median income in Asheville comes in at $47,803 and the median home value is $242,500 for 2020.

Wilmington, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 118,094
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.2x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.6x (32nd most expensive)
More on Wilmington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Wilmington is a port city and the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States. The population is 112,067; according to the 2010 Census it is the eighth most populous city in the state. Wilmington is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that includes New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina, which has a population of 263,429 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.

The median income in Wilmington comes in at $45,450 and the median home value is $237,700 for 2020.

Woodfin, NC

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,487
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.3x (16th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.5x (13th most expensive)
More on Woodfin: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Woodfin is a town in Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 6,123 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town is named for Nicholas Washington Woodfin, a renowned lawyer and statesman of early North Carolina, under whom Governor Zebulon Vance clerked as an attorney. Woodfin is the only municipality bearing the name Woodfin in the United States. The town was incorporated in 1971, although the community itself dates back to at least the mid-19th century.

The median income in Woodfin comes in at $46,992 and the median home value is $202,500 for 2020.

Pineville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 8,574
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 14)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.3x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 46.1x (17th most expensive)
More on Pineville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Pineville is a suburban town in the southernmost portion of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina situated in the Waxhaws district between Charlotte, North Carolina and Fort Mill, South Carolina.

The median income in Pineville comes in at $48,324 and the median home value is $208,300 for 2020.

Elon, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 11,008
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.1x (20th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.6x (31st most expensive)
More on Elon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Elon comes in at $59,962 and the median home value is $246,900 for 2020.

Carrboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 21,216
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.9x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.1x (71st most expensive)
More on Carrboro: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Carrboro is a town in Orange County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 19,582 at the 2010 census. The town, which is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill combined statistical area, was named after North Carolina industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr.

The median income in Carrboro comes in at $59,202 and the median home value is $350,800 for 2020.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 13,809
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.6x (10th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.5x (14th most expensive)
More on Hendersonville: Real Estate | Data

The median income in Hendersonville comes in at $38,412 and the median home value is $175,000 for 2020.

Morehead City, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,304
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.1x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.0x (39th most expensive)
More on Morehead City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Morehead City is a port town in Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 8,661 at the 2010 census. Morehead City celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding on May 5, 2007. It forms part of the Crystal Coast.

The median income in Morehead City comes in at $43,847 and the median home value is $223,400 for 2020.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Tar Heel State For 2020

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 2014-2018 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 most 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 highest cost of living in North Carolina according to the data is Boone. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In North Carolina For 2020

Well there you have it, the places in North Carolina that have the highest cost of living, with Boone ranking as the most expensive city in the Tar Heel State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Hamlet
  2. Sawmills
  3. King

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In North Carolina

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Boone 8.33 18,795 13.3x 24.7x
2 Kill Devil Hills 20.0 7,035 4.5x 45.7x
3 Asheville 20.67 90,531 5.1x 47.8x
4 Wilmington 23.0 118,094 5.2x 48.6x
5 Woodfin 24.33 6,487 4.3x 45.5x
6 Pineville 24.67 8,574 4.3x 46.1x
7 Elon 26.0 11,008 4.1x 48.6x
8 Carrboro 26.67 21,216 5.9x 57.1x
9 Hendersonville 26.67 13,809 4.6x 45.5x
10 Morehead City 27.0 9,304 5.1x 51.0x
11 Marvin 28.0 6,298 3.7x 54.1x
12 Chapel Hill 28.0 59,561 6.0x 58.6x
13 Pinehurst 30.33 15,821 3.7x 51.8x
14 Greenville 35.33 91,207 4.1x 46.9x
15 Hillsborough 36.0 7,083 4.3x 55.9x
16 Jacksonville 38.67 73,226 3.6x 42.4x
17 Washington 39.0 9,649 4.3x 46.2x
18 Carolina Beach 39.67 6,194 4.4x 64.1x
19 Black Mountain 42.0 8,137 4.8x 59.3x
20 Southern Pines 42.33 13,694 5.1x 65.3x
21 Smithfield 42.33 12,117 3.8x 46.4x
22 Dunn 43.0 9,635 4.0x 41.2x
23 Oak Island 43.33 7,612 4.0x 60.2x
24 Waynesville 43.33 9,898 4.2x 54.1x
25 Goldsboro 43.67 34,972 3.9x 43.8x
26 Durham 44.33 264,310 3.7x 55.6x
27 Brevard 47.33 7,785 5.3x 64.2x
28 New Bern 47.67 29,958 3.7x 50.9x
29 Raleigh 49.33 457,159 3.7x 59.5x
30 Forest City 51.0 7,167 4.0x 45.7x
31 Clinton 51.83 8,557 3.8x 47.6x
32 Statesville 52.0 26,263 3.7x 53.3x
33 Elizabeth City 52.67 17,604 3.5x 44.6x
34 Lincolnton 52.67 10,678 3.7x 50.4x
35 Graham 53.67 14,670 3.7x 48.3x
36 Mint Hill 55.0 26,168 3.6x 64.3x
37 Lexington 55.17 18,897 3.7x 43.9x
38 Mills River 56.33 7,173 3.8x 71.1x
39 Charlotte 56.67 841,611 3.3x 56.1x
40 Leland 57.67 19,157 3.3x 59.6x
41 Wadesboro 58.33 5,351 3.5x 36.1x
42 Tarboro 59.0 11,045 3.5x 47.2x
43 Laurinburg 59.33 15,253 3.5x 43.6x
44 Mebane 61.33 15,198 3.4x 60.0x
45 Mount Airy 61.83 10,227 4.0x 58.2x
46 High Point 62.33 111,035 3.3x 53.0x
47 Monroe 63.0 34,679 3.2x 52.3x
48 Cornelius 63.0 28,649 3.3x 72.3x
49 Cary 63.0 163,266 3.3x 84.3x
50 Morrisville 63.0 25,007 3.3x 72.5x
51 Greensboro 63.33 288,719 3.3x 55.2x
52 Oxford 64.0 8,648 3.5x 54.1x
53 Wilson 64.0 49,230 3.3x 54.6x
54 Fletcher 64.33 7,952 3.2x 57.6x
55 Davidson 64.67 12,666 3.3x 105.7x
56 Summerfield 65.0 11,044 3.3x 125.9x
57 Mooresville 65.0 37,165 3.2x 62.7x
58 Kernersville 66.33 24,088 3.5x 63.7x
59 Hickory 67.33 40,402 3.6x 64.9x
60 Whiteville 67.33 5,450 3.4x 48.5x
61 Matthews 68.33 31,400 3.2x 65.5x
62 Kinston 69.0 20,659 3.2x 45.2x
63 Winston-Salem 69.33 242,125 3.3x 56.7x
64 Mocksville 69.33 5,184 3.6x 60.7x
65 Burlington 70.33 52,524 3.2x 50.3x
66 Fayetteville 70.67 209,867 2.9x 47.5x
67 Angier 71.0 5,376 3.3x 60.2x
68 Henderson 71.33 14,986 3.3x 47.3x
69 Wake Forest 71.33 40,159 3.2x 81.6x
70 Selma 71.33 6,577 3.1x 34.3x
71 Shelby 72.0 20,053 3.2x 50.4x
72 Morganton 72.0 16,466 3.5x 64.3x
73 Gastonia 72.33 75,138 3.1x 54.7x
74 Havelock 73.33 20,330 2.8x 48.2x
75 Fuquay-Varina 74.0 25,932 3.1x 68.5x
76 Roxboro 74.33 8,283 3.1x 42.0x
77 Clayton 75.0 20,324 2.8x 56.3x
78 Garner 76.33 28,731 2.8x 57.8x
79 Harrisburg 77.33 15,269 2.7x 63.7x
80 Stallings 77.67 15,240 2.9x 65.6x
81 Lumberton 77.67 21,198 3.1x 51.6x
82 Waxhaw 78.0 14,383 2.9x 75.6x
83 Kings Mountain 78.17 10,955 2.9x 49.7x
84 Apex 78.33 48,254 2.9x 81.0x
85 Asheboro 78.33 25,859 3.2x 55.0x
86 Wesley Chapel 78.33 8,633 2.8x 78.5x
87 Huntersville 79.0 54,572 2.9x 75.6x
88 Aberdeen 79.33 7,419 3.2x 66.9x
89 Reidsville 79.33 13,909 3.1x 48.2x
90 Roanoke Rapids 79.67 14,937 3.1x 51.8x
91 Wendell 80.33 6,828 2.9x 60.6x
92 Siler City 80.83 8,106 3.2x 52.3x
93 Lenoir 81.0 17,899 3.2x 55.7x
94 Butner 81.5 7,699 2.8x 52.2x
95 Salisbury 81.67 33,652 3.0x 54.4x
96 Clemmons 83.0 20,050 3.0x 80.8x
97 Oak Ridge 83.67 6,829 2.8x 115.8x
98 Hope Mills 83.67 15,762 2.7x 51.2x
99 Rolesville 84.33 6,957 2.8x 145.7x
100 Holly Springs 84.67 33,341 2.7x 74.9x

How Is The Area 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.