Where are the best places in the state of North Carolina? They are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places where people have the best jobs, where residents are happily married, and where the sun shines the most.
And certainly, since crime is really low, every one wants to be there. It’s, literally, all sunshine and rainbows.
We looked at the 146 most populated cities in the Tar Heel State for this study. The cities at the top are places where things are going swimmingly right now, at least according to data, which measures the good things that people say they want in a city in North Carolina.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against. We had more than 10 million people read our worst cities in a state series, which was featured in hundreds of media outlets, including an NPR feature.
So we know what we’re talking about.
Here are the 10 best places to live in North Carolina:
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘friendly people’ and community involvement), these are the best options in North Carolina for making a place home. And it looks like almost all of these are in the Triangle area of the state. Is that a surprise?
The worst city to live in North Carolina? Spring Lake. More on that later.
How do you decide if a place is amazeballs or not?
In order to rank North Carolina’s best cities, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, good weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers for North Carolina
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Strong schools
- Low unemployment rates
- High incomes
- High home prices
- Lots of sunny days a year
- Low crime
- Low cost of living
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities in North Carolina, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a link to the entire data set.
Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. This list is based on data, and is entirely unbiased. In terms of the cost of living numbers below, they are based on a national average of 100, so anything below 100 is more affordable.
1. Chapel Hill
Crime Index: 88
Cost Of Living Index: 128
When you look at the data, Chapel Hill is the best place you can live in North Carolina. The two cities below are also usually mentioned in national discussions for great cities as well.
Crime Index: 58
Cost Of Living Index: 118
It’s a lot safer in Cary than it is in Chapel Hill. Plus, you’re closer to Raleigh.
Crime Index: 74
Cost Of Living Index: 113
Apex is even more affordable than Chapel Hill and Cary. There’s a lot less to do in downtown Apex, entertainment wise.
4. Wake Forest
Crime Index: 78
Cost Of Living Index: 112
Wake Forest is a quiet town north of Raleigh. It’s relatively safe, but in terms of entertainment options, you might have to make the short drive to Raleigh for far more options.
Crime Index: 71
Cost Of Living Index: 110
This western Raleigh suburb is really safe and relatively affordable as well.
6. Holly Springs
Crime Index: 49
Cost Of Living Index: 107
Like many of the cities in the entire Triangle region, Holly Springs is exploding in population. When you look at the overall numbers, you can tell why.
Crime Index: 103
Cost Of Living Index: 110
Carrboro is an Orange County city that’s a lot more affordable than Chapel Hill, but there are still plenty of entertainment options.
Crime Index: 85
Cost Of Living Index: 106
Matthews is the first Charlotte suburb to make this list. It’s pretty safe, and a bit more affordable than other Charlotte suburbs.
Crime Index: 105
Cost Of Living Index: 101
It’s not often that a city’s capital makes a ‘best places to live list,’ but Raleigh is simply a great place to live if you need to be near a major city center.
Crime Index: 77
Cost Of Living Index: 116
Another Charlotte suburb, Davidson is safe, and there are lots of educated people here due to nearby Davidson College.
There You Have It
Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 25-minute drive of Chapel Hill is the most desirable, according to science and data. But as most North Carolina residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.
Other notable cities:
3rd Worst: Rockingham
2nd Worst: Forest City
Worst: Spring Lake
We also wrote about the 10 worst places to live in North Carolina if you’re interested in reading it.
Detailed List Of Best Places To Live In North Carolina
|Kill Devil Hills||62|
|Lake Norman Of Catawba||63|
|Boiling Spring Lakes||70|