These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2018


These are the cream of the crop in the Tar Heel State.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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Where are the best places in the state of North Carolina?

To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Tar Heel State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.

However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home 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.

After analyzing 129 places in North Carolina, we came up with this list of the best places:

  1. Cary (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Davidson (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Apex (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Holly Springs (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Pinehurst (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Morrisville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Chapel Hill (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Elon (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Wake Forest (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Fletcher (Photos | Homes For Sale)

Well, it looks like you should check out Cary if you’re thinking of moving to North Carolina — it’s the best the Tar Heel State has to offer according to the data.

Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in North Carolina.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in North Carolina

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Raleigh with a population of 441,326 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities — Populations over 5,000
  • Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns — Populations below 1,000

This left us with 129 cities, 295 towns, and 250 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Place To Live In North Carolina

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in North Carolina across a number of criteria from one to 129, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In North Carolina”.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in North Carolina.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Cary at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 155,822
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $309,800 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Cary: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Who doesn’t want to live in Cary? Because, according to the data, most everyone should want to.

Crime is lower than the state average, and the unemployment rate sits at only 4.0%. The school systems are generally well funded, meaning lots of personal attention for area kids.

Expect to see more of Cary in the news in the coming months.

Davidson, NC

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 12,076
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $393,300 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (30th best)
More on Davidson: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Davidson is known for having a great education system and has the 92nd shortest commute time.

Additionally, the unemployment rate in Davidson is the 30th lowest in North Carolina and the median income is the 3rd highest in the state.

Apex, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 43,893
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $278,400 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (19th best)
More on Apex: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you live in Apex, you probably know how great it is already.

Apex has a stable economy where residents earn a large salary ($95,283). And the crime is really, really low (7th lowest in North Carolina).

If we could afford to move here, we probably would.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 30,126
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $249,500 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Holly Springs: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of North Carolina, as there were only 9 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 10th lowest in North Carolina (4.0%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 22nd most expensive in Holly Springs ($249,500), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $98,041 a year.

Pinehurst, NC

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 15,522
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $287,400 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Pinehurst: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Pinehurst is a short drive from everything, but who would want to leave the 5th best place in North Carolina?

Homes are priced around $287,400 and residents have the 73rd shortest commute in North Carolina.

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 22,600
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $291,400 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (8th best)
More on Morrisville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

You might be surprised to see the Town of Morrisville so high on the list. Unless you live in Morrisville.

The unemployment rate here is really low, and at 3.9%, Morrisville residents are some of the hardest working in the state of North Carolina. When you factor in high home prices, high incomes and low crime, Morrisville is doing quite well.

Let’s be honest — Morrisville is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 59,005
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 12)
Median Home Value: $390,300 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (27th best)
More on Chapel Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Town of Chapel Hill consistently ranks as one of the best places to live. There aren’t any surprises here. Which probably adds credibility to our data, right?

Let’s see why Chapel Hill ranks so high. First of all, the homes in Chapel Hill are the 4th most expensive in the state of North Carolina, with the average home worth a whopping $390,300. We’re not elitists, nor are we saying that big homes means a better place to live. But price reflects demand, and simply put, a lot of people want to live in Chapel Hill if they can afford it.

Other numbers that stand out: Chapel Hill residents have the 27th highest income in the state, and the 26th lowest crime numbers in North Carolina.

Elon, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 9,781
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 14)
Median Home Value: $236,500 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (29th best)
More on Elon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Elon is another great city in North Carolina with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: ” We feel incredibly safe in Elon. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it’s wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things.”

Enough said.

Wake Forest, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 36,472
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $270,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (31st best)
More on Wake Forest: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Wake Forest has the 31st lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina. The population growth here has been 8% over the last 15 years, meaning a lot of people want to live here. If they can afford it; the cost of living in Wake Forest is higher than the national average and households make $81,200 per year.

We’d move to Wake Forest if we could in a heart beat.

Fletcher, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,547
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $186,400 (42nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (2nd best)
More on Fletcher: Real Estate | Data | Photos

At an unemployment rate of 3.0%, everyone who wants a job can get one in Fletcher. And the residents command high salaries ($58,298 a year combined income), and live in big fancy homes ($186,400 each).

We’re not saying money is why these cities are the ‘best’ in North Carolina. What we’re implying is that money means safety and peace of mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In North Carolina

If you’re looking at areas in North Carolina with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Cary made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for 2018.

Best Towns To Live In North Carolina

  1. Wrightsville Beach (Pop. 2,546)
  2. Royal Pines (Pop. 4,751)
  3. Biltmore Forest (Pop. 1,516)
  4. Trent Woods (Pop. 4,194)
  5. Avery Creek (Pop. 2,716)
  6. Fearrington Village (Pop. 2,984)
  7. Weaverville (Pop. 3,886)
  8. Bermuda Run (Pop. 2,556)
  9. St. James (Pop. 4,438)
  10. Lake Park (Pop. 3,678)

Best Small Towns To Live In North Carolina

  1. Walnut Creek (Pop. 936)
  2. Bald Head Island (Pop. 284)
  3. Hatteras (Pop. 481)
  4. Washington Park (Pop. 577)
  5. Barker Ten Mile (Pop. 834)
  6. Deercroft (Pop. 476)
  7. Cedar Rock (Pop. 324)
  8. JAARS (Pop. 508)
  9. Alamance (Pop. 902)
  10. Montreat (Pop. 521)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Henderson (Pop. 15,258)
  2. Selma (Pop. 6,325)
  3. Wadesboro (Pop. 5,577)

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In North Carolina

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Cary 155,822 4.0% $309,800
2 Davidson 12,076 5.6% $393,300
3 Apex 43,893 4.7% $278,400
4 Holly Springs 30,126 4.0% $249,500
5 Pinehurst 15,522 4.0% $287,400
6 Morrisville 22,600 3.9% $291,400
7 Chapel Hill 59,005 5.4% $390,300
8 Elon 9,781 5.5% $236,500
9 Wake Forest 36,472 5.7% $270,300
10 Fletcher 7,547 3.0% $186,400
11 Stallings 14,759 4.8% $221,100
12 Carrboro 20,867 3.4% $326,700
13 Huntersville 51,701 5.0% $259,200
14 Winterville 9,484 5.8% $158,200
15 Harrisburg 14,500 7.1% $245,400
16 Matthews 30,054 4.2% $224,000
17 Waxhaw 12,398 6.2% $273,900
18 Rolesville 5,583 10.3% $259,000
19 Oak Ridge 6,617 2.4% $320,700
20 Summerfield 10,758 4.1% $342,300
21 Clemmons 19,536 3.3% $202,200
22 Raleigh 441,326 6.1% $218,200
23 Fuquay-Varina 22,722 7.5% $208,100
24 Knightdale 13,787 5.9% $171,300
25 Black Mountain 8,168 6.7% $205,900
26 Mint Hill 25,024 4.4% $218,200
27 Cornelius 27,426 4.6% $258,800
28 Marvin 6,056 4.5% $618,900
29 Gibsonville 6,759 6.7% $148,700
30 Lewisville 13,356 5.4% $185,500
31 Hillsborough 6,428 5.9% $205,300
32 Weddington 10,254 3.0% $426,400
33 Clayton 18,553 7.6% $162,000
34 Garner 27,625 6.3% $164,800
35 Leland 17,023 6.3% $205,900
36 Jacksonville 68,404 11.9% $150,800
37 Stokesdale 5,278 4.6% $198,300
38 Mooresville 35,387 7.4% $194,500
39 Mebane 13,592 6.7% $172,400
40 Durham 251,761 6.5% $183,900
41 King 6,777 5.2% $145,400
42 Concord 85,753 8.1% $169,800
43 Boone 18,241 17.1% $257,000
44 Brevard 7,710 8.3% $198,400
45 Asheville 87,531 6.1% $212,000
46 Southern Pines 13,258 7.4% $278,700
47 Carolina Beach 6,048 6.7% $288,300
48 Mills River 6,990 3.3% $221,300
49 Wendell 6,298 3.1% $127,100
50 Kernersville 23,736 5.2% $170,200
51 Wesley Chapel 8,217 6.9% $321,300
52 Oak Island 7,359 7.3% $255,500
53 Havelock 20,630 11.6% $140,000
54 Mount Holly 14,058 9.6% $156,400
55 Wilmington 113,724 8.1% $224,300
56 Indian Trail 36,357 5.4% $177,200
57 Nashville 5,521 5.3% $122,000
58 Archdale 11,483 6.3% $134,600
59 Greensboro 282,177 7.6% $148,500
60 Hope Mills 16,189 9.8% $124,000
61 Belmont 10,494 7.7% $156,700
62 Conover 8,263 7.9% $138,600
63 Trinity 6,651 4.4% $131,200
64 Aberdeen 7,107 6.2% $170,300
65 Kill Devil Hills 6,948 9.4% $234,900
66 Hendersonville 13,548 7.1% $167,000
67 Greenville 89,745 12.0% $148,200
68 Woodfin 6,241 10.1% $145,500
69 Unionville 6,397 6.2% $190,200
70 Hickory 40,274 7.5% $157,500
71 Kannapolis 45,685 9.7% $125,600
72 High Point 108,982 9.5% $142,700
73 Waynesville 9,788 5.3% $159,900
74 New Bern 30,075 10.6% $150,000
75 Boiling Spring Lakes 5,703 7.6% $146,500
76 Charlotte 808,834 8.5% $178,000
77 Angier 5,079 11.1% $151,800
78 Pineville 8,244 7.0% $162,100
79 Cherryville 5,901 11.4% $113,300
80 Fayetteville 203,670 12.1% $127,500
81 Winston-Salem 238,474 9.9% $142,400
82 Wilson 49,558 8.9% $134,900
83 Burlington 52,570 8.0% $124,400
84 Gastonia 73,877 10.5% $135,900
85 Butner 7,692 7.2% $127,200
86 Thomasville 27,178 13.2% $109,900
87 Mount Airy 10,364 6.7% $131,600
88 Washington 9,862 14.9% $144,500
89 Graham 14,506 7.4% $128,600
90 Sanford 29,048 9.5% $132,200
91 Mocksville 5,140 6.3% $139,900
92 Rocky Mount 56,175 13.0% $105,200
93 Spring Lake 13,258 13.4% $92,200
94 Newton 12,999 11.9% $113,700
95 Williamston 5,534 13.6% $92,900
96 Kings Mountain 11,053 16.4% $103,400
97 Sawmills 5,119 6.2% $94,900
98 Tarboro 11,206 9.9% $98,400
99 Roanoke Rapids 15,454 9.9% $116,000
100 Statesville 25,731 13.9% $135,300

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One thought on “These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2018

  1. As in the worst places list, there are some extreme fluctuations. I guess that Cornelius of north Meck was rated high until the critic actually visited and sat in unending gridlock for building a toll lane on I-77. There also must be a reason to downgrade towns south of south Charlotte like Marvin, Weddington, and Wesley Chapel. Maybe Indian Land is drawing away their prosperity across the state line. Rating numbers must be supported by a factor. I guess that the Wake factor and Orange Co(where you’ll be a fan for life…NOT!) upgraded their ratings suddenly.

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