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:
- Cary (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Davidson (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Apex (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Holly Springs (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Pinehurst (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Morrisville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Chapel Hill (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Elon (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Wake Forest (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- 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.
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
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’.
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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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
- Wrightsville Beach (Pop. 2,546)
- Royal Pines (Pop. 4,751)
- Biltmore Forest (Pop. 1,516)
- Trent Woods (Pop. 4,194)
- Avery Creek (Pop. 2,716)
- Fearrington Village (Pop. 2,984)
- Weaverville (Pop. 3,886)
- Bermuda Run (Pop. 2,556)
- St. James (Pop. 4,438)
- Lake Park (Pop. 3,678)
Best Small Towns To Live In North Carolina
- Walnut Creek (Pop. 936)
- Bald Head Island (Pop. 284)
- Hatteras (Pop. 481)
- Washington Park (Pop. 577)
- Barker Ten Mile (Pop. 834)
- Deercroft (Pop. 476)
- Cedar Rock (Pop. 324)
- JAARS (Pop. 508)
- Alamance (Pop. 902)
- Montreat (Pop. 521)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in North Carolina according to the data:
- Henderson (Pop. 15,258)
- Selma (Pop. 6,325)
- Wadesboro (Pop. 5,577)
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In North Carolina
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina For 2018
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In North Carolina
- 10 Safest Cities in North Carolina
- 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In North Carolina
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