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 on 4-6-2018 with a video. Article continues below video.

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

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. Cary makes an appearnace there too.

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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 5,100
  • Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,100
  • Small Towns — Populations below 1,000

This left us with 129 cities, 296 towns, and 295 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 5,100 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.

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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.

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1. Cary

Cary, North Carolina

Population: 155,822
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $309,800 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Cary: Real Estate | Data
Cary ranks as the best place to live in NC for 2018 as well as being one of the best in the country.

If you don’t have a job in Cary, you’re most likely not trying very hard. The unemployment rate here is almost as low as you can get — 4.0%. In fact, there are probably enough butler and landscaping jobs available here to put every single unemployed resident to work, what with a median income of $94,617.

That’s actually not a bad idea…

2. Davidson

Davidson, North Carolina

Population: 12,076
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Values: $393,300 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (30th best)
More on Davidson: Real Estate | Data
Davidson has the 30th 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 Davidson is higher than the national average and households make $109,907 per year.

We’d move to Davidson if we could in a heartbeat.

3. Apex

Apex, North Carolina

Source: Public domain

Population: 43,893
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Home Values: $278,400 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (19th best)
More on Apex: Real Estate | Data
Apex was a big mover this year, jumping up 5 spots in the ranking to number 3.

With the unemployment rate being the 19th lowest in North Carolina and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Apex.

Plus, the crime rate is the 7th lowest in the state!

4. Holly Springs

Holly Springs, North Carolina

Population: 30,126
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Values: $249,500 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Holly Springs: Real Estate | Data
Holly Springs finds itself in the same position as last year — a very solid 4th.

Crime is low and incomes are high, which is a very good combo for those playing at home. In fact, the crime rate is the 3rd lowest in the state.

5. Pinehurst

Pinehurst, North Carolina

Population: 15,522
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Home Values: $287,400 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th best)
More on Pinehurst: Real Estate | Data
Pinehurst has been called one of the best small towns in America. If you live here, you’re most likely already aware of how great it is to live there.

Just about everyone who wants a job in Pinehurst has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 4.0% and decreasing over time. And the Pinehurst police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the lowest in the state here.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like this?

6. Morrisville

Morrisville, North Carolina

Population: 22,600
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Home Values: $291,400 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (8th best)
More on Morrisville: Real Estate | Data
We wouldn’t be surprised to see CNN call Morrisville one of the best places to live in the United States. Not only do the residents all make great livings, there’s essentially no crime in the entire city. And the residents are very involved in the community.

They can’t build homes fast enough here as it seems everyone wants a piece of Morrisville.

7. Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

8. Elon

Elon, North Carolina

Population: 9,781
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 14)
Home Values: $236,500 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (29th best)
More on Elon: Real Estate | Data
We think the motto in Elon should be “Everything is greater in Elon,” and that seems to be pretty close to the truth.

Elon has some of the highest home values in North Carolina, and they’re going up fast. Additionally, Elon only has 1750.0% of its residents living in poverty.

Crime is also well below the state average, making Elon a solid option for people who value safety. At least those who can afford it.

9. Wake Forest

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Population: 36,472
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Home Values: $270,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (31st best)
More on Wake Forest: Real Estate | Data
Wake Forest places 9th on this year’s list of the best places in NC.

While it didn’t quite have the showing it had last year, it still has a very low poverty rate, low crime, and an educated workforce. So it’s not like Wake Forest has anything to be ashamed of.

10. Fletcher

Fletcher, North Carolina

Population: 7,547
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Home Values: $186,400 (42nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (2nd best)
More on Fletcher: Real Estate | Data
Fletcher has some of the most employed as well as the highest earning residents in the entire state of North Carolina. Factor in a very low crime rate, and this Fletcher is a real gem.

With high incomes comes a high cost of living, which can been seen in the home pricese. Additionally, the commute time for Fletcher residents to work is significantly higher than average.

Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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. Deercroft (Pop. 476)
  5. Washington Park (Pop. 577)
  6. Barker Ten Mile (Pop. 834)
  7. JAARS (Pop. 508)
  8. Cedar Rock (Pop. 324)
  9. Alamance (Pop. 902)

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

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

For more North Carolina reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Cities In North Carolina

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Cary 1 2 155,822 4.0% $309,800
Davidson 2 3 12,076 5.6% $393,300
Apex 3 8 43,893 4.7% $278,400
Holly Springs 4 4 30,126 4.0% $249,500
Pinehurst 5 5 15,522 4.0% $287,400
Morrisville 6 1 22,600 3.9% $291,400
Chapel Hill 7 19 59,005 5.4% $390,300
Elon 8 22 9,781 5.5% $236,500
Wake Forest 9 7 36,472 5.7% $270,300
Fletcher 10 9 7,547 3.0% $186,400
Stallings 11 14 14,759 4.8% $221,100
Carrboro 12 11 20,867 3.4% $326,700
Huntersville 13 12 51,701 5.0% $259,200
Winterville 14 21 9,484 5.8% $158,200
Harrisburg 15 20 14,500 7.1% $245,400
Matthews 16 17 30,054 4.2% $224,000
Waxhaw 17 15 12,398 6.2% $273,900
Rolesville 18 24 5,583 10.3% $259,000
Oak Ridge 19 27 6,617 2.4% $320,700
Summerfield 20 27 10,758 4.1% $342,300
Clemmons 21 13 19,536 3.3% $202,200
Raleigh 22 53 441,326 6.1% $218,200
Fuquay-Varina 23 55 22,722 7.5% $208,100
Knightdale 24 44 13,787 5.9% $171,300
Black Mountain 25 33 8,168 6.7% $205,900
Mint Hill 26 29 25,024 4.4% $218,200
Cornelius 27 6 27,426 4.6% $258,800
Marvin 28 16 6,056 4.5% $618,900
Gibsonville 29 31 6,759 6.7% $148,700
Lewisville 30 25 13,356 5.4% $185,500
Hillsborough 31 45 6,428 5.9% $205,300
Weddington 32 18 10,254 3.0% $426,400
Clayton 33 41 18,553 7.6% $162,000
Garner 34 48 27,625 6.3% $164,800
Leland 35 35 17,023 6.3% $205,900
Jacksonville 36 41 68,404 11.9% $150,800
Stokesdale 37 54 5,278 4.6% $198,300
Mooresville 38 26 35,387 7.4% $194,500
Mebane 39 37 13,592 6.7% $172,400
Durham 40 63 251,761 6.5% $183,900
King 41 46 6,777 5.2% $145,400
Concord 42 51 85,753 8.1% $169,800
Boone 43 30 18,241 17.1% $257,000
Brevard 44 34 7,710 8.3% $198,400
Asheville 45 49 87,531 6.1% $212,000
Southern Pines 46 58 13,258 7.4% $278,700
Carolina Beach 47 38 6,048 6.7% $288,300
Mills River 48 10 6,990 3.3% $221,300
Wendell 49 50 6,298 3.1% $127,100
Kernersville 50 36 23,736 5.2% $170,200
Wesley Chapel 51 23 8,217 6.9% $321,300
Oak Island 52 70 7,359 7.3% $255,500
Havelock 53 32 20,630 11.6% $140,000
Mount Holly 54 56 14,058 9.6% $156,400
Wilmington 55 59 113,724 8.1% $224,300
Indian Trail 56 39 36,357 5.4% $177,200
Nashville 57 71 5,521 5.3% $122,000
Archdale 58 47 11,483 6.3% $134,600
Greensboro 59 61 282,177 7.6% $148,500
Hope Mills 60 66 16,189 9.8% $124,000
Belmont 61 68 10,494 7.7% $156,700
Conover 62 65 8,263 7.9% $138,600
Trinity 63 75 6,651 4.4% $131,200
Aberdeen 64 60 7,107 6.2% $170,300
Kill Devil Hills 65 57 6,948 9.4% $234,900
Hendersonville 66 40 13,548 7.1% $167,000
Greenville 67 62 89,745 12.0% $148,200
Woodfin 68 64 6,241 10.1% $145,500
Unionville 69 43 6,397 6.2% $190,200
Hickory 70 69 40,274 7.5% $157,500
Kannapolis 71 78 45,685 9.7% $125,600
High Point 72 73 108,982 9.5% $142,700
Waynesville 73 72 9,788 5.3% $159,900
New Bern 74 77 30,075 10.6% $150,000
Boiling Spring Lakes 75 101 5,703 7.6% $146,500
Charlotte 76 52 808,834 8.5% $178,000
Angier 77 5,079 11.1% $151,800
Pineville 78 79 8,244 7.0% $162,100
Cherryville 79 74 5,901 11.4% $113,300
Fayetteville 80 76 203,670 12.1% $127,500
Winston-Salem 81 67 238,474 9.9% $142,400
Wilson 82 82 49,558 8.9% $134,900
Burlington 83 81 52,570 8.0% $124,400
Gastonia 84 99 73,877 10.5% $135,900
Butner 85 80 7,692 7.2% $127,200
Thomasville 86 92 27,178 13.2% $109,900
Mount Airy 87 91 10,364 6.7% $131,600
Washington 88 87 9,862 14.9% $144,500
Graham 89 102 14,506 7.4% $128,600
Sanford 90 94 29,048 9.5% $132,200
Mocksville 91 83 5,140 6.3% $139,900
Rocky Mount 92 95 56,175 13.0% $105,200
Spring Lake 93 90 13,258 13.4% $92,200
Newton 94 106 12,999 11.9% $113,700
Williamston 95 111 5,534 13.6% $92,900
Kings Mountain 96 89 11,053 16.4% $103,400
Sawmills 97 86 5,119 6.2% $94,900
Tarboro 98 93 11,206 9.9% $98,400
Roanoke Rapids 99 85 15,454 9.9% $116,000
Statesville 100 83 25,731 13.9% $135,300

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