These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019


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

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the best places to live in North Carolina.

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

Some might say wherever there is a college basketball team, a NASCAR track, a sunny beach, a snowy mountain, great BBQ, or a hoppy crafted beer. When you stumble upon all, you might feel like you’ve won the North Carolina Lottery.

And, yes, it is possible.

The Tar Heel state takes eight hours to drive from the Outer Banks on its East Coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains on its Western border. You’ll never hear a North Carolinian say that they are bored: the eight hour trek unravels the state’s rich history around every Tar Heel corner.

The Outer Banks has pirate lore and shipwrecks, battles were lost and won in the Piedmont’s back yard, and ancient Cherokee stories continue to be told around ceremonial fires in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Craft beer, BBQ, and NASCAR aside, North Carolina has a lot to offer and it is no surprise that the Tar Heel State is the 28th most extensive and the 9th most populous in the U.S. Currently 38% of North Carolinians are college-educated and with top colleges and universities like Duke and UNC, that percentage is sure to increase. According to Forbes Magazine, North Carolina was chosen as the third best state for business.

Major metropolitan cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte are crushing the tech industry and local business is booming.

So grab a BBQ sammie and a pint of your favorite craft beer and read on to discover how we determined the Best Cities in North Carolina 2019:

  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)

We wish every Tarheel city could be in the top ten: they are all deserving.

It is, however, not a surprise that Cary takes the cake. What Cary does not have by way of mountains and beaches, it does make up for with its beautiful neighborhoods, gold star schools, and sweet Carolina BBQ.

Read on to see where to live in North Carolina that will make you feel like you have won the lottery.

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 Cities 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.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in North Carolina? That would be Cary.

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

Cary 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 Cary has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 4.0% and lowering. And the Cary police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the 4th lowest in the state here.

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

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 another gem in Tar Heel State. The unemployment rate here is 30th lowest in the entire state at 5.6%. Other factors that make Davidson so desirable is the solid education and home prices.

Homes are valued at $393,300, and parents earn a combined $109,907 a year

There’s nothing like the American dream.

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

Let’s take a look at why Apex is a great place to call home for 2019.

There’s low crime in Apex, and the residents here are gainfully employed (4.7% unemployment rate).

You can make Apex your home for only $278,400 which won’t be too hard on a $95,283 household salary.

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

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in Holly Springs.

Holly Springs ranked impressively high for its crime rate (3rd overall) and its short commute times (109th).

We think that’s worth the price of admission.

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

When you’re looking at the best places you could live in North Carolina, Pinehurst came in 5th. Let’s see why.

It has a low unemployment rate and high incomes.

Plus, Pinehurst has an impressive history for a place of just over 15,522 people. The median home costs a cool $287,400 and households make $78,338 which is good for 19th 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

Morrisville has a strong showing in our best places to live in North Carolina analysis, coming it at 6th best.

It ranks highly like many others in the top ten for a low unemployment rate and high adjusted median income. It scored extra points relative to the top ten for its size and things to do.

If you’re thinking of moving to North Carolina, Morrisville is a great option.

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

Things can’t get much better than in the town of Chapel Hill. The crime is the 26th lowest in the entire state, and the residents who live in Chapel Hill make huge salaries, and almost all of them have great jobs.

The median home costs a cool $390,300 and households make $65,373 which is good for 27th 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 has a long and illustrious history and its ranking in the top ten of our best places to live is just another notch in its belt.\n\Elon had the 61st highest household median income adjusted for cost of living at $45,767.

Not to mention that its residents have plenty to do on the weekends.

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

There’s two types of people who live in Wake Forest. Either the old hold outs who have lived there forever and are watching their home values skyrocket, or those d who can afford to buy a $270,300 home there.

Either way, you’re set. Your kids go to great schools, there’s a ton of things to do, and you earn a great salary. Wake Forest is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

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

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of North Carolina, as there were only 7 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 2nd lowest in North Carolina (3.0%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 42nd most expensive in Fletcher ($186,400), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $58,298 a year.

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 the best place to live in North Carolina for 2019.

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 2019

  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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