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:
- 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)
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.
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family 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 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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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
- 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:
- 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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|75||Boiling Spring Lakes||5,703|