10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019

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

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.

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

But what city is the best place to live in North Carolina for 2019? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Cary is the best place to live in North Carolina if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.

It is 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:

The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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

There’s two types of people who live in Cary. 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 $309,800 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. Cary is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

Review Of Cary by HomeSnacks User

Teacher’s in cary are very kind and helpful, and can give you the best education you can get. So far as a child I’ve lived in cary all my life and I want it to stay like that, you can also get very kind, respectful and caring Neighbors.

My favorite places are either restraints because I love.. food or trampoline parks because they are very fun and enjoyable for about anyone. There isn’t really anything to watch out for because Cary, NC is the most safest city in America.

Davidson, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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

We wouldn’t be surprised to see CNN call Davidson 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 Davidson.

Review Of Davidson by HomeSnacks User

ive. Does have some problems, but at least it has not run all its middle class and minority people away like Davidson. Lived in Davidson from 1980 to 2015. Loved it! Well, loved it most of the time. Was a great small town for most of that time, but in the last 10 years or so, my ability to live there was not financially viable.

Couldn’t retire there.

When I moved to Davidson, I might see a dozen cars between Exit 30 and Sunset Road. I am happy that Davidson is moving in the direction their citizens embrace. Change is always happening. And I am sure my friends, long time residents and new arrivals are thrilled to be there.

Apex, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


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

In Apex, everyone loves to call Apex home! The median home value is the 14th highest in North Carolina.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 19th lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Tar Heel State.

Holly Springs, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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

Holly Springs is a short drive from everything, but who would want to leave the 4th best place in North Carolina?

Homes are priced around $249,500 and residents have the 109th shortest commute in North Carolina.

Pinehurst, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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 takes 5th place on our list of best places in North Carolina for 2019 thanks to a strong showing in unemployment rate (10th overall) and things to do.

Pinehurst is no stranger to top ten lists, being named one of the best places to live in the country by multiple outlets over the past ten years. And that tends to happen when home prices hit $287,400 at the median.

Morrisville, NC

Source: Town of Morrisville
Overall SnackAbility


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

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of North Carolina, as there were only 43 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 8th lowest in North Carolina (3.9%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 10th most expensive in Morrisville ($291,400), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $92,769 a year.

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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

When you’re looking at the best places you could live in North Carolina, Chapel Hill came in 7th. Let’s see why.

It has a low unemployment rate and high incomes.

Plus, Chapel Hill has an impressive history for a place of just over 59,005 people. 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


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 6highest 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


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

Wake Forest had the 31st lowest unemployment of any place in our research (5.7%) and the 33rd lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and long commute times held it back from being higher on our list.

Wake Forest is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department that represents so much about what it’s like to live there.

Fletcher, NC

Overall SnackAbility


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

We think the motto in Fletcher should be “Everything is greater in Fletcher,” and that seems to be pretty close to the truth.

Fletcher has some of the highest home values in North Carolina, and they’re going up fast. Additionally, Fletcher only has 720.0% of its residents living in poverty.

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

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.

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:

Where Are The 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

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

One thought on “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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