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.
Here are the 10 best places to live in North Carolina for 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.
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.
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.
The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2019
Let’s just put this to rest right now. No matter how passionate you are about where you live in North Carolina, Cary is by far the best place to live. At least according to science.
The residents of Cary are some of the wealthiest, most employed, and just about safest of anyone in the state. Plus, their kids go to some of the best-funded schools.
You know what they say: Money doesn’t buy happiness. But, in this case, it buys safety and peace of mind.
If you live here, you probably won’t brag about this ranking because you want to keep Cary a secret.
With the unemployment rate being the 30th lowest in North Carolina and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Davidson.
Plus, the crime rate is the 5th lowest in the state!
Apex is feeling the love as it ranks as the 3rd best city to live in North Carolina for 2019.
It ranked highly because of its high incomes (8th overall) and low crime (7th overall and one of the best in the top ten).
We think the city should probably change its motto at this point to something like “The Place To Be In North Carolina”.
If you don’t have a job in Holly Springs, 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 $98,041.
That’s actually not a bad idea…
Taking its place as the 5th best place in North Carolina is Pinehurst. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of North Carolina.
It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can’t be bored here.
An unemployment rate of only 4.0% helps thing too.
Morrisville isn’t just the nicest place to live in North Carolina – it’s also the one of the fastest growing places in the state. And with good reason.
It’s got the 8th lowest unemployment rate, the 11th highest adjusted income, and rates above most places in education.
When you’re looking at science and data, Morrisville definitely deserves a spot on the list for 2019.
The Chapel Hill has the 27th 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 Chapel Hill is higher than the national average and households make $65,373 per year.
We’d move to Chapel Hill if we could in a heart beat.
Elon is a short drive from everything, but who would want to leave the 8th best place in North Carolina?
Homes are priced around $236,500 and residents have the 24th shortest commute in North Carolina.
In Wake Forest, everyone loves to call Wake Forest home! The median home value is the 16th highest in North Carolina.
Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 31st lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Tar Heel State.
Wake Forest should consider renaming to Paradise Valley in our humble opinion.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see CNN call Fletcher 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 Fletcher.
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
- 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
|65||Kill Devil Hills||6,948|
|75||Boiling Spring Lakes||5,703|