The Best Places to Live in North Carolina

North Carolina is a beautiful state in which to live. There are mountains, beaches, colleges, cities and small towns that all but guarantee you will find the ideal place to suit your lifestyle, whether you are looking to enjoy a thriving career, raise a family, retire, or go to college.

When looking for the best places to live in North Carolina, you want to take into consideration a variety of factors, such as cost of living, population, education systems, and things to do. This list of the 10 best places to live in North Carolina does just that.


1. Live in Raleigh, North Carolina

In 2021, Bankrate dubbed Raleigh as not just one of the best places to live in North Carolina, but the best place to live in the entire U.S. As the state capitol, Raleigh boasts a moderate population and a good job market. It appeals to every age group, with parks, sports and concert venues, museums, and performing arts. Plus, it has a fabulous public education system, as well as 10 colleges and universities, including North Carolina State University.


2. Live in Durham, North Carolina

Durham has long been known for its tobacco and banking industries, but more recently has been named The City of Medicine USA, due to the growing healthcare industry and biotech industry. This, and the presence of prestigious universities, has drawn young professionals to the city.

Durham also has a hopping food scene that includes foods prepared with local ingredients, craft breweries, and locally sourced coffee. Best of all, Durham is only 30 minutes from Raleigh, which means you can enjoy the best of both worlds.


3. Live in Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina. With more than 40 colleges and universities in the area, there is a balanced mix of students and young professionals. There is plenty of shopping, a great bar and club scene, sports, and great living, all at affordable prices.


4. Live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem is a small North Carolina city with a big presence. It is home to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, famous for their Camel cigarettes, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and there are plenty of great restaurants, shopping, parks, and museums. And where else will you find a gas station in the shape of a shell? Best of all, the cost of living in Winston-Salem is 9% below the national average, making it a great place for anyone to live.


5. Live in Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is nestled between the Great Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a small, picturesque city in which to live. There is plenty of hiking and scenic views, and there are also local breweries, a fabulous restaurant scene offering up fine dining, and a thriving art and music scene. Bus and trolly services make it easy to get around, the cost of living is 4% lower than the national average, and even the commute to work takes less time than the nation’s average.


6. Live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Chapel Hill is a college town, making it livelier in the winter months and quieter in the summer. Even though there is a thriving bar and restaurant scene and loads of entertainment options, the town is family-friendly and very safe, with a top-notch healthcare system and the highest-ranked public school system in the state.


7. Live in Morrisville, North Carolina

Morrisville is located right in the center of North Carolina, as well as within the Research Triangle, a region that boasts Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and North Carolina universities. A stone’s throw from Raleigh, there is easy access to the job market and amenities of the capital and other cities. Plus, the public school system is superb, making it a great place to raise a family.


8. Live in Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington sits on the coast of North Carolina, allowing you easy access to beautiful local beaches. Downtown Wilmington offers up markets, restaurants, live music, and the 2-mile Riverwalk along Cape Fear River. With a young, lively population, the city also has a rich history and the largest historic district in the country. On top of all this, you will find median housing prices that are below the national average.


9. Live in Wake Forest, North Carolina

For some people, the best places to live in North Carolina are not the big, bustling cities. If you are looking for something quieter and closer to nature, you can’t go wrong with Wake Forest. This town is ideal for families and anyone else who wants to escape the big city.

Wake Forest boasts parks, hiking trails, summer concerts, local breweries, and history museums. While it has a slightly higher than average cost of living, incomes tend to be higher as well, with the primary industries being government, healthcare, and education. Plus, Wake Forest has been named the Top Spot to Retire by Where To Retire Magazine.


10. Live in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Southern Pines is a small town, as well as a golfer’s paradise, with easy access to some of the best courses in the state. With a short drive to Fayetteville, the town contains mix of military families, young families, and retirees. While there isn’t a thriving nightlife, it offers many family-friendly activities, making it the ideal place to raise a family.


Find out more about choosing the best place to live in North Carolina by speaking with one of our experienced Centex team members today.


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Published 01.20.22

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