North Carolina is a mid-Atlantic paradise for many as you can enjoy mild winters while avoiding the excessive summer temps that Texas and Florida endure. The Tarheel State offers a coastal lifestyle in the east and more temperate mountain climates.

With excellent hospitals, universities and a competitive cost of living, there are many places to live in North Carolina for families, retirees and those looking to make a fresh start.

If you’re wondering where the best places to live in North Carolina are, this guide can help you find your ideal location. We analyzed cities by pulling recent data on key lifestyle factors such as the area’s median home price, personal income per capita, and the unemployment and crime rate.

8. Asheville

Asheville is the most prominent city in western North Carolina that balances its Appalachian history with an eclectic, modern vibe emphasizing sustainable living.

Outdoors enthusiasts will love hiking in the mountains, searching for waterfalls and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway during peak fall season. The city is also home to the Biltmore Estate and North Carolina Arboretum.

However, this city can be a surprisingly expensive North Carolina mountain town with some of the state’s highest home prices. Thankfully, North Carolina state taxes are relatively low and help offset a higher cost of living.

35 Best Things To Do In Asheville, North Carolina

7. Hickory

Hickory is an affordable alternative to Asheville and Charlotte while approximately one hour from either city. The town derives its name from the Hickory Tavern, an inn built under a hickory tree in the 1850s that eventually had a thriving community spring up around it.

The city is the gateway to the Catawba Valley and is nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which makes it one of the state’s most budget-friendly cities to enjoy the mountains. This town is also family-friendly with its small population, low crime rate and southern charm.

Hickory | Community Guide

6. Greenville

Home to East Carolina University and an impressive medical center that doubles as a teaching hospital, Greenville is a thrilling college town with exciting social activities during the year for students and citizens.

For example, the city is home to the popular PirateFest, which can range up to eight city blocks with swashbuckling fun. There are several non-nautical cultural attractions, too, and you can get to the Outer Banks in only two hours for a beach getaway.

Why Now Is A Terrific Time To Visit Greenville, South Carolina's Most  Charming Town

5. Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is one of the best places to live in North Carolina for families as the metro area has affordable housing and a low cost of living. The Innovation Quarter business development initiative also provides a thriving jobs market with various offices and labs.

There are also several recreational greenways for exercising outdoors. You can relax at Bailey Park or enjoy Wake Forest University athletics as well.

Visit Winston - Salem: Best of Winston - Salem Tourism | Expedia Travel  Guide

4. Charlotte

Charlotte is the financial headquarters for several banks and is North Carolina’s largest city. Healthcare and technology are also thriving employment sectors.

The “Queen City” has it all for young professionals, families and retirees. Residents can enjoy professional sports and a thriving nightlife, and they also have access to a major international airport for travel.

However, you must be willing to either live in a major city or commute if you prefer a quieter suburban setting. This could be worth it, though, as you’ll be just over three hours away from the beach and can enjoy a temperate climate with milder winters than the rest of North Carolina.

What is Charlotte, NC Known For? | Redfin

3. Durham

The Durham and Chapel Hill area’s claim to fame might be Duke University and the University of North Carolina. These two universities are desirable institutions to attend, and both schools have an enduring basketball legacy.

This area also competes with nearby Raleigh for lucrative tech sector jobs. Healthcare is a vital source of employment, too, and is a desirable amenity for residents. In fact, one of Durham’s nicknames is the “City of Medicine” as it’s home to over 300 medical-related companies, including Duke University.

Durham 2024 | Ultimate Guide To Where To Go, Eat & Sleep in Durham | Time  Out

2. Wilmington

Wilmington is one of the best places to live in North Carolina near the beach as it is more affordable than the Outer Banks, which is the state’s most popular coastal vacation spot. There are several pristine beaches—such as Wrightsville Beach and Oak Island—for time in the sand and sun.

The seaport city has plenty of industry that can support permanent residents with non-tourism vocations. This town also has a rich historic district, and you’re also only a few hours from most major North Carolina cities for additional sightseeing and big city amenities.

Things to Do in Wilmington NC | Historical Sites & Fun Activities

1. Raleigh

There are many favorable factors that could make Raleigh a great place to settle down, including a high quality of life and an optimistic employment environment. The Research Triangle Park has also helped bring high-paying tech-related jobs to the area from employers like MetLife, Citrix and RedHat.

As you might expect from these tailwinds, Raleigh is one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing cities and it’s also the state capital.

Raleigh, N.C., Maps | Downtown Raleigh Map

By Aban

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