10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (2024)

Where are the best places to live in the state of North Carolina?

Some might say wherever you can catch a Duke or UNC basketball game, a NASCAR track, a sunny beach, a snowy mountain, or a great BBQ. You might feel like you’ve won the North Carolina Lottery when you stumble upon a place with all these.

While cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte are great, the best places to live turn out be just outside the city limits.

We used Saturday Night Science to compare the data on factors like crime, income, and home prices for 132 cities in North Carolina. Here’s what we found.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Table | Map | Methodology | Summary

The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024

  1. Davidson
  2. Cary
  3. Apex
  4. Morrisville
  5. Cornelius
  6. Holly Springs
  7. Wake Forest
  8. Rolesville
  9. Pinehurst
  10. Chapel Hill

What is the best place to live in North Carolina for 2024? Davidson is the best place to live in North Carolina if you care about home values, low crime, and high quality of life.

Grab some BBQ and sweet tea, and read on to learn about the best cities in North Carolina.

For more reading, check out:

  • Best States In The US
  • Best Places To Live The US
  • Best Counties To Live In North Carolina

The 10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024

1. Davidson

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (2)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (3)

Source: Flickr User davidwilson1949 | CC BY 2.0

StatDavidsonNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year1
Median Home Value$624,402$320,323
Median Income$140,938$66,186
Unemployment Rate2.4%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.00500.0268

More on Davidson: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Home of the Davidson College Wildcats, Lake Norman, and great prices on real estate, the #1 best place to live in North Carolina, Davidson, is one of the Tar Heel State’s best kept secrets. But, with only 15,199 full time residents, there aren’t a lot of people to get the word out. But, this just adds to Davidson’s appeal. That, and the fact that it’s the 2nd safest cities on the list.

And, if you guessed that the people who live here are pretty smart–it’s a college town after all–you guessed right. Forty percent of Davidson’s residents have a Bachelor’s Degree and 23% have a Masters. These numbers are both well below the state and national level.

So, if you’re looking for “[A] College Town. [A] Lake Town. Your Town,” this city in this western pocket of the Piedmont has it all.

2. Cary

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (4)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (5)

Source: Flickr User James Willamor | CC BY-SA 2.0

StatCaryNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year2
Median Home Value$600,101$320,323
Median Income$125,317$66,186
Unemployment Rate3.4%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.01210.0268

More on Cary: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

If you don’t have a job in North Carolina’s 2nd best place to live, Cary, you’re most likely not trying very hard. The unemployment rate here is well below the national average. In fact, Cary is also one of the wealthiest cities in North Carolina, so there are probably enough butler and pool maintenance jobs available to give every single unemployed resident a job.

But what really makes Cary great is that it has one of the best school districts in the state, it’s super close to Raleigh and Durham, and it has been able to maintain its small city charm in the midst of its rapid growth.

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (7)

Source: Public domain

StatApexNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year3
Median Home Value$591,542$320,323
Median Income$129,688$66,186
Unemployment Rate4.1%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.01210.0268

More on Apex: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Now, if you love playing disc golf and just being outside, Apex has some of the best parks and outdoor activities. One of the best weekends in the Peak City could be spent “chasing chains” at the Apex Nature Park after your kids soccer game, only to be followed by some serious nightlife on Salem Street. So, we are not surprised that it’s the 3rd best place in North Carolina.

But, that’s not all that makes Apex a constant on this top ten list, you can get a home in Apex for $591,542, the unemployment rate here is below the national average, and it’s close to The Triangle. It, like Cary, also boasts some of the best schools in the state.

4. Morrisville

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (8)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (9)

Source: Town of Morrisville

StatMorrisvilleNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year4
Median Home Value$486,190$320,323
Median Income$114,075$66,186
Unemployment Rate3.6%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.02480.0268

More on Morrisville: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

We’re heading to Morrisville, a town of 29,756 situated between Raleigh and Durham, for our 4th best place to live in North Carolina.

For starters, Morrisville is family-friendly. 37.97% of Morrisville households have kids, and there’s a reason for that. Most public schools are in the top 5% statewide, and the local elementary school received a National Blue Ribbon Award. Not to mention that Morrisville has the 5th lowest high school dropout rate statewide.

There are also plenty of
family-friendly activities, like the miles of trails and endless water-sports fun available at Lake Crabtree County Park. Or the RDU Observation Park for those who like watching planes land and take off. And every September brings the East Meets West Festival, a celebration of the town’s cultural diversity complete with food and live music.

You don’t have to worry about crime in Morrisville because the town achieved the 2lowest violent crime rate in North Carolina over 2022. Homes here are the 22nd priciest statewide, with a median home value of $486,190.

The median household income here is $114,075. While the cost of living in Morrisville is higher than the statewide average, it’s mostly due to housing — things like groceries, utilities, and health costs are right on level or below average prices.

5. Cornelius

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (10)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (11)

Source: Public domain

StatCorneliusNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year7
Median Home Value$501,024$320,323
Median Income$107,969$66,186
Unemployment Rate3.4%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.01150.0268

More on Cornelius: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Cornelius, located in northern Mecklenburg County, is a great place to live for many reasons. Known for its low cost of living and high quality of life, Cornelius offers residents a wide range of attractions and activities to enjoy.

Cornelius is conveniently located just 20 miles north of Charlotte, providing easy access to the city’s amenities and employment opportunities. With a median home price that ranks among the best in North Carolina and a strong sense of community, Cornelius truly offers the best of both worlds – a peaceful suburban lifestyle with all the conveniences of a larger city.

The town is home to several art galleries, theaters, and music venues. It’s also close to Lake Norman, which gives you easy access to the beautiful lake, where they can enjoy boating, fishing, and water sports.

6. Holly Springs

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (12)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (13)

Source: Wikipedia User Jon Harrison | CC BY-SA 3.0

StatHolly SpringsNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year5
Median Home Value$550,787$320,323
Median Income$127,755$66,186
Unemployment Rate3.5%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.01160.0268

More on Holly Springs: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

This is the first time Carolina Beach has made our top ten list of best places to live in North Carolina and we are as happy as an intracoastal clam. Matter of fact, if you haven’t been to this coastal city, you’re missing out. It’s one of the coolest, most eclectic beach towns on North Carolina’s coast.

But, all pristine beaches, safe communities, and bicycle friendly lanes aside, Carolina Beach has the 6th lowest unemployment rate on this list–well below the national average. Keep in mind, however, that most of these are second homes and that many of the people who keep this beach town in operation commute from the greater Wilmington area.

If you do decide to become a Carolina Beach local, be prepared to pay around $550,787 for a home and make sure that you have a job that pays at least $127,755/year before you make the big move.

7. Wake Forest

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (14)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (15)

Source: Wikipedia User Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) | GFDL

StatWake ForestNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year6
Median Home Value$513,842$320,323
Median Income$115,159$66,186
Unemployment Rate4.3%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.01240.0268

More on Wake Forest: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

North Carolina’s 7th best place to live, Wake Forest, is kind of a big deal. Located just East of Falls Lake and slightly northeast of the Raleigh, Wake Forest is the quintessential North Carolina city. Here, old oak tree lined streets protect homes with large yards and porches with white rocking chairs. However, all of this does come at a price: the cost of living in Wake Forest is well above the national average. Basically, you’re going to have to make at least $115,159/year to afford the average home price of $513,842.

But, the benefits of living in Wake Forest definitely outweighs the costs.
So, if you’re looking for a place with super nice people, super safe communities, and high performing schools don’t wait because you might lose your spot in one of North Carolina’s fastest growing cities.

8. Rolesville

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (16)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (17)

Source: Wikipedia User Mkrpowers | CC BY-SA 3.0

StatRolesvilleNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year10
Median Home Value$497,136$320,323
Median Income$145,166$66,186
Unemployment Rate3.7%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.00800.0268

More on Rolesville: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Let’s roll into Rolesville, the #8 best place to live in North Carolina. The town is the second oldest in Wake County and a suburb of Raleigh. It has experienced a substantial rise in 9,696, supporting its historical allure with modern expansion. The locality is characterized by a strong economy, indicated by a high 145,166 and low 3.7, reflecting its economic resilience.

Rolesville has an excellent education system, low crime rates, and awesome parks and trails. Rolesville’s closeness to Raleigh allows residents to enjoy a Canes or Bulls game while benefiting from an average 33 minute commute time.

9. Pinehurst

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (18)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (19)

Source: Wikipedia User Leonard J. DeFrancisci | CC BY-SA 3.0

StatPinehurstNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year11
Median Home Value$487,605$320,323
Median Income$102,917$66,186
Unemployment Rate4.2%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.00420.0268

More on Pinehurst: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

“The Home of American Golf” and the infamous Pinehurst Resort, might seem out of reach for most bank accounts, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that you can score a home in North Carolina’s 9th best place to live, Pinehurst, for $487,605. The yin to that yang, however, is that if you don’t already have a job lined up in healthcare or hospitality, you’re going to need to rethink your career path if you move here. While the unemployment rate is 4.2%, there aren’t a lot of options for people who don’t hold a degree.

But, don’t let this deter you: it’s worth it. This city of 17,653 residents is one of the safest places in the Tar Heel State. So, if affordability and safety are at the top of your “must have” list, Pinehurst checks all of the boxes.

10. Chapel Hill

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (20)

10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (21)

Source: Wikipedia User Caroline Culler (User:Wgreaves) | GFDL

StatChapel HillNorth Carolina
Rank Last Year8
Median Home Value$603,034$320,323
Median Income$85,940$66,186
Unemployment Rate4.7%5.1%
Crime Per Capita0.02250.0268

More on Chapel Hill: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Situated just several miles southwest of Downtown Durham, Chapel Hill ranks as the 10th best place to live in North Carolina for 2024. Home to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has a young median age of 25.

There’s also plenty to keep you occupied in Chapel Hill — from The Carolina Basketball Museum to the Ackland Art Museumto the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, there’s something for everyone here.

Not to mention that downtown Chapel Hill is positively hopping with fun things to do. Chapel Hill public schools also spend roughly 20% more per student than the statewide average, so you know your kids will have all the resources they need to succeed. Additionally, 78% of adults in Chapel Hill are highly educated.

And just because Chapel Hill is the 4th most densely populated spot in the Tarheel State, doesn’t mean it’s dangerous — in fact, Chapel Hill has some of the safest streets around.

Home prices in Chapel Hill are the 5th most expensive in North Carolina, with a median price tag of $603,034. Residents enjoy a median household income of $85,940.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in North Carolina

Image Version Available Here

Best Places To Live In North Carolina Size Requirement

Before we even started to collect data on the best places to live in North Carolina, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Raleigh, with a population of 465,517, against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So, to create our ranking, we broke the best 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 filter left 132 cities, 295 towns, and 250 small towns.

We then decided no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in North Carolina have more of everything, and therefore, you need over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best.’

Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In North Carolina

Now that we had our set of the best possible cities, it was time to rank them using Saturday Night Science.

We ranked each place in North Carolina across a number of criteria from one to 132, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, crowning the city posting the lowest overall score, the “Best Place To Live In North Carolina.”

The criteria we looked to determine the best places were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data, FBI Crime Data, and Zillow. We updated this article for 2024. This report is our tenth time ranking North Carolina’s best places to live.

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 Davidson at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Summary: The Best Places 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.

The best places to live in North Carolina are Davidson, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Cornelius, Holly Springs, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Pinehurst, and Chapel Hill.

Davidson made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in North Carolina for 2024.

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Laurinburg (Pop. 14,971)
  2. Roxboro (Pop. 8,131)
  3. Wadesboro (Pop. 5,004)

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Best Places To Live In North Carolina Table

RankCityPopulationUnemployment RateHome ValueMedian IncomeRentCrime Per Capita
6Holly Springs42,0233.5%$550,787$127,755$1,7450.0116
7Wake Forest48,0474.3%$513,842$115,159$1,3540.0124
10Chapel Hill58,9194.7%$603,034$85,940$1,4190.0225
15Black Mountain8,4301.1%$450,375$75,310$1,2840.0215
23St. James6,5663.5%$705,540$113,507$2,1020.1594
24Oak Island8,5644.9%$536,118$85,513$1,2850.0152
30Mint Hill26,5374.9%$471,547$92,102$1,4090.0106
36Oak Ridge7,6373.8%$514,942$146,131$00.0463
43Mills River7,1005.2%$503,109$79,802$1,1860.0418
44Carolina Beach6,5838.9%$582,789$87,159$1,3040.0272
51Kill Devil Hills7,6586.1%$490,281$73,036$1,2510.0304
53Indian Trail40,3255.3%$408,207$95,101$1,8020.0477
54Southern Pines15,7016.7%$460,376$81,867$1,2010.0233
59Mount Holly17,6446.5%$341,383$73,923$1,1040.0172
62New Bern31,3734.5%$262,377$55,673$1,0190.0257
65Boiling Spring Lakes6,0326.2%$309,998$57,969$1,2510.0161
67Wesley Chapel8,7634.1%$595,551$133,333$2,0330.0477
78High Point114,1206.2%$229,659$58,582$1,0300.0324
82Hope Mills17,6717.8%$227,508$57,864$1,0640.0421
91Long View5,0295.3%$183,003$44,740$6920.0292
95Spring Lake11,7108.3%$219,908$44,447$1,1510.0360
99Rocky Mount54,2607.8%$188,742$50,092$8910.0361
10 Best Places To Live In North Carolina For 2024 (2024)


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