5 Best Places to Live in North Carolina

If you are a fan of “Top 10” lists, then you have probably noticed that North Carolina is getting quite a bit of press lately for being an excellent place for people of all ages to live. From the capital city of Raleigh, to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Crystal Coast, there are communities across the state that offer a low cost of living along with excellent job opportunities and growing real estate markets. All these factors and much more help to make North Carolina one of the best places in the country to live. Learn more about which cities are attracting new residents and why you should consider a new home in North Carolina.


5 Best Places to Live in North Carolina

While you may have heard of Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham, you may be surprised to learn that some of the best places to live in North Carolina are just outside these major cities. For those who want to be close to the entertainment and amenities that go along with big cities, yet still enjoy the quiet of the suburbs, there are plenty of great options.

Our top five list

  • Cary

  • Apex

  • Fort Mill

  • Asheville

  • St. James


Best Places to Live in Raleigh   

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the state’s second largest city behind Charlotte. Known as the “City of Oaks”, this historical downtown is lined with gorgeous trees that offer a shaded stroll through the city’s 200 plus years of history.

As part of the larger Research Triangle Park area, Raleigh, along with Durham and Chapel Hill house some of the top higher educational facilities in the county and offer growing job opportunities in a number of sectors. Two of the top areas for new homes in Raleigh are the cities of Cary and Apex, which capitalize on the city’s unique mix of history and growth.

Cary, North Carolina

Cary is located in Wake County and sits on the western border of Raleigh. This quiet city is home to a nationally celebrated school system, a wealth of excellent job opportunities and a massive park and greenway system. Many residents make the short commute to work at the Research Triangle Park, which rivals Silicon Valley as a hub for innovation and technology.

New homes for sale in Cary, NC are plentiful, which means residents have numerous options to choose from to meet their needs.

Apex, North Carolina

Apex is another suburb of Raleigh and a neighbor to Cary. In 2015, Apex was named the best small town in the country. The area has all the charm and sense of community you would expect from a small southern town along with affordable housing and access to high paying jobs. It is an incredibly affordable place to live, especially for families. With top-notch schools and Jordan Lake nearby, there is something for everyone.

And, like its sister city, Cary, there are plenty of new homes for sale in Apex, NC, with options ranging from convenient townhomes to larger single family plans, perfect for growing families.


Best Place to Live in Charlotte 

As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte has been experiencing rapid growth in the last decade, quickly becoming a hub for millennial home buyers. With jobs ranging from tech to banking (Charlotte is home to Bank of America and hosts Wells Fargo east coast operations), people have been flocking to this growing market and enjoy the city’s temperate weather and active sports and social scene.

While Charlotte is certainly a busy hub, there are a number of suburbs around the city that offer new residents a balance between the bustle of city life and unique southern charm. Some of these smaller areas include: Huntersville, Marvin, Matthews, Waxhaw, and our top pick for best place to live in Charlotte: Fort Mill.

Fort Mill, North Carolina

Technically sitting just over the border in South Carolina, Fort Mill is a perfect suburban oasis that offers easy access to Charlotte with a calmer feel of a smaller southern town.

For families looking for quality schools, Fort Mill is home to one of the state’s top performing school districts and has won a number of national awards. And, for families looking for things to do, Fort Mill hosts miles of walking trails, access to recreational lake life at Lake Wylie, and several quality golfing communities, including Fort Mills Golf Club.

Striking the perfect balance between suburban calm and urban access, Fort Mill also has reasonable housing prices and selections. Buyers looking for new homes in Fort Mill, SC have the options ranging from charming 1920s bungalows to larger new construction homes. 


Best Place to Live in the Mountains

Asheville, North Carolina

If you head west on I-40 towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, you will hit Asheville, North Carolina, also known as the happiest city in America. Set against beautiful mountain scenery, Asheville is truly a city with a distinct personality. Any given night, you can catch a live show, eat a delicious meal, drive along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway and simply enjoy the outdoors. The city is alive with creative energy and a thriving small business community, making it a destination for entrepreneurs.


Best Place to Live by the Coast 

St. James, North Carolina 

If you prefer the beach instead of the city or the mountains, you might want to take a look at St. James North, Carolina. This relatively new town sits along the Intracoastal Waterway near Oak Island and 30 minutes south of Wilmington. While beach properties usually come at a premium, houses in the area are reasonably priced, making it a destination for retirees looking to enjoy the weather. It is a tight-knit community full of golf courses, tennis courts and all sorts of outdoor activities. Families also enjoy the slower pace of life along with low crime and excellent schools.


With easy access to entertainment, transportation, affordable housing, excellent schools and high-paying jobs, North Carolina is experiencing a population surge that has people from all over the country moving to the state. Fortunately, the cities are handling growth well, but you don’t want to wait too long to make your move and experience what North Carolina living is really like.


Contributed to Your Home blog by Amy Blitchock 

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 12.10.18

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