Thinking About Making the Move to North Carolina? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- Where Are The Best Places To Live In North Carolina?
- What About The Job Market In North Carolina?
- How Is The North Carolina Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In North Carolina?
- Is North Carolina A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like?
- What Are The Coolest Things To Do In North Carolina?
- Strange Laws & Fun Facts About North Carolina
Thinking of moving to North Carolina? You’re certainly not alone.
North Carolina’s charm, climate, diversity, and job opportunities have drawn more people to move to the Tar Heel state than ever before.
This east coast state has seen the arrival of 848,000 new residents since the 2010 census, which is an 8.9% population increase. While that number includes births and not just immigrants, it is still estimated that three out of every four new residents are moving in from other states and countries.
Upon inspection, it’s pretty easy to see why so many people are moving here. While North Carolina may be the famed land of sweet barbecue and thrilling college basketball, it’s a state that’s filled with culture, innovation, and job opportunities. There are many employment possibilities if you work in research or higher education, but manufacturing and other industries are also thriving.
Still debating a move to this east coast state? Read on to discover what North Carolina has to offer before buying a house or renting here.
Where Are The Best Places To Live In North Carolina?
Let’s take a look at a few of N. Carolina’s gems that we feel are worth consideration.
In no particular order…
You don’t have to be a geometry major to appreciate this shapely-named area in NC.
“The Triangle” represents an area of North Carolina that features a low crime rate, great local culture, and ideal job opportunities. These cities and suburbs are growing like crazy—and for good reason!
Most of these areas are in the three cities that make up the famed Research Triangle of North Carolina. The Triangle refers to a literal triangular area between three major research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The main cities that these universities are in are Raleigh, Durham, and the town of Chapel Hill. Thanks to its status as a major research hub in the United States, the Triangle is full of opportunities—even if you’re not in academia or research.
So put that lab coat away and give the area a tour to find out for yourself. We bet you’ll like what you find.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (March 28, 2020)
The city of Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina, and it’s perfect for young professionals who seek the buzz of city life. The schools in the area are good, and the cost of living is relatively low for a large city: the median home value is $280,000, and on average this will buy you a three- or four-bedroom home. This is higher than most of North Carolina, but very low compared to other parts of the United States. About 86% of the workforce in Raleigh are employed in white-collar jobs.
Home to Duke University (Go Blue Devils!), the city of Durham is a major hub for art and diversity. It has earned the title of “Foodiest Small Town in America” from Bon Appetit.
Durham has the charm of a small town while still being a city, and as of 2017, it held the number two spot for the fastest-growing city in the state. Living in the area also proves to be a great value: the median list price per square foot in Durham is $153. In comparison, the average price per square foot in the general Durham-Chapel Hill Metro area comes in at around $161.The value of homes is rising as demand increases, but the average single-family house will still cost you around $233,800, depending on the neighborhood.
Durham is a very ethnically diverse city. The majority of residents report their race as Black or African-American. The second-largest racial group is White. Durham is also one of the most educated cities in the nation, with 48.80% of adults holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
Chapel Hill sits right on the cusp between being a town and being a city. While the University of North Carolina gives the area a big jolt of life, the area still retains the feel of a town. The architecture and trees that inhabit central Chapel Hill are quaint and comforting. This area is, however, expensive to live in: the average home value comes in at $388,800, which is high compared to the other two cities in the Triangle and on par with some of the most expensive markets in the country. Still, for many people, the perks are worth it.
Chapel Hill is home to a huge scientific community. A whopping 94.52% of workers hold white-collar jobs. It is also a diverse community — 15.71% of residents were born in another country. This is all thanks to the local University of North Carolina, which heavily affects the demographics of the Chapel Hill community. Not only are there many college students living here, but many choose to remain even after graduation.
What About The Job Market In North Carolina?
North Carolina’s unemployment rate has hovered at around four percent for the past several years, placing it in alignment with the national unemployment rate give or take. Not bad at all.
In general, employment opportunities abound in NC, particularly if you’re looking to work in medicine, aerospace and defense, or food manufacturing. These particular industries host a number of companies that have a firm base of operations in North Carolina.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or the doctor your mother always wanted you to be in order to take advantage. The fact is, even aerospace businesses and hospitals need administrators, marketing, accounting, and so on.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (March 28, 2020)
Medicine and medical research are a booming industry in North Carolina, particularly in the Triangle. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nine out of the ten highest-paying jobs in North Carolina are related to a medical field. If you’ve been considering a career change or a new industry to hone your craft, medical-related businesses abound in NC.
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are thriving thanks to the many top-tier universities in the area. In fact, the Triangle boasts the country’s highest concentration of Tier 1 research universities. This field has experienced a 31-percent growth since 2001.
The top biotech and pharma companies in the state include BASF, Novartis, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, and LabCorp. This industry as a whole has provided jobs for nearly 60,000 residents of North Carolina. In total, there are over 600 life science companies operating in North Carolina.
Aerospace and Defense
You don’t have to be a rocket man or an astrophysicist to take advantage of opportunities in this job market. Aside from medical research, aerospace manufacturing is another fast-growing industry in the area. It seems like a logical development, seeing as the Wright brothers flew the first plane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The transportation and research structures that already exist in the state lend themselves very well to all sorts of defense research and manufacturing. Today, there are more than 460,000 manufacturing workers in NC, making labor plentiful and encouraging companies in this industry to set up shop in the area. In fact, North Carolina has the nation’s tenth-largest manufacturing workforce.
Some of the key aerospace and defense companies operating in North Carolina include ATI, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin.
Food Processing and Manufacturing
Enjoy food? Although you might not get to eat on the job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help get scrumptious morsels from plant to store shelve. The food and agricultural industries are also an important part of the state’s backbone. North Carolina has the second-largest animal processing and manufacturing cluster in the United States.
Butterball, Campbells, and Tyson are three major food processing and manufacturing companies that have large operations in North Carolina.
Other Fields and Opportunities
Even if you’re not a professional in any of the above fields, there are bound to be many employment opportunities for you in this state. North Carolina boasts the lowest corporate income tax rate in the country, which attracts many companies and encourages them to bring their business and jobs into the state.
I would highly recommend moving to North Carolina!
“I’m a small business owner currently located in Charlotte, NC and I absolutely love living and working in the “Old North State.” From a professional perspective, there is abundant talent and opportunity in the finance, technology, healthcare and manufacturing industries. Our company manufactures products locally and the network of small businesses across the state is phenomenal. From a logistics standpoint, North Carolina is centrally located on the East Coast; with ports, rail lines and major interstates, there is excellent transportation infrastructure to move product across the state and around the country with ease.”
Nathan James, President – Boardroom Socks
North Carolina’s Top Ten Largest Employers
- Lowe’s Companies
- Bank of America
- U.S. Trust
- Compass Group
- QUINTILES IMS HLDGS
- Family Dollar
How Is The North Carolina Real Estate Market?
No doubt moving can be stressful. The last thing you need to fret about is finding a place to live, yet before making the move you’ll need to do just that. The good news is that in general, housing in North Carolina is cheaper than the rest of the east coast. This makes the coastal state a bargain while still being able to take advantage of all the coastal area has to offer. The median value of homes in the state runs right around $178,535.
For reference, in Virginia—North Carolina’s neighbor to the north—the median home value is $277,587. About 37 percent of homes in North Carolina are valued in the range of $118,000 to $237,000. One notable exception is Chapel Hill, a town that regularly figures in lists of the most expensive neighborhoods in the United States.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (March 28, 2020)
Buying Vs Renting
What about buying vs renting? Well, right around 63% of homes in North Carolina are bought, not rented, with around 65% percent of homes being single-family. If you’re ready to set down permanent roots just yet, nearly half the housing market consists of rentals, providing plenty of options to explore while you’re figuring out where your “forever” home might be.
The Best Areas for Value
Although Concord and Cary are the cheapest desirable cities to live in North Carolina, Durham is also a strong contender. About 70% of Durham residents spend 30% or less of their income on housing. In fact, that’s a trend among these low-cost North Carolina cities: housing is cheap, but average household income is high, leading to affordable neighborhoods that people want to live in.
New Builds vs Old Construction
Most homes in North Carolina are relatively new. In fact, it’s estimated that about half of the homes in the state were built between 1970 and 1999, and nearly 25% are even newer. This is great news if you’re looking to buy a home, as newer houses present fewer problems. Most new homes are built up to code, decreasing the likelihood of expensive repairs and adjustments being needed.
The Best Time to Buy a Home in NC
According to local reals estate data, those homes listed between May 1st through the 15th sold for up to $2500 more and up to 11 days faster. If higher prices and more competition from other buyers isn’t your thing, aim to start your home search over the winter. Schedule permitting, if you can close on a home between January and February you stand to save up to 10% off of the average sales price.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (March 28, 2020)
How Much Does It Cost To Live In North Carolina?
If you’re contemplating a move to NC, one of the major questions that you’ll no doubt be asking is how much it costs to live in the state. In other words, what is the cost of living like as compared to the rest of the country?
Overall, the cost of living in North Carolina consistently comes in below the national average in several main categories. While there are some areas that are exceptions to the rule, North Carolina is a good choice if you want to get a big bang for your buck.
If there’s one thing we can’t escape in life, its taxes. Let’s take a closer look at some of NC’s taxes that you could expect to be subject to should you decide to move here…
North Carolina operates on a flat-rate state income tax with an effective rate of 5.4999%. In lay terms, this means that everyone pays an identical rate no matter their status or level of income. In order to determine your state income tax liability in NC, simply multiply your taxable income by 0.05499.
The state sales tax rate in NC is currently 4.75%. However, the total amount of “sales tax” that you will pay at the cash registrar may vary depending on the local municipality you’re in. For example, additional local sales tax in some counties can bring the total sales tax rate up to around 6.75-7.5%.
For most of us, our gas-guzzling vehicles represent a significant monthly expense to fuel up, especially if we have significant commutes to and from work. In NC, the state tax on gas currently sits at 35.4 cents per gallon, with total prices on gas for 2019 coming in just under the national average.
Cost of Housing
Housing costs, as mentioned above, lean towards the affordable side of the scale. This doesn’t just apply to buying a house, either—the average price of rent in North Carolina is significantly lower than the national average.
Data presented by Neighborhood Scout reveals that the median home value in N. Carolina sits right around $174,000. Although this price is inflated in larger cities, deals can be found even lower in more rural areas, meaning that there are lots of deals to be had at every income level. This is likely why so many NC residents are homeowners 963%). Best of all, home values seem to be on the rise in NC, with data showing that between 2017-2018 home values increased by an impressive 7.5%.
As far as rent goes, rates come in well below the national median. According to statistics gathered by Best Places, a two-bedroom apartment in North Carolina will run you about $875, whereas the national average for a two-bedroom apartment falls at around $1148.
Cost of Food
We all have to eat right? According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a single adult in North Carolina will likely spend $249.50 per month on food. A family of two adults and two children will spend $735. This is for the bare necessities.
The price of groceries varies by area, of course, but these food prices are a bit below the national average. According to BestPlaces, the cost of groceries in North Carolina comes in at 96.5, slightly below the national average denoted by 100.
Cost of Utilities
Utilities make up a big part of our monthly budgets, from pumping in cool AC during blistering hot summer months, to making sure you stay warm and cozy all winter long. According to Numbero, their data shows that the average monthly utility bills in Charlotte, including electricity, heating, water and refuse come in at about $169.79 per 900-ish square feet of property. This is slightly higher than the national average but not by much.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (March 28, 2020)
Is North Carolina A Good Place To Retire?
If you’re nearing the age of retirement, or already there, you may be considering a move to a more “retiree” friendly state. Climate, neighbors, activities, and cost of living are all things you may want to consider. And you should. After all, now is the time to (hopefully) take a breather and relax.
NC – Ranked One of the Best
When Bankrate conducted an examination of places to retire, North Carolina made the list at number six. The rating cited the following as primary reasons why NC is a great place to retire:
- Cost of living
- The economy
- And more…
Why North Carolina is a Great Place to Retire
North Carolina has many amazing things going for it.
- Community – North Carolina boasts a large diversity of people and friendly communities.
- Cost of living – Rent and homes have low prices and taxes are low, as well. This allows your retirement fund to last longer.
- Activities – There are many wonderful opportunities to be outdoors. The summers can be hot, but the winters are nice and mild. There is also a diverse nature of activities to choose from.
- Economy – Although some areas of the country are struggling, North Carolina has a strong economy with great education and technology, drawing in people looking for opportunity.
Negative Factors to Consider
Every place has its downside, and North Carolina is no different. Here are a few things you may want to consider if contemplating spending your retirement in NC:
- Crime – The higher-than-average crime rate is mostly due to Lumberton and Oxford. Other areas are generally safer.
- Hurricanes – Anywhere on the coast puts you at risk for these nasty storms, but the farther inland you are, the less likely you will be hit by one, although it will impact local weather.
- Seasonal Weather – The change in seasons isn’t as severe as in other northernmost states, but if your dreams are of warm sunny beaches all year round, NC might not be the best fit.
Best Cities to Retire In
Within North Carolina, there are many wonderful areas to consider. Here are a few cities and what they have to offer:
- Highlands – This scenic area has a low population, except during tourist season. If you are looking for a more isolated experience, consider this town in the mountains.
- Chapel Hill – Bustling with artists, music, and dining experiences, Chapel Hill has something to offer for everyone.
- Davidson – This is a lakeside town that offers that laidback feel but is also close to Charlotte, in case you need to get that big-city feeling once in a while.
- Asheville – Into craft beer? Asheville offers that and more! Art and music are a big deal here, as well.
No matter where you choose to retire in North Carolina, you will encounter friendly locals, a bustling economy, and diverse options for activities. The scenic beauty of this state is unrivaled. North Carolina is a wonderful place to retire.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (March 28, 2020)
What Are The People And Culture Like?
When considering a move to North Carolina, you may be curious about what the people are like there. Local culture is an important aspect of an area. You want to find a local community that melds well with your lifestyle and interests.
A Historical Adventure
As a coastal state, North Carolina has a rich and storied history. In New Bern, for example, you can visit old mansions and beautiful gardens. Edenton has an interesting history as well, being one of the areas where “tea parties” protesting taxes were held, most people just think this happened in Boston Massachusetts.
Explore the Arts
North Carolina isn’t just great for history buffs, however. There is also a rich arts scene.
- In 1964, North Carolina established an arts council.
- Public funds are used for grants in the arts scene, and the role of arts in the state has been greatly expanded.
- The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh hosts over 5,000 pieces of art.
- The symphony is state-supported and tours the entire state between September and May.
- Wood carving, ceramics, quilting, and more can be explored throughout the state.
No matter what craft or culture you are into, North Carolina has something for everyone.
A Beautiful Mix of People
North Carolina has a diverse mixture of people, as well. Camping enthusiasts, fishermen, and technology buffs all mingle together throughout the state. No matter where you go, you encounter communities of all kinds.
People types can be unofficially broken down by area:
- Those who live in central North Carolina are stereotypical “bless your heart” Southerners. They are friendly and always willing to lend a hand.
- If you prefer the conservative scene, check out the reserved residents of eastern North Carolina and the outer banks. Their attitude may be a bit rougher, but they are generally trusting
- Western mountains – This is where Native Americans and Appalachian dwellers live. They hold tight to tradition, providing an interesting look at how life has developed in North Carolina.
- Southern North Carolina – This is where beach life and tourism thrive. If you like to keep busy or enjoy the shoreline, this area is for you.
- Fort Bragg and surrounding area – Those who are in the military or supporting civilians live in this area.
Famous North Carolinians
North Carolina has also spawned many celebrities! For fun, here is a list of a few claims to fame:
- Racer Richard Petty
- Singer Nina Simone
- Virginia Dare – the first child born in the new colonies
- Edward Snowden – famed whistleblower
- Clay Aiken – musical artist
- Dolley Madison – the first lady to James Madison
- Andy Griffith
- Musician Ben Folds
- Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard
- And many more…
What Are The Coolest Things To Do In North Carolina?
North Carolina offers plenty of options when it comes to planning a vacation or getting to know your new home state. Saturated in history and culture, North Carolina has something for everyone. From multiple types of tours, to out of this world food, it’s easy to find something for everyone to enjoy.
So, let’s take a look at some of the coolest things to do while in North Carolina.
Tours are a great way to explore the cities of North Carolina. Immerse yourself in the historical stories, haunted histories, and kicking cuisine as you move about the town with a group. Some tours are private, while others are open to all.
The cities of Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh offer walking tours that cover both the history and culture of their cities. There are also many options for haunted tours, walking you through the tragic past, if that’s more your style. Walking tours do require you to be on your feet moving with a group for 1-2 hours, depending on the trip you choose.
Price Range: $10-$40
If you aren’t interested in walking around the city, maybe riding is more your style. Charlotte and Asheville both offer a variety of riding tours. Charlotte has traditional historical tours as well as unconventional comedy tours. Riding around the city will cost a little more than walking, but it will still be a great way to spend 1-2 hours learning about local history.
Price Range: $20-$60
If you are looking for something a little more unconventional, both Charlotte and Asheville offer Segway tours. You will be able to ride your own Segway around the city for 2-4 hours as you experience all there is.
Price Range: $60-$70
There are many National Forests located in North Carolina that are waiting to be explored. The Blue Ridge Parkway is located in Asheville, and the waterfalls are breathtaking. You can also choose to hike the Catawba Falls situated on the other side of Asheville.
A guide will assist the hike and cover the history of the area for all who attend. It is recommended that those who opt for waterfall climbing be in good health, you will be on your feet for 2-3 hours.
Price Range: $50-$150
NASCAR Hall Of Fame
If racing is your thing, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte, NC. Spend the day learning about the history surrounding this sport, and take part in an interactive experience. This hall of fame offers virtual rides, food, and guided tours. The ultimate racers dream awaits in Charlotte, NC.
Price Range: $25-$50
Consider moving to the Charlotte area!
“Whether you’re committed to moving to North Carolina or still on the fence, consider Charlotte for your new residence. Charlotte, NC, also known as the “Queen City”, is a one-of-a-kind place whose attractions and beauty allow it to be one of the most unique cities in the country. We have a safe, friendly and diverse community of people who are all committed to making Charlotte the best city possible.
Along with our wide variety of exciting food, sports, and entertainment, Charlotte also has a low cost of living, a thriving job market, affordable housing, and terrific public schools. It’s the perfect place for someone who wants the amenities of the big city with small-town charm. With an average temperature of 61.5 degrees, you also can’t beat the weather in Charlotte. All of these reasons and more are why 100+ people are moving to Charlotte daily.”
Brad Little, President – Case Design/Remodeling Charlotte
Something for Everyone
From National Forests to historical cities, North Carolina has a lot to offer. Tours are the best way to explore your surroundings, even when it comes to local food. That’s right, Charlotte offers a food tour. For $80 a person, everyone can eat their way through the local cuisine. With so many cool options, the only hard part is figuring out how to fit them all in.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (March 28, 2020)
Strange Laws & Fun Facts About North Carolina
Every state falls victim to outdated laws that have never been removed from the books, and North Carolina is no different. Although some statutes made sense back in the day, to look at them now, you can’t help but wonder what lawmakers were thinking. If you’re interested in learning some strange laws, and entertaining fun facts about North Carolina, keep reading.
Strange Laws In North Carolina
Let’s start with some strange laws that are still in effect in North Carolina. Most of these laws are no longer enforced, and citizens of this great state break them every day. Some activities are so strange you can’t help but wonder what incidences took place calling for such laws to be created.
- It is illegal to use elephants to plow your cotton fields.
- There is to be no selling of alcohol to BINGO players.
- In Forest City, NC, you must notify the city before entering a car.
- It is illegal to collect any reward money for turning yourself in.
- It is against the law to visit the dead after midnight.
- Professional psychics and mediums are unlawful, but non-professional ones are okay.
- It is illegal to Rollerblade on the highway as well as in the sun.
- It is against the law to sing off-key.
- If a single man and woman sign into a hotel room together, and register as married, North Carolina now states they are married.
As odd as these laws seem now back when they were created, they made a little more sense.
North Carolina Fun Facts
Where legal banter can be odd and a little hard to believe, fun facts can be a lot more interesting. Learning forgotten events that took place in North Carolina’s history will make you a hit at your next party. Well, it will at least give you material for some interesting conversations.
- Babe Ruth hit his first-ever home run in Fayetteville on March 7th, 1914.
- The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is the oldest State University in the U.S.
- The first-ever mini-golf course was built in Fayetteville, NC.
- Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk, two United States Presidents, got their start in North Carolina.
- North Carolina was the first state to establish a museum of art.
- North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes.
- The official drink of North Carolina is milk.
- The sport of NASCAR was started in North Carolina.
- The Venus Fly Trap is only found naturally in two American states, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Between the strange laws and fun state facts, North Carolina is one interesting place to live. So, the next time someone tries to say North Carolina is dull and lacking originality, you can hit them with a few of these facts. They may be a little strange and unorthodox, but these laws and events have helped make North Carolina the great state it is today.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (March 28, 2020)
Final Thoughts About North Carolina
North Carolina is the 10th largest state and has three different geographical regions. It is comprised of coastal plains in the east, mountains and parks to the west, and hosts large cities in its center, known as the Piedmont region.
North Carolina holds a special place in the hearts of its residents. It is a beautiful area with a rich history that includes colonials and a number of Native American tribes. If you’re looking for a place to move to that has plenty of job opportunities, an affordable housing market, and plenty to do and see, give North Carolina a second look.
Further Reading: Looking For More North Carolina Resources? Check These Articles Out!
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com and the broker of Get LISTED Realty. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.