If you’re reading this chances are you either live in North Carolina (and know how great it is) or are planning to move here. So many things make our state a wonderful place to call home. NC has both the mountains and the beach, large cities and small towns, and we get all four seasons. It’s no wonder people are moving here every day. Great universities, sports, hospitals, job opportunities, and recreational activities exist. There is something here for families, young singles, and retirees. But while the state is full of great places to live, you may be wondering what are the best places to live in North Carolina.

Of course, that is relatively subjective. But we also are going to give you an answer, though it may not be the one you are expecting. These rankings come from the researchers at Forbes who created the “Best Places To Live in North Carolina in 2023” list. Forbes took into account median home prices, personal income per capita, crime rates, and unemployment to name what they think are the 8 best cities to live in NC. Of course both Charlotte and Raleigh made this list. But there are some surprising snubs and inclusions. Keep reading to see the top 8 places to live in North Carolina. You can read Forbes’ full methodology and report here.

  • 8. Asheville

    Asheville

    Population: 94,067

    Median Home Prices: $524,950

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $7,912

    Average Income: $53,621

    Unemployment Rate: 3.2%

    Community Wellness Score: 61/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 12,001

    Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains Asheville is a mountain paradise. The city offers many different vibes, it’s downside however is the higher cost of living, especially homes, than other areas of the state.

  • 7. Hickory

    Hickory

    Population: 43,532

    Median Home Prices: $341,400

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $6,041

    Average Income: $48,653

    Unemployment Rate: 3.6%

    Community Wellness Score: 48/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 4,566

    I was a little surprised to see Hickory mentioned on this list, it’s just not usually one of the cities that shows up on these types of things. Forbes mentions that the location is a great factor, being 1 hr from Asheville and Charlotte. Hickory has a lower cost of living, a location at the base of the mountains, and southern charm.

  • 6. Greenville

    Greenville NC

    Population: 88,728

    Median Home Prices: $351,450

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $6,760

    Average Income: $42,612

    Unemployment Rate: 4.5%

    Community Wellness Score: 59/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 7,768

    Another city we don’t always see mentioned. Greenville, NC is the home of East Carolina University and has a lot of the feel of a college town. It’s also a short drive from the beach, but close enough to the Triangle to get your big city fix.

  • 5. Winston-Salem

    Winston-Salem

    Population: 250,320

    Median Home Prices: $319,950

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $6,180

    Average Income: $47,269

    Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

    Community Wellness Score: 55/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 15,209

    This metro area has a relatively low cost of living, is a relatively safe city, has a thriving job market, and plenty of things to do.

  • 4. Charlotte

    Charlotte

    Population: 879,709

    Median Home Prices: $425,000

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $7,126

    Average Income: $65,359

    Unemployment Rate: 3.6%

    Community Wellness Score: 60/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 79,369

    Are you surprised Charlotte was only 4th on this list? There are plenty of job opportunities in banking, healthcare, and technology. It’s a lot more expensive than other cities on this list. And that crime total is significantly higher, but this is also due to a larger population.

  • 3. Durham

    Durham NC

    Population: 285,527

    Median Home Prices: $495,507

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $7,218

    Average Income: $61,962

    Unemployment Rate: 3.2%

    Community Wellness Score: 71/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 23,603

    Located in the heart of the research triangle Durham is a growing, bustling city full of opportunity. Healthcare and technology offer high-paying jobs giving residents a great quality of life.

  • 2. Wilmington

    Things I Wish I Knew Wilmington

    Population: 117,643

    Median Home Prices: $529,900

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $7,296

    Average Income: $51,137

    Unemployment Rate: 3.5%

    Community Wellness Score: 60/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 9,416

    This coastal town is right near several beaches and located on the Cape Fear river making it an ideal location. The downtown offers lots of history and plenty of jobs. It’s no wonder it’s ranked the 2nd best place to live in North Carolina.

  • 1. Raleigh

    raleigh

    Population: 469,124

    Median Home Prices: $486,500

    Estimated Monthly Expenses: $7,349

    Average Income: $69,720

    Unemployment Rate: 3.3%

    Community Wellness Score: 63/100

    Criminal Offenses Reported: 24,944

    Our state’s capital is also the best place to live! The high quality of life, proximity to jobs in RTP, and the smaller town feel in a large city. I’ve called Raleigh home in the past and it’s still my second home where I spend around 10-12 weekends a year.

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