If you’re considering a move to North Carolina, my question to you is: “Why aren’t you there already?”
North Carolina has it all! Stunning coastlines. Breathtaking mountain views and exciting career opportunities. With so much going on in the Tar Heel State, people from all over the U.S. are packing their bags and calling North Carolina home.
I recently pulled up my Georgia roots and became a North Carolina resident myself. In this article, I break down some of the most popular questions to help make your decision to relocate to North Carolina part of your reality.
A good place to live?
Yes! With a thriving business climate, reasonable cost of living and beautiful landscapes across the state, living in North Carolina is a great place to settle down. North Carolina is the ninth largest state in population and continues to grow. It’s popular for transplants, especially millennials, and offers all sorts of lifestyles for a variety of residents.
North Carolina is split into three geographic regions. In the east you’ll find the coastal plains, which take up nearly half the state. The central area is the Piedmont region, which contains five of the state’s largest cities. In the west are the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the United States.
In between these areas are miles of parks and beaches, allowing residents to enjoy North Carolina’s outdoor activities to the fullest.
No matter which region you decide on, I can tell you one thing: you’re going to love moving to North Carolina.
Since moving brings unique opportunities and challenges, here’s what you need to know about relocating to North Carolina:
Living in this state comes with many positives. Here’s what you can look forward to if you’re moving to North Carolina:
- Cost of living. Depending on the city you choose, you can find reasonable rent, affordable homes and low taxes. Overall, the cost of living in North Carolina can be lower than some other popular states.
- Community. One of the best things about moving to North Carolina is the people. The state has become a melting pot of diversity and newcomers appreciate that genuine Southern hospitality is still easy to find.
- Outdoor activities. While summers can be hot and humid, winters are generally mild in North Carolina, offering a pleasant surprise for people moving in from snowier states. Between the Atlantic Ocean, the US National Whitewater Center, and the Great Smoky Mountains, residents will never run out of places to explore in any region of the state.
- Economy. It’s no secret that North Carolina is one of the best places to live in the U.S. This is due to an impressive higher education system, technology advancements, and ample career opportunities.
If you’re looking for reasons not to move to North Carolina, The Tar Heel State poses a few negatives for its residents:
- Lack of seasons. If you’re relocating to North Carolina from somewhere with four distinct seasons, the weather can definitely take some getting used to. Summers can be hot and snow is rare. But on the other hand, if you’re fleeing from the cold and snow in favor of warmer weather, you’ll love North Carolina!
- Hurricanes. While the weather is enjoyable year-round, residents that live on the coast are always at risk from strong storms and hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 so be sure to stay on top of warnings and purchase insurance if you’re near the coast.
- Crime. Due to Lumberton’s crime rates, the state’s overall crime rate is slightly higher than the national average. The good news is that most other cities have lower crime rates with the exception of a few small areas.
Best Cities to Live in North Carolina
With the state stretching nearly 500 miles from east to west, moving to North Carolina is an adventure lover’s dream. Whether you enjoy exploring mountains and beaches, or prefer more of an urban lifestyle, North Carolina’s cities offer something for everyone.
Here are some of the best places to live in North Carolina:
As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte has become a popular destination for many people around the country.
Between its excellent school system, vibrant downtown life, and family friendly communities, it’s no wonder that singles, young couples and families are moving to Charlotte at a growing rate. Located in southeast North Carolina, it’s just a short drive to Asheville and neighboring South Carolina, which opens up the many recreation opportunities available in the area.
As the state capital and second-largest city in North Carolina, Raleigh has plenty to offer its residents.
The city has an impressive technology hub, including its 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park, and is home to more than 200 companies and 50,000 employees. If you’re moving to Raleigh, you’ll love the laid-back environment, numerous outdoor activities and career opportunities.
About 30 minutes north of Raleigh is another great place to plant your roots in North Carolina.
Durham is part of the Research Triangle, and known as the City of Medicine for many reasons. It has one of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. and a physician-to-population ratio almost 5 times the national average. Home to Duke University, Durham is a popular sports town in North Carolina. Go Blue Devils!
Home to the University of North Carolina and its Carolina Tar Heels, Chapel Hill is a thriving college town not far from Raleigh and Durham.
Its central location makes it a great place to live too. If you want to get out of town for the weekend, Carolina Beach is about three hours to the southeast while the mountains of Asheville are roughly the same distance to the west.
Calling all foodies and craft beer aficionados: Asheville is THE place to be for excellent food and craft beer!
Located in North Carolina’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has a unique mix of hipster coffee shops, award-winning restaurants, outdoor activities, and more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US.
Between delicious food, amazing craft brews, an eclectic music and arts scene, and outdoor adventures at nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll never run out of things to do in Asheville.
Located in the Outer Banks region, Wilmington is the ultimate destination for beach lovers.
Cheap seaside living is possible in Wilmington. Coastal houses may come at a premium in other cities, but Wilmington is one of North Carolina’s most affordable cities and the town’s walkability factors in to saving costs on transportation.
Residents can choose from Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. People of all ages will find this port town quaint, charming, and most of all, friendly. The area encourages locally owned shops, small businesses and boasts a dog-friendly downtown.
Nicknamed the “Gate City” due to its short distance to all the major cities in the state, Greensboro is one of North Carolina’s top destinations.
Greensboro has also taken a lot of steps to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. With a priority on making the city more earth-friendly, it’s the perfect place to raise a family. Residents can enjoy plenty of attractions too, including a zoo, water park, art galleries and golf courses.
Cost of living in North Carolina
If you’re relocating from a larger metro area, you can generally expect more house for your money. At 24 percent below the national average, Charlotte has one of the most affordable housing markets in the country.
Generally speaking, you’ll get the most for your Tar Heel buck in these North Carolina cities: Concord, Cary, Durham, Wilmington, and Chapel Hill.
No matter which city you’re moving to, there are plenty of career opportunities across several different industries, including small businesses and startups. Some of the top industries in North Carolina include:
Business and Finance
Companies with major operations in North Carolina include AT&T, Microsoft, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals
Major biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are flocking to North Carolina and include Biogen, BD, Merck, Bayer and more.
Aerospace and Defense
North Carolina is home to several leaders in the defense and security industry including Honda Jet, Honeywell, GE Aviation and Lockheed Martin.
North Carolina is the third-largest producer of electricity and is ranked second in turbine manufacturing growth. Companies include Duke Energy, Siemens, GE Hitachi and more.
North Carolina is home to the largest furnishings trade show and the largest furniture manufacturer in the world. Companies include Ashley Furniture, Ethan Allen, Century and more.
Learning institutions include Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. Wake Forest University, Davidson College and Appalachian State University are also some of the top-ranked schools in the state.
If you’re moving to North Carolina and wonder what retirement life looks like, you’re in the right place. From pristine beaches to majestic mountains with incredible vistas and exciting hikes, who wouldn’t want to spend their retirement in North Carolina?
The cost of living for retirees is 3.7% cheaper than the national average. Taxes are generally low, making North Carolina a great place to settle down in your golden years.
I recently jumped on the North Carolina retirement bus and moved here from Georgia! Here are the five most popular places to retire in North Carolina:
Offering beautiful waterfalls, mountains and friendly locals, this town was No. 5 on Forbes’ list of Best Places to Retire in the U.S.
This eclectic city located in the Southern area of the Appalachians is historical, hip and always has something going on. It’s a hub of outdoor activity with endless hiking opportunities and the nearby French Broad River attracts water enthusiasts with fishing, boating, tubing, and swimming. If you like craft beer, there are plenty of places where you can get a delicious pint.
Related post: Asheville is not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where recreation opportunities are nearly endless.
If you’re familiar with the movies Thunder Road, Dirty Dancing, A Breed Apart, Forrest Gump, The Last of the Mohicans and Firestarter, you might fall in love with this quaint, charming town that hosts fun festivals year-round.
If your idea of relaxation is by the sea, the Outer Banks is for you. Retirees can soak up the sun or relax in a beach house.
If you like the idea of quaint, small town living, then Maggie Valley might be just what you are looking for!
Maggie Valley offers practically endless year round recreation opportunities that residents of all ages can enjoy. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cataloochee Ski Area, and much more are all within a couple of minutes drive.
If you seek a bigger city feel while still enjoying small town living. Maggie Valley is just a 30 minute or less drive to Asheville.
Will you spend your retirement years relaxing on a beach? In the mountains? Shopping downtown? Regardless of which you prefer, North Carolina can keep you entertained and having fun year round.
With a year-round moderate climate, a thriving job market and some of the nicest neighbors found anywhere, North Carolina is one of the top destinations for young professionals, growing families and retirees.
What are you most excited for in moving to North Carolina? What tips do you have for new residents? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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