10 Best & Safest Places To Live In North Carolina

Best Places to Live In North Carolina

One of the most common phrases among people who have visited North Carolina for a holiday is, “I would live there.” And if you’re someone who has visited the state before, you probably can relate to this. If not, I’m telling you that there are many reasons why one would choose to move to the Old North State.

With spectacular mountain ranges, breathtaking coastlines, interesting history, and great career opportunities, more and more people are moving to this part of the state. And lucky are those able to pack their things and move here!

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Top 10 Best Places to Live in North Carolina


Location Population Crime Rate vs. Nat. Avg.

Crimes per 100k Persons


Holly Springs 30,126 71% lower 728
2 Morrisville 22,600 45% lower



Cornelius 27,426 53% lower 1,179
4 Apex 43,893 59% lower



Cary 155,822 61% lower 970
6 Wake Forest 36,472 64% lower



Fletcher 7,547 18% lower 2,053
8 Carrboro 20,867 19% lower



Matthews 30,054 41% lower 3,506
10 Davidson 12,076 61% lower


If you’re one of those who already made up their mind about moving to North Carolina, this article is for you. Below is the list of 10 of the best places to live in North Carolina, along with useful information you should know before moving.

1. Holly Springs

Holly Springs

  • Population: 36,749
  • Median Home Price: $354,742
  • Median Household Income: $98,041

A true American beauty, Holly Springs is the first place we included on this list. What used to be a quaint rural town has now turned into a modern city that never runs out of entertainment and other things to offer.

This city is very family-friendly and has one of the lowest crime rates in the state. Holly Springs offer endless opportunities for kids to learn and enjoy, thanks to the high-quality schools, recreational amenities, and other establishments that offer things to do for everyone of any age.

While this place is already beautiful as it is now, the local government is continuously working on improving the city. There are more public amenities like hospitals and parks being added. So, if you’re ever looking into a town to move in North Carolina near Raleigh, then Holly Springs should be the first place you must look at.

2. Morrisville


  • Population: 27,453
  • Median Home Price: $335,035
  • Median Household Income: $84,301

Mooresville, which is a town in southern Iredell County, has made it to the second spot. This town is located about 25 miles north of Charlotte. The town of almost 28,000 residents ranked favorably in the areas of job availability, public schools, and economic diversity.

Morrisville is located just west of the airport, which offers great access to Raleigh if you need a quick getaway. There also is RDU Observation Park, which offers sweeping views of the airport runways and Air Traffic Control Tower and is an exciting activity to enjoy with the entire family.

If you’re moving in with your family, you can easily have the opportunity to explore the outdoors at  Lake Crabtree County Park, and other places to do hiking, playgrounds, single-track mountain biking, seasonal boat rentals on the 520-acre lake, and more.

Aside from being family-friendly, it is also a good place for retirees. There are at least 15 hospitals within 30 miles of Morrisville.

3. Cornelius


  • Population: 29,748
  • Median Home Price: $321,957
  • Median Household Income: $81,059

A great place with great people, Cornelius is another great place to live in North Carolina. A lot of stuff you will find here are on or near the lake.

Cornelius is a nice town with many restaurants and shopping places. Some parks are great for exercise, walking, and doing sports. It’s also not too far from Charlotte if you need to go to a bigger city for something. This town also has Lake Norman to do boating or watch the sunset from.

If you have kids, you’ll also be happy to know that there are amazing schools in the town and many job opportunities for those looking for work. The town also has restaurants, great churches, and outdoor activities. If you’re an artist, you’ll surely fall in love with this town, with theatres and festivals.

It’s also a good place to live if you scored a job in or near Charlotte, with only about a 30-minute drive to the city center, depending on the traffic. So, it’s not only for families but also for younger professionals and college students.

4. Apex


  • Population: 53,852
  • Median Home Price: $394,510
  • Median Household Income: $89,392

Apex is a town in Wake County, which covers the community of Friendship at its southern border. In 1994, the downtown area was named a historic district, and the Apex train depot, built in the year 1867, is chosen a Wake County landmark.

Today, Apex is a charming town that offers an incredible community spirit. It’s also home to many young families and young professionals that take advantage of top-notch schools and public amenities.

Apex offers a quality of life that’s second to none, and this is mostly because of the high-paying jobs in the tech industry. So, it’s no wonder why the unemployment rates in this place are significantly lower.

Excellently, Apex has managed to keep a close-knit community vibe even with a lot of its residents being out-of-towners. The community sees to it that they come together for events like a weekly farmers market and annual festivals.

5. Cary


  • Population: 168,160
  • Median Home Price: $401,815
  • Median Household Income: $91,481

Cary is a suburb of Raleigh situated just outside the capital and the Research Triangle. It often features different lists for the best places to live in the country, among the best place to retire and raise a family.

Cary offers a small-town vibe with every amenity you will find in any large city. It has a healthy economy that offers a higher median household income than the national average.

Another thing that will make you love about this place is its high level of cleanliness and green living. You’ll find 36 trails in town, which are ideal for different outdoor activities that could be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

6. Wake Forest

Wake Forest

  • Population: 34,786
  • Median Home Price: $352,063
  • Median Household Income: $88,394

A suburb in Wake County, Wake Forest that is located just north of the state capital is another great place to live in North Carolina. The town of 34,786 residents was the original home of Wake Forest University before the university got relocated to Winston-Salem.

The cost of living in Wake Forest, however, is quite more expensive than the rest of the county. Nevertheless, most residents living here are more than happy to trade the cost for the perks they get from living here. Its residents are taking advantage of the excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and charming communities.

Wake Forest is also a haven for those who love nature, with Falls Lake State Recreation Area in the vicinity, ideal for boating, cycling, camping, hiking, birdwatching, and fishing. Watch a beautiful sunset over the lake after a long weekend of fun in this picturesque and captivating town.

7. Fletcher


  • Population: 7,466
  • Median Home Price: $312,341
  • Median Household Income: $63,673

Fletcher is a beautiful, quiet town that’s close enough to the city of Asheville and the airport, which is very convenient, but far enough from the noise and chaos. This is a relatively safe town and another great place to live in North Carolina.

There are not a lot of things to do here, especially at night, but many people looking for a safe and peaceful place to live in North Carolina choose to live here. But this doesn’t mean you will have anywhere to go if you want to go out and drink, there are bars and taverns in town that serve some drinks. And Ashville is remarkably close where nightlife is more active.

But really makes you fall in love with this place are the activities you can enjoy while here. There are local parks you can walk your baby or pet in. There are also several private and public schools here that offer amazing education.

The cost of living is amazing compared to its neighboring towns and cities. This place is perfect for those who are looking for a small and spread out the city to live in.

8. Carrboro


  • Population: 21,314
  • Median Home Price: $304,263
  • Median Household Income: $51,310

Another great city with incredible nature, Carrboro is worth checking out when looking for the best places to live in North Carolina. It’s a family-friendly community and a top choice among students going to UNC-Chapel Hill.

Carrboro is an artsy town, with affordable rent and cost of living. This place has a lot of unique restaurants and interesting shopping stores and restaurants.

This place is friendly and walkable close to Chapel Hill. Many graduate students who want to live a little farther away from campus choose to live here since it’s a bit more peaceful than the student areas.

There are community events that take place here constantly, so boredom wouldn’t be your enemy. If you love being active outdoors, there are many biking and absolutely gorgeous walking trails.

9. Matthews


  • Population: 32,635
  • Median Home Price: $316,413
  • Median Household Income: $78,971

Matthews is a charming area, great for families who are looking to raise their kids. It’s situated right outside of the busy city of Charlotte, but only a few hours away from the beach and mountain.

There are a lot of shops and restaurants located in all parts of town, which makes it very convenient. There are more and more people moving to this place, so, it’s not surprising that there are a lot of constructions going on in this area. More apartments are being built as well as restaurants and highways.

And despite being close to Charlotte, Matthews carries its own culture and unique features. The downtown area is an amazing place to go to explore and have dinner.

It’s also very walkable, so being here will give you that sense of community that will make you feel at home right away.

The crime is almost non-existent in this part of the state, so you would have the peace of mind walking downtown even at night. The public schools in Matthews are rated among the best in the county, too!

10. Davidson


  • Population: Davidson
  • Median Home Price: $404,376
  • Median Household Income: $94,551

Last on our list is Davidson. This place offers a small-town atmosphere with all the big-city amenities, thanks to its proximity to Charlotte. However, it’s not as affordable as most places mentioned on this list, and traffic can be a problem.

There are a lot of restaurants that are suitable for everyone’s taste. If you love going out to nature, biking and walking trails are conveniently available. There are also several cultural, arts, and other community activities that welcome everyone.

Davidson College is located downtown and has a nice campus with numerous events taking place. Downtown also has many stores, restaurants, gyms, and different establishments. Lake Norman is also within a short drive.

Is North Carolina Safe Place to Live?

Unfortunately, the crime rates in North Carolina are somewhat higher than the national rates. However, its reported experience with a crime is below national averages.

The violent crime rate in the state is 3.8, which is just a little above the national rate at 3.7. The property crime rate, on the other hand, is 24.9, which is almost three points higher compared to the national rate of 22.0.

Crime Rates For North Carolina

Now let’s compare the crime rates in North Carolina to the US national average.

  • NC Population: 10,383,620
  • USA Population: 327,167,434


North Carolina (per 1000 persons)

National Average (per 1000 persons)


0.06 0.05
Rape 0.25



0.81 0.86
Assault 2.65



6.00 3.76
Theft 17.24


Motor Vehicle Theft

1.70 2.29
Total Crime Rate per 1000 People 28.72


Safest Cities to Live in North Carolina

Even though the crime rate in North Carolina is slightly higher than the national average, it still has a long list of safe cities to visit or even move to. Here are the top 10 safest cities in the Old North State.


City Population Violent
Law enforcement
Total crimes Crime rate per 1,000 Violent crimes per 1,000

Property crimes per 1,000


Pinehurst 16,213 15 111 30 126 7.77 0.93 6.85
2 Holly Springs 37,008 19 267 67 286 7.73 0.51



Davidson 12,954 12 127 22 139 10.73 0.93 9.80
4 Cary 170,518 105 1666 231 1771 10.39 0.62



Apex 52,577 50 663 96 713 13.56 0.95 12.61
6 Boone 19,524 18 289 48 307 15.72 0.92



Wake Forest 44,318 49 653 91 702 15.84 1.11 14.73
8 Huntersville 57,677 74 884 100 958 16.61 1.28



Leland 21,008 27 320 34 347 16.52 1.29 15.23


Southern Pines 14,271 33 312 49 345 24.17 2.31


Worst Cities to Live in North Carolina

And in terms of cities that have the highest crime rate, there’s also a list that should guide you to know which ones to watch out for in North Carolina. Check out 10 of them.


City Population Violent Crimes per 100k People

Property Crimes per 100k People


Lumberton 21,683 1,812 13,826
2 Oxford 8,794 1,137



Kinston 21,268 1,208 6,093
4 Laurinburg 15,423 1,303



Forest City 7,246 772 7,093
6 Wadesboro 5,541 1,118



Henderson 15,249 1,049 5,724
8 Goldsboro 35,871 1,084



Roanoke Rapids 15,273 707 6,842
10 Pineville 8,626 614


How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably In North Carolina?

North Carolina can be cheap or expensive, depending on where you choose to live. Of course, a higher cost of living is expected if you choose to live in a bigger city. However, all in all, the state is cheaper than the rest of the United States.

Now, let’s look deeper at North Carolina’s cost of living. This data is based on a US average of 100. An amount lower than 100 means North Carolina is cheaper compared to the US average. A cost of living index of more than 100 means more expensive than the national average.

  • The cost of living in North Carolina is 90.6
  • The median home price in North Carolina is $187,300

Cost of Living

North Carolina

United States


90.6 100
  Grocery 96.5



107.5 100
  Housing (Median Home Price) 81 ($187,300)

100 ($231,200)


99.2 100
  Transportation 83.9





Looking to move locally or out of state?
Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.


Final Thoughts

With North Carolina’s charm, pleasant climate, great diversity, and career opportunity, it’s not surprising that it keeps drawing more people to move here. In fact, the population of the Tar Heel State has grown by 8.9% since the 2010 census and rising to 10.49 million residents as of 2019.

But that’s not really surprising, is it? Hopefully, this article has been helpful in your journey to finding the best places to live in North Carolina. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below!

Cyril Balahadia

Coming from a family of woodcarvers, Cyril has always been fascinated with wooden interiors and home decorating. While she followed the path of writing as her career, her interests in home improvements still remain.

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