What Is The Cost Of Living In Durham, North Carolina?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Durham is the fifth largest city in North Carolina, with a population of around 280,000 people. This is a college town, and Duke University is the center of much activity. You’ll also find North Carolina Central University and Durham Technical Community College in Durham as well.

Durham has a score of 95.2 on the cost of living index, about five points lower than the US average of 100. The median value of a Durham home is around $230,000, with rent around $1,300 per month. Both home prices and rent are slightly lower than the US average.

If you’re thinking about moving to Durham, consider the costs for taxes, utilities, groceries, transportation, and activities below. By looking at these factors, you can determine if moving to Durham, North Carolina, is fiscally and personally beneficial.

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Housing Costs In Durham, North Carolina

Durham housing prices are significantly higher than those in the rest of North Carolina. The average cost of a home in North Carolina is around $174,000, roughly $50,00 less than in Durham. However, the US’s average cost is approximately $300,000, making Durham cheaper than the national average.

Annually for the last 20 years, real estate in Durham has appreciated around 3.05%. Since 2000, Durham’s real estate value has increased by almost 90%. This is relatively on par with the national average appreciation rate.

Median Home Prices in Durham, North Carolina

Home PricePercentage of Homes
> $1,299,0000.8%
$974,001 – $1,299,0000.8%
$650,001 – $974,0003.7%
$520,001 – $650,0004.7%
$390,001 – $520,0009.7%
$260,001 – $390,00025.2%
$130,001 – $260,00040.7%
$65,001 – $130,00012.2%
$0 – $65,0002.2%

Rental Costs In Durham

In Durham, about 5% more people rent than own their homes, accounting for about 52% of the city’s houses.

To rent, you’ll spend between $1,100- $1,3000 on average in Durham. At this price, you’ll get about 935 square feet of home, but the size will vary from place to place. Renting an apartment in Durham is pretty much on par with US average prices.

Average Rental Cost by Bedroom Size in North Carolina

Housing SizeDurhamDurham-

Chapel Hill Metro

North CarolinaUnited States

Tax Rates in Durham, North Carolina

Another cost factor that a lot of people overlook, or don’t consider, is the tax rates. Below are the tax rates for Durham, including sales, income, and property taxes.

Durham, North Carolina Sales Taxes

Durham’s sales tax rate is 7.5%, 2% higher than the national average. Durham’s sales tax is a combination of the state sales tax, county sales tax, and a special tax. North Carolina’s sales tax is 4.75%, Durham County’s is 2.255%, and special tax is .5%.

Durham, North Carolina Income Taxes

Durham doesn’t have its own city-based income tax rate. All North Carolina residents pay a flat rate of 5.25%, regardless of city and taxable income.

Durham, North Carolina Property Taxes

North Carolina is known for having relatively lower property taxes than the US average. Durham’s property tax rate comes in at 53 cents for every appraised $100 of property. For a home of average value in Durham, you’ll pay about $1,200 in property taxes per year.

Utility Costs in Durham, North Carolina

The average cost of utilities in Durham is on par with the US but is much more expensive than North Carolina. On the cost of living index, Durham is 100.1, North Carolina is 81, and the US is 100. The utility rating on the cost of living index includes electricity, natural gas, and other fuels.

The average electric bill in North Carolina ranks 14th nationally at $117. The average water bill in Durham is around $28/month. As always, Wifi costs will vary between providers but will likely cost about $60/month.

The average cost of all utilities in the average Durham apartment is $122. The price will vary depending on square footage and utility usage. With added Wifi costs, you’ll pay somewhere around $180/month in the average apartment.

To keep your utility bills low, work to conserve energy in your home. Turn off lights when not using them and lessen water usage.

Food Costs in Durham, North Carolina

The cost of groceries in Durham is only slightly lower than the national average but higher than North Carolina’s average. According to the cost of living index, Durham is 99.2, North Carolina is 96.5, and the U.S. is 100.

Many budgets suggest spending about 11% of your annual income on food, 6% of that being groceries. You can allocate the remaining 5% to dining out. Durham’s median income is around $49,500, making your ideal food budget roughly $5,400/year.

Compare the cost of groceries in Durham to other major US cities in the table below. Groceries in Durham are expensive compared to the rest of North Carolina. However, they are relatively cheaper than other major US cities.

Comparison of Grocery Costs in Durham to Other Major US Cities

GroceryDurhamNew YorkPhiladelphiaAtlantaSan Francisco
Milk (1 gallon)$3.81$4.43$4.20$3.12$4.56
Bread (1 loaf)$2.55$3.39$2.70$2.49$3.24
Rice (1 pound)$1.81$2.73$1.78$1.84$2.49
Chicken (1 pound)$5.73$6.40$3.99$4.77$6.00
Bananas (1 pound)$0.94$1.37$0.79$1.43$0.85
Lettuce (1 head)$1.78$2.16$1.79$1.57$1.74
Eggs (1 dozen)$3.12$3.42$2.70$2.45$3.62

Transportation Costs in Durham, North Carolina

Compared with the rest of North Carolina, Durham’s transportation costs are only slightly higher. However, in comparison to the US average, Durham has much cheaper transportation. According to the cost of living index, Durham is 84.1, North Carolina is 83.9, and the U.S. is 100.

76.7% of individuals who commute to work in Durham drive by themselves. Around 5% of commuters use public transportation to commute to work.

Although most individuals drive to work in Durham, there are a few public transportation options. There is a bus system known as GoDurham and a carpool system known as Vanpool. Vans can be used on a month-to-month basis and hold 4-15 individuals.

Although you can bike or walk in Durham, bike lanes are few and far between.

Comparison of Transportation Costs in Durham to Other Major US Cities

GroceryDurhamNew YorkPhiladelphiaAtlantaSan Francisco
Gas (1 gallon)$2.35$2.87$2.74$2.54$3.25
Bus Ticket (Single Trip)$1.00$2.75$2.50$2.50$3.00
Taxi (1 mile)$2.00$3.00$5.00$3.50$3.89

Public Transportation Costs in Durham

A single-ride bus ticket is $1 and a day pass is $2. Single-ride tickets are free to seniors, children, teens, and college students. A monthly pass is only $36.

Vanpool costs vary depending on the use and number of individuals carpooling.

Driving Costs in Durham

Although public transit is an option, the majority of individuals in Durham drive to work. The national average price of a gallon of gas is $2.38, and Durham’s is about the same price at $2.35. You’ll save around .03 cents per gallon on gas in Durham.

Durham’s average commute time is 21.1 minutes, four minutes less than the average worker’s commute. Only 1% of workers in Durham have a super commute of 90 or more minutes. This results from workers living far outside the metropolitan area, not because of traffic.

Durham’s average annual car insurance cost is lower than both the state and national averages at $776. The national average is $1,424, and North Carolina’s is around $841. Although this is the average in Durham, your insurance will vary depending on make and model, age, neighborhood, and company. State Farm, Nationwide, and Erie offer the cheapest insurance in Durham.

You can find the average car insurance costs in Durham in the table below. Teenagers and young adults have the priciest annual insurance costs. Individuals in their 50s and 60s will pay the lowest annual rates, though most will pay less than $1,000.

Average Car Insurance Costs in Durham By Age

AgeAverage Yearly Cost
20 Years$1,038
30 Years$944
40 Years$927
50 Years$890
60 Years$889
70 Years$946

Activity Costs in Durham, North Carolina

There are many things to enjoy in Durham without breaking the bank. You can get active on the American Tobacco Trail, Duke Forest, or the various city parks. You can also take a tour of Duke University and stop by its beautiful Chapel.

Two tickets to the movie theater will cost you around $24. A domestic beer will cost you $4.50 and an imported one $7 at a local bar. A local gym membership will cost you around $31 per month. A local tennis court will only cost you $10 to rent for an hour.

A vacation to Durham for one will cost about $500 for a week, not including flight. A hotel will likely cost you around $115 a night in Durham. Between food and sightseeing, you’ll probably spend between $24 and $40 a day.

How Much Is Minimum Wage In Durham NC?

North Carolina’s minimum wage is presently $7.25 per hour. All employees must be paid at least $7.25 per hour by employers conducting business in North Carolina (domestic and agricultural employees are subject to the federal minimum wage).

Related Questions

Is Durham NC expensive to live?

Durham’s housing costs are 27% cheaper than the national average, while its utility costs are 13% less than the national average.

The cost of living for retirees is 3.7 percent lower than the national average, making it an affordable place to call home.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in NC?

To live comfortably, you need to earn at least three times the cost of your rent. To live comfortably in Raleigh, North Carolina, the average resident would need to earn at least $4,005 per month before taxes. This equates to a pre-tax salary of $48,060 a year.

What is a good salary for a single person in NC?
A single individual earning around $26,000 per year may get by, but with children, the minimal living wage rises to $24 or $28 per hour. Raleigh is the most costly, needing a single parent of two to earn more than $60,000 per year to make ends meet.

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Summing It Up

Durham is a slightly less expensive place to live than the national average. Rent is comparable to other places in the US, though homes are a good bit cheaper. Even with lower rent, Durham homes have appreciated well over the years.

Durham is a city that offers low-priced activities, housing costs, and groceries compared to the national average. It is a great city for college students and young professionals. However, be sure to weigh the costs and benefits of Durham before making any significant moves.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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