Best Places to Live in North Carolina
Discover North Carolina's most popular cities
Known as the Tarheel State, North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the U.S. and had a population of over 9.7 million in 2012. It contains a diversity of geographical features and is divided into three sections: the mountains are in the west, the Piedmont is in the middle and the coastal plains are in the east.
Its central location on the Atlantic Coast, mild weather and economic diversity make it a great place to call home. Also, its two largest metropolitan areas of Raleigh and Charlotte are among the top 10 fastest-growing in the country. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to live in North Carolina.
Home to Duke University, Durham is part of the Research Triangle and known to many as the “City of Medicine.” This is a place with a thriving music scene and one that’s fond of its sports, especially the Duke Blue Devils. Durham also has a strong economy and ranked No. 26 on Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers in 2014.
What could be considered as the heart of the Piedmont region, Greensboro is centrally located in North Carolina. It’s also the third largest city behind Charlotte and Raleigh. It’s a food lover’s paradise, and there are over 500 restaurants throughout the city. There are also plenty of attractions including art galleries, a zoo, waterpark and several golf courses.
Second only to Charlotte in population, Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. It has a lot to offer with all of the attractions of a large city, but in a more laid-back setting with plenty of natural beauty. Raleigh has historical sites, museums, live shows and is the home of NC State University. It’s also an excellent place for economic opportunities and ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers in 2014.
This is the largest city in western North Carolina and is a must visit for nature lovers. With the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, an eclectic music and dining scene, and what a Bohemian vibe, Asheville is a one-of-a-kind city. It’s also home to the largest privately owned home in America, the Biltmore.
Also part of the Research Triangle, Chapel Hill is a city with an emphasis on education. The University of North Carolina is located here, which is a school that’s passionate about its basketball and home of the Carolina Tarheels. Area attractions include performing arts, outdoor recreation activities, and there’s also a great music scene.
This is the largest city in North Carolina and the second-largest banking center in the U.S. after New York. It’s home to numerous corporations, including seven Fortune 500 companies. It’s known for automotive racing with the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it’s where the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located. In terms of attractions, Charlotte has several museums, sporting venues, an amusement park and performing arts centers.
Located only a short distance from Greensboro and the fourth-largest city in the state, Winston-Salem has strong ties to both the tobacco industry and furniture making, and its history dates back to the 1750s. It’s a destination for wine lovers, and there are over 35 wineries in Winston-Salem and surrounding areas. It’s also a great place for recreation, with 75 parks and 12 golf courses.
Located in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, Wilmington is a premier destination for beach lovers. In only a short drive, it’s possible to access Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. This is an area steeped in history, and European settlements can be traced back to the early 1700s. Because of its position along the Atlantic Coast, Wilmington played a role in both the Civil War and World War II. Area attractions include the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, the USS Carolina Memorial and the Confederate Memorial.
Just outside of Raleigh and the Research Triangle, Cary is close to all the amenities of a large city while still maintaining a small-town atmosphere. It’s an economically prosperous city and has one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S. Cary is also clean and green and offers 36 greenway trails, which are perfect for a variety of recreational activities.
Situated along the Cape Fear River, Fayetteville's rich history dates back to the American Revolution. It’s home to the Fort Bragg military base, which is a major U.S. Army installation. Fayetteville has several parks and an Airborne and Special Operations Museum. It also received the All-America City Award three times because of its community involvement.