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The Cost of Living Diaries: Winston-Salem, NC

How much does it cost to live in Winston-Salem? We got a local to tell us all the details.

By Sarah Von Bargen on September 7, 2021

Winston-Salem Downtown Scene

Name: Kate 
Age:  36 
City: Winston-Salem, NC

How long have you lived in Winston-Salem? 

My husband and I moved here from Chicago about three years ago and we couldn’t be happier! I grew up about 45 minutes from Winston-Salem, so it’s nice to feel like we are back home and close to family.

What’s your rent/mortgage in Winston-Salem? 

All-in, we pay around $1,900 a month for a three-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot home about a mile from downtown. Our home is in a historic neighborhood but features an incredibly modern design by Stitch Design Shop architects. We love how it is modern and new yet fits right into this homey neighborhood. 

Who are the main employers in Winston-Salem? What kind of jobs are in Winston-Salem? 

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Wake Forest University, which features a medical school and research facilities, is one of our largest employers, along with Novant HealthHanesbrands, and R.J. Reynolds

There are a variety of jobs here across industries like health care, manufacturing, logistics, and more. There are also a lot of professional service positions here in sectors like banking, human resources and marketing. 

Winston-Salem is also a great place to work remotely. My husband kept his job in Chicago and works from home. 

How’s the access to grocery stores and food in Winston-Salem? Are you able to find things like quinoa and gluten-free pizzas at your local grocery store? 

We have some wonderful locally-owned grocery stores, including Buie’s Market and Acadia Foods. Both partner with local farmers, restaurants, and suppliers. Lowes Foods is headquartered here, and their stores also feature local farmers and locally-made products, like Texas PeteSunshine Energy Drinks, and a lot more! You can find ingredients to suit every cuisine and taste. 

How diverse is Winston-Salem? 

Winston-Salem is a diverse city – out of our population of about 250,000 people, about 30 percent of them were born outside of the United States. There are a multitude of organizations that promote diversity and equity – including for minority and women business owners, those who are LGBTQ+, and community organizations that celebrate many heritages. 

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Courtesy of Greater Winston-Salem, Inc.
Courtesy of Greater Winston-Salem, Inc.

How much does a night out on the town cost? 

You can have a date night in Winston-Salem on any budget. I would say for dinner for two plus some kind of entertainment; you could be as low as $30-40, especially for a food truck or casual dinner and then a free event or festival. 

My husband works in film, so we really enjoy having the RiverRun Film Festival in town and attending parties and screenings. The National Black Theatre FestivalBookmarks Festival, and UNC School of the Arts productions are also huge crowd-pleasers. 

We enjoy casual nights out like dinner at Mission Pizza or 6th and Vine, then either a First Friday gallery hop, meeting friends at a brewery or catching a movie at a/perture Cinema downtown, then a quiet drink outside at our neighborhood spot, West Salem Public House. 

If we were to splurge, it might be dinner at Mozelle’sAlma Mexicana, or 1703, then a touring production at the Stevens Center or a concert at the Ramkat, followed by cocktails at Fair Witness or Single Brothers.

How much does a great cup of coffee cost? 

It depends on your order! Plain coffee is $2-3; a complicated latte might run you $5-7. We are partial to our neighborhood spots: SaysoByGood and Camino. Camino also has incredible baked goods, so it is a hit with the kids as well. 

If we want to venture out, Krankies is wonderful and has, in my humble opinion, the best biscuits in town. Plus, if we are out and about and have grumpy kids in the car, we’ll take advantage of the drive-through Coffee Park trailer. 

In terms of outdoor activities, what are your go-to’s? 

With our little ones being so young, we mainly need places that are stroller-friendly. We love walking around Reynolda Gardens, plus we live near Washington Park, which has an epic dinosaur playground. I’m also partial to meandering through Old Salem because it feels like going back in time, and I can walk there in 10 minutes. 

We have enjoyed walking around Salem Lake and hiking up to Hanging Rock. There are loads of trails and good hikes within a one- or two-hour drive, and we are pretty close to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can hike sections of the Mountains to Sea Trail. All of these things are completely free.

How has the city changed or evolved in the last several years? 

Since I was a child visiting Winston-Salem, a TON has changed. Downtown Winston-Salem has completely come alive with local restaurants, breweries, and tons of arts and entertainment. The Innovation Quarter and Bailey Park are great to take the kids for a pizza and ice cream. 

I hope Winston-Salem continues to grow. I also hope we keep getting more restaurants, especially more international cuisine. I hope the city continues to innovate and create spaces that are accessible and inclusive.

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Courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem
Photo Courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem

What are your absolute favorite things about Winston-Salem? 

It is incredibly easy to get around town. My husband and I joke that everything in Winston-Salem is “just 10 minutes away.” After over a decade in Chicago, most of that with no vehicle, we absolutely LOVE being able to run our errands or go visit friends across town without spending an hour on a train or bus to go two miles or less. 

I love being able to have a backyard where I can grow vegetables and flowers and where my kids can run around and we can chat with neighbors over the fence. I love my neighborhood with its diverse mix of Craftsmans, Victorians, 1960s ranches and modern architecture. 

In Winston-Salem, folks want to help with new projects or ideas. There’s a hunger to keep making the city more exciting because those of us who love it and have roots here want to convince our friends to all move here.  

I also love how small the city feels while still having a lot to do. If we go out, we will almost definitely run into someone we know. It is truly somewhere that everyone can find their place.

This article was sponsored by Greater Winston-Salem, Inc

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