Moving to North Carolina? Check out our guide to Starting a Business in North Carolina.

With a long stretch of sandy coastline, some of the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi River, and cities ranging from large, modern metropolises to hip, quirky college towns, North Carolina is one of the best states to settle in.

Whether you prefer a home with a view of a skyscraper skyline or a view of the mountains, the Tar Heel state has what you are looking for. In order to help you narrow down your search, here’s a closer look at what we think are the five best North Carolina cities to live in.

1. Cary

North Carolina’s most liveable city (technically a town, but let’s not split hairs) is Cary, a large municipality with a lot going for it. Despite its large size–its population tops 162K–Cary is quite safe, with a very low violent crime rate. Other qualities include a strong economy bolstered by the presence of many large tech firms providing thousands of jobs to the community, and scores of public parks, tennis courts, and golf clubs.  

2. Morrisville

Ranking #2 is Morrisville, a cozy community in between the larger cities of Durham and Raleigh with a strong economy boosted by proximity to the Research Triangle Park, one of the top R&D parks in the country hosting over 170 companies and 50,000 workers.

3. Huntersville

Huntersville is a large suburb in the Charlotte metropolitan area with two man-made lakes perfect for water skiing and boating. The city’s high median household income is indicative of its economic success and employment opportunities.

4. Holly Springs

Holy Springs of Wake County is #4 on the list. The affluent city is an in-demand place to settle and has more than doubled its population since 2000.

5. Cornelius

Rounding out the top five is Cornelius, nestled alongside Lake Norman in Mecklenburg County. Cornelius boasts a high median household income and the historic Potts Plantation.

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We ranked a total of 2,509 qualified cities (those with populations above 25,000 and enough data for analysis) by five factors: employment (number of establishments, median earnings); housing (owner-occupied housing with a mortgage, monthly housing costs); quality of life (work commute, poverty levels); education (percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher); and health (obesity ratios).