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.

Best Cities to Live in North Carolina, 2019

RankCity
1Cary
2Morrisville
3Huntersville
4Holly Springs
5Cornelius
6Apex
7Hillsborough
8Chapel Hill
9Asheville
10Wake Forest
11Matthews
12Clemmons
13Knightdale
14Candler
15Raleigh
16Waxhaw
17Durham
18Hendersonville
19Indian Trail
20Wilmington
21Greensboro
22Hickory
23Boone
24Kernersville
25Franklin
26Mooresville
27Leland
28Winston Salem
29Newton
30New Bern
31Monroe
32Concord
33Charlotte
34Statesville
35Kannapolis
36Marion
37Lincolnton
38Fuquay Varina
39Jacksonville
40Mount Airy
41Thomasville
42Shelby
43Greenville
44High Point
45Hope Mills
46Morganton
47Albemarle
48Sanford
49Mocksville
50Waynesville
51Mebane
52Lenoir
53Goldsboro
54Kings Mountain
55Salisbury
56Asheboro
57Clayton
58Lexington
59Burlington
60Garner
61Washington
62Taylorsville
63Gastonia
64Wilson
65Graham
66Dunn
67Reidsville
68Raeford
69Fayetteville
70Roxboro
71Laurinburg
72Elizabeth City
73Clinton
74Roanoke Rapids
75Kinston
76Rocky Mount
77Henderson
78Lumberton

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Methodology

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).