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The Cost of Living in North Carolina


If you’re considering a move to North Carolina, you’re probably wondering about the cost of living in the Tar Heel State. North Carolina’s state income taxes operate on a flat rate, meaning everyone pays an identical percentage, but the cost of living isn’t all about taxes. We’ll also go over other major considerations, like median home values and rent, food prices and more. You can also work with a financial advisor to help you determine if living in the state is a good financial decision or to help get your finances prepared for the move.

Housing Costs in North Carolina

The median home value in North Carolina is $174,380. That means there are plenty of home-buying deals to be had there. In larger cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, though, the median home value is higher at $419,900 and $397,000, respectively. Both of these numbers have climbed substantially over the past few years.

NeighborhoodScout data indicates that more than 63% of North Carolina residents are homeowners. The report also shows that the majority of these homes are three-bedroom, single-family residences. To see how much a mortgage may cost you in your town, take a look at our North Carolina mortgage calculator.

Rent in North Carolina is generally more affordable than the national median but it has climbed substantially recently, especially as the state has become more popular to live in. For example, the average rent for a two-bedroom home in Raleigh is $1,558 but the same two-bedroom averages out to be $1,730 in Charlotte.

North Carolina Food Costs

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, an adult with no children would need to spend $279.25 per month on food. A family of two adults and two children would need to spend roughly $821 a month. This is the bare minimum, however. Actual food prices can vary from city to city, though. Here, a dozen eggs cost $1.50, but a loaf of bread can be $2.97.

Transportation Costs

AAA shows the current gas prices at $3.46 per gallon, with the median national price at $3.83. Commute times in North Carolina are right around the national average, too. According to the Census Bureau, the average time to travel to work in North Carolina is 24.3 minutes, compared to a national average of 26.4 minutes.

Prefer to take public transportation? Some cities in North Carolina have bus systems. A monthly pass on Charlotte’s local bus will cost you $88 for the basic route. The Monthly Express pass costs $121 and the Express Plus costs $176.

Costs of Healthcare

North Carolina is almost exactly average in terms of annual employee contributions for single coverage healthcare at private companies. In fact, the national average is $1,415 and North Carolina comes in at $1,391.

Aside from the Charlotte metro area, North Carolina’s median healthcare prices appear to follow a similar pattern. For example, Raleigh is 1% above the national median, Greensboro is right in line with it and Durham is 7% below it. The Charlotte metro is the only outlier, as its prices are 18% higher than the national median.

North Carolina Taxes

North Carolina is one of eight states with a flat income tax. Of those eight states, North Carolina has the highest flat tax rate at 5.25%. You might think that a flat-tax state like North Carolina would make up for it with high property taxes. However, the average effective property tax rate in North Carolina is 0.86%. Local governments are in charge of setting property tax rates, though, so there is a variation from city to city. Durham has the highest average effective property tax rate in the state, at 1.22%. Macon’s are the lowest at just 0.44%.

Miscellaneous Cost of Living Facts

Cost of Living in North Carolina

Did you know that the University of North Carolina (UNC) was America’s first public university? Founded in 1795, it’s still going strong. North Carolina residents get a much better deal when it comes to UNC tuition and fees.

For the 2022-23 school year, full in-state tuition at UNC is $9,028 per year, according to the UNC Office of Undergraduate Admissions. It includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel, loan fees and personal spending. Conversely, tuition for out-of-state students jumps to $36,891 per year.

North Carolina boasts the oldest public university in the country, but it also boasts the largest privately-owned house. That’s the Vanderbilt family’s Biltmore Estate, located in Asheville, North Carolina. The home is a whopping 178,926 square feet of floor space. In the off-season and if you buy seven days in advance, a ticket to visit the majestic estate will cost you $60. In the summer, adult ticket prices can go up.

The Bottom Line

North Carolina is one of the favorite retirement destinations for people who love good weather. It’s rarely too hot or too cold and much of the state is protected from large storms like hurricanes. The cost of living can be comparable to many popular places to live but might be a bit more than in other states in the south. If you’re considering a move to the state then you should take a hard look at the costs to live there that will impact you the most before deciding to see if your budget is a good fit.

Next Steps

  • There’s almost nothing more nerve-racking than picking up and moving to an entirely new area. Financial advisors can help ensure you manage your money well through this time, while also helping you plan for long-term goals. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • It can be comforting to keep your money at a bank that you’ve known for a long time. But when you move, a switch to a new bank might be in order. Here’s an initial selection of five local banks in North Carolina: Live Oak Banking CompanyThe Fidelity BankAquesta Bank, Carolina Trust Bank and Uwharrie Bank.

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