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Cheapest Places to Live in North Carolina

cheapest places to live in north carolina

Finding an affordable place to live is a priority for many people. With the cost of living on the rise, it can be difficult to find a home that meets both your budget and your needs.

Fortunately, North Carolina offers plenty of options when it comes to affordable places to live. From cities like Greenville and Winston-Salem, which offer big city amenities at lower costs than other larger cities in the state, to smaller towns such as Kannapolis and Greensboro, where you can enjoy more seclusion without sacrificing convenience or quality of life.

So, let’s take a look at some of the Cheapest Places to Live in North Carolina to help you decide which one might be right for you. Let’s get started with…

Living In North Carolina

North Carolina, a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural richness, entices people from all walks of life. With a diversified geography ranging from breathtaking mountains to sun-kissed beaches, everyday life in the state is infused with a charm that appeals to both first-time homebuyers and retirees.

 The locals, while well-acquainted with the state’s rich history, are equally passionate about their regional cuisine and proud of their state’s renowned institutions of higher education.

A growing economy…

Known as the “Tar Heel State,” North Carolina boasts a thriving tar and mineral production industry, which adds to its economic prowess. As you explore the state, you’ll be met with a warm, hospitable atmosphere where people wear their culture on their sleeves and celebrate the diverse offerings of their home state.

Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina


Hamlet enjoys the title of being the most affordable town to call home in North Carolina. Situated conveniently near Fort Bragg, this quaint community is a mere 45-minute drive from the military base, making it an excellent location for those with ties to the base.

Retirees and anyone seeking a peaceful, slow-paced lifestyle will find Hamlet to be an ideal haven away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities.

Beauty without the hustle and bustle!

 Although it may not offer all the amenities found in more urban areas, Hamlet’s picturesque surroundings include easy access to the state’s exquisite beaches and awe-inspiring mountain ranges. With average home prices hovering around $107,000 and rental rates for a cozy one-bedroom averaging just $425, living in Hamlet is a cost-effective choice for those seeking an affordable yet fulfilling life.



Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Greenville stands as the 11th-most populous city in the state, offering a unique blend of affordability and substantial growth opportunities.

 Boasting a median household income of $42,612, coupled with a reasonable rent of $950 for a median 2-bedroom apartment that has seen an increase of just 17.09% over the past year, this charming city is a haven for its nearly 90,000 residents.

A hub for everything…

 As the state’s health, entertainment, and educational hub, Greenville is not only a cost-effective choice for East Carolina University students but also one of the best places to live in North Carolina

Praised for its strong sense of community and professional opportunities, the city consistently ranks high for young professionals, business development, and families alike. With access to world-class amenities, and a thriving economy centered around pharmaceutical manufacturing, lumber, and millwork.

High quality of life at affordable prices! 

This includes major employers such as Old Dominion Freight Line, Kellcor USA Limited, and Lexington Home Brands; Greenville remains an attractive choice for those seeking a high quality of life without breaking the bank. The home prices and rents in this welcoming city are well below the state and national averages, making it one of the most affordable jewels of North Carolina.


The historic town of Eden is a hidden gem with a fascinating past rooted in textile mills and manufacturing. Today, it is not only the largest city in Rockingham County – with a population of over 15,000 – but also a part of the ever-growing Greensboro-High Point Metropolitan Statistical Area. 

This connection has given rise to a harmonious combination of rural charm and metropolitan accessibility. One of the most enticing aspects of Eden is its incredibly low cost of living, drawing in retirees who relish the budget-friendly home prices and uncomplicated commute to Greensboro.


Value for money…

 With a home price-to-income ratio of 2.51 and an average property tax of just $823, Eden offers exceptional value to its residents. To further enhance the experience, the town boasts an array of lush parks and outdoor adventures, with local attractions such as the Eden Historical Museum and the scenic Matrimony Creek Greenway. 

Living in Eden affords residents the unique luxury of enjoying an enriched and affordable lifestyle, nestled in the heart of North Carolina’s natural beauty.


This city has evolved from its tobacco roots to become a vibrant hub of education, with institutions such as Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State gracing its presence.

 With a population of 250,320, the appeal of Winston-Salem extends to college students, young professionals, and retirees alike, all of whom appreciate the blend of a thriving downtown area and the charm of a small-town atmosphere.

Low cost of living for young professionals…

The cost of living is undeniably attractive, with the median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment standing at $1,114, reflecting a 10.1% increase over the past year. Given the median household income of $47,269, the city remains economically viable for many.

 Furthermore, the job market is flourishing, particularly in sectors such as healthcare, public education, financial services, and higher education. All these factors make Winston-Salem one of the most affordable and appealing destinations to live in.


In the beautiful state of North Carolina, Fayetteville emerges as an attractive and highly affordable destination for those seeking to live amidst a thriving and dynamic environment. With its strong military roots, and being home to Fort Bragg Army Base, this city offers a stable job market and a well-rounded education system, ensuring opportunities for growth both personally and professionally. 

While rental prices may be slightly elevated, Fayetteville more than makes up for it with its highly affordable home prices and overall low cost of living. This perfect balance allows young professionals to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank, all while indulging in a lively scene of dining, pubs, and a laid-back atmosphere that this charming city has to offer.



About 60 miles northeast of Charlotte, Lexington boasts an appealing home price-to-income ratio of 3.48. Homebuyers seeking cost-effective options can take delight in low home prices, combined with an average property tax of just $771. A modest median household income of $29,938 contributes to the accessible living expenses in this charming location. 

They are famous for their delectable “Lexington style” barbecue, which also promises a vibrant community with attractions like a drive-in movie theater, a local history museum, and a regional airport.

Lover of the outdoors?

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the convenient access to the state’s gorgeous beaches, picturesque mountain drives, and an array of rivers and lakes. While the thriving tourism industry results in a slightly higher local rental market, Lexington remains an enticing choice for those seeking a budget-friendly home in beautiful North Carolina.

Wake Forest

Certain towns stand out for their low cost of living without sacrificing on the quality of life, and among these, Wake Forest is a remarkable example, providing its 49,657 residents with charming neighborhoods and fantastic amenities. 

Despite the 7.3% increase in rental prices over the past year, the median rate for a 2-bedroom apartment is still a reasonable $1,389. Moreover, the median household income in Wake Forest is a comfortable $100,162.

Great food and culture…

 Established in 1832 by the North Carolina Baptist Convention, this town has a rich history, a vibrant food scene, and an abundance of job opportunities with companies like Lenovo, Duke Energy, and Wells Fargo, not to mention the prestigious Wake Forest University. 


With a rich history rooted in railroad manufacturing and repair, Burlington and its 60,000 residents blend its storied past with a dedication to nature conservation, providing ample opportunities for exploration and entertainment. 

Attractions like the Conservators Center, Cedarock Park, City Park, and the picturesque Glencoe Mill Village will charm history buffs and nature lovers alike.


Go Kansas City Royals! 

Sports enthusiasts can also revel in the excitement of attending games at Burlington Athletic Stadium, the stomping grounds for both the minor league Burlington Royals and the major league Kansas City Royals. Offering a blend of cultural and recreational options, this state proves to be an ideal, budget-friendly location for North Carolina residents from all walks of life.


You will find affordable living in the thriving city of Kannapolis. With its rich history as a once-flourishing textile center in the early 20th century, this city has managed to maintain its identity as one of the largest and best-preserved mill towns in the United States.

 The city’s well-rounded economy is supported by the presence of eight universities, which not only fuel the burgeoning biotech industry but also create an abundance of job opportunities for residents.

A perfect location for whatever you need!

With a population of 54,446 and the median household income resting at $55,923, Kannapolis boasts a reasonable median rent price for a 2-bedroom apartment of $1,654, which has experienced a 26% increase in the last year. 

Geographically speaking, it finds itself in an ideal location, with proximity to picturesque mountain ranges, tranquil coastlines, and bustling city centers. As a result, this city remains an attractive option for those seeking an affordable place to call home.


This up-and-coming location, home to an impressive 298,263 residents, has a rich history as a significant railway hub and transportation center in the South. Today, Greensboro is attracting a diverse mix of young professionals, students, and families. 

This is thanks to its thriving job market featuring notable employers such as Wrangler, Mack Trucks, The Fresh Market, VF Corporation, and Guilford County Schools.

Perfect for families on a budget…

Greensboro’s reputation as one of the cheapest places to rent in North Carolina, with a median 2-bedroom apartment rent of $1,287, is appealing to many. The past year has seen a 13.1% change in the rent, indicating a growing interest in the area. 

Moreover, the median household income stands at $49,492, suggesting that residents can maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Greensboro also appeals to those seeking further education opportunities, with several universities in the vicinity. Its inviting blend of athletic venues, hiking trails, and outdoor parks, along with low home prices, make it an ideal choice.


Living in Thomasville, North Carolina, known for its significant contributions to the furniture industry, offers an affordable and appealing lifestyle for its population of over 27,000 residents. With a home price-to-income ratio of 2.87, an average property tax of $864, and a median household income of $40,648, this charming city features housing options at prices well below the state and national averages.

 Beyond its rich history and unique landmarks, Thomasville’s prime location provides easy access to job opportunities and amenities in nearby High Point, Lexington, Winston-Salem, and downtown Greensboro.


Family-friendly fun to be had!

 The city also offers a diverse selection of attractions and entertainment, including the Museum of Old Domestic Life, Furniture Discovery Center, High Point Museum & Historical Park, and Tanglewood Park. And for those in search of family-friendly activities, some of the best golf courses, festivals, and fairs in the state can be found in this vibrant North Carolina community.

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is an excellent option for an affordable place to live that combines education, culture, and leisure. With a population of 61,128, this college town is known for its value and myriad of activities. Possessing a median household income of $75,249, Chapel Hill offers a reasonable median rent for a two-bedroom apartment at $1,463, which has only increased by 15.4% in the past year. 

Being home to a prestigious university, the town naturally attracts a variety of pubs, restaurants, and cultural hotspots, catering to the diverse tastes of residents and visitors alike.

It’s all about community… 

In this vibrant community, locals are primarily employed in sectors such as education, healthcare, social assistance, and scientific and technical services. Enjoy the best of North Carolina while taking advantage of the low cost of living and abundant opportunities in Chapel Hill.


With a population of 107,697, this historically bustling mill town has swiftly become one of the best places to reside in the Carolinas. Those looking for affordable housing options will be pleased with the median two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,201, showing a reasonable 5.4% increase over the past year. 

The median household income of $70,973 further solidifies the city’s reputation as an economical choice for families and professionals alike.

Great education and job opportunities…

As part of the thriving Charlotte metropolitan area, Concord offers quality schools and extensive green spaces for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, several reputable institutions, such as Cabarrus College of Health Science, offer higher education options for aspiring professionals. Speaking of career prospects, young individuals can easily find opportunities in industries like finance, healthcare, and technology.

 And when it comes to recreation, nothing beats Concord’s local breweries and famed barbecue joints that fill the city with delightful aromas and bustling activity. All in all, this North Carolina gem provides both affordability and quality of life that is hard to beat.


Wilmington, a charming beach town with a population of 117,643, is one such gem that stands out for its blend of coastal vibes and urban conveniences.

 A median 2-bedroom apartment rent of $1,434 reflects a 15.2% increase from last year, which still falls in a reasonable range compared to more expensive cities. The median household income stands at $53,830, suggesting that life in Wilmington remains accessible to a wide range of individuals.


A perfect life balance…

Frequently hailed as one of the most affordable beach towns in North Carolina, Wilmington is also home to the esteemed University of North Carolina Wilmington. Not just an ideal location for students, the town has also been experiencing a growth spurt in young professionals and millennials employed in diverse sectors such as film, healthcare, banking, trade, hospitality, and government. 

Needless to say, the pristine beach remains a major draw, offering a delightful array of seaside dining experiences and even a floating bar and grill for those who wish to unwind after a long day. With its strategic balance of affordability, education, and recreational opportunities, Wilmington truly is one of the best places to live.


Durham is home to 285,527 residents who enjoy a cost-effective lifestyle. Rent for a median two-bedroom apartment stands at $1,458, reflecting an increase of only 7.4% over the past year. This affordable housing pairs well with the median household income of $61,962, allowing locals to stretch their dollars further. 

For those interested in education or employment, Durham offers a unique blend of opportunities as the home to prestigious institutions such as Duke University and North Carolina University.

Ever-growing innovations…

Additionally, the city represents one-third of the renowned Research Triangle Park, alongside Raleigh and Chapel Hill, further extending its potential for growth, innovation, and economic stability. If you’re considering a move to North Carolina, Durham stands out as an option for affordability and opportunity.

Factors To Consider 

When choosing an affordable place to live in North Carolina, it is essential to consider several key factors that will impact your overall life satisfaction. 

Affordability, of course, should be at the top of your list, but this should not be your only priority. Delve into the local job market to ensure that it offers ample career opportunities and a strong economy to support your financial goals.

Quality of life is key!

Beyond the financial aspects, prioritize your quality of life by examining recreational amenities, cultural attractions, and social opportunities that contribute to a well-rounded lifestyle. 

Additionally, take a closer look at the education systems and healthcare facilities available in the area, as these services play a crucial role in the well-being of you and your family. By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can find the perfect balance between affordability, job prospects, and personal fulfillment in your North Carolina home.

Moving On A Budget Can Be Tough!

Relocating can cost you an arm and a leg, especially with a whole family! So, let’s start with the Cheapest Places To Live In Texas, the Cheapest Beach Towns In Florida, and the Cheapest Places to Live in California along with the Cheapest Beach Towns In California, and the Cheapest Places To Live In Georgia.

If safety is more of a priority, then you’ll want to take a look at the Safest Neighborhoods In Philadelphia, the Safest Places To Live In Florida, and the Safest Cities In California, in 2023.

We’ve also covered the Best Neighborhoods In Brooklyn, the Safest Neighborhoods In Atlanta, the Best Places To Live In Florida For Families, and the Safest Cities In Texas, to help you decide.

Final Thoughts

So, which North Carolina city offers the best balance of affordability and quality of life? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, cities like Greensboro, Wilmington, and Durham are all popular destinations for those seeking an affordable place to live in the state. 

Each destination provides its own unique blend of recreational opportunities, job market security, educational facilities, and healthcare services that can make its city your ideal home. 

While affordability should certainly be a priority, consider all factors when making the ultimate decision to ensure you find the best fit for your personal needs. With careful consideration and research, North Carolina offers plenty of opportunities for those looking for a great place to call home.

Happy Home Hunting!

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