The 10 Best Counties To Live In North Carolina For 2021


Using science and data, we can tell you which counties in North Carolina have the most for people looking to make the move to North Carolina.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best counties to live in North Carolina.

Some of you might be asking yourself, at this very moment: is North Carolina a good place?

The answer is unequivocally yes... if you know where to locate the best places to live in North Carolina.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you identify the best counties to live in the Tar Heel State based on the most recently available data from the Census. And this isn't our first rodeo -- we've been helping people find the best places to live in America for years.

So, the question becomes, if you wanted to relocate to the best part of North Carolina, where would you go? To answer that we looked at crime, cost of living, and demographic data for all 100 counties in the state.

After the analytic dust settled, we identified the 10 best counties to live in Tar Heel State for 2021.

Wake County is the county to be when it comes to living the good life in North Carolina. And you might want to avoid Lenoir County if you can -- at least according to the data.

So if you're thinking of making the move North Carolina, we've got you covered. Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in North Carolina and the cheapest places to live in North Carolina.

The Best Counties To Live In North Carolina For 2021

1. Wake County

Cary, NC

Biggest Place: Raleigh

Population: 1,069,079
Median Income: $80,591 (best)
Median Home Price: $281,700.0 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 403.6% (11th best)
More on Wake County: PhotosData

2. Cabarrus County

Concord, NC

Biggest Place: Concord

Population: 206,615
Median Income: $67,328 (5th best)
Median Home Price: $203,100.0 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 501.4% (29th best)
More on Cabarrus County: PhotosData

3. Iredell County

Davidson, NC

Biggest Place: Mooresville

Population: 175,538
Median Income: $60,955 (10th best)
Median Home Price: $190,300.0 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 486.1% (27th best)
More on Iredell County: PhotosData

4. Orange County

Carrboro, NC

Biggest Place: Durham

Population: 144,836
Median Income: $71,723 (3rd best)
Median Home Price: $308,800.0 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 352.2% (5th best)
More on Orange County: PhotosData

5. Chatham County

Cary, NC

Biggest Place: Cary

Population: 71,338
Median Income: $67,031 (6th best)
Median Home Price: $281,700.0 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 427.1% (13th best)
More on Chatham County: PhotosData

6. Davie County

Mocksville, NC

Biggest Place: Mocksville

Population: 42,257
Median Income: $60,434 (11th best)
Median Home Price: $172,600.0 (26th best)
Unemployment Rate: 388.7% (7th best)
More on Davie County: PhotosData

7. Moore County

Aberdeen, NC

Biggest Place: Pinehurst

Population: 97,294
Median Income: $59,963 (12th best)
Median Home Price: $216,500.0 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 478.3% (26th best)
More on Moore County: PhotosData

8. Currituck County

Biggest Place: Moyock

Population: 26,363
Median Income: $69,964 (4th best)
Median Home Price: $257,200.0 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 431.6% (14th best)
More on Currituck County: Data

9. Union County

Indian Trail, NC

Source: Public domain

Biggest Place: Indian Trail

Population: 231,053
Median Income: $80,033 (2nd best)
Median Home Price: $241,400.0 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 456.0% (19th best)
More on Union County: PhotosData

10. Polk County

Columbus, NC

Biggest Place: Tryon

Population: 20,557
Median Income: $48,787 (42nd best)
Median Home Price: $225,700.0 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 511.9% (33rd best)
More on Polk County: PhotosData

How do you determine which North Carolina county is the best?

To give you the best county in North Carolina, we have to look at a handful of metrics that signal the quality of a place. To do that, we need to make some assumptions about what's a "best county" and what isn't. And, for reference, we are trying to make the kind of argument you'd make at a bar using facts, don't take this analysis to court.

With that in mind, we went to two of the best sources of data on the internet; the American Community Survey data and FBI Crime data for the most recent time period.

We paid particular attention to:

  • Violent Crime Rates
  • Property Crime Rates
  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Adult Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty Rates

We then ranked each county in North Carolina across each of the criteria from one to 100, with one being the best.

Taking the average rank across all criteria, we created a quality of life score with the county posting the lowest overall score being the "Best County To Live In North Carolina".

The result is some of the safest, quiet, and best counties to raise a family in the Tar Heel State.

Read on to see why Wake County is the best county, while Lenoir County is probably in contention for being the worst county in North Carolina.

There You Have It - The Best Counties In North Carolina To Call Home For 2018

It turns out living in North Carolina can vary from one part of the state to the next -- who woulda thought?

But now you the know the really good parts and the parts to avoid and that's why you came here to learn at the end of the day. And for that, you are welcome.

Here's a look at the worst counties in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Lenoir County
  2. Sampson County
  3. Northampton County

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Counties In North Carolina

County Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Wake County 1 1,069,079 $80,591 $281,700.0
Cabarrus County 2 206,615 $67,328 $203,100.0
Iredell County 3 175,538 $60,955 $190,300.0
Orange County 4 144,836 $71,723 $308,800.0
Chatham County 5 71,338 $67,031 $281,700.0
Davie County 6 42,257 $60,434 $172,600.0
Moore County 7 97,294 $59,963 $216,500.0
Currituck County 8 26,363 $69,964 $257,200.0
Union County 9 231,053 $80,033 $241,400.0
Polk County 10 20,557 $48,787 $225,700.0
Dare County 11 36,222 $59,381 $289,000.0
Lincoln County 12 82,919 $57,536 $172,000.0
Brunswick County 13 131,815 $58,236 $212,200.0
Henderson County 14 114,913 $55,945 $214,000.0
Camden County 15 10,551 $64,572 $208,800.0
Carteret County 16 69,070 $57,194 $214,100.0
Buncombe County 17 256,886 $52,207 $238,200.0
New Hanover County 18 227,938 $54,891 $243,600.0
Onslow County 19 195,069 $50,278 $156,900.0
Mecklenburg County 20 1,074,475 $66,641 $238,000.0
Durham County 21 311,848 $60,958 $223,000.0
Gates County 22 11,548 $50,750 $147,700.0
Pender County 23 60,399 $57,240 $198,700.0
Johnston County 24 196,870 $59,865 $165,100.0
Transylvania County 25 33,775 $50,212 $221,900.0
Haywood County 26 61,053 $51,659 $179,700.0
Pamlico County 27 12,701 $46,728 $156,000.0
Craven County 28 102,491 $52,687 $157,900.0
Watauga County 29 54,925 $47,526 $238,000.0
Guilford County 30 527,868 $53,261 $167,000.0
Granville County 31 59,328 $55,856 $156,000.0
Gaston County 32 219,271 $52,835 $144,200.0
Franklin County 33 66,362 $55,193 $150,400.0
Forsyth County 34 375,195 $51,569 $159,300.0
Mitchell County 35 15,004 $46,103 $157,400.0
Madison County 36 21,499 $45,873 $194,500.0
Nash County 37 94,030 $49,537 $128,200.0
Alexander County 38 37,213 $48,756 $136,500.0
Catawba County 39 157,613 $52,056 $143,600.0
Perquimans County 40 13,430 $47,162 $172,300.0
Clay County 41 10,946 $42,222 $180,300.0
Macon County 42 34,813 $45,507 $165,600.0
Ashe County 43 26,863 $40,962 $153,200.0
Avery County 44 17,506 $40,340 $144,000.0
Person County 45 39,345 $51,020 $123,100.0
Jackson County 46 42,938 $47,252 $196,100.0
Harnett County 47 132,283 $53,554 $154,000.0
Pasquotank County 48 39,514 $50,558 $163,100.0
Stanly County 49 61,588 $52,623 $138,900.0
Alamance County 50 163,324 $49,688 $154,800.0
Davidson County 51 165,381 $49,546 $142,100.0
Stokes County 52 45,781 $48,054 $137,000.0
Chowan County 53 14,097 $46,519 $131,100.0
Pitt County 54 178,433 $47,437 $148,600.0
Yadkin County 55 37,602 $44,682 $133,100.0
Cumberland County 56 332,861 $46,875 $135,300.0
Rowan County 57 140,296 $49,842 $136,400.0
Mcdowell County 58 45,227 $43,646 $119,200.0
Rutherford County 59 66,599 $42,608 $118,300.0
Beaufort County 60 47,168 $45,212 $132,800.0
Caswell County 61 22,684 $45,733 $112,800.0
Yancey County 62 17,760 $42,222 $157,100.0
Montgomery County 63 27,252 $44,146 $117,700.0
Cleveland County 64 97,282 $42,247 $120,100.0
Randolph County 65 143,118 $47,288 $124,100.0
Surry County 66 71,971 $43,597 $126,900.0
Cherokee County 67 27,969 $41,438 $159,100.0
Wilkes County 68 68,469 $44,107 $126,300.0
Lee County 69 60,481 $49,994 $144,200.0
Caldwell County 70 81,884 $44,511 $118,100.0
Rockingham County 71 91,077 $43,579 $112,800.0
Burke County 72 89,968 $44,557 $120,700.0
Wilson County 73 81,435 $43,877 $123,600.0
Wayne County 74 123,603 $44,416 $123,500.0
Alleghany County 75 11,008 $37,830 $139,800.0
Hoke County 76 53,957 $48,072 $139,300.0
Graham County 77 8,509 $39,571 $122,300.0
Warren County 78 19,898 $36,466 $94,600.0
Edgecombe County 79 52,648 $36,866 $85,700.0
Martin County 80 22,849 $40,090 $92,500.0
Jones County 81 9,594 $38,158 $89,000.0
Bertie County 82 19,380 $35,527 $82,200.0
Duplin County 83 58,967 $41,764 $90,200.0
Greene County 84 21,033 $39,837 $88,600.0
Vance County 85 44,479 $40,529 $101,400.0
Washington County 86 11,922 $35,979 $85,400.0
Hertford County 87 24,012 $41,028 $88,600.0
Anson County 88 24,902 $40,213 $91,200.0
Richmond County 89 44,997 $36,148 $83,200.0
Columbus County 90 56,068 $37,628 $88,900.0
Bladen County 91 33,407 $36,173 $95,300.0
Swain County 92 14,260 $39,317 $139,100.0
Hyde County 93 5,213 $39,663 $141,500.0
Scotland County 94 35,076 $37,238 $85,500.0
Robeson County 95 132,596 $34,976 $75,600.0
Halifax County 96 51,190 $35,502 $86,300.0
Tyrrell County 97 4,095 $35,300 $114,800.0
Northampton County 98 19,946 $37,146 $83,300.0
Sampson County 99 63,385 $42,151 $89,300.0
Lenoir County 100 56,756 $39,402 $95,500.0

Talk To A Relocation Expert

Need help figuring out where to move? Email YouTube star Nick Johnson at [email protected].

It's $200 for a phone consultation, and you'll go over politics, weather, cost of living, schools, culture and more to discover which city is the PERFECT place for your family to move to.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

3 thoughts on “The 10 Best Counties To Live In North Carolina For 2021

  1. Obviously, 27 counties are missing. Alleghany where I avoid the summer heat in the city must be too small. How about Lincoln Co, where people like chilling on Lake Norman in summer. Some Va border counties like Hertford and Northampton are missing. Would we find them on a va List? Likewise, Currituck and Pasquotank, where Virginians pass through going to the Outer Banks. Maybe, Alleghany also got sucked into a VA list for those heading to Mayberry.

  2. Um, Durham is in Durham County.
    Raleigh is in Wake County.
    Cary is in Wake County.
    Other mistakes too? Probably, but I am not your editor.

    You really have to get this right to be credible.

    Best wishes from the Triangle,
    Hugh

  3. Ummm there are 100 counties in North Carolina.

    Only see listed down to 73.

    Does that mean the other 27 counties suck that bad or you just left them out?

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