The 10 Best College Towns In North Carolina For 2022


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our fifth time ranking the best college towns in North Carolina.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and North Carolina is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in North Carolina are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in North Carolina for 2022.

The 10 Best College Towns In North Carolina For 2022

  1. Chapel Hill, NC
  2. Boone, NC
  3. Greenville, NC
  4. Raleigh, NC
  5. Wilmington, NC
  6. Davidson, NC
  7. Elon, NC
  8. Brevard, NC
  9. Durham, NC
  10. Winston-Salem, NC

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Chapel Hill, Boone and Greenville - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Chapel Hill ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Dunn, NC - it's officially the worst college town in North Carolina. Sorry, Dunn!

Read on to find out more or for more on North Carolina check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In North Carolina For 2022

Chapel Hill, NC
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 61,912
% Undergrad Pop.: 25.2% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $1,221 (20th best)
Unemployment Rate: 506.6% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 7th best
More on Chapel Hill: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aveda Institute-Chapel Hill

Boone, NC
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 19,466
% Undergrad Pop.: 62.2% (best)
Median Rent: $952 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1656.1% (24th best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Boone: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Appalachian State University

Greenville, NC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 92,826
% Undergrad Pop.: 16.2% (4th best)
Median Rent: $823 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 868.8% (20th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Greenville: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: East Carolina University, Miller-Motte College-Greenville, Grace College of Barbering

Raleigh, NC
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 469,698
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.2% (11th best)
Median Rent: $1,175 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 429.1% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Raleigh: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Wake Technical Community College, Meredith College

Wilmington, NC
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 122,162
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.0% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,008 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 490.6% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Wilmington: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, Miller-Motte College-Wilmington

Davidson, NC
Overall SnackAbility
9.5
/10

Population: 12,920
% Undergrad Pop.: 13.0% (5th best)
Median Rent: $1,297 (2best)
Unemployment Rate: 311.6% (best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Davidson: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Davidson College

Elon, NC
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 11,941
% Undergrad Pop.: 32.7% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $1,354 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 437.2% (6th best)
Crime Rank: best
More on Elon: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: Elon University

Brevard, NC
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 7,841
% Undergrad Pop.: 9.1% (6th best)
Median Rent: $651 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 590.1% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Brevard: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Brevard College

Durham, NC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 276,341
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.8% (13th best)
Median Rent: $1,098 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 473.2% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 20th best
More on Durham: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Duke University, Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina Central University

Winston-Salem, NC
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 245,787
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.6% (16th best)
Median Rent: $827 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 564.6% (13th best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Winston-Salem: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: Forsyth Technical Community College, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University

How'd we figure out the best college towns in North Carolina?

To crunch our data on North Carolina's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 23 places in North Carolina with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In North Carolina For 2022".

And it looks like Chapel Hill placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in North Carolina, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

If you're curious, these are the worst college towns in North Carolina, starting with the absolute worst, Dunn:

  1. Dunn
  2. Laurinburg
  3. High Point
  4. Rocky Mount
  5. Wilson
  6. Fayetteville
  7. Charlotte
  8. Belmont
  9. Asheville
  10. Concord

For more reading, check out:

23 Best College Towns In North Carolina

Rank City Population
1 Chapel Hill, NC 61912
2 Boone, NC 19466
3 Greenville, NC 92826
4 Raleigh, NC 469698
5 Wilmington, NC 122162
6 Davidson, NC 12920
7 Elon, NC 11941
8 Brevard, NC 7841
9 Durham, NC 276341
10 Winston-Salem, NC 245787
11 Greensboro, NC 294395
12 Morrisville, NC 27582
13 Salisbury, NC 33961
14 Concord, NC 94147
15 Asheville, NC 92328
16 Belmont, NC 12292
17 Charlotte, NC 873570
18 Fayetteville, NC 211201
19 Wilson, NC 49310
20 Rocky Mount, NC 54330
21 High Point, NC 112434
22 Laurinburg, NC 15118
23 Dunn, NC 9738

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?