The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In North Carolina For 2021


We used science and data to determine which cities in North Carolina that will put a big dent in your wallet.

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

You're going to need a little more than some pocket change and luck to afford to live in one of the Tar Heel state's most expensive places. For many, you're going to need a miracle and a job that pays at least $22,434/year. Unfortunately, HomeSnacks can't help with a miracle, but we did help by creating a list of the top ten most expensive places in North Carolina for 2021 and the list is below.

Incidentally, if you don't currently have a booming bank account, don't worry. Places that made our top ten list like Wilmington and Asheville might be some of the most expensive places to buy a home, but the least expensive to rent.

Yes, in order to determine the most expensive places in North Carolina, we looked at the American Community Survey for the home price to income ratio and the rent to income ratio for North Carolina places with at least 5,000 residents. This gave us 135 North Carolina places that you're going to need to win a hefty Powerball to live comfortably.

Did we mention that this is our seventh time ranking North Carolina's most expensive places? That's right, we know what we're talking about. So, it would be in your best interest to take a look at our list below before you make any major financial decisions.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in North Carolina for 2021:

  1. Boone
  2. Asheville
  3. Carrboro
  4. Woodfin
  5. Wilmington
  6. Morehead City
  7. St. James
  8. Kill Devil Hills
  9. Hendersonville
  10. Pineville

What's the most expensive place to live in North Carolina? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Boone is the most expensive place to live in North Carolina.

So hopefully Sawmills (the cheapest place to live in North Carolina) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about North Carolina and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In North Carolina For 2021

1. BooneBoone, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 19,119
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 12.0x (most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 24.9x (most expensive)
More on Boone: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Boone comes in at $22,434 and the median home value is $268,100 for 2021.

2. AshevilleAsheville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 91,560
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.4x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 47.9x (22nd most expensive)
More on Asheville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Asheville comes in at $49,930 and the median home value is $270,400 for 2021.

3. CarrboroCarrboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 21,230
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.3x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 54.5x (5most expensive)
More on Carrboro: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Carrboro comes in at $58,702 and the median home value is $368,800 for 2021.

4. WoodfinWoodfin, NC

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,612
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (11th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 44.0x (9th most expensive)
More on Woodfin: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Woodfin comes in at $48,202 and the median home value is $224,400 for 2021.

5. WilmingtonWilmington, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 120,194
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.2x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 47.7x (2most expensive)
More on Wilmington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Wilmington comes in at $47,580 and the median home value is $246,400 for 2021.

6. Morehead CityMorehead City, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,413
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.2x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 49.8x (30th most expensive)
More on Morehead City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Morehead City comes in at $42,985 and the median home value is $225,200 for 2021.

7. St. James

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,521
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 8)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 56.3x (62nd most expensive)
More on St. James: Real Estate | Data

The median income in St. James comes in at $104,850 and the median home value is $456,600 for 2021.

8. Kill Devil HillsKill Devil Hills, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,155
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.6x (12th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 50.3x (33rd most expensive)
More on Kill Devil Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Kill Devil Hills comes in at $53,750 and the median home value is $245,900 for 2021.

9. Hendersonville

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 13,908
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.9x (9th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 44.8x (12th most expensive)
More on Hendersonville: Real Estate | Data

The median income in Hendersonville comes in at $38,696 and the median home value is $188,100 for 2021.

10. PinevillePineville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 8,749
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.1x (18th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.0x (23rd most expensive)
More on Pineville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Pineville comes in at $52,967 and the median home value is $219,800 for 2021.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Tar Heel State For 2021

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In North Carolina
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2015-2019 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in North Carolina to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 135 places in North Carolina that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in North Carolina according to the data is Boone. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In North Carolina For 2021

Well there you have it, the places in North Carolina that have the highest cost of living, with Boone ranking as the most expensive city in the Tar Heel State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in North Carolina according to the data:

  1. Sawmills
  2. Marion
  3. Hamlet

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In North Carolina

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Boone 9.0 19,119 12.0x 24.9x
2 Asheville 16.67 91,560 5.4x 47.9x
3 Carrboro 20.0 21,230 6.3x 54.5x
4 Woodfin 20.67 6,612 4.7x 44.0x
5 Wilmington 20.67 120,194 5.2x 47.7x
6 Morehead City 25.67 9,413 5.2x 49.8x
7 St. James 26.33 5,521 4.4x 56.3x
8 Kill Devil Hills 26.67 7,155 4.6x 50.3x
9 Hendersonville 26.67 13,908 4.9x 44.8x
10 Pineville 28.67 8,749 4.1x 48.0x
11 Elon 29.33 11,516 3.9x 50.7x
12 Chapel Hill 31.33 60,998 5.4x 61.8x
13 Brevard 37.67 7,824 5.5x 58.4x
14 Washington 38.67 9,590 4.3x 44.9x
15 Greenville 40.0 91,921 3.9x 49.9x
16 Carolina Beach 40.33 6,265 4.7x 65.0x
17 Dunn 40.33 9,664 4.3x 41.8x
18 Southern Pines 41.67 14,022 4.9x 64.5x
19 Pinehurst 42.0 16,050 3.6x 57.8x
20 Durham 42.0 269,702 3.8x 55.7x
21 Waynesville 45.33 9,965 3.8x 52.6x
22 Hillsborough 45.67 7,115 4.0x 63.0x
23 Jacksonville 46.67 73,025 3.4x 45.3x
24 New Bern 47.33 29,895 3.6x 50.3x
25 Marvin 47.33 6,553 3.3x 61.4x
26 Goldsboro 47.67 34,647 3.7x 43.1x
27 Black Mountain 48.0 8,144 4.5x 63.7x
28 Raleigh 48.0 464,485 3.7x 60.0x
29 Elizabeth City 48.0 17,629 3.5x 44.2x
30 Lincolnton 49.0 10,832 4.2x 55.1x
31 Charlotte 49.33 857,425 3.5x 55.3x
32 Selma 50.0 6,746 3.8x 33.8x
33 Smithfield 50.5 12,400 3.9x 52.8x
34 Mint Hill 52.0 26,697 3.6x 64.0x
35 Leland 52.0 20,294 3.5x 58.8x
36 Statesville 52.33 26,685 3.8x 54.1x
37 Graham 52.67 14,925 3.7x 48.6x
38 Tarboro 53.33 10,915 3.8x 45.7x
39 Clinton 53.67 8,504 3.8x 48.7x
40 Mills River 54.0 7,251 3.9x 69.7x
41 Cornelius 58.0 29,256 3.6x 74.3x
42 Fletcher 58.0 8,117 3.3x 58.0x
43 Davidson 58.67 12,735 3.6x 98.8x
44 Lexington 59.67 18,861 3.5x 42.5x
45 Monroe 60.0 35,105 3.2x 52.8x
46 Morganton 60.0 16,481 3.8x 61.5x
47 Forest City 60.0 7,155 3.7x 46.6x
48 Mooresville 60.33 37,835 3.4x 62.4x
49 Oak Island 60.5 7,851 3.5x 67.9x
50 Oak Ridge 60.67 6,901 3.0x 62.0x
51 Mount Airy 62.33 10,193 4.0x 62.9x
52 Oxford 62.67 8,721 3.6x 55.1x
53 Morrisville 63.33 26,280 3.3x 72.8x
54 Aberdeen 63.33 7,595 3.7x 67.0x
55 Cary 63.67 166,268 3.4x 84.0x
56 Wilson 64.0 49,272 3.4x 55.2x
57 Summerfield 64.33 11,151 3.5x 108.0x
58 Laurinburg 64.33 15,119 3.3x 44.5x
59 High Point 65.0 111,714 3.2x 53.7x
60 Angier 66.0 5,893 3.3x 57.6x
61 Stallings 66.33 15,554 2.9x 58.2x
62 Fuquay-Varina 66.83 27,426 3.2x 68.1x
63 Whiteville 67.0 5,386 3.4x 49.3x
64 Greensboro 67.33 291,303 3.2x 55.8x
65 Clayton 68.0 21,681 3.1x 57.9x
66 Wendell 68.33 7,308 3.2x 61.4x
67 Hickory 68.67 40,634 3.5x 64.9x
68 Matthews 68.67 32,044 3.1x 66.1x
69 Kernersville 69.0 24,576 3.5x 65.0x
70 Winston-Salem 69.33 244,115 3.2x 56.8x
71 Walke 69.67 5,099 3.3x 55.5x
72 Reidsville 70.0 13,915 3.2x 46.4x
73 Gastonia 70.33 75,887 3.1x 56.3x
74 Butner 70.33 7,727 3.0x 49.2x
75 Wake Forest 71.0 42,111 3.2x 82.6x
76 Zebulon 71.67 5,404 2.8x 40.7x
77 Henderson 72.67 14,948 3.2x 46.9x
78 Fayetteville 73.33 210,432 2.9x 47.5x
79 Burlington 73.67 53,063 3.1x 53.0x
80 Wadesboro 74.33 5,305 3.0x 34.3x
81 Garner 74.67 29,462 2.9x 58.0x
82 Kings Mountain 75.0 11,028 3.2x 52.9x
83 Kinston 75.33 20,398 3.1x 47.0x
84 Waxhaw 75.33 15,237 3.0x 77.2x
85 Salisbury 76.67 33,727 3.1x 53.3x
86 Huntersville 77.0 55,980 3.0x 78.2x
87 Apex 77.67 51,370 2.9x 80.8x
88 Clemmons 78.0 20,313 3.2x 81.6x
89 Knightdale 78.67 16,001 2.8x 60.0x
90 Shelby 79.67 20,007 3.1x 54.5x
91 Holly Springs 80.0 34,874 2.9x 79.1x
92 Wesley Chapel 80.33 8,974 2.8x 80.4x
93 Roanoke Rapids 80.33 14,741 3.0x 52.0x
94 Mocksville 81.0 5,213 3.3x 64.4x
95 Harrisburg 81.33 15,806 2.7x 66.7x
96 Asheboro 81.67 25,852 3.2x 57.0x
97 Concord 82.0 91,980 3.0x 70.6x
98 Indian Trail 82.33 38,822 2.6x 59.5x
99 Havelock 82.33 20,086 2.6x 52.1x
100 Hope Mills 83.0 15,769 2.8x 52.7x

How Is The Area In ?

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.