The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In North Carolina For 2023


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

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2023. This is our tenth 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 $24,756/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 2023 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 132 North Carolina places that you're going to need to win a hefty Powerball to live comfortably.

Did we mention that this is our tenth 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 2023:

  1. Boone
  2. Woodfin
  3. Morehead City
  4. Asheville
  5. Elon
  6. Wilmington
  7. St. James
  8. Pineville
  9. Chapel Hill
  10. Hendersonville

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 Newton (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 2023

1. Boone

Boone, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 18,055
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.0x (most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 25.9x (most expensive)
More on Boone: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Boone comes in at $24,756 and the median home value is $272,500 for 2023.

2. Woodfin

Woodfin, NC

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,771
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.4x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 42.1x (5th most expensive)
More on Woodfin: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Woodfin comes in at $52,732 and the median home value is $284,900 for 2023.

3. Morehead City

Morehead City, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,535
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 6.3x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 47.8x (20th most expensive)
More on Morehead City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Morehead City comes in at $47,058 and the median home value is $295,300 for 2023.

4. Asheville

Asheville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 93,272
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.5x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 50.5x (28th most expensive)
More on Asheville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Asheville comes in at $58,193 and the median home value is $319,400 for 2023.

5. Elon

Elon, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 11,059
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (16th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 46.7x (14th most expensive)
More on Elon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Elon comes in at $68,031 and the median home value is $304,800 for 2023.

6. Wilmington

Wilmington, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 115,976
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.2x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 49.5x (23rd most expensive)
More on Wilmington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Wilmington comes in at $54,066 and the median home value is $279,900 for 2023.

7. St. James

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,199
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 7)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.1x (22nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.7x (40th most expensive)
More on St. James: Real Estate | Data

The median income in St. James comes in at $115,040 and the median home value is $473,700 for 2023.

8. Pineville

Pineville, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 10,317
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.8x (12th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 44.0x (9th most expensive)
More on Pineville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Pineville comes in at $53,199 and the median home value is $254,300 for 2023.

9. Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 60,920
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 5.9x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.5x (73rd most expensive)
More on Chapel Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Chapel Hill comes in at $77,037 and the median home value is $454,300 for 2023.

10. Hendersonville

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 14,878
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 6)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.5x (11th most expensive)
More on Hendersonville: Real Estate | Data

The median income in Hendersonville comes in at $46,309 and the median home value is $217,200 for 2023.

Methodology: How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Tar Heel State For 2023

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 2017-2021 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 132 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.

Summary: Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In North Carolina For 2023

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. Newton
  2. Sawmills
  3. Trinity

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 13.33 18,055 11.0x 25.9x
2 Woodfin 14.67 7,771 5.4x 42.1x
3 Morehead City 17.33 9,535 6.3x 47.8x
4 Asheville 18.67 93,272 5.5x 50.5x
5 Elon 18.67 11,059 4.5x 46.7x
6 Wilmington 22.0 115,976 5.2x 49.5x
7 St. James 22.0 6,199 4.1x 53.7x
8 Pineville 22.33 10,317 4.8x 44.0x
9 Chapel Hill 27.0 60,920 5.9x 59.5x
10 Hendersonville 28.0 14,878 4.7x 45.5x
11 Lincolnton 34.33 10,926 4.5x 47.6x
12 Kill Devil Hills 35.0 7,541 4.4x 55.1x
13 Carrboro 35.67 21,237 5.2x 65.6x
14 Carolina Beach 37.0 6,456 5.0x 65.7x
15 Waynesville 37.67 10,087 4.2x 50.0x
16 Boiling Spring Lakes 39.33 5,863 3.6x 42.1x
17 Charlotte 40.0 864,871 3.8x 54.3x
18 Raleigh 42.33 462,219 3.9x 59.0x
19 Pinehurst 42.33 17,250 3.7x 58.7x
20 Selma 42.33 6,317 5.0x 35.3x
21 Durham 42.67 279,106 4.0x 57.6x
22 Mills River 43.0 7,082 4.5x 63.2x
23 Black Mountain 43.0 8,386 3.9x 57.6x
24 Brevard 44.0 7,712 5.6x 62.4x
25 Mount Airy 44.67 10,547 4.7x 53.4x
26 Washington 47.0 9,754 4.1x 50.6x
27 Fletcher 47.0 7,935 3.9x 57.1x
28 Clayton 47.33 25,486 3.6x 52.2x
29 Leland 48.67 22,794 3.5x 55.6x
30 Cornelius 49.67 30,925 3.9x 70.8x
31 Greenville 50.0 87,815 3.7x 50.7x
32 Fuquay-Varina 50.0 33,135 3.6x 61.1x
33 New Bern 51.33 31,058 3.7x 51.3x
34 Southern Pines 51.67 15,156 4.3x 70.0x
35 Oxford 52.0 8,658 3.6x 44.3x
36 Hillsborough 52.67 9,342 4.2x 75.2x
37 Mocksville 53.83 5,714 3.8x 54.5x
38 Zebulon 54.17 6,958 3.8x 55.8x
39 Mint Hill 54.67 26,236 3.7x 69.2x
40 Smithfield 54.67 11,168 4.9x 59.5x
41 Garner 55.0 30,859 3.4x 55.3x
42 Jacksonville 55.33 73,224 3.3x 43.9x
43 Statesville 55.33 27,777 3.9x 56.1x
44 Clinton 55.67 8,124 3.8x 50.1x
45 Dunn 56.67 8,616 3.8x 50.9x
46 Mooresville 57.0 48,431 3.5x 60.5x
47 Gastonia 57.0 79,483 3.4x 54.3x
48 Lexington 57.0 19,347 3.6x 43.8x
49 Elizabeth City 57.67 18,466 3.4x 47.2x
50 Salisbury 58.33 35,258 3.5x 52.0x
51 Forest City 58.67 7,330 3.7x 47.3x
52 Cary 59.33 171,603 3.6x 81.7x
53 Goldsboro 60.33 33,214 3.4x 46.7x
54 Kings Mountain 60.67 10,775 3.6x 52.9x
55 Morrisville 60.67 28,824 3.4x 68.7x
56 Monroe 62.67 34,464 3.3x 54.9x
57 Knightdale 62.67 18,614 3.4x 61.2x
58 Hickory 63.33 42,831 3.7x 65.4x
59 Huntersville 63.67 60,166 3.3x 67.8x
60 Wendell 64.67 9,847 3.4x 60.4x
61 Greensboro 65.0 295,483 3.3x 54.7x
62 Morganton 65.67 17,389 3.7x 59.4x
63 Davidson 65.67 14,644 3.4x 104.9x
64 Conover 66.0 8,393 3.6x 62.6x
65 Indian Trail 66.67 39,603 2.8x 54.6x
66 Graham 68.33 16,793 3.3x 54.7x
67 Holly Springs 68.67 40,198 3.2x 77.0x
68 Belmont 70.33 14,442 3.4x 74.7x
69 Matthews 71.0 29,417 3.1x 68.1x
70 Shelby 71.0 21,564 3.5x 55.3x
71 Stallings 71.67 15,932 3.0x 62.9x
72 Kernersville 72.33 26,376 3.4x 67.8x
73 Oak Island 73.0 8,252 3.3x 78.1x
74 Waxhaw 73.33 19,645 3.1x 86.5x
75 Havelock 73.67 17,570 2.8x 46.9x
76 Wake Forest 74.0 46,387 3.2x 81.4x
77 Wesley Chapel 75.67 8,661 3.0x 73.9x
78 Reidsville 76.33 14,463 3.3x 52.6x
79 Apex 76.33 58,066 3.1x 81.9x
80 Oak Ridge 76.33 7,461 3.1x 103.6x
81 Winston-Salem 77.0 247,917 3.2x 57.6x
82 Harrisburg 77.33 18,415 2.6x 64.7x
83 Wilson 77.33 47,914 3.3x 56.8x
84 Burlington 77.67 56,563 3.1x 53.6x
85 High Point 77.67 113,148 3.1x 57.9x
86 Clemmons 77.67 21,032 3.3x 80.2x
87 Summerfield 78.0 11,026 3.0x 96.6x
88 Albemarle 79.0 16,318 3.2x 54.9x
89 Aberdeen 79.0 8,333 3.4x 78.4x
90 Fayetteville 79.0 208,497 2.8x 48.1x
91 Mebane 80.0 17,192 3.2x 69.3x
92 Concord 81.67 102,566 3.1x 72.2x
93 Kinston 81.67 19,888 2.9x 46.6x
94 Laurinburg 82.67 15,242 3.0x 50.2x
95 Walke 83.67 5,626 2.9x 56.1x
96 Mount Holly 83.67 17,315 3.1x 69.2x
97 Unionville 85.33 6,634 3.1x 89.6x
98 Hope Mills 85.67 17,421 2.8x 53.8x
99 Wadesboro 86.0 5,079 2.6x 33.6x
100 Rockingham 86.0 9,200 3.2x 55.5x

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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.