Is It Cheaper to Live in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC?

July 09th, 2024

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Is It Cheaper to Live in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC?

Is It Cheaper to Live in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC?

Are you debating whether to move to Raleigh or Charlotte, NC, and want to know which is more affordable? Keep reading to learn about the cost of living and everything you should know about Raleigh and Charlotte. 

Raleigh and Charlotte are two of the largest cities in North Carolina, so people are drawn to these areas. Each location is unique and differs drastically, so finding the right one for you is important, depending on your lifestyle and living. 

With these areas growing rapidly, more job opportunities, restaurants, schools, and prime real estate are developing in and around these areas. Whether you are moving to find your dream home, for an excellent education, for a job, or to retire, each one of these cities has something to offer everyone. 

When you are moving somewhere new, it is important to ensure that it fits your needs, especially the cost of living. Understanding what you need to live comfortably in an area is a great way to determine whether you can afford it. Thankfully, these two cities have lower living costs than the national average. 

If you decide whether or not you want to move to these booming cities and which one, keep reading to learn more about the city's cost of living, average income needed, real estate cost, and the comparison between Raleigh and Charlotte

Here is what you should know about living in Raleigh and Charlotte. 

1. Cost of Living in Raleigh

The cost of living in Raleigh, NC, is 4% lower than the national average. However, it's important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on several factors, such as your profession, personal preferences, average salary, and the real estate market. 

To be more specific, in comparison to the national average, housing expenses in Raleigh are 2% lower, while utilities are 2% higher. Groceries in Raleigh are 8% lower, and transportation costs are 5% lower. It's worth noting that these statistics may not exactly reflect how much you would spend in Raleigh, but they provide a good idea of the cost of living in the city.

Downtown Raleigh view with orange sunset and buildings in view

The average annual income of a resident in Raleigh is $42,632, which is 12.4% higher than the national median of $37,638. Raleigh is a constantly developing city with new residential areas and job opportunities popping up frequently. However, being a highly desirable place to live in North Carolina, the cost of living is higher than that of other cities and towns in the state.

Here are some categories broken down of the cost of living according to Payscale.

Cost of Living Category Average Price
Median Home Price $439,640
Median Rent Price $1,337 a month
Gas $3.21
Gallon of Milk $2.23
Doctor's Visit $128.16

2. Real Estate Cost in Raleigh

Housing expenses in Raleigh are slightly lower than the national average, but the actual cost depends on several factors, such as location, neighborhood, housing type, size, and more. On average, the price of a home in Raleigh is around $427,000, which is slightly higher than the national average.

Currently, the housing market in Raleigh is favorable for sellers as more buyers are looking to purchase homes than homes available. Although many homes are still available, the prices may be higher, and they tend to sell quickly.

As of March 2024, the prices of homes in Raleigh have increased by 5.1% compared to the previous year. On average, homes sell within 16 days of being on the market, so you must act fast if you want a home in one of Raleigh's best neighborhoods

There were about 3,734 homes sold in Wake County in January 2024. The choices for investing in real estate in Raleigh are abundant, whether you decide to rent or buy. However, if you are looking for cheaper or short-term living, the average rental price in Raleigh is $1,237 per month. This is slightly higher than the national average but still much more affordable than other major cities

The Raleigh area's position as a hub for technology, education, and research will drive significant economic and population growth through 2024. As a result, there will be a high demand for housing, although the total number of homes available in March 2024 was 22% lower compared to last year. 

Raleigh NC on the NC Map

3. Average Income in Raleigh

Raleigh, part of the Research Triangle, concentrates on high-tech and research jobs. The University of North Carolina State also brings in many education-related jobs.

The Wall Street Journal recently ranked Raleigh as America's fifth hottest job market and one of the country's best places to start a small business. With a median household income of $78,631, Raleigh is one of the country's most affordable places to live. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Raleigh's unemployment rate for people 16 years and older is 3.3%. The city has made significant progress in its recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The job market is expected to grow exponentially, which is excellent news for job seekers. However, it is essential to note that the poverty rate in Raleigh is 12.1%, slightly higher than the national poverty rate of 11.6%. Additionally, the minimum wage in Raleigh is the same as the national average at $7.25 per hour.

4. Cost of Living in Charlotte

Charlotte's overall cost of living is 2% lower than the national average. The cost of living is based on factors such as your income, the real estate market, and many other things. In addition to the cost of living, the median household income in Charlotte is about $68,367 a year. 

Downtown Charlotte view with field and buildings in background

To be more specific, in comparison to the national average, housing expenses in Charlotte are 11% lower, utilities are 8% lower, groceries are 3% lower, and transportation costs are 7% lower. It's worth noting that these statistics may not exactly reflect how much you would spend in Charlotte, but they provide a good idea of the cost of living in the city.

Charlotte is a rapidly growing city, with new residential areas and job opportunities emerging frequently. As more jobs become available, the economy in the region is showing signs of growth. However, due to its high desirability as a place to live in North Carolina, the cost of living in Charlotte is higher than in other cities and towns.

Here are some categories broken down according to Payscale

Cost of Living Category Average Price
Median Home Price $400,862
Median Rent Price $1,219 a month
Gas $3.18
Gallon of Milk $2.37
Doctor's Visit $140.65

5. Real Estate Cost in Charlotte

Housing expenses in Charlotte are 11% less than the national average, but the actual cost depends on several factors such as location, neighborhood, housing type, size, and more. On average, the cost of a home in Charlotte is around $400,862, which is slightly higher than the national average.

The housing market in Charlotte is highly competitive. Homes here tend to get four offers on average and sell for around 39 days. Over 1,000 homes were sold in March this year, which is down from last year. Charlotte's housing market is considered a seller market, which means prices tend to be higher, and homes will sell faster. 

As of March 2024, the prices of homes in Charlotte have increased by 3.7% compared to the previous year. Since this is such a desirable area to live in, if you are interested in moving to Charlotte, check out the best neighborhoods to find the best location for you. 

About 3,689 homes were sold in Charlotte in March 2024, compared to 3,354 in February, a 10% increase. Whether you decide to rent or buy, the choices for investing in real estate in Charlotte are abundant.

However, if you are looking for cheaper or short-term living, the average rental price in Charlotte is $1,219 monthly. This is slightly higher than the national average but still much more affordable than other major cities. 

Charlotte NC on the NC Map

6. Average Income Charlotte

Charlotte is home to one of the nation's hottest job markets, according to the Wall Street Journal, which ranked Charlotte as number 8 on the extensive metro list. This ranking is based on the unemployment rate, labor force, participation rate, changes to employment levels, size of the force, and wages. 

Charlotte's extensive industry base continues to make it a city moving forward with an eye on economic growth and stability. This city has several key industries that keep the region thriving, which include banking, financial services, manufacturing, energy, health, and technology. 

Sadly, Charlotte's unemployment rate is 4.2%, which is higher than the national average. Recent job growth in the job market has been on the rise at 2.7%, which is higher than nationwide. For future job opportunities, Charlotte is on the rise and a great area to find employers. 

Charlotte's median household income is $53,275, and sales tax is 7.25%. Income tax is also higher at 5.3% compared to the national average. Overall, if you are looking for an area to live in with endless opportunities, Charlotte may be perfect for you. 

7. Comparison

Here is a comparison chart of Raleigh and Charlotte's cost of living, real estate, income, and other important factors to help you decide which city is perfect for you.

  Raleigh Charlotte
Overall Cost of Living 4% lower than the national average 2% lower than the national average
Housing Cost 2% lower than the national average 11% lower than the national average
Median House Price $439,640 $400,862
Median Rent $1,337 a month $1,219 a month
Average Income $42,632 $53,275
Unemployment Rate 3.3% 4.2%

Methodology

We used information from different sources and our data to create this guide to compare Raleigh and Charlotte to see which area is cheaper. There were various data to use, so we put them together to help you understand Raleigh and Charlotte's cost of living. 

Above are a few sources we used to gather most of our information about comparing Raleigh and Charlotte's affordability. 

Birdseye view of neighborhood of homes

FAQS

Is it cheaper to live in Raleigh or Charlotte?

The Raleigh area has more affordable housing options than Charlotte, especially in the suburbs, making it an attractive option for those looking for more budget-friendly homes. 

Which is more fun, Raleigh or Charlotte?

Depending on what you are looking to do, if you are traveling, you may want to visit Charlotte, but if you are looking for the outdoors, visit Raleigh. Thankfully, these places are only 2 hours apart, so you can go to both. 

What city is safer, Charlotte or Raleigh?

Through many statistics, Raleigh has been named among the safest places in the country, especially in North Carolina. Charlotte is a little behind on that list, but overall, Raleigh is safer

Is It Cheaper to Live in Raleigh or Charlotte, NC? - The Bottom Line

Both Raleigh and Charlotte offer affordable living and a lower cost than the national average. Depending on your personal preferences, choosing the proper city for you is important. After reading this guide, hopefully, the comparison helped you decide which location is perfect for you to relocate to.

As these areas continue to grow rapidly, more job opportunities, restaurants, schools, and prime real estate are being developed in and around them. Whether you are relocating to find your dream home, seeking an excellent education, a job, or retirement, each of these cities has something to offer everyone. 

When moving to a new place, it's crucial to ensure that the place meets your needs, especially the cost of living. Understanding the cost of living in an area is an excellent way to determine whether you can afford it or not. Fortunately, these two cities have a lower cost of living compared to the national average.

If you are considering moving or selling, contact us or visit our website. Our team at Raleigh Realty is here to help you with any home buying or selling needs.  

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

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