What’s the 2023 Cost of Living in Raleigh, North Carolina?

September 08th, 2023

Raleigh Real Estate | Life in Raleigh | Buying
What’s the 2023 Cost of Living in Raleigh, North Carolina?

With inflation rising 3.2% since this time last year, Americans worry about nationwide price hikes for necessities across the board. It’s tempting to jump right into a new neighborhood when you move, but you need to consider if you can afford your new lifestyle.


In this guide, we’re covering the cost of living in Raleigh, North Carolina, with data from 2023 that covers prices and trends for all major necessities. These categories give you a better idea of what you’ll need to budget to live comfortably in Raleigh.

Cost of Living in Raleigh

The cost of living in Raleigh is less than the national average. Costs for goods and services are generally below average rates, in addition to lower tax rates. On the flip side, the median household income in Raleigh is 13.5% more than the national median.


Let’s see how the cost of living in Raleigh compares to national data:




National Average

Annual income

$42,632 per person*

$37,638 per person*




Mortgage payment

$1,609 *


Natural gas (therm)



Electricity (kWh)



Food (gallon of milk)



Health care

$8,917 per person

$10,191 per person

Transportation (gallon of gas)



Income tax rate



*denotes median rather than average

**milk price for the state of North Carolina



Cost in Raleigh

National Cost

Percent Difference

Median income




Unemployment rate




Poverty rate




Minimum wage




* Unemployment rate uses data for the state of North Carolina


Income data from Raleigh residents is higher than national rates. The median income in Raleigh is $42,632, which is $4,994 or 12.4% more than the national median of $37,638. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for people 16 years and older in North Carolina is 3.3%, while the national unemployment rate is 3.5%.


However, Raleigh’s poverty rate is 12.1%, which is 0.5% higher than the national rate. These rates are likely so similar because North Carolina’s minimum wage is $7.25 — the same as the federal minimum wage. 


Raleigh is one-third of the Research Triangle, which is made up of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Research Triangle is named due to the geographic locations of Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NC State. Because of these universities, Raleigh has an abundance of tech and research jobs. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently ranked Raleigh as the fifth hottest job market in America.


Raleigh is ranked the fifth hottest job market in America.

Housing Costs


Cost in Raleigh

National Cost

Percent Difference

Median home value




Monthly rent




Monthly housing costs with mortgage





Raleigh real estate trends show that home values are rising. The U.S. Census reports that the median home value in Raleigh is $335,100, compared to the national median of $309,000. 


However, monthly housing costs for homes with mortgages are about 5.3% cheaper than the national median. Renting in Raleigh is 6.2% more expensive compared to national median costs, so you might favor buying a home if you want to keep monthly costs down. 


Rent in Raleigh is 6.2% more and mortgage payments are 5.3% less than the national average.


North Carolina is set to reduce income tax to 3.99% by 2027.




Cost in Raleigh

Sales tax


Property tax


Income tax


Capital gains tax


Estate tax



Taxes are a big motivator for many people looking to relocate. Here are some important things to know about the taxes in Raleigh if you’re thinking about making the move:


  • Sales tax in Wake County is 7.25%.

  • Property tax in Wake County is 0.66% in 2023, up from 0.62% in 2022

  • Income tax in North Carolina is 4.75%.

  • Income tax in North Carolina is set to reduce to 3.99% by 2027.

  • There’s no capital gains tax in North Carolina.

  • There’s no inheritance or estate tax in North Carolina.


Compared to national tax rate averages, this means that:


  • Wake County’s property tax rate is 22.22% below average but is set to be reevaluated in 2024.

  • North Carolina’s income tax rate is 90.9% below average.

  • Wake County’s sales tax rate is 35% above average.


The sales tax rate might be alarming to some prospective buyers. Keep in mind that five states in the U.S. have a 0% sales tax rate, which significantly reduces the national average rate. 



Cost in Raleigh

National Cost

Percent Difference


$0.15 per kWh

$0.17 per kWh


Natural gas

$1.09 per therm

$1.40 per Therm



$4.60 per month



Garbage collection

$14.45 per month




Water, gas, electricity, and waste management are often overlooked fees when you’re looking to move to a new city. Raleigh has a mix of private and public utility providers based on the type of service.


For electricity in Raleigh, there are various state-regulated private providers to choose from. According to EnergySage, the average Raleigh electric bill is about $176 per month, which is 18% cheaper than the national average.


To help keep energy costs down, there are a lot of simple eco-friendly swaps you can make to save money, such as switching to energy-efficient light bulbs.


Dominion Energy provides natural gas for the Raleigh area, billing based on how many “therms” of gas a resident uses. A therm is the amount of gas needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.


As of July 2023, Dominion Energy charges Raleigh residents:


  • A $10 facilities charge per month

  • $1.14 per therm from November to April

  • $1.05 per therm from May to October


This means that the price of gas in Raleigh is 28.4% less than the national average, which is $1.40 per therm.


The City of Raleigh provides water within city limits. They have a calculator on their website that estimates water usage based on weekly showers in your household. Raleigh bills your water based on usage tiers


There is also a watershed protection fee that costs $0.11 per 748 gallons of water. This fee helps fund the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, improvements to the treatment system for drinking water, and protective restoration projects.

Waste Management

Garbage, recycling, and sewer services are also provided by the City of Raleigh. For residential units, the recycling fee is $4.60 per month, and the garbage pickup fee is $14.45 per month as of July 6, 2023.

Health Care


Cost in Raleigh

National Cost

Percent Difference

Annual spend on personal health care per person





According to a study from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, North Carolina residents spend an average of $8,917 per person on personal health care each year compared the the national average of $10,191.


A pre-pandemic health care spending analysis from Duke University, the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina analyzed health spend trends across North Carolina. This analysis found:


  • Health spending in Wake County is the lowest in North Carolina at $7,303 per year.

  • In North Carolina, the average person spends $8,230 per year on health care.

  • Most people in Wake County use employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), followed by Medicaid, Medicare FFS, and Medicare Advantage.

  • The Wake County population uses ESI and Medicare FFS at a higher rate than the statewide population.

  • The Wake County population uses Medicaid and Medicare Advantage at a lower rate than the statewide population.



Food and beverage in Raleigh is 2.3% cheaper than the national average. 



YoY Percent Change in Price in the South

YoY Percent Change in National Price

Food at home



Food away from home



Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs



Fruits and vegetables




Raleigh is a great city for foodies, full of hidden gems and top-rated restaurants. But how much will tasting your way through the city cost you? The BLS estimates that pricing for all food and beverages is up 5% in the Southern United States in 2023. Broken down, prices have increased:


  • 3.8% for food at home

  • 7.4% for food away from home

  • 0% for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs

  • 3.4% for fruits and vegetables


As of July 2023, food prices in the South have experienced more inflation than the national average, though the difference is minimal. In general, food prices in the United States have increased by 4.9%, compared to 5% in the South.



Public transportation in Raleigh is free until June 2024. The average price of public transportation in the United States is $1.52. 



Cost in Raleigh

National Cost

Percent Difference

Public transportation




Gallon of gas





The Raleigh public transportation system, GoRaleigh, provides bus service throughout the city. You can check the transit map to determine which route you should take.


GoRaleigh fare is free until June 2024, but the fare is normally: 


  • $1.25 for adults

  • $0.60 for Medicare card users

  • $0.60 for people with disabilities 


GoRaleigh is always free for riders who fit the following criteria:


  • Age 65 or older with a GoRaleigh ID card

  • Ages 13-18 with a Youth GoPass

  • Ages 12 or younger without ID, unless taller than 60 inches


Many cities nationwide reduced fares during 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the national average price of a public transit ride in 2020 was still $0.27 more than a full-price GoRaleigh ride. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, public transit costs increased by 19.9% in 2022, so it’s a major advantage to have free public transportation in Raleigh.


If you opt to use a car, gas prices are about 9.3% lower in Raleigh.


Is it expensive to live in Raleigh?

The cost of living is rising everywhere, including Raleigh. However, Raleigh is less expensive than the average American city, and there are plenty of low-cost or free things to do year-round.

What’s the average wage in Raleigh NC?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in Raleigh is $30.05, compared to the United States average of $29.76.

What salary do I need to live in Raleigh?

There are many factors that affect what salary you need to live comfortably in Raleigh depending on your habits and lifestyle choices. The median income in Raleigh is $42,632 per person.

Find Your Dream Home in Raleigh

There are several factors to consider when determining your cost of living in Raleigh, like utilities, taxes, and more. When you can estimate your cost of living, you can make better decisions on where to buy your home.


Raleigh Realty can help you find your next home in the perfect neighborhood so you can feel confident in your move to Raleigh.

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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!