7 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Smithfield, NC

September 25th, 2023

Moving to
7 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Smithfield, NC

Living in Smithfield 

If you are moving to Smithfield, NC, ensure you know these seven things before living in Sanford!

Are you thinking about moving to Smithfield, North Carolina? Located in Johnston County and with a population of 12,129 people, Smithfield is known to be one of the fastest-growing areas in the state.

Only a 33-minute drive from the capital of Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, and a three-hour drive to Charlotte, Smithfield is a great place to live. A safe place to raise your children, many families and young professionals are moving to the area for its prime location, affordable cost of living, gorgeous landscape, and growing business opportunities.

After reading this moving guide, you will have a better idea of what it is like to live in Smithfield and what you can expect from the area. Read on to learn more about the seven Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Smithfield, North Carolina.

Here is what you need to know about living in Smithfield 

History of Smithfield 

Founded in 1777, Smithfield was the first town and second county seat in Johnston County. Named after its location on Smith's Ferry on the Neuse
River, the town, was where the Johnston County Courthouse was moved to.

Legend has it that Smithfield almost became the capital of North Carolina but lost to Raleigh by one vote. Playing a significant role in the American Civil War by accommodating the encampment of General Sherman's troops, Smithfield remains a historical city that has seen a rise in growth over the past several years. 

Smithfield Has a Great Education System 

Part of the Johnston County School District, the education system in Smithfield is constantly changing to keep up with the demands of its growing population. Home to one of the highest amounts of top-rated public schools in North Carolina, the Johnston County School District has 46 schools and teaches over 35,000 students in its vicinity.

Some of the best public schools in Smithfield include South Smithfield Elementary School, Smithfield Middle School, Johnston County Early College Academy, and Smithfield-Selma High School. If you are moving with your family and have school-aged children, Smithfield understands just how important quality education is. When buying a house, make sure to choose one that feeds into the schools that you want your children to attend.

Check out these top-rated schools in Smithfield: 

Elementary School Middle School High School 
Neuse Charter School  Innovation Academy at South Campus  Johnston County Early College 
West Smithfield Elementary School  Smithfield Middle School  Neuse Charter School 
South Smithfield Elementary School  Neuse Charter School  Smithfield-Selma High School 

*Data Sourced from GreatSchools

For those seeking higher education opportunities, Johnston Community College is found in Smithfield. Right off of Interstate 95 and US 70, Johnston Community College is offering its students amazing workforce programs. With a 175-acre campus and over 40 programs and areas of study, students have the ability to excel close to home. From cosmetology to accounting and business, this technical leadership academy is the perfect option for students who do not want to attend a four-year university.

If a public institution is more of your style, North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are within a commuter's distance at an in-state tuition price.

The North Carolina State Flag a great representation of Smithfield North Carolina

There Are Many Job Opportunities 

Amazon built a 620,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Smithfield in 2022. This $100 million dollar fulfillment center brought up to 500 jobs to the area and pays employees at least $15 an hour minimum wage.

Generating an estimated $97 million dollars annually, both Smithfield and Johnston County are preparing for a spike in growth and job creation. This Fortune 500 Company has not only drastically impacted the local economy for the better, but it has also laid the foundation for further welcoming leaders in business and technology to the area. 

Spearheading the agritourism industry and tobacco farming for generations, the job search in Smithfield comes with a lot of variety. If you are actively searching for a job, then make sure to add Smithfield to your list.

Not only are big companies scoping out the area to grow and expand but by being only a short drive away from Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, commuting to work could not be easier. With multinational technology company Apple announcing its $1 billion dollar investment in its Research Triangle Park campus, Raleigh and its surrounding areas are about to explode in opportunity and job growth.

Affordable cost of living and real estate.

With a cost of living that is 5.5% lower than the North Carolina average, living in Smithfield means affordability. As part of the Raleigh Metropolitan area, Smithfield has seen an increase in housing, transportation, and food prices since last year due to its rise in growth.

Although housing is slightly higher than the national average, overall costs remain cheaper than other large metropolitan areas. While goods and services remain competitively priced, utilities are generally low in cost compared to the rest of the state. 

Still remaining less expensive than nearby cities, the homes for sale in Smithfield represent some of the best value in the triangle area of NC. Whether you are looking for a renovated single-family home, new construction, an apartment, or a townhome, Smithfield offers a median home price of $359,286 and an average price per square foot of $185.

Known to have a somewhat competitive housing market, most homes receive multiple offers. When considering what property type is best for you and your family, it is important to acknowledge all of your options and choose which neighborhood best suits your needs.

Welcome to Smithfield North Carolina with a green sign welcoming folks to the beautiful state of NC!

There is always something to do. 

Nestled along the Neuse River, Smithfield is most famous for its distinct culture and abundance of fun activities. Perhaps one of the most popular and local favorites is the Ava Gardner Museum. Born near Smithfield, this American actress and singer was most popular in the 1940s and admired for her femme fatale roles.

Appearing in classic films such as The Killers and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Ava was considered one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood during her time. Once married to Frank Sinatra, visitors to the museum can learn about her life through new exhibits and her fabulous costume collection.

Once you have visited this museum, check out some of these other local favorites:

  • Carolina Premium Outlets: This outlet mall features 76 stores, including Tommy Hilfiger, Addidas, and Micheal Kors. 
  • Double Barley Brewing: Featuring a taproom and beer garden, this family-owned and operated craft brewery offers brewery tours and is pouring some of the best handcrafted ales in the area.
  • The Howell Theatre: This nostalgic theatre has operated since 1935 and continues to show feature films on four screens.

taste test beer at Double Barley Brewery in Smithfield, NC

Enjoy the Southern Cuisine

Are you craving southern cooking? Then you are in the right place! Smithfield is serving up classic southern dishes from barbeque to fried chicken alongside restaurants inspired by international flavors and cuisine. In a city where the tea is sweet, have your choice of tavern, cafe, barbeque joint, or steakhouse. If you love exploring new places to eat, check out some of these local favorite restaurants:

  • San Marcos Mexican Restaurant: Dine on the highest quality Mexican food at this local casual restaurant. Popular for lunch and dinner, enjoy tacos and enchiladas while sipping on the daily drink special. 
  • White Swan BBQ: This fried chicken and BBQ restaurant has been in operation for 60 years and is a Smithfield favorite. Make sure to order the hushpuppies. 
  • Simple Twist: This American eatery is famous for its Sunday Brunch and outdoor seating. Offering a full bar and taproom, dine on burgers, sandwiches, salads, and homemade slices of pie.

Delicious freshly made hushpuppies

Smithfield Events and Festivals

The annual events and festivals in Smithfield are what brings the community together. If you want to meet your neighbors and explore the town, then there is always something to celebrate.

Smithfield and Johnston County work together yearly to bring some of the best events to the area. The Smithfield Ham and Yam Festival, which originally started in 1985, has been an ongoing tradition of honoring the Smithfield agriculture industry.

Most popular for its live music, ham biscuits, barbeque, and sweet potato treats, it brings the family together in May to partake in arts and crafts and pig races. Visit the Johnston County website for more information about other festivals in the area, and mark your calendar. 

pile of yams at the Ham and Yam Festival in Smithfield, NC

Pros and Cons of Living in Smithfield, NC 


  • Suburban feel 
  • Family-friendly 
  • Safe place to raise kids 
  • Great education 
  • Top-rated restaurants 
  • Job opportunities 
  • Fun things to do 
  • Affordable cost of living 
  • Beautiful homes for sale 


  • Little to no nightlife 
  • Long commute times 
  • Hot and humid summers 


Here are some common questions about moving to Sanford, NC. 

Is Smithfield, NC, a good place to live? 

Smithfield is a great place to live for families due to its affordable housing, excellent education system, low cost of living, low crime rate, and suburban way of life. 

What is Smithfield, NC, known for? 

Smithfield, NC, is best known for its historic downtown district and for the Smithfield Ham and Yam Festival, which happens in the Spring. 

Moving to Smithfield, NC - The Bottom Line 

Centrally located, travel only two hours to the North Carolina beaches from Smithfield and four hours to the mountains. Providing residents with the perfect mix of urban and rural life, have the chance to live in a flourishing city while still being surrounded by beautiful landscapes and family-owned farms.

If you decide to move to the city of Smithfield, then expect amazing job opportunities, beautiful real estate, and friendly neighbors. When looking for your dream home in Smithfield, contact our realty specialists today!

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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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