Whether you're just starting to consider relocating for another state or you've already planned the logistics of your interstate move, uprooting your life and settling down somewhere new can be as stressful as it is exciting. To help you decide where to move and get to know your know state, our Where To Move in 2021 guide explores the unique attributes of some of the most popular states people move to, including cost of living, climate and geography, employment, and cultural attractions.
1. Fast facts
Find out where the over 318,000 Americans who moved to North Carolina in 2018 relocated from.
We've collected data on house prices, household income, and cost of living for Charlotte.
Compare the Tar Heel State's average temperature and precipitation against the national average.
Discover the best cities in the state for jobs and top industries in North Carolina.
Learn about North Carolina's's unique food and drink, arts and culture, outdoor activities, and sports.
|Total population: 10,488,084
Median age: 39.1
Largest city: Charlotte
Ranked by Forbes as the best state in the nation for three years running, it’s no wonder over 318,681 people made the move to North Carolina in 2018.
Where do people come from?
2. Cost of Living in North Carolina
*Cost of living data is not available at the state level. In this article, cost of living data is based on the largest city in the state.
Houses in Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, are just slightly higher than the national average.
The cost of living in Charlotte is slightly higher than the national average, as is the median household income.
Here's how the cost of living in Charlotte breaks down:
Cost of Living
|Charlotte, NC||United States||Difference|
|Basic utilties (based on 915 sq ft apartment)||$87.20||$162.98||-86.9%|
|Food (per person, monthly)||$332.65||$323.75||+2.7%|
2. North Carolina Climate and Geography
North Carolina is divided into four geographic regions:
- Outer Banks: A long string of narrow, sandy islands extending into the Atlantic Ocean.
- Atlantic Coastal Plain: Extends inland about 65 miles, covering about 35% of the state. This region features swampy landscapes near the coast, as well as many criss-crossing rivers.
- Piedmont Plateau: Further inland, elevation begins to rise gently into forested sand hills before climbing higher into rolling hills with average elevation near 1,150 feet.
- Mountains: The Appalachian Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Smoky Mountains rise in the west.
Thanks to the Tar Heel State’s diverse range of geographic elements, North Carolina’s climate features substantial regional variation—this mountainous coastal state is characterized by humid temperatures, very warm summers, extreme climate events such as hurricanes, and moderately cold winters.
- Mount Mitchell: At 6,684 feet tall, Mount Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina, the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, and the highest peak in eastern North America.
- Cape Hatteras: The easternmost point of the state, frequently hit by hurricanes during hurricane season.
4. Employment in North Carolina
North Carolina topped Forbes’ list of the best states for business in 2019 for the third year running, primarily because the cost of doing business is significantly lower—10%—than the national average. Job growth is also strong at 1.7%.
Six cities in the Tar Heel State made WalletHub’s list of best cities for jobs, with Raleigh topping the list at #34 with a score of 57.83, and Fayetteville bringing up the rear in the 142nd spot with a score of 45.53.
- THE GOOD: According to Forbes, household income in North Carolina is projected to increase by about 3.1%.
- THE BAD: Fayetteville, NC ties Irvine and Santa Clarita, CA, and Omaha, NE for lowest employment growth. It also has one of the lowest monthly average starting salaries in the nation.
Here’s how all six cities that made the list rank:
Partly due to the Research Triangle Park located in the middle of the state—one of the largest research areas and job hubs in the world—North Carolina offers many opportunities for those seeking employment in the fields of research, education, healthcare, and information technology. Other top industries in North Carolina include:
- Office and administrative support
- Production and manufacturing
Major employers and corporations with headquarters in North Carolina include:
- Cisco Systems, Inc
5. North Carolina Culture and Entertainment
Food and drink
The Tar Heel State is renowned for its BBQ. Whether you prefer the eastern style or the Lexington style, finger-lickin’ good BBQ awaits you throughout the state. Asheville, in particular, is known for its food scene, and has been officially dubbed the world’s only “Foodtopian” society. It’s also home to a dense collection of craft breweries.
Arts and culture
There’s more to North Carolina than BBQ—the state is serious about its local music scene, and it was also the first state to create an art museum (the North Carolina Museum of Art). There are numerous festivals throughout the year to check out, celebrating everything from food to art, music, film, and even antiques.
Outdoor enthusiasts relocating to North Carolina can explore both beaches and mountains, east coast-style, as well as 50,000 acres of Uwharrie National Forest, and Whitewater Falls—the highest waterfall on the east coast.
TSI TIP: Don’t miss the Blue Ridge Parkway. This famously scenic winding roadway traverses Virginia and North Carolina through the Blue Ridge Mountains, with lots of options for lodging, dining, camping, and hiking along the way.
If you’re a sports fan, the Tar Heel State is home to several pro sports teams, including the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL), Carolina Panthers (NFL), and Charlotte Hornets (NBA).
North Carolinians are also especially big fans of college basketball. Beyond just basketball, the University of North Carolina and Duke have a strong rivalry—everyone has their favorite, and as a newcomer to the state, you’ll need to choose a side before long.