Scenic sky and city view of North Carolina

Average Salary in North Carolina: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in North Carolina?

If you’re thinking about moving to this East Coast state, you should first familiarize yourself with the cost of living in North Carolina. Compared to other states, it has a relatively affordable cost of living and friendly tax rates. With scenic views, thriving economies, and relatively mild weather, who would not want to move to this affordable city? 

The average salary in North Carolina is more than sufficient to afford a comfortable life. It’s well below the national average without compromising the quality of life. Additionally, it’s an affordable state where you can enjoy both the wonders of city and country life.

In this guide, we not only examine the cost of living in North Carolina, but we also look at average rent in North Carolina, explore the average salary comparison by city, and answer the question, “what is a good salary?”.

What to Know Before Moving to North Carolina

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There are several things you should know before moving to North Carolina. It’s not the cheapest state to live in, but it’s far less pricey than cities like San Francisco. It used to have higher tax rates but has since adopted a lower, friendlier tax rate. Such positive change has to do with the state’s recent improved employability, income and job growth, and revenue surplus.

This growth has generated more career opportunities for the state’s 10 million residents. Other pros of living in North Carolina include having more than 100 community hospitals, top-notch universities and colleges, low unemployment rates in most towns, and low average utility costs. 

What Is the Cost of Living in North Carolina?

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average cost of living in North Carolina is $38,295 per year, far below the national average. This covers costs of rent, transportation, food, healthcare, utility, and even miscellaneous expenditures. A considerable amount is allotted to renting and healthcare costs among these expenses. 

The largest cities in North Carolina, like Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem, have higher-than-average living costs, but they are still below the national average. However, Davidson and Chapel Hill are significantly more expensive cities and thus require higher living costs.

How Is Cost of Living Calculated?

The cost of living is generally calculated by comparing a person’s basic expenditures such as housing expenses, food expenses, transportation expenses, healthcare expenses, and cost of utilities. There is a breakdown of costs for each place and then they’re compared to one another. Calculating the cost of living enables comparisons between how much it costs to live in one area from another.

The simplest approach is to compare your prior city’s living expenses to the town you’re moving to. You have to break down the differences between the two costs and determine how much you must earn to maintain a comfortable life.

What Contributes to Cost of Living in North Carolina

Average Rent in North Carolina

North Carolina’s average rent price varies depending on the location. Average one-bedroom rentals in major cities of Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte range from $1,099 to $1,342, while an average two-bedroom apartment typically costs between $1,274 and $1,536. These are pretty reasonable prices which can be even further reduced with a roommate. 

Average Transportation Costs in North Carolina

The average transportation cost in North Carolina depends on the transportation of choice. If you choose to drive a personal vehicle, the cost of gas pre-pandemic was typically around $2.62 per gallon. Single-passenger vehicle registration costs around $38.75. Those who opt for public transportation can expect to pay $88 per month for a bus pass.

Average Food Costs in North Carolina

On average, a single adult in North Carolina could spend around $280 on grocery costs, or roughly $3,470 annually. Food prices and the cost of groceries contribute considerably to the state’s annual cost of living. For a family of four to reside in North Carolina, expect around $740 in monthly food costs or around $8,880 annually.

Average Healthcare Costs in North Carolina

On average, North Carolina’s residents can spend $6,250 on annual healthcare costs, according to the 2020 Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Consumption Expenditures by State report. While such expenses can seem high, seeking out healthcare when moving to any location requires some cost.  

Average Utility Costs in North Carolina

For energy, gasoline, and other utility costs, North Carolina residents can spend as little as $778 per year. North Carolina has one of the lowest average electric rates at only 9.43 cents/kWh compared to the other states. Meanwhile, the average monthly cable and internet service bill is $113, or $1,190 per year.

Other Expenses to Consider in North Carolina

North Carolina offers some of the best views and communities in the United States, so expect to spend some money on leisure activities. It costs around $11 to $17 to enter zoos and state parks. Many museums are free. State tax collection also contributes to miscellaneous costs. North Carolina collects a single-rate sales tax of 5.25% instead of a graduated rate.

Should I Buy or Rent in North Carolina?

It is cheaper to rent in North Carolina. The average prices for buying housing in North Carolina’s larger cities range from $198,055 to $374,649, and the median monthly mortgage costs are around $1,314. 

The average rent in North Carolina ranges from $732 to $1,536 in big cities, which works out as an average of $1,134 per month. It’s also worth considering that 61% of North Carolina residents own homes and only 31% rent. 

What Is the Average Salary in North Carolina?

The annual average salary in North Carolina is $51,010. Executives, lawyers, and those working in North Carolina’s medical sector earn the highest salaries and are typically two to five times more than the state average. Average salaries are also contingent upon the North Carolina city of residence. Thus, it’s vital to look at the salary comparison by city.

Salary Comparison by City in North Carolina

City Average Salary
Durham $64,430
Raleigh $56,720
Charlotte $55,330
Winston-Salem $49,470
Greensboro $48,560

What Is a Good Salary?

Technically, a good salary should afford a worker a decent living space, transportation, healthy food, healthcare, and basic utilities. The average annual cost of living in North Carolina is roughly $38,000. If you want a good standard of living you must have a median income that is more than this or at least match the average salary in North Carolina, which is approximately $51,000.

A good salary also depends on the North Carolina city of residence. The biggest cities, such as Charlotte and Raleigh, affordability also decreases. These cities have higher local living costs that necessitates their residents to earn more than the average North Carolina wage. Some of the cheapest cities include Eden, Henderson, and Lexington.

Can You Afford the Average Cost of Living in North Carolina?

If you earn $150,000 or more, you can definitely afford to live in this charming state. With such a competitive salary, you can afford the cost of rent in a comfortable space and make the most of your North Carolina living. 

In most cases, though, earning more than the living wage is enough to qualify for a comfortable life. After all, one needs to start somewhere. As North Carolina’s economy continuously thrives, so will the job market that awaits once you plant roots there.

Cost of Living in North Carolina FAQ

Is North Carolina expensive to live in?

Technically, North Carolina is not expensive to live in, but it’s not completely inexpensive, either. Most residents find themselves spending no more than the salary they earn, but they nonetheless live a comfortable life. A high factor for this could be the generally lower tax rate. 

How much money do you need to live comfortably in North Carolina?

To live comfortably in North Carolina, you’ll need at least $51,010, the state’s average salary. North Carolina’s cost of living is not too high, except for major expenses such as housing costs and healthcare. These most likely consume a significant portion of your pay. Hence, it isn’t a bad idea to earn a bit more to afford a more comfortable life.

Is moving to North Carolina a good idea?

Yes, moving to North Carolina is a good idea. It has many rental opportunities, and the state’s residents are brimming with southern hospitality. The Tar Heel State even provides easy access to country life and mild weather. More than its scenic views, it also offers a competitive educational system and a thriving economy that contribute to a lower unemployment rate.

Is the cost of living cheaper in North Carolina?

North Carolina is a cheap state where affordability is concerned. It offers a more favorable tax structure and greater earning potential. Additionally, the state’s overall cost of living index is five points lower than the national average. This means that the majority of residents spend within their means, allowing them to live more securely and comfortably.

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