Cost of Living in North Carolina

Rose Morrison

Mar 20, 2024

Downtown Wilmington NC

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There’s little wonder why so many people flock to North Carolina each year, from the state’s mild winters to its pristine coastlines and mountainous landscapes. Of course, the cost of living in North Carolina is just as appealing.

Some areas are more affordable than others — for instance, Charlotte or Raleigh is far more expensive than Duplin or Rocky Mount. Nevertheless, living in the Tar Heel State will save you more money than elsewhere. Here’s everything you need to know about living costs in North Carolina.

What Is the Cost of Living in North Carolina?

North Carolina isn’t the cheapest place to live, although it isn’t the most costly either. Findings from 2022 suggest the cost of living in North Carolina is about 4% less than the national average — amounting to $38,295 annually.

There’s good news if you are hoping to move to North Carolina in the near future. Employment projections indicate 302,000 new jobs by 2028 — 89% of which will be in the service industry. Health care, hospitality, professional and technical services, and construction industries will see the most growth. 

Many companies are also investing in expansions across North Carolina, including Google, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and Toyota. The Triangle — Raleigh-Durham region — has attracted most big-name technology companies. 

Asheville NC

Cost of Essential Goods and Services in NC

Does your salary cover living costs in North Carolina? Ultimately, your exact location matters. Here are the essential goods and services you must budget for to survive. 


Housing costs — buying and renting — are 14% lower in North Carolina than the national average. Still, the average home value is up 3.7%, with a single-family home costing roughly $318,266.

Rents vary according to city. A one-bedroom apartment is approximately $1,093 in Durham, while you can get a one-bedroom place in Raleigh for $1,305.

Despite falling within national average housing costs, homelessness rose from 2,558 to 3,625 between 2020 to 2022. Children experiencing homelessness increased from 809 to 855 in the same timeframe.


Inflation has made affording groceries difficult in recent years. A single adult household without children will pay roughly $4,252 in food costs annually in North Carolina. A home with two working adults and two dependents could pay $12,498 in groceries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices across the South rose 0.6% in January 2024, with food at home rising 0.2%. 

Although groceries in North Carolina are cheaper than in other states, many families are left wondering where their next meal will come from. According to the Food Research & Action Center, childhood hunger affects 1 in 4 children, while 1 in 3 children go hungry in rural areas.

Blue Ridge Mountains


The cost of living in North Carolina for utilities is much better than anywhere else. For instance, Greenville residents pay 6% less in utilities than other cities, while Durham-Chapel Hill residents pay nearly 10% less.

Most North Carolinians pay $191 for electricity — or $2,292 annually, which is 5% less than the national average. Other essential utility expenses in the state include the following:

  • Natural gas: $63
  • Water: $20
  • Internet: $35
  • Phone: $114
  • Streaming: $47.75

The costs may vary depending on household size, the number of occupants, how old your appliances are and weather conditions.

Health Care

Health care is among the most crucial and expensive living costs. On average, a 40-year-old North Carolinian will pay about $638 monthly for a Silver plan — a good balance between affordability and access to quality medical specialists.

Of course, other factors determine health insurance costs, such as whether you’re a dependent, receive Marketplace tax credits, have insurance through your employer or are eligible for Medicaid. North Carolina’s legislature voted to expand Medicaid coverage starting December 1, 2023. Now, adults 19–24 earning no more than 138% of the federal poverty line — $20,000 annual salary for individuals and $34,000 for families — may be eligible. 

One medical area needing review is North Carolina’s mental health care. According to 2021 data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, North Carolinians are seven times more likely to get pushed out of mental health services than for primary insurance due to high out-of-pocket costs.


As of March 2024, you will pay roughly $3.13 per gallon of gas in North Carolina — the national average is $3.33. Gas prices and other transportation costs will constantly fluctuate depending on where you live and the state of the economy. 

To get an idea of what you might pay in North Carolina, current gas prices across major cities are as follows:

  • Wilmington: $3.15
  • Asheville: $3.12
  • Raleigh: $3.18
  • Greensboro: $3.14
  • New Bern: $3.13
  • Fayetteville: $3.11
  • Charlotte: $3.14
  • Winston-Salem: $3.10
Hatteras NC


Ordering drinks at a bar or purchasing a movie ticket comes at different price points in North Carolina — of course, it depends on where you live. According to NerdWallet, North Carolinians spend an average of $13.40 per movie ticket and $20.33 for a yoga class. The cost of a six-pack of beer is about $10.29.

You can easily rack up a lot of money on entertainment, no matter where you live. The key is to budget your income for the essentials and entertainment-related living costs in North Carolina. 

Local and State Taxes

Many people are attracted to North Carolina because of the lack of state property taxes. However, real estate taxes are left at the discretion of local governments.

Also notable is income taxes are on a downward trend — the individual income tax rate is 4.75% for the 2023 tax year, compared to 4.99% in 2022. The state intends to reach 3.6% by 2026.

Likewise, North Carolina’s sales tax rate is 4.75%, ranking it No. 35 in the country. The average local sales tax rate is 2.23%.

Can You Afford the Cost of Living in North Carolina?

North Carolina has something for everyone — beaches, mountains, small-town living and vibrant cities. While some areas may be pricier than others, the state is an excellent place for families, singles and retirees to make roots and save money.

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