Where Are the Cheapest Places to Live in NC?

Where Are the Cheapest Places to Live in NC?

People and businesses continue to react to everything that 2020 can throw our way. While some of us are bunkering down, others may want to take advantage of new opportunities to make a long-overdue move. Where are the cheapest places to live in NC to help you make the leap?

The following list will break down the cheapest places to live in North Carolina, but you should consider some other factors as well. The economy is continuing to grow and recede dramatically across the country. And while housing prices are reacting somewhat slowly, average rent makes larger swings month to month.

You should also check out the local COVID-19 data for wherever you’re thinking about moving. This is generally a good idea for your health and safety. However, remember that each region’s response to the pandemic can be viewed as a snapshot of public health priorities and government efficacy, not just of the virus itself. 

North Carolina currently sits in the middle of the pack with the 22nd lowest cost of living in the U.S. That said, there are several cities that rank well below the national average in cost of living (and a few cities well above it). So, here’s our list of the cheapest places to live in NC.

The Cheapest Places in NC

Image courtesy of Tweber1, Flickr.


Boasting thriving new businesses and beautiful historic areas, the Twin City is a surprisingly affordable place to live. As the western point of the Piedmont Triad, the area also means easy access to neighboring Greensboro and High Point. If you visit to shop for a new home or apartment, consider taking a socially-distanced Saturday night out to sample some great local foods at the Streatery.

Winston-Salem’s Cost of Living: 6.1% below average

Salisbury, photo courtesy Jon Platek, Wikimedia Commons


If the hustle and bustle of bigger cities isn’t quite your style, Salisbury might be the right choice for you. With a population roughly 8% that of Raleigh, the birthplace of Food Lion and Cheerwine remains relatively quiet and affordable. Known for its historic heritage, Salisbury boasts more than a dozen historic districts and is the oldest colonial town in western NC.

Salisbury’s Cost of Living: 7.8% below average

Kannapolis. Photo courtesy Jon Platek, Wikimedia Commons


Small but ever-growing, Kannapolis is a great suburban option while only half an hour from downtown Charlotte. Kannapolis currently holds the title of cheapest place to live in North Carolina. With a population similar to Salisbury but much closer to Charlotte, Kannapolis occupies its own “Goldilocks Zone” in western NC: Not too busy, but with easy access to high-paying jobs and urban amenities.

Salisbury’s Cost of Living: 8% below average

The Most Expensive Places in NC

If affordable living is your priority, there are a few cities you might want to avoid that rank well above the average cost of living. The Raleigh-Durham area, for example, has between 4% and 5% higher cost of living. This includes areas like Cary, Apex and Chapel Hill. And towards the coast, Jacksonville and Wilmington are 4% and 5% higher respectively.