17 Pros and Cons of Living in North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the best-kept secrets in the United States. With its wind-swept beaches and rugged inland mountains, there’s always beautiful scenery to witness in North Carolina.

The beautiful scenes often captivate the tourists, but what about living there? North Carolina has a multitude of reasons for moving there, including the quality healthcare and low cost of living. Although there are a lot of positives about North Carolina, not everything there is peaches and cream. Here are 17 pros and cons of living in North Carolina. 

Pros of Living in North Carolina

An illustration showing the flag of North Carolina overlaid on a map of North Carolina

North Carolina has some of the most temperate weather and quality public services you can find anywhere in the U.S.A. Here are 10 pros of living in North Carolina. 

1. Lower than Average Cost of Living

The low cost of living, including the lower than average rents, attract a lot of people to move to North Carolina. The average monthly rent in North Carolina is $931, while the national average is nearly $150 more per month. Since housing costs are Americans’ largest monthly expenditure, saving $150 per month adds up.

It’s not only housing that’s cheaper in North Carolina, but other main expenses, too. Compared to urban areas like Washington or New York, food is significantly cheaper. You can also find an abundance of free activities in North Carolina, like visiting the beach or enjoying rugged nature. 

2. Temperate Weather (For the Most Part)

A common saying in North Carolina speaks about how there only happens to be two seasons in the state—summer, and fall. Although that’s not true for the entire state, the most populous areas experience a temperate climate. Temperatures in the winter rarely dip below 35º F in cities like Raleigh or Charlotte. 

Summers are also relatively temperate, although temperatures above 90ºF do occur. Regions in the mountains may experience cold temperatures in the winter and humid days in the summer. On average, the climate is much more temperate in North Carolina compared to places like New York or Florida. 

3. Abundant Hiking Trails

The Appalachian Mountains that make up the majority of North Carolina’s territory also provide the state with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Most of these trails are for hikers, but if you enjoy mountain biking or horse riding, there are plenty of trails for you too. 

Some of North Carolina’s famous trails include the Appalachian Trail, which starts in Georgia and passes through North Carolina on its way to Maine. Other stunning trails include the Looking Glass Rock Trail located in Pisgah National Forest and the Rainbow Falls Trail in Gorges State Park.

4. Rich History

A photo of the North Carolina State Capital Building. It shows a large bronze statue and a 3 story building in a classical architectural style

As one of the original thirteen colonies, North Carolina has a rich history spanning hundreds of years. Sir Walter Raleigh landed in North Carolina to set up the doomed colony of Roanoke on the Outer Banks islands in 1587. Raleigh left the colony, returning three years later to find the people had disappeared. 

North Carolina also succeeded from the Union during the Civil War, and as a border state, it saw some of the bloodiest battles of the war. One of the final major battles of the war, the Battle of Bentonville, took place near Durham, North Carolina.

To celebrate the rich history of their state, North Carolina helps fund and take care of the numerous historical sites and museums in their state. Take a tour of the museums at Cape Fear or Beaufort and get lost in the hundreds of years of history.

5. Strong Job Market

When you move to a new area, finding a job is usually at the top of any to-do list. Luckily, the labor market is strong in North Carolina, meaning most people searching for a job find one. Not everyone finds a job in their preferred field immediately, but you shouldn’t have to spend months looking for a job either. 

According to state statistics, only 5% of the labor force is unemployed, which is lower than the current national average of 5.5%. The main labor fields in North Carolina include the trades, healthcare services, and government jobs, including municipal work. 

6. Better than Average Healthcare

Healthcare is among the top concerns for those moving to a new state. Whether or not you get healthcare from work can be a big reason to stay in your current area, but with the plethora of options out there, you should be able to focus on other aspects of moving.

North Carolina is known to have some of the best university medical centers in the country. Duke University Hospital is among the best in the country, while smaller university hospitals, like UNC’s, are nationally ranked. You can’t go wrong with the healthcare services provided at these top-of-the-line hospitals. 

7. Barbecue Everywhere!

A photo of a group of friends stanig around a BBQ. It shows two men and two women, with one of the men holding a pair of tongs

Many people associate barbecue with states like Texas and Tennessee, but North Carolina might have both of them beat! Whether you love smoked meats or classic BBQ ribs, you’ll find all of those mouth-watering dishes in North Carolina. 

North Carolina has two distinct varieties of BBQ—Eastern and Lexington. Eastern BBQ uses more meat than Lexington and it uses a sauce with a vinegar and pepper base. Lexington BBQ usually uses smaller cuts of meat and its sauce uses the classic ketchup base. 

8. People Are Very Welcoming

In general, the people of North Carolina display that Southern charm on a daily basis. You won’t just get fabulous service while shopping, but also from the people you bump into on the streets. You can ask for directions or a recommendation for a restaurant and people will be happy to help you out. 

Since they live in such a beautiful locale, most people in North Carolina walk around looking happy and enjoying life. People are willing to welcome newcomers with open arms and try to get to know you better. What more could you want in a new community?

9. Excellent Post-Secondary Schools

Some of the biggest names in college are located in North Carolina. Private universities, like Wake Forest, Duke, and Davidson College are among the best schools in the country, not just in North Carolina.

North Carolina also has a robust publicly funded post-secondary system. Although these schools aren’t free, they offer much more affordable rates than what Duke or Wake Forest offers. Some of the best public schools include the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and Appalachian State University. 

10. Patriotic

Once you spend a Fourth of July weekend in North Carolina, you’ll see what patriotism really means! The people of North Carolina are proud Americans who enjoy the freedoms and responsibilities living in the U.S.A. provides for them. 

Although North Carolina was only ranked as the 21st most patriotic state, it doesn’t feel that way when you’re there. If you’re a member of the military, you’ll feel appreciated and respected by almost everyone who lives in North Carolina. The people there understand the sacrifices the military has made to protect them, their families, and their freedoms. 

Related: Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Tennessee

Cons of Living in North Carolina

Although North Carolina has some strong factors in favor of living there, that doesn’t mean the state is perfect. Here are 7 cons of living in North Carolina. 

1. Hurricanes

An photograph of hurricane Katrina taken from above the earth. It shows a huge spiral shaped hurricane laying across America

Hurricanes are a stubborn enemy for anyone who lives along the eastern seaboard. They cause flooding, intense winds, and unpredictable weather patterns that can severely damage your home. Some people who were unprepared for the intense weather die from touching downed wires or being swept away during a flood. 

North Carolina experiences the hurricane season every year during the months of June to November. During this time of year, it’s essential to listen to state authorities about the risk from hurricanes. It could save your property a significant amount of damage or even save your life.

If you’re worried about hurricane damage, you have two options. The first is to move inland. The worst effect of a hurricane, flooding, won’t affect you if you live in the mountains. The other option you have is to purchase an insurance plan that covers all aspects of hurricane damage, including flooding. 

2. Higher Crime Rate

Most of the towns and cities in North Carolina are safe for you and your family to reside in, but that doesn’t mean crime is non-existent. North Carolina’s crime rate almost matches the U.S. average, but specific crimes are much more common in North Carolina than elsewhere in the U.S.A.

The murder rate in North Carolina is 5.8 per 100,000, which is 10% higher than the national average. Although it’s higher than the national average, North Carolina’s murder rate is still much lower than its neighbor South Carolina.

The most common reason cited for the higher crime rate in North Carolina is its relatively high levels of poverty. Roughly 14% of the population lives in poverty, which usually causes a higher level of crime. 

3. Higher Taxes

North Carolina puts a significant tax burden on its citizens. On average, individual state and municipal taxes will cost you 9.8% of your yearly income. North Carolina ranks as the 20th most taxed state in the U.S.A.

North Carolina also has a hefty sales tax. Most items will have an extra 6.98% sales tax added to their total. On average, a resident of North Carolina will pay $771 every year in sales taxes. For a lower-income state like North Carolina, $771 per year is a lot of money. 

North Carolina does have relatively low corporate tax rates though. If you’re thinking of starting a business, the 2.5% business tax is an appealing offer. Property taxes vary from municipality to municipality, although the state average is 0.85%.

4. Elementary and High Schools Aren’t the Best

An image of a young girl in a school holding up a sign that says help. The photo represents the poor quality of schools in North Carolina

Although the post-secondary education system is excellent in North Carolina, its younger age groups are often left behind. North Carolina is currently ranked as the 15th best state for Pre-K to 12th-grade education. Although that doesn’t sound terrible, it’s much lower than their post-secondary rankings.

Some of the areas where North Carolina is lacking when it comes to education include Pre-K enrollment and high school graduation rates. North Carolina ranks as the 30th best state for Pre-K enrollment, while its graduation rate is in the bottom half of all states.

Related: Cheapest Places to Live in the Outer Banks

5. Poor Public Transportation

North Carolina lacks a well-run public transportation sector. To get the most out of living in North Carolina, you have to drive a car. Without a car, it can be difficult to visit the stunning beaches and picturesque mountain scenery. 

Cities like Charlotte and Raleigh have a public transportation system, but they lack the convenience of systems in other cities, like New York or Chicago. Essentially, the public transportation companies don’t service a wide enough area. That means it can be near impossible to get from an under-serviced area to the downtown core without a personal vehicle. 

Related: Advantages to Living in Outer Banks, North Carolina

6. Drug Use

In recent years, the prevalence of drug use has risen in North Carolina. The rise in drug use coincides with the national rise in opioid use we’ve seen in the last two decades. So although North Carolina has seen a surprising jump in drug use, it isn’t much higher than anywhere else in the country.

When it comes to opioid use, the main danger to you is a discarded needle. Some drug addicts will leave their used needles, which can harm you. Luckily, North Carolinian cities like Charlotte or Winston-Salem are not San Francisco, meaning there won’t be needles littered everywhere.

Opioid addiction also increases the amount of petty crime. Make sure to lock your vehicle when you park it and to stow away any valuables in the trunk. You should also be aware that thefts from homes are on the rise, so lock your home’s door every time you leave. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Georgia

7. Politics Can Be Frustrating 

One of the most frustrating aspects of living in North Carolina is watching how the state and municipal governments deal with each other. To be blunt, they hardly agree on anything. Cash-strapped cities need funds so they can expand their social and cultural programs, but the state legislature often refuses to fund these initiatives. 

Watching these funding fights unfold is a bit like watching a mudslide. Although the problem is coming crashing down the hill, no one seems willing to do anything. With a lack of funding, cities and municipalities stop offering services and events that make them special.

If the North Carolina government wants to save the culture, history, and safety of their state, they would start funding the parks department, museums, and police to the degree needed. Instead, they seem to enjoy squabbling over money. 

Wrapping Up

If you love an ocean view or living in the mountains of Appalachia, North Carolina is the state for you! With hundreds of miles of coastline and an abundance of trails, there’s no end to the outdoor fun you can get up to North Carolina. If the outdoors aren’t your thing, why not spend a day going through the museums and finish up with a plate of BBQ?

But if you rely on public transportation to get around or can’t stand when the government takes a piece of your pie, you may want to avoid North Carolina. All in all, North Carolina has a multitude of positive factors going for it, so if you can look past the few negative attributes, you’ll love your new state.

So there you have it, the pros and cons of living in North Carolina. Let us know if we missed anything by using the comment section!

Related: Top Places to Live in Northern Virginia