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The 20 Best Places to Live in Raleigh, NC

Chapel Hill

If you’re moving to the Raleigh area, count yourself lucky. As the capital of North Carolina (not to mention one of the fastest-growing cities in the US), Raleigh and its surrounding suburbs and satellite towns rank as some of North Carolina’s hottest destinations. Whether you're attracted to the vibrant music venues, the flourishing food and drink scene, or the ever-growing job market, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of options to suit your needs. Here, we take a look at 20 of the very best places to live in the Raleigh area in 2020.

Archer Lodge

20. Archer Lodge

With a small population of 4,688, superbly affordable housing, plentiful jobs, and the kind of community guaranteed to make you feel welcome, Archer Lodge kicks of our run down in style.


19. Zebulon

Small, friendly, affordable, and just a short commute from the heart of Raleigh… if any or all of this sounds your kind of thing, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of Zebulon. 4,943 people already have, and judging by some of the comments left on Niche, (with “Zebulon is a wonderful small town. Great neighborhoods and a close connected community. Lots of restaurants and businesses. Located off of Highway 64 in North Carolina. It's not far from Raleigh and has everything you could need,” “I loved living in Zebulon because everyone knew each other. It's small and there is not a lot of crime that happens here. When you go places people greet you with respect and you get to see other people from other states come and enjoy the restaurants that Zebulon offers. I do not want anything to change about Zebulon”, being just a few), very happy with their decision they are too.


18. Creedmoor

With a population of just 4,372, Creedmoor is hardly the biggest suburb of Raleigh, but it’s got all the qualities of being one of its best. Housing is a supremely affordable (with most single-family homes coming in for just $151,400), while crime and unemployment rates are both low enough to deserve an honorable mention. The family-friendly vibe is perfectly complemented by an outstanding school system, not to mention a booming job market. With most households earning the distinctly attractive median income of $74,755, you’d be a fool not to want a piece of this pie.


17. Clayton

Despite being within striking distance of the heart of Raleigh, Clayton has managed to maintain a small-town charm all of its own. Nightclubs might be thin on the ground, but thanks to the ongoing revitalization of the downtown, there’s no shortage of new restaurants and bars to choose from. Families are well served by a score of excellent schools and a range of affordable housing options (with most single-family homes fetching just $166,800). Crime is low enough not to be a concern, while the friendly, warm community is an attraction in its own right.


16. Wendell

Wendell may be small, but it’s got no shortage of charm. At just $145,900 for a family home, the median property values rank as some of the Raleigh area’s most affordable. The violent crime rate, meanwhile, is one of its lowest. With some top-ranking schools (Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School, Wake Early College of Health & Sciences, and Wake Young Women's Leadership Academy all come particularly highly recommended), a quick 30-minute drive into the center of Raleigh, and enough shops, dining options, and leisure opportunities to suit most tastes, its as equally attractive to young professionals as it is to families and retirees.


15. Hillsborough

With a population of just 7,033, Hillsborough is the kind of place where people still know their neighbor's names, and are more than happy to use them. Friendly, welcoming, and surrounded by three of NC’s biggest cities, it’s an ideal place for those looking to combine the appeal of small-town living with easy access to the job opportunities and attractions of the city.


14. Durham

If affordability is top of your list of priorities, you’ll find the average property price of $195,000 in Durham hard to fault. Neither will you have too many complaints about the lively, vibrant vibe and the highly ranking schools, nor the plentiful job opportunities, shops, recreational outlets, and green spaces. Unconventional, quirky, and dynamic, it’s a great choice for single professionals to get their foot on the property ladder.


13. Garner

If you want small-town charm while living within easy reach of the big city attractions of Raleigh, you’ll find the little suburb of Garner hard to beat. Friendly, welcoming, and highly affordable (the median property price sits at a very reasonable $167,700) it’s a great place for first-time buyers to get their foot on the property ladder. The last word on its abundant attractions go to the residents themselves (or at least, to those inclined to rate their home on Niche.”I've loved living in Garner. It's a small town that has everything you need within a 15-minute drive. You can find grocery stores, churches, parks, convenience stores, movie theaters, shopping centers, and more! You tend to bump into the same people somewhat often, so it's easy to build relationships,” says one, while another offers an equally enthusiastic: “Garner, North Carolina is a great place to live! Our town is growing, but it still has a small-town, close-knit feel. We are only 15 minutes from the middle of downtown Raleigh. The members of our town council really take planned development seriously and are careful in their choices for our community. The members of our police department are very helpful, and they sponsor special programs for its citizens. We have great parks. Quirky, but true - Garner celebrates the Fourth of July on the third of July!!”


12. Fuquay-Varina

Good schools? Check. A booming job market? Check. A welcoming community? Check. If you can think of an ideal quality you’d like your next home town to have, its likely Fuquay-Varina has it in spades. Move to this attractive suburb, and you can expect a median income of $75,105, friendly neighbors, safe streets, excellent schools, and unemployment and crime rates that are too negligible to be worth a mention.

Fearrington Village

11. Fearrington Village

If you’re looking for one of the best places to retire in the Raleigh area, you’ll struggle to do better than Fearrington Village. A warm friendly community combines with an excellent range of amenities, parks, and recreational venues to make for one seriously attractive destination. High property prices, as you’d expect, come with the territory: for a single-family home, you’ll need to part with around $305,200.


10. Rolesville

Despite its significant growth over the past few years, Rolesville still has the air of a charming small town. The active community of 6,308 is welcoming, diverse, and, thanks to a median income of $96,384, more than a little wealthy. Education-wise, the suburb’s kids are treated to a score of top schools, with plenty of clubs and organizations on offer for extra-curricular activities.


9. Knightdale

As suburbs go, you’ll find it hard to beat Knightdale. Not only is the average house priced at the very affordable figure of $176,600, but the job market is booming to the extent that most households are earning the very respectable income of $70,540. Throw a clutch of top-ranking schools, excellent recreational opportunities, and a diverse, welcoming population of 14,363 into the mix, and it’s easy to see the appeal. The low crime rate and abundance of small businesses, retail outlets, and amenities, meanwhile, do little to harm the distinctly safe, family-friendly feel of the place.

Wake Forest

8. Wake Forest

Despite the seemingly high median property value of $278,600, Wake Forest residents can still expect a sizeable disposal income thanks to the very considerable median salary of $85,155. Fortunately, there’s plenty of places for them to spend their paycheck, with a plethora of shops, restaurants, nightspots and recreational opportunities on offer. Schools are excellent, while the low crime rate and friendly feel combine to make it an excellent destination for families.

Holly Springs

7. Holly Springs

For those who want an easy commute into Raleigh without suffering the heaving congestion of the metropolis, Holly Springs makes an excellent option. Most households are sitting pretty on a median income of $101,341- a figure that puts the median home price of $264,500 well into perspective. Crime is low, and despite its rapid growth in recent years, the town still enjoys a small-town, friendly vibe. Parks are as abundant as the shops, bars and restaurants, giving residents plenty of opportunities for both outdoor and indoor recreation. The last word goes to the schools, which are about as top-notch as you could expect to find anywhere in North Carolina, and a major reason why Holly Springs is considered one of the best places in the Raleigh area for families.


6. Carrboro

As is so often the case, desirability comes with a hefty price, and in the suburb of Carrboro, that equates to a $334,500 median property value. Find the move-in-money, however, and you’re unlikely to regret it: along with a healthy median income, residents can expect some of the best schools in the state (East Chapel High School, Carrboro High School, and Chapel Hill High School all score top marks for test scores and graduation rates), a great range of community programs, a flourishing restaurant scene, a low crime rate, and a young, family-friendly vibe.

Chapel Hill

5. Chapel Hill

The average property in Chapel Hill may come with the considerable price tag of $397,700, but considering the number of attractions on offer in this charming town, it’s a price worth paying. Chief among its attributes is the community, which, thanks to this being a college town, is as diverse, welcoming, and friendly as you could wish for. Other than nice neighbors, newcomers can expect an above-average median income (most households earn in the region of $67,426), plenty of fun activities and events to join in with, and a clutch of excellent schools.


4. Apex

With an ever-growing population of 45,899, the Raleigh suburb of Apex is on the cusp of transitioning from small town to booming city… a transition you see evidence of in everything from the flourishing restaurant scene, developing job market, and expanding housing options. You might have to pay an average of $289,300 for the privilege of buying a single-family home here, but with friendly neighbors, a low crime rate, and excellent schools all part of the package, you’re unlikely to regret the expense.


3. Cary

Over the past decade, Cary has grown at a phenomenal rate, but fortunately, the services, amenities, job opportunities, and housing options have all grown in line with the population (which by the last count, stands at 159,715). Crime remains low enough not to be a concern, while the median household income of $97,755 speaks volumes about the kind of lifestyle newcomers can expect. With its idyllic position just 2 hours from the mountains and beach, there’s plenty to love about Cary, even if the average home price is a rather hefty $323,000.

Five Points

2. Five Points

According to Home Snacks, the neighborhood of Five Points ranks as one of Raleigh’s very best. With an unemployment rate of just 2.3%, a median income of $107,650, and an incredibly low crime rate of 1,063 per 100k residents, we’re loathe to disagree.


1. Morrisville

For those looking to experience the very best Raleigh has to offer, Morrisville may be just the ticket. With a population of 23,873, it combines charming small-town values with plenty of big-city attractions. Crime is low enough for the streets to feel safe and friendly, while the prospering job market is doing a great job at keeping residents in $95,763 incomes. Throw in an array of top-scoring schools, well-manicured parks, and more shopping centers and amenities than you could ever need, and it’s easy to see why it counts as one of Raleigh’s top destinations.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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