If you live in North Carolina, you might not need to look any further than Raleigh or Chapel Hill for the best places in the country to live in.
That’s according to Money magazine, which recently released its 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings for 2022-23.
The City of Oaks made it in the top five best cities to live in at No. 4, with Chapel Hill not far behind at No. 12.
The top five features Atlanta at No. 1; Tempe, Ariz., at No. 2; Kirkland, Wash. at No. 3; and Rogers Park, Illinois at No. 5. No other North Carolina cities made the Top 50.
Raleigh and Chapel Hill rose to the top because of a range of factors that revolve around a central theme: you’ll enjoy living here — and you’ll be able to afford it.
The ranking comes just days after Fortune magazine released a similar list with Morrisville ranking at No. 5 of the 25 Best Places to Live for Families in the country.
Money’s annual ranking methodology is based on nine central characteristics that qualify each city: cost of living; racial, religious and linguistic diversity; economic opportunity; education; fun and amenities; health and safety; housing market; income and personal finance; and quality of life.
The magazine uses data from more than 30 different sources that include the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other federal agencies.
The quality of life factor was defined by data on commute times, walkability, access to green space (which the Triangle isn’t short on), weather and risk of environmental disasters.
To qualify for the ranking, the cities had to have a population with: at least 20,000 people, a makeup that’s at least 85% as racially diverse as the statewide population and a median household income of at least 85% of the state median.
Raleigh ranked as No. 4 best place to live
Money praises the City of Oaks for its 9,000 acres of parkland, award-winning restaurants, bustling music festivals, its economy, and of course, its colleges.
Raleigh is “contradictory,” writes Money reporter Adam Hardy.
“It’s a mid-sized Southern city with agrarian roots that also contains a bustling technology hub,” wrote Hardy. “As a result, the city — a part of North Carolina’s prestigious Research Triangle — defies expectations.”
Echoing a New York Times article from 2009 that calls the Triangle “a happy place between slow-paced Southern charm and urban cool,” Money says that the city’s economic opportunity has attracted big-name employers and brought in good jobs.
The city is boosted by its major employers that are also hubs for job candidates, such as North Carolina State University.
Its high ranking is also due to Raleigh’s cost of living, which is actually lower than the average of some 1,300 cities examined by Money. Its 2022 home sale prices are also below both the average and median, according to real estate data from ATTOM.
Raleigh is noted for being more diverse than the rest of the state, mentioning downtown festivals like the Out! Raleigh pride events and the African American Cultural Festival. Fayetteville Street also recently hosted the annual La Fiesta del Pueblo last month.
Money made sure to mention the local food scene in downtown Raleigh. Special shoutouts were made to James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurant Poole’s Diner, as well as the Lebanese haven of Sitti.
Raleigh’s median home price is listed by Money as $411,400. The city has an unemployment rate of 3%.
Chapel Hill ranked as No. 12 best place to live
Money ranked the Orange County town high up in its list for its beautiful forest areas and green spaces, like the 750 acres of the Carolina North Forest.
Of course, the ranking includes its proximity to Raleigh and Durham and for being the home of its most well-known public university. The University of North Carolina ranked No. 2 on Money’s Best Colleges of 2022.
Money magazine writes that Chapel Hill is “shedding the vestiges of its college town status” due to the growing development projects in the town and the Town Councils ongoing efforts to redevelop the town’s infrastructure and amenities.
Franklin Street is lauded by Money as being the perfect place for foodies and lovers of live music.
Chapel Hill’s median home price is listed by Money as $470,587. The city has an unemployment rate of 3.1%.
Money’s 10 Best Places to Live in the U.S.
1. Atlanta, Georgia
2. Tempe, Arizona
3. Kirkland, Washington
5. Rogers Park, Illinois
6. Columbia, Maryland
7. Somerville, Massachusetts
8. Ann Arbor, Michigan
9. Tampa, Florida
10. Jersey City, New Jersey