RALEIGH — Move over Charlotte — the Raleigh and Durham metro area has jumped the Queen City as the best place to live in North Carolina, at least according to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Places to Live” list.
Raleigh and Durham, grouped together, jumped from 11 in last year’s national ranking to No. 2 this year, taking North Carolina’s top spot, according the U.S. News & World Report released Tuesday that ranks the country’s best cities to live.
Charlotte dropped from six last year to 20 in the latest ranking.
The Raleigh-Durham area and Charlotte are among seven cities in North Carolina that made the top 150 list.
Out of that top 150, four cities in the state rank in the top 50.
The Triangle area often makes top places to live lists due to its job market and high desirability ratings, U.S. News reported, but the COVID-19 pandemic may have put the metro over the edge.
One-third of Americans polled by U.S. News said the pandemic changed their preference for where they want to live. That change in preference may have moved Raleigh and Durham higher on the list this year, according to the magazine.
Devon Thorsby, U.S. News real estate editor, told The News & Observer that Raleigh and Durham’s relatively less dense landscape may be attracting new homebuyers.
“I think that played in the area’s favor, because a lot of people like the idea of having all the amenities of the city, but also having enough space,” Thorsby said, especially as the pandemic created a larger work-from-home labor market.
Even the Triangle’s high and rapidly increasing home prices aren’t keeping people away, because, Thorsby says, the area is relatively affordable compared to other markets.
“When we look at the Raleigh and Durham area’s median household income, as it compares to the cost of monthly mortgage payments, rent, property taxes, utilities, all those things, we found that it is relatively affordable still,” Thorsby said. “They’re not spending an egregious amount of their income on housing, at least as it compares to a lot of other parts of the country.”
Here’s the complete list of the North Carolina cities ranked in the U.S. News top cities to live along with their national ranking:
1. Raleigh and Durham (No. 2)
2. Charlotte (No. 20)
3. Winston-Salem (No. 46)
4. Asheville (No. 48)
5. Hickory (No. 52)
6. Greensboro (No. 94)
7. Fayetteville (No. 142)