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Cost of Living in Charlotte, NC | Is Charlotte Affordable? 💰 [data, tips, info]

Last Updated on: 17th March 2024, 01:15 pm

Are you thinking about moving to Charlotte? North Carolina’s largest city with a metro population of 2.6 million, there are many reasons Charlotte has been one of America’s fastest growing metro areas for almost two decades! You’ll enjoy a great quality of life, an excellent job market, and world-class attractions ranging from professional sports and amusement parks to museums and beautiful outdoors in the Queen City. Of course, you probably have one very important question: Is Charlotte expensive? Can I afford to live in Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte is well-known as one of the most affordable metro areas in the country! Here’s everything you want to know about the Charlotte cost of living so you can compare it to your current home and any other cities you may be considering.

Charlotte Cost of Living Index

How much does it cost to live in Charlotte, NC? Less than the national average! One of the first metrics you’ll want to explore to understand the cost of living in Charlotte, North Carolina is the city’s cost of living index (COLI).

The Charlotte cost of living index is 97.9. That means it’s 2.1% more affordable than the U.S. average. Groceries and healthcare are slightly over the national average while transportation and utilities in Charlotte are more affordable than average. The biggest factor that makes Charlotte an affordable place to live is the housing index of just 87.8.

You can also explore other metrics tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One of the most important is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a primary gauge of inflation. The CPI measures the average changes in prices consumers pay for goods and services in an area.

The Consumer Price Index for the Southeast, including Charlotte, found that the average prices urban consumers paid increased 5.8% year-over-year in fall 2021. Food and energy prices rose less than the U.S. city average.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey is another helpful metric that shows how much consumers spend each year. The October 2021 survey found the average household in the South spent $19,029 on housing (U.S. average: $21,409) and $6,577 on food (U.S. average: $7,316).

Cost of Groceries, Food, Gas & Household Items in Charlotte

Another way to put the average Charlotte cost of living into perspective is to compare average living expenses to what you are paying now.

Average cost of items in Charlotte:

  • Steak (one-pound ribeye): $10.79
  • Milk (half-gallon, whole): $2.08
  • Eggs (dozen, grade A): $1.29
  • Movie ticket: $11.11
  • Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: $64
  • Fitness club monthly membership: $43.30
  • Average cell phone bill: $175
  • Average monthly bill for Charlotte utilities: $158.72
  • Monthly CATS pass: $88 ($44 for disabled riders & seniors)

Charlotte Housing Market

The average home price in Charlotte is $355,000, up almost 23% year-over-year at the end of 2021 and up an astounding 68% over the past 5 years. You can expect to pay an average of $196 per square foot.

Like many areas of the country, demand for Charlotte real estate has far outpaced supply. Charlotte is now America’s third fastest growing city and expected to add another 600,000 people within the next 30 years. It was ranked the best housing market of the Southeast for 2021 and one of the country’s top real estate markets for 2021.

Despite the dramatic rise in home prices, Clear Capital’s housing affordability index still placed Charlotte at 4 out of 10, which means it’s more affordable than average, while Raleigh had an index of 6.

Experts believe Charlotte home prices have mostly reached a peak and will begin to cool in 2021. Newcomers have been priced out of the market or become tired of trying. As home prices fall due to weakening demand and inventory slowly expands, you’ll find it much easier to get into the housing market without fighting other offers.

Charlotte Rental Market – Average Rents in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is a popular city for renters thanks to its diverse and stable job market and ever-rising home prices. The homeownership rate in Charlotte is just 53%, far below the national average. It’s considered one of America’s best cities for renters thanks to its overall affordability, great quality of life, and plentiful jobs – all of which have contributed to an influx of millennials.

The average Charlotte, NC rent is $1,472 according to RentCafe. You’ll pay more to live in many of the best neighborhoods in Charlotte, but there are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods with rent below $1,000. Here is average rent by neighborhood in Charlotte.

  • Eastover: $2,166
  • Uptown: $1,844
  • Dilworth: $1,744
  • Ballantyne: $1,587
  • Cherry: $1,566
  • Myers Park: $1,553
  • University City: $1,421
  • Plaza Midwood: $1,259

Average Salary & Household Income in Charlotte

Without context, the cost of living in Charlotte doesn’t tell you whether you will be able to afford it. How much do you need to earn to live in Charlotte, NC? Let’s look at average household income and salary in the city.

The average salary in Charlotte is $69,000 or $18.15 per hour. In the most recent quarter, wages trended upward 1.2% and the cost of living dropped by 5%! The median household income is $63,483, about 10% higher than the state average and lower than the U.S. median of $67,521.

Here are average hourly wages for common occupations according to the BLS and Payscale:

  • Software engineer: $82,000
  • Software developer: $73,000
  • Financial analyst: $63,000
  • Registered Nurse: $33.86
  • Licensed Practical Nurse: $22
  • Retail worker: $14.40
  • Tractor-trailer truck driver: $23.25
  • All occupations: $26.60 ($27.07 national average)

When you compare these wages to what you’re making now, remember to balance it against typical living expenses like rent and groceries.

Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Charlotte, NC

It’s easy to forget about taxes when you’re trying to understand the cost of living in Charlotte versus where you’re living now. That can definitely cause a big shock if you’re moving from a state without income tax – or a big relief coming from a state with high taxes like New York or California! Here’s what you can expect to pay for Charlotte, NC taxes.

North Carolina Income Taxes

North Carolina has a flat 5.25% income tax rate. You can use this tool to estimate your individual income tax in North Carolina before moving.

Charlotte Property Tax Rate

The property tax rate in Charlotte is 0.9650 which includes a municipal rate of 0.3481. This guide to property taxes in Mecklenburg County is helpful for understanding and estimating your taxes. To calculate your taxes, divide your home’s assessed value by $100 and multiply by the tax rate above.

A Charlotte, NC home with an assessed value of $200,000 would have a Mecklenburg County tax bill of $1,233.80 and an additional $696.20 for Charlotte, NC taxes. That’s a total of $1,930. Click here to see property tax rates in the Charlotte area for 2020/2021.

Charlotte, NC Sales Tax

The combined sales tax rate in Charlotte is 7.25%.

  • 4.75% North Carolina sales tax
  • 2.0% Mecklenburg County sales tax
  • 0.50% transit county sales and use tax

Charlotte vs Raleigh Cost of Living

Is it cheaper to live in Raleigh or Charlotte? That’s a good question to ask if you’re trying to decide between North Carolina’s largest cities. Here’s a quick comparison of the cost of living in Charlotte, NC vs Raleigh, NC.

Cost of Living in Charlotte vs Raleigh
COLI Avg Home Price Avg Rent Avg Utility Bill Property Tax Rate Avg Salary
Charlotte 97.9 $355,000 $1,472 $158.72 0.9650 $69,000
Raleigh 95.1 $370,000 $1,468 $166.51 0.97302 $68,000


Does Charlotte sound like the city for you? With a great quality of life, excellent career opportunities, and plenty of excitement on top of its low cost of living, it’s no wonder Charlotte is one of the top destinations for millennials and young professionals!

Once you’ve settled on a neighborhood and you’re ready to start planning your relocation, give us a call at Make a Move for a free quote. With our dedicated full-service movers, you’ll be enjoying everything the Queen City has to offer in no time!


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