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Charlotte vs Raleigh 🤷 | Comparison, Pros & Cons, Which is Better?

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

Charlotte and Raleigh are North Carolina’s largest cities, one a finance and banking hub and the other a center for research facilities. Charlotte is the Queen City and famous for NASCAR, banking and tech jobs. Meanwhile, the City of Oaks feels more suburban with room to grow. Both cities offer a great quality of life, rich history, and entertainment, but you can only choose one as your home base. Here’s an ultimate showdown of Charlotte vs Raleigh with top pros and cons, jobs, cost of living & more.

Pros & Cons of Living in Charlotte vs Raleigh

Raleigh and Charlotte are so close and, on the surface, have a lot in common. Which city will be better for you? A good place to start is this list of the top Charlotte vs Raleigh pros and cons to see what really sets each city apart.

Living in Charlotte Pros

Charlotte has a thriving job market in finance & tech

Looking for a career in tech or finance? One of the biggest assets of living in Charlotte is its thriving jobs market. It’s also the clear winner in this category when you compare jobs in Charlotte vs Raleigh.

Charlotte was recently named the #1 city for STEM jobs among major metro areas while Raleigh came in 5th. The STEMdex looks at current STEM jobs and job growth. Charlotte beat out Austin, Denver, and Seattle for STEM careers!


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While Charlotte has traditionally been known for its banking jobs, and those definitely aren’t going anywhere, it’s added 30% more tech jobs in the last five years, double the rate for the whole country. Lowe’s even announced it will build a 23-story tech center in Charlotte instead of Dallas to add 1,600 new tech jobs to the city.

There’s an exciting brewery scene in Charlotte

If you’re a fan of craft beer, there’s a huge plus of living in Charlotte you won’t want to overlook. Charlotte’s craft brewery scene really got its start in 2010 with The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Today, it has one of the Southeast’s best beer scenes with award-winning breweries opening and expanding seemingly every day.

If you love beer, you’ll love exploring over four dozen (and counting) breweries like Birdsong Brewing Co. with a patio stocked with board games and Sugar Creek Brewing Company with its Biére de Garde style beer.

Charlotte has great parks & entertainment

One of the perks of living in Charlotte is enjoying all the amenities of the big city. Charlotte tends to have more live music, sporting events, and community events than Raleigh. It’s also home to amazing parks.

Freedom Park is the crown jewel of Charlotte with frequent lakeside events, sports, hiking, and playgrounds. Romare Bearden Park in Uptown boasts arts and fitness programs with a stunning design: two gardens surround a courtyard of crushed granite near an event green field and an interactive play area with waterfalls and chimes. It was designed based on paintings by artist Romare Bearden.

Living in Charlotte Cons

Charlotte can feel very corporate

Because Charlotte is driven by finance, professional services, and tech, and so many of its residents are transplants from the north, the city can have a bit of a sterile, corporate feel. During certain hours, the city can feel a bit empty. It can also seem devoid of the personality you’ll find in other downtown metro areas.

Traffic can be bad during rush hour and downtown

You’ll mostly have wide, open roads in Charlotte, a far cry from most major cities in the U.S. Still, a drawback of living in Charlotte vs Raleigh is the traffic is worse. The larger size of Charlotte means downtown can get congested, especially during events and rush hour. With so many people working similar hours in tech and finance, you’ll want to avoid downtown during peak morning and afternoon hours.

Living in Raleigh Pros

Raleigh has amazing outdoor recreation & it’s closer to the beach

When you compare and contrast Charlotte and Raleigh, you’ll find both have plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature. However, Raleigh does win out. You’re just two hours away from the shore and Wrightsville Beach, a laid-back beach town and popular day trip destination for Raleigh residents. That’s a huge advantage of living in Raleigh if you love sand and sun! You’ll fall in love with the natural beauty around Raleigh at Umstead State Park, Lake Johnson, and Centennial Campus Lake Raleigh. The city also has excellent public golf courses.

Boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming, golfing, hiking… it’s all right at your fingertips.

Raleigh opportunities extend throughout the Research Triangle

The Research Triangle is named for the four large research universities in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. One of the strengths of living in Raleigh is you can enjoy different environments and job opportunities within the region. Of course, this may mean settling down in the suburbs. Chapel Hill offers more of a college town atmosphere while Durham is a younger, more progressive area. You’ll find job opportunities are more diverse in Raleigh for this reason, although its economy (and particularly tech and finance sectors) is not as strong as Charlotte.

Raleigh has a small-town vibe

While this may be a downside of living in Raleigh if you’re after excitement and fun urban living, part of Raleigh’s charm is its small-town atmosphere. Even though it’s a fairly large city, Raleigh feels more like a small suburban area with a sense of community and friendly residents.

Living in Raleigh Cons

Raleigh doesn’t have a nightlife scene

Raleigh has the occasional music festival and community event, but it’s not a city for clubbing, partying, and staying out late. One of the challenges of living in Raleigh, especially for singles and millennials, is simply not having anything to do at night. When you look at Charlotte compared to Raleigh, you’ll find a much more active nightlife with hip bars, clubs, and live music.

You’ll drive a lot while living in Raleigh

While Charlotte is also a pretty car-dependent city, it doesn’t compare to Raleigh. Because Raleigh is within the Triangle area, it’s incredibly spread out and none of the cities within the Triangle will offer everything you’re looking for, which is a weakness. Whether it’s a long commute to work or a longer drive to the amenities of the suburbs, don’t forget to consider this disadvantage of moving to Raleigh.


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Cost of Living in Charlotte vs Raleigh

Which is more affordable: Charlotte or Raleigh? Actually, they’re very comparable. The Charlotte cost of living index is 97.9 while the Raleigh cost of living index is 95.1. The average salary in Charlotte vs Raleigh is the same: $68,000 per year.

When you compare the Charlotte vs Raleigh cost of living, you’ll find the following major differences.

Groceries are about 9% more affordable in Raleigh versus Charlotte. The cities are similar in terms of transportation, utilities, and healthcare costs.

Home prices are more affordable in Charlotte vs Raleigh. The average home price in Raleigh is $365,250, up 26% from summer 2020 to 2021. By comparison, Charlotte home prices have increased 22% to $340,000.

Rent is higher in Charlotte versus Raleigh, but not by much. The average apartment rent in Raleigh is $1,278 according to RentCafe. By comparison, Charlotte average rent is $1,313. However, your rent money will get you more in Charlotte. Charlotte has a better selection of new, luxury apartments with exciting amenities and walkable distance to dining, entertainment, and shopping.

For instance, Amaze@NoDa offers trendy, high-end apartments in NoDa, Charlotte’s arts and entertainment district. Enjoy a sky lounge with a gaming section and bar, a resort-style pool with cabanas and a fire pit, and more with rent starting at $1,099.

Additional Things to Consider Between Charlotte Versus Raleigh

Charlotte vs Raleigh Population

The population of Charlotte is 885,000 with a population density of 2,882 people per square mile. The Charlotte metro population is 2.6 million. The population of Raleigh is 474,000 with a population density of 3,235 people per square mile. The Raleigh metro population is 1.4 million. Charlotte has nearly double the land area and population of Raleigh, although Raleigh’s city core is more densely populated. This is because Charlotte’s daytime population swells as people commute for work.

Crime in Charlotte vs Raleigh

Which city is safer? Raleigh has a lower crime rate than Raleigh with 256 violent crimes and 1,783 property crimes per capita. By comparison, the Charlotte crime rate is 739 violent crimes and 3,926 property crimes per capita. Just remember: there are many safe places to live in Charlotte, too, with dozens of great neighborhoods boasting crime well below the national average.

Sports in Charlotte vs Raleigh

If you’re a big sports fan, one of the many positives of living in Charlotte is it’s a great city for sports. Raleigh’s biggest pro sports team is the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. Charlotte has three pro sports franchises: the Carolina Panthers (NFL) at the Bank of America Stadium, the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) at the Spectrum Center, and Charlotte FC (MLS).

Charlotte is also the epicenter of NASCAR and home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Charlotte to Raleigh Distance

How far is it from Charlotte to Raleigh? About 2 hours and 30 minutes or 165 miles along I-85 N and I-140 E. Here’s how to get from Charlotte to Raleigh. Because the two cities aren’t far apart, you can still enjoy the events, attractions, and amenities of the other no matter where you move!
Charlotte Versus Raleigh: Where Are You Moving?

With so much to offer in both cities, making your final decision can be hard. If you’re looking for a safe place to raise a family with plenty of job opportunities and the feel of the suburbs, Raleigh is a good choice. If you’re interested in tech or finance jobs, want more action and fun, or appreciate big-city living, Charlotte may be in your future.

If you’ve settled on moving to Charlotte, the trusted movers at Make a Move are ready to help. Give us a call once you have an idea about your moving dates for a free Charlotte moving quote. We’ll handle all the hard work for you!


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