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Charlotte vs. Wilmington

Charlotte vs Wilmington, NC 🆚 | Is Living in Wilmington or Charlotte Right for You?

Last Updated on: 14th September 2023, 12:15 pm

North Carolina is a fantastic state that offers affordable living, scenic beauty, and a strong economy. Those planning on moving to the Tar Heel state often debate the pros and cons of Charlotte vs. Wilmington. Although Charlotte is the bigger city with slightly more attractions and amenities, Wilmington offers a gorgeous coastline and a friendly southern charm. To help you determine which is right for you, here is a side-by-side comparison of living in Charlotte vs. Wilmington, NC.

Living in Charlotte Pros

Known as “the Queen City,” Charlotte is the cultural and economic hub of North Carolina and home to some of its most notable attractions, from the Discovery Place of Science to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The city is known for its bustling economy, sports teams, and low cost of living for a major metro area. Here are some of the living in Charlotte pros and cons.

  • Robust job market: One of Charlotte’s main strengths is its strong economy supported by industries like banking and finance, technology, and healthcare. Several Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Charlotte, including Bank of America, Lowes, and Duke Energy.
  • World-class restaurant scene: Another one of Charlotte’s benefits is its culinary scene, with over 250 restaurants serving everything from Vietnamese to classic southern barbecue.
  • Affordable living: Charlotte is very affordable for a major metro area, which is a major positive, and the cost of living is about 5% cheaper than the rest of the US and roughly on par with other North Carolina cities.


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Living in Charlotte Cons

Although there are certainly plenty of advantages of living in Charlotte, like any area, it has its drawbacks as well. Here are a few of the disadvantages of living in Charlotte.

  • Mosquitos and bugs: The warm weather in Charlotte can also be one of its weaknesses, and Charlotte has one of the worst mosquito problems in the US. According to Orkin, there are more than 60 known species of mosquitoes in Charlotte, including northern house mosquitos, Asian Tiger mosquitos, and eastern salt marsh mosquitoes.
  • Lack of public transportation: Although Charlotte does have a bus system, it was ranked by Money Magazine as one of the worst cities in the US if you rely on public transportation, which is a negative for those without a vehicle.

Living in Wilmington Pros

Often known as the “Hollywood of the East” or “Wilmingwood”, Wilmington is a gorgeous port city home to several major television and movie studios. With a bustling downtown, rich history, and close proximity to the beach, Wilmington was rated one of the best places for a relocation in a 2020 study by United Van Lines. Here are a few of the living in Wilmington pros and cons.

  • Beautiful beaches: Situated directly on the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Fear River, Wilmington offers miles of stunning coastline and a vibrant riverfront area full of shops and restaurants, which is one of its major pluses.
  • Movie business: Wilmington is home to EUE/Screen Gem Studios, the largest television and movie studio outside of California, which offers plenty of great job opportunities in the entertainment industry.
  • Great weather: Wilmington’s close proximity to the water keeps it slightly cooler than other Southern cities, and the city experiences pleasant, mild weather throughout the entire year, which is a major highlight. 


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Living in Wilmington Cons

When you’re figuring out how to choose between living in Charlotte vs. Wilmington, you’ll likely want to consider the weaknesses as well. Here are a few of the main living in Wilmington cons.

  • Hurricanes and tropical storms: Wilmington’s climate offers both assets and liabilities. Its location directly on the coast means that Wilmington is vulnerable to hurricanes, and there have been over 90 recorded hurricanes in the city since 1930.
  • Traffic and tourists: Wilmington’s prime beachfront location also has its ins and outs, as it attracts many tourists, especially in peak seasons, which often results in a high rate of crime and traffic congestion, which can be a drawback to full-time residents.

Charlotte vs. Wilmington, NC Comparison

Now that you know the pros and cons of each city, here is a side-by-side comparison of Charlotte vs. Wilmington.

Charlotte vs. Wilmington, NC Population

Charlotte is a much larger city with a population of 897,720 vs. 120,324 people in Wilmington. Some residents also want to know which is larger, the Charlotte, NC metro area vs the Wilmington metro area? Charlotte is still a larger city with about 2.6 million in the metro area versus about 285,000 in Wilmington.

Cost of Living of Wilmington, NC vs. Charlotte, NC

The cost of living in Charlotte vs. Wilmington is very similar. The overall cost of living in Charlotte is about 3.3% more expensive than living in Wilmington due to expenses like utilities, groceries, and transportation. 

However, according to Redfin, the median listing price of homes for sale in Charlotte is $425,000 vs. $430,615 in Wilmington. But according to RentCafe, the average rent in Charlotte is $1,670 vs. $1,567 in Wilmington. Charlotte also offers more high-paying job opportunities in a range of industries compared to Wilmington. So Charlotte is slightly more expensive due to being a more metropolitan area, but they are very close and both roughly on par with the national average.

Wilmington, NC vs. Charlotte, NC  Crime Rate

Both cities suffer from a high rate of crime, but Charlotte is slightly more dangerous. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Charlotte vs. Wilmington, NC crime rate.

Charlotte Total Crime Violent Crime Murder Rate Property Crime
Crime Rate 4077 per 100,000K 836 per 100K 12 per 100k 3,240
% higher than the state 54.1% 99.4% 50% 45.5%
% higher than the country 73.8% 115.6% 83.3% 65.5%


Wilmington Total Crime Violent Crime Murder Rate Property Crime
Crime Rate 3,176 per 100K 629 per 100K 17 per 100k 2,547 per 100k
% higher than the state 20% 50% 112.5% 14.4%
% higher than the country 35.4% 62.2% 159.7% 30.1%

Your chances of being the victim of a crime in Wilmington are 1 in 31 vs. 1 in 25. However, Charlotte has more property crime and general violent crime, as it is a larger city. Although Wilmington has a higher murder rate and suffers from social problems such as drug addiction and gang activity that contribute to higher levels of certain types of crimes.

Things to do/Nightlife

Both cities offer a fair amount of fun things to do, although Charlotte offers a broader variety of opportunities. From Carowinds Amusement Park to the NASCAR Hall of Fame to the Discovery Place Science Center, Charlotte is full of exciting attractions. You also have tons of professional sports teams, amazing restaurants, coffee shops, and craft breweries to check out on a weekend.

From the RiverWalk to the BattleShip North Carolina, you’ll also find plenty of fun things to do in Wilmington. However, most of the major attractions in Wilmington are centered around the coast and tend to be more seasonal, whereas Charlotte offers a wider spectrum of entertainment options.


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The Charlotte vs. Wilmington weather is a hotly contested debate. The temperature in both cities is fairly mild throughout the year and ranges from the mid-’30s to the high 80s. Wilmington tends to get more rainfall and averages about 57.9 inches per year versus 43.1 in Charlotte. However, Charlotte also tends to get colder in the winter and gets about 2.3 inches of snow compared to 0.9 in Wilmington. The average Wilmington, NC humidity vs. Charlotte, NC humidity is also higher at 73% compared to 67%. So, while they both offer a mild climate and pleasant weather throughout the year, the weather in Charlotte is slightly more comfortable than in Wilmington.


Neither city has the best public transportation, so traffic is a significant issue. But traffic in Wilmington tends to be worse than in Charlotte. In 2019, Quote Wizard compiled a study on the best and worst driving cities based on the highest rates of driving instances, such as accidents, DUIs, speeding tickets, and more. Wilmington ranked 17th on the list of worst-driving cities, while Charlotte ranked 21st on the list of best cities. However, Charlotte isn’t much better, and in a different report by INTRIX, it ranked 35th in the US for traffic congestion.


Charlotte offers a much more varied job market compared to Wilmington. Job seekers will find employment opportunities in industries like finance, technology, health care, education, manufacturing, and energy. There are 10 Fortune 500 companies based in Charlotte, and the city has a job growth rate of 4.6%. Wilmington also offers economic opportunities with a strong industrial base in manufacturing, food processing, aviation, and entertainment. However, being the smaller city, it’s naturally not the same economic powerhouse as Charlotte.


Charlotte also has far more professional sports teams. Charlotte is home to the Hornets in the NBA, Panthers in the NFL, and Charlotte FC in the MLS. It also has several minor league teams, such as the Charlotte Knights baseball team and Charlotte Checkers hockey team. Wilmington is home to the Sea Dogs, a basketball team in the American Basketball Association and Tobacco Road League. The Wilmington Hammerheads is a semi-professional soccer league based in Wilmington, and the city is also home to the UNC Wilmington Seahawks Men’s Basketball program.

Charlotte vs. Wilmington, NC: Where Are You Moving?

So, now that you know all of the advantages and disadvantages of Charlotte vs. Wilmington, you’re equipped with all the information you need to choose a new home. Charlotte offers more big city amenities, job opportunities, and unique cultural attractions, whereas Wilmington offers a laid back coastal lifestyle with sandy beaches and mild weather.

Made up your mind as to whether you’re ready to move to Charlotte vs. Wilmington? Trust the best movers in Charlotte to make your relocation simple and stress-free. Call 704-378-8588 today for a free estimate.


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