Best Places to Live 2022
Rob Laughter / Visit Raleigh
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Raleigh, North Carolina

  • County: Wake

Raleigh is a bit of a contradiction. It's a mid-sized southern city with agrarian roots that also contains a bustling technology hub. As a result, the city — a part of North Carolina’s prestigious Research Triangle — defies expectations. That’s precisely what landed it on our list of Best Places to Live (yet again).

Known as the City of Oaks, Raleigh boasts lush green space, with more than 9,000 acres of parkland, paired with more amenities than you’d expect from a city of less than 500,000.

Thanks in part to James Beard award-winning Chef Ashley Christensen, Raleigh has transformed into a foodie destination. The crown jewel in Christensen’s restaurant empire is Poole’s, which opened in 2007, and serves up inventive takes on southern classics in a retro-chic diner. (Get the macaroni au gratin and thank us later.)

Raleigh restaurants dish out much more than gut-busting comfort food, too. Spend an afternoon sampling different mezze at Sitti — a Lebanese staple in the local culinary scene — before taking a short, oak-shaded walk to 42 & Lawrence for a cold brew latte.

Diversity bolsters Raleigh’s placement in our rankings. The city is notably more diverse than North Carolina as a whole and celebrates the fact. After pandemic-related hiatuses, the Out! Raleigh pride celebration and the African American Cultural Festival roared back to life this summer, taking over Fayetteville Street in the heart of downtown.

Plenty of other events dominate the streets of downtown Raleigh — including Hopscotch, an annual multi-day music fest that draws about half of the East Coast’s hipster population each September.

Another strong suit for Raleigh? Its economy. Raleigh’s North Carolina State University anchors the easternmost point of the Research Triangle. The city’s research prestige has attracted many big-name employers, including IBM, Cisco Systems and Pfizer. NC State is a major local employer, as are local branches of Duke University’s hospital system.

Perhaps the best perk of all: The overall cost of living in Raleigh is lower than the average of some 1,300 cities that Money considered this year. Home sales prices for 2022 in Raleigh are also below both the average and median, according to real estate data from ATTOM. Adam Hardy

Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Population
  • Median Household Income
  • Median Home Price
  • Unemployment Rate
Sources: Population and median household income provided by Synergos Technologies Inc.; unemployment rate (by county) provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and median home price provided by ATTOM Data Solutions.