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Cost of Living in Durham, NC 2022

June 2, 2022

Durham is known as North Carolina’s hippest city, best known as the home to Duke University and a bustling and creative culinary scene.

With entertainment options galore, including Durham Bulls games, Brightleaf Square, the American Tobacco Campus, and the Durham Performing Arts Center, there’s never a dull moment in this booming city. The city was even recently ranked as the 23rd best city to live in the United States.

Whether you’re moving to Durham to take advantage of the affordability, entertainment options, or a combination of both, you’ll want to get a better idea of your potential costs. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Durham to understand better how much you need to live there.

Durham Housing Costs

Rents are on the rise around the country, and Durham is no exception. According to the latest Rent Report on Durham, the median rent index is $1,168 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,405 for a two-bedroom. Rents are up sharply by 17.4% in comparison to this time last year. Durham's year-over-year rent growth is lower than North Carolina's average of 18.5% and han higher tthe national average of 15.3%.

The most expensive city in the state is Cary, which has seen a 20.5% growth in rent prices year over year, with the current median rent for a two-bedroom apartment at $1,547. Other major cities include Fayetteville, High Point, and Winston-Salem, which have seen 16.5%, 19%, 18.8% increases, respectively.

Durham Transportation

Durham’s official public transportation operator is GoDurham and GoTriangle. Public transit began in 1991 and was previously run by Duke Power Company. Today, GoDurham operates 24 bus routes, and GoTriangle runs the Robertson Scholar Express (RSX).

Bus service runs seven days a week and begins around 5:30 am and goes until 12:30 am. With slightly limited hours on Sundays and holidays of 6:30 am and 9:30 pm.

If you're a single adult without children, you'll spend about $5,509 for transportation in Durham throughout the year. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $12,709 for transportation in one year. Thankfully, gasoline prices are around $3.42 per gallon, much lower than the national average of $3.92.

Durham Food Costs

The state of North Carolina is the birthplace of Pepsi, Cheerwine, Mt. Olive Pickles, and Krispy Kreme. Not surprisingly, the people of Durham are proud of their food and beverage options, offering dining options, where you can find the city’s famous biscuits and barbeque or black garlic ice cream.

Thankfully, dining out in Durham is relatively cheap and costs an average of $15 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant runs $62.50 without alcohol or dessert.

Single adults without children can expect to spend at least $3,351 on food per year. However, if you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $7,417 per year for food.

You can anticipate costs similar to the national average for food items purchased from the local Durham Co-op Market, Bulldega Urban Market, or King’s Supermarket. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $3.40 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.36.

Durham Healthcare Costs

Whether you visit the doctor minimally, on an as-needed basis, or have a medical condition that requires you to see them more regularly, having medical insurance helps keep your costs manageable. In addition to routine visits, it will be nice to know you’ll be able to afford the care you need with the help of medical insurance should you encounter any emergencies in your new hometown.

Healthcare should always be considered an essential item, which means you should account for proper medical care when planning your budget in Durham. A single adult without children will pay around $2,709 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $8,037.

Durham Utilities

Weather in Durham can be somewhat temperamental. The summer months bring humid heat and a muggy climate, while the winters are short but very cold, wet, and partly cloudy. The coldest month in Durham is in January, with an average overnight temperature of 41°. Conversely, July is the hottest month of summer, where the average daytime high is typically 80°.

To stay warm through the relatively cold winter nights and cool through the hot, muggy summer, you'll need to account for higher utilities. Durham’s basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $133.85 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment. Adding on the similar internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $65.71 for a total of $199.56 each month.

Before you move, it’s always a good idea to know how much utilities will cost in an apartment. This knowledge will allow you to budget accordingly for this sometimes overlooked expense.

Durham Fitness and Entertainment

Durham has fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone. However, if you like to spend your time in a local gym for workouts, you’ll want to consider club membership costs at Fitness World, Courage Fitness Durham, Velocity Fitness, or any others in the area. Thankfully, these costs are relatively low, as a fitness club membership fee for one adult costs $38.12 monthly.

If you’re looking for some entertainment, you can purchase a seat at the local cinema for $12 without snacks or drinks. Otherwise, check out some of the museums in town, like the Museum of Life and Science, the Museum of Durham History, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Durham has countless parks for those who prefer to stay outdoors, including Durham Central Park, West Point on the Eno City Park, and Forest Hills Park.

Other Expenses to Consider in Durham

North Carolina has a flat state income tax of 5.25%. Anyone looking to purchase a home in North Carolina can anticipate property taxes that fall below the national average. The sales tax rate in North Carolina is 4.75%, with the county sales tax rate in Durham at 2.25%.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to account for additional expenses if you are moving out of state, including cross-country movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. Big moves like this may also require even more fees, such as apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons, so be sure to plan as best as you can for these additional expenses.

You’ll have to furnish your new apartment once you move, which can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Thankfully, you can learn tips on how to decorate your apartment on a budget and stick to it, so you are sure not to go overboard.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in Durham?

If you know what type of lifestyle you plan to lead in Durham, you can begin figuring out your recommended salary. The living wage in Durham is $14.90 per hour, which is the basic wage required to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities. The living wage will force you to live pretty frugally, though, as it does not account for any extra costs like entertainment or dining out.

Alternatively, you could look at the average salary index in Durham, which is $36,881 per year, roughly $18.91 per hour. Keep in mind that the living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different figures. The 30% rule for rent can help you to determine your recommended salary in Durham.

You should not spend more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent to live comfortably, according to the 30% rule. For example, according to this rule, if your rent is close to the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Durham at $1,168, your monthly wages should be at least $3,893 per month or $46,720.

While this figure might seem easily attainable, this recommended salary is for a very basic lifestyle. You’ll need to pursue a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or both if you anticipate having additional living costs, such as dining, entertainment, etc.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Durham are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Computer, and Mathematical, and Architecture and Engineering positions, respectively.

Job Market in Durham

Durham has a similar job market to similar-sized metro areas. The biggest industries are education, health care, research, and information technology. The city’s largest employers include IBM Corporation, SAS Institute Inc., WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Cisco Systems Inc., BASF Corporation, and Biogen Idec Inc.

Durham's Duke University is another, significant employer in the city. Additionally, graduates of the university prove themselves in the industries in the surrounding areas.

The unemployment rate in Durham is 3.1%, falling 0.9% below the current national average.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are looking to move somewhere with a booming culinary scene or a low cost of living, Durham might be the place for you. Register with Apartment List today and start checking out the hundreds of available apartments to rent in Durham!

If Durham doesn't seem like the place for you, learn about the Best Places to Live in NC and the cheapest places there.

FAQs: Cost of Living in Durham in 2022:

How expensive is an apartment in Durham?

A one-bedroom apartment in Durham, North Carolina costs $1,168. A two bedroom apartment in Durham costs $1,405.

What is the cheapest rent in Durham?

Currently, the cheapest rent in Durham for a one-bedroom apartment. You can expect to pay an average of $1,168 in rent.

How expensive is it to live in Durham?

Rent costs an average of $1,168 for a one bedroom apartment in Durham. A single adult in Durham will spend an average of $3,351 on food per year. A family of four with two working adults and two children pay an average of $7,417 per year for food.

An adult spends about $5,509 for transportation in Durham each year. A family of four with two working adults and two children spend an average of $12,709 for transportation in one year.

How far is Durham from Raleigh?

Durham to Raleigh is 24.5 miles via I-40 W and NC-147 N. It takes about 30-minutes to drive from Durham to Raleigh.

How far is Durham from Charlotte?

Durham to Charlotte is 142.9 miles via I-85 N. It takes just over two hours to drive between Durham and Charlotte.

What is the population of Durham?

According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Durham, North Carolina was 324,833 in 2020.

What is a good salary in Durham?

The Census Bureau reports that the average salary for Durham, North Carolina residents is $65,534. However, to stick to the rule of spending only 30% of your monthly income on rent, you need an income of $46,720 to live comfortably in a one bedroom apartment in Durham.

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Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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