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Cost of Living in Raleigh, NC 2021

By: Davina Ward
October 8, 2021

Raleigh is a growing East coast with a lot to offer a new resident. However, it’s essential to consider the costs of moving to Raleigh before making a final decision.

While Raleigh isn’t notorious for its high rent prices, it’s still a costly city to live in.

This guide will explore the cost of living in Raleigh to help you determine whether moving to Raleigh is right for you!

Let’s get started!

Raleigh Housing Costs

The cost of living starts and ends with housing costs, meaning whether you will be able to live comfortably in Raleigh entails taking an in-depth look at the city’s housing market and rental costs.

Luckily, there are plenty of apartments available to Raleigh residents. Here’s a look at the average rent prices in Raleigh by apartment size:

  • Rent for a One-bedroom in Raleigh: $1,520
  • Rent for a Two-Bedroom in Raleigh: $1,809
  • Rent for a Three-bedroom in Raleigh: $1,965

When it comes to affordability, Raleigh isn’t necessarily leading the pack. Apartments in Raleigh are generally more expensive than those across the nation. For example, the median price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,528, substantially more than the national median two-bedroom rent, which is $1,275.

However, the city has not reached exorbitant rent prices yet, like those associated with New York and San Francisco.

If you choose to rent with a roommate in Raleigh, you can save 50% on rent (depending on your rent splitting arrangement). As 43% of apartments in the city are two-bedroom units, you shouldn’t have to worry about limiting your options if you choose to rent with a roommate.

That said if you are considering a move to Raleigh, the sooner the better. The latest rent trends in the city show a rent increase of over 22% from the same time last year. You can read more about Raleigh’s rent prices by checking out our regularly updated Raleigh Rent Report.

Raleigh Transportation

Raleigh’s public transportation options are surprisingly lacking for a city of its size. The current bus system leaves many routes unserviced throughout the week, so it would be exceedingly challenging to rely on this public transportation option to get you everywhere you need to go.

That said, if you’re up for a challenge, a 31-day bus pass in Raleigh costs just $40, so you’d spend a low $480 annually on your transportation costs.

Compared to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator transportation cost estimate of $5,113 for a single adult and $13,869 for a family of four, including two adults and two children.

If you prefer to bike or walk, Raleigh may not be the best destination for you. According to Walk Score’s metrics, the city has a 31 walk score, a 30 transit score, and a 41 bike score. In short, in Raleigh, transportation by car is almost mandatory.

Raleigh Food Costs

Alongside housing, food costs will significantly impact your budget.

If you’re a single person in Raleigh, feeding yourself for a year will cost $3,177 or just under $270 a month. For a family of four, these costs increase to $9,305 annually or around $775 monthly.

However, these estimates assume you won’t fall prey to Raleigh’s many delicious restaurants featuring Southern delicacies.

If you decide to eat out, expect to pay $15 for an inexpensive meal and $60 (+$12 standard gratuity) for a mid-tier three-course meal, according to data from Numbeo.

That said, unless you have a massive food budget, you’ll probably be cooking some meals at home. Knowing where to shop can save you money.

While Aldi is famed the world over for its inexpensive groceries and eco-friendly shopping experience, there’s something to be said for the Wegmans experience.

Wegmans offers an incredible selection of international products, even some notably obscure options. Moreover, Wegmans offers an authentic shopping experience. I’m not going to say that I went to Wegmans when I needed a pick-me-up in college, but I won’t deny it.

Raleigh Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs vary significantly from individual to individual, regardless of your location.

For Raleigh residents, a single adult can expect to pay $2,728 annually on healthcare costs. Healthcare costs for a family of four sit at $7,688 annually.

If you’re looking for free or low-cost healthcare, there are many free clinics and community centers in Raleigh.

Raleigh Utilities

Regardless of where you live, utility expenses can have a wildly different impact on your budget.

Raleigh residents paying for basic utilities enjoy a monthly utility bill lower than the national average of $240. Here’s a breakdown of the average utility costs in Raleigh:

  • Average Electricity Bill in Raleigh: $152.26
  • Average Gas Bill in Raleigh: $37.10
  • Average Water Bill in Raleigh: $41.20
  • Average Fuel Costs in Raleigh: $1.35
  • Average Total Utility Costs in Raleigh: $231.91

Even with accurate averages, it can be challenging to estimate your utility costs, as they vary depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

For example, you’ll spend more money on your water bill if you’re routinely washing your workout clothes.

When you add in your cell phone and internet costs, your utility costs are even more challenging to estimate.

That said, the average cell phone bill for a single person in the US is $94. The average internet bill typically sits between $30-$60.

Fortunately, bundling services can help you save big on your utility expenses.

Fitness and Entertainment

Creating an accurate budget means being honest about where your money is going, even if you don’t spend it on so-called “essentials.”

Though, responsibly spending money on recreation and entertainment is well within the realm of reason.

Single Raleigh residents spend $1,811 on recreation and entertainment annually, whereas a family of four in the same city will spend $4,127.

Let’s take a look at how Raleigh residents spend their money on recreation and entertainment.

Fitness Costs in Raleigh

  • Quick description about the benefits of staying fit/describing the city’s many fitness options
  • Detail the cost of fitness (data from Numbeo)
  • $36.07 monthly gym membership

Parks in Raleigh

For many Raleigh residents, the weather often warrants outdoor time. That’s why the city operates such extensive parks and recreation sector that manages thousands of acres of green space.

One of the most popular parks in Raleigh is Pullen Park. This 66.4-acre park offers various entertainment opportunities, including pedal boats, picnic areas, a carousel, fountains, and outdoor classes.

That said, there are a ton of other public parks in Raleigh. The Raleigh public park directory can help you choose a park near your chosen neighborhood.

Head to a North Carolina Museum

If you’re into educational outings, check out the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and its many exhibits, including whale bones, a 3D theater, a tropical dart frog exhibit, and more.

The museum offers free general admission to all (though donations are gladly accepted and encouraged). It’s a great way to save your budget and not lose out on entertainment opportunities.

Other Expenses to Consider in Raleigh

Creating your Raleigh budget means considering hidden expenses. In this city, taxes are the name of the hidden costs game. Here’s what you need to know about the other costs to consider when moving to Raleigh.

  • Income Tax: North Carolina levies a fast rate income tax of 5.25%. If you’re moving from one of the few states without an income tax, this will certainly be an expense to prepare for.
  • Sales Tax: The combined state and local sales tax rate is 7.25%.
  • Property Tax: Raleigh has recently raised property taxes to 37.3 cents per $100 valuation. This may not directly impact renters, but it may indirectly cause rent rates to rise.

It’s crucial to take taxes into account when you’re moving to a new state. You may end up earning much less than

The Bureau of Labor Statistics sets the average Raleigh resident’s income at $56,720 annually. However, this average is not an accurate measure of the amount you should earn to live comfortably in Raleigh.

As a general rule, housing costs should not exceed 30% of your income to live comfortably.

Using Raleigh’s $1,528 median two-bedroom rent price as an example, one should earn at least $5,093 per month before taxes.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have all the financial information you need to make a successful move to Raleigh, you can begin your apartment hunt.

Get started by taking our quiz to find your new Raleigh dream home.

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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