10 Largest Cities in North Carolina

By PropertyClub Team
Jan 27th 2024
Famous for its natural beauty and diverse culture, North Carolina is a popular state among retirees, college kids, and vacationers. Here is a look at the top ten largest cities in NC by population and what you need to know about living in the Tar Heel State. 

hash-mark10 Largest Cities in North Carolina (2024)

  1. Charlotte
  2. Raleigh
  3. Greensboro
  4. Durham
  5. Winston-Salem
  6. Fayetteville
  7. Cary
  8. Wilmington
  9. High Point
  10. Concord

hash-mark1. Charlotte (Population: 888,655)

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina, with a population of 888,655. Charlotte is located in Mecklenburg County and is also the state’s main financial and cultural hub. Due to its fantastic weather, a wide variety of job opportunities, and affordable living, the Charlotte metropolitan area has been attracting many new residents in recent years. Concord, which is just 30 minutes outside Charlotte, is home to the Charlotte motor speedway, and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US.

Charlotte is the second-largest banking sector in the country and home to the headquarters of Bank of America and Truist Financial. The city also boasts several major sports teams, world-renown museums, amusement parks, and other attractions. So those searching for excitement and a calm pace of life will love Charlotte. 

hash-mark2. Raleigh (Population: 474,240)

With 474,240 residents, Raleigh is the second-biggest city in North Carolina by population. It's also the state's capital. Known as “the City of Oaks,” Raleigh is famous for its gorgeous Oak trees that line the city streets. It is also the largest city in the Research Triangle region of Piedmont County, an area home to three major research universities; North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina.

Industries like financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, food processing, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals support the local economy. So those searching for educational opportunities and scenic beauty will feel right at home in Raleigh.  

hash-mark3. Greensboro (Population: 299,282)

Greensboro is also one of the biggest cities in North Carolina and the largest in the Piedmont Triad metropolitan region – which also includes nearby cities of Winston-Salem and High Point. The city has many notable attractions, including the Greensboro Science Center, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the International Civil Rights Museum.

The economy of the Piedmont Triad is primarily centered around textiles, tobacco, and furniture, and several major companies are headquartered in Greensboro, including Honda Aircraft, HAECO, and ITG Brands. Although Greensboro has a strong economy and great weather, the city suffers from high crime rates, and is one of the most dangerous cities in North Carolina to live in. 

hash-mark4. Durham (Population: 285,527)

Durham is another one of the major cities in North Carolina. It is the second largest city in the Research Triangle and the fourth largest in the state overall. It’s known for being the home of Duke University and North Carolina Central University, making it a major powerhouse in the Research Triangle Region. The universities are also significant contributors to the economy, and the Duke University Health System is the largest employer in the community, as well as a national leader in healthcare. Durham is a laidback city with a young, diverse population offering a thriving restaurant scene and plenty of opportunity for higher education. 

hash-mark5. Winston-Salem (Population: 250,320)

Winston-Salem is another one of the biggest cities in North Carolina by population as well as being the second-largest in the Piedmont Triad. It’s a laidback college town home to several prominent universities, including Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem University, and UNC School of Arts. Winston-Salem offers all the benefits of living in a small town with the amenities of a big city. With a median property value of $260,000, it’s very affordable and has a stable economy supported by the textile and tobacco industries. 

hash-mark6. Fayetteville (Population: 208,778)

Fayetteville is a city in Cumberland County in the southcentral region of the state. It’s notable for being the home of Fort Bragg, one of the largest army bases in the United States, with over 50,000 military personnel. The Department of Defense is the city’s largest employer, followed by the Cape Fear Valley Health System and Cumberland County Public School System.

Outside of the military base, Fayetteville is also an affordable city in a convenient location with easy access to nearby mountain ranges and beaches via I-95. Fayetteville is one of the most affordable cities in North Carolina, with a median home price of only $203,200.  

hash-mark7. Cary (Population: 176,987)

Cary is a large city in Wake and Chatham counties, considered part of the Raleigh metropolitan area. It offers a small-town ambiance with plenty of amenities and job opportunities. Several technology companies have a presence in Cary, including ABB, Epic Games, and Lockheed Martin 3D Solutions. It also features a very low crime rate, and is one of the safest places to live in North Carolina. In 2021, the FBI even named Cary the safest mid-sized city in the country.

hash-mark8. Wilmington (Population: 117,643)

Wilmington is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean, situated along the state’s southern coast. The city is known for its sandy beaches, mild weather, and bustling boardwalk. It’s also home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios, the largest film and television studio outside of Hollywood, which has produced major films like Iron Man 3, The Conjuring, and Sleepy Hollow. Outside of media, the local economy is also supported by industries like industrial manufacturing, food processing, nuclear fuel, and pharmaceuticals. So those searching for a quiet beach town with an abundance of opportunity will love Wilmington. 

hash-mark9. High Point (Population: 114,086)

High Point is a city in the Piedmont Triad and the 9th largest in the state by population. Known as the “Home Furnishings Capital of the World,” High Point is a major global producer of furniture and hosts a bi-annual trade show that is visited by furniture makers from around the globe. Beyond furniture, it also offers a diverse economy supported by logistics, banking, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and more. Plus, High Point is a great place to raise a family, with a low crime rate, affordable housing, and friendly neighbors. 

hash-mark10. Concord (Population: 112,971)

Concord is also one of the largest cities in North Carolina. Concord is a located in Cabarrus County in the southwestern part of the state. The city is home to some of the state’s top tourist attractions, including NASCAR’s Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Concord Mills Shopping Mall. The city also has a beautiful historic downtown with great restaurants, shopping, golf courses, water parks, and more. With a stable economy and a median property value of $362,000, Concord is a great place to live, with easy access to some of the best of what North Carolina has to offer.