Cost of Living in Charlotte North Carolina 2020 (for a single person and family of 4)

Dated: September 25 2020

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Cost of Living in Charlotte North Carolina 2020 (for a single person and family of 4)


Hi there, are you doing your research before moving to Charlotte North Carolina?  That’s a good idea to get a realistic view of how much your paycheck will go. So today I will be talking about the cost of living in Charlotte North Carolina. Don’t go away, we’re starting right now.

My name is Lynn Alvarez, a Realtor with The Ally Group of eXp Realty in Charlotte Carolina.

We get a lot of calls from people who are thinking of moving and relocating to Charlotte NC and one of the many questions we are getting is, “What’s the cost of living in Charlotte?” or “Can we afford to live in Charlotte?”

So, here you go… let’s talk about the cost of living in Charlotte North Carolina. There are several factors that drive the cost of living in a city.  However, first, we’ll look at the U.S. cost of living index. The average value on the U.S. cost of living index is 100.  By comparison, Charlotte has a value of only 77.97 on the cost of living index, well below the national average.

Instead of detailing the cost of housing, transportation, healthcare, etc. I will take a different approach to illustrate the cost of living in Charlotte.  Let’s have 2 scenarios, so it is more realistic and easy for you to visualize how far your current paycheck will take you.

Let’s say a single person - well let’s call her Ana - just moved to Charlotte and started a full-time job as a Marketing Rep in a tech company, making $45,000 a year.

Ana needs to find an apartment near Uptown Charlotte where her new job is located.  Homes or apartments around Uptown Charlotte, South Park or the Myers Park area are a little bit higher than on the outskirts of Charlotte. Ana is a millennial so she wants to be close to her job, will be able to go shopping near the popular high-end South Park Mall and because she’s new to the area, she wants to be close to places to meet new friends.

Ana finds a very nice luxury one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,150 a month and within walking distance to Harris Teeter Supermarket, Whole Foods, her gym and just 3 blocks away from her new office. Water is included in the rent, so she’ll have to pay for the monthly bill for electricity, gas and able and internet which total $175. Power and gas are very cheap in Charlotte. The big expense for utilities is cable and internet.

Ana doesn’t cook much and eats fast food for lunch and once in a while makes a simple dinner. If her average lunch is $9/day, her monthly lunch expense on work days is $180. She goes to a supermarket for her household basic needs, breakfast and dinner. She spends around $190 a month.

Her car insurance for a Hyundai Sonata is $300 every 6 months.  She doesn’t drive a lot and gasses up twice a month. Currently, the gas in Charlotte is $1.99/gallon, so she’s spending around $75 per month.

Although Ana’s apartment has a fitness center, she still goes to a neighborhood gym which is very affordable, like $15 per month.

Ana’s company provides health insurance to all employees. However, employees still have to pay part of the premium, let’s say $100 per month taken from her paycheck.

Ana has new friends now that she goes out with on some weekends. They go to a restaurant, a bar or some live concerts in Charlotte.  She spends around $250 per month on entertainment and having fun with friends. She’s a millennial who wants to hang out with friends.

She loves shopping for a new wardrobe and shoes once a month. She has great taste for nice clothes and spends around $300 a month.

Remember, the salary she’s getting is pre-tax, so out of $3,750 gross salary her monthly take-home pay is $2,851.

It looks like Ana will save almost $400 a month based on this scenario, but she could save more if she manages the controllable factors such as the rent, lunch, entertainment and shopping. To save more money, Ana needs to find an apartment outside of Uptown Charlotte for around $950 a month and she should pack lunch instead of going out, limit going out with friends and avoiding frequent shopping.

Let’s proceed to the second scenario, a family of four.

Greg and Linda Jones moved from Los Angeles, California two years ago and settled in the Southwest side of Charlotte North Carolina. They have a 7-year old son who goes to a highly-rated public elementary school and a 4-year old daughter that Linda drop offs every morning to her daycare center. Greg works as an Engineer in the Ballantyne area while Linda is an Accountant near Uptown Charlotte.  Their combined income is $150,000 pre-tax.

They bought a new construction home with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3,500 sq. ft in a beautiful community called The Palisades for $450,000. The Palisades is an amenity-rich community and close to shopping centers, schools, medical facilities and Lake Wylie. The biggest expense as you know is housing. Depending on the amount of your home loan, your monthly mortgage can vary from $2,000 to $3,000 a month. Most lenders will escrow the property taxes and insurance, so they will be added to the principal and interest.  The couple’s mortgage is $2,500 per month.

The tax value of their home is $410,000 and the property tax they paid last year (2019) was $3,567 which is .87% of the assessed value. Their HOA dues are $263 per quarter with amenities the whole family can enjoy like the club house, fitness center, outdoor pool, picnic area, playground, sidewalk, tennis courts, and walking trails.

Their monthly utility bills: Water is $120/month during the summer months because they run an irrigation system, otherwise it is $55/month when the irrigation system is not in use.  Garbage collection bill is $23 per month.  Electric is higher in the summer due to A/C use: it can go from $54/month to $175/month depending on the thermostat setting. Overall, the average power bill is around $107/month. The Joneses have a gas stove and oven. Winter in the Carolinas is very mild and so heating up a house is not such a big expense. The gas bill ranges from $17.65 to $204 and the average is $88 per month. Cable and high-speed internet are $191 per month. This is something that you can negotiate with your provider when you set up an account with them. The couple hired a guy to mow their lawn every 2 weeks and that is $45.  Most new communities here in Charlotte have Bermuda grass which is low maintenance and does not require weekly cutting. Leave your comment below if you have any questions about utilities, lawn maintenance, etc.

Linda drops off their daughter on her way to work. They pay $250 per week for child daycare. Greg drops off their son to the elementary school near The Palisades. It’s a public school so it’s free.

Their car insurance is $650 every 6 months and their gas bill is about $257 per month. With the current economic situation, the price of gas in Charlotte is $1.89 to $2.09 per gallon.  Having a car is a must, but we also have great public transportation here in Charlotte such as buses and trains.

Luckily, Greg’s company covers their health insurance premium so no monthly contribution is taking out of his paycheck except for doctor’s office visits and deductible.

Greg and Linda love to take their children to restaurants for a family night-out.  Aside from the national chain of restaurants, Charlotte and its suburbs have many local restaurants to enjoy delicious foods from Asian cuisine to the famous Carolina bbq.  For a family of 4, the usual check here in Charlotte is about $58 with tips.  Leave a comment below if you want a list of local restaurants in Charlotte.

Grocery shopping in a local supermarket is necessary for a family of growing children. It depends on your meal planning. You can spend $75 to 100 a week with all your basic needs such as milk - $2.99/gal, sandwich bread is $2.69, 12-pack large eggs is $1.89, Angus beef is $6.99/lb. Of course, it depends on the brand that you prefer and if they are on sale, you can save even more. Leave a comment below if you want links to local supermarkets in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.

Now that you’ve seen the typical cost of living for a family of four, you now have an idea how it is to live in the Greater Charlotte.

Let’s do a recap of what I’ve just presented to you, shall we?

The biggest expense is housing, covering at least 45% of household expenses. According to the Charlotte Realtors Association for the month of August 2020, the median home price in Charlotte is $293,250, which is typically a 3-bedroom, 2.5 baths house of 2,000 sq. ft. If you go to the suburbs of Charlotte, Huntersville, for example, the median price is $356,500 or in Waxhaw, the median price is $458,750. 

For people renting an apartment, one-bedroom apartments range from $850 to $1,350 depending on the location and amenities. You can also find homes for rent with at least a one-year lease term. This one just rented for $2,395 with 5 bedrooms, 4 full bath and 2,825 sq. ft. Depending on the location, size and age of the house, you can get a 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath house of 2,581 sq. ft for $1,975.

Now, let’s talk about property taxes. The property tax in Charlotte and the cities in Mecklenburg County range from .87% to .98% of the tax value.  For example, if you buy a house for $300,000 with a tax value of $280,000 your property taxes would be between $2,436 and $2,744.

The utilities cover the water, garbage collection, electricity, and gas. Based on my illustration for a family of 4, the total bill on utilities is less than $500 a month.

Gas in Charlotte right now is very affordable. $1.89 to $2.09 per gallon. As far as car insurance, it depends on your zip code, driving record, type and year of car. In my illustration earlier, the couple have 2 decent cars and pay $1,300 a year for car insurance.

Currently in North Carolina, food consumers pay the local 2% sales tax on most groceries, and the full 6.75% combined state/local rate on certain items including candy, soda, “prepared foods” and dietary supplements.

Alright, what do you think about the cost of living in Charlotte? Let’s do an analysis: I’d like to use Los Angeles, California for comparison because that’s where we come from.

For the Joneses who are making a combined $150,000 a year, they need to make $275,000 per year if they go back to Los Angeles to keep up with their expenses.  Although I don’t believe they will be able to buy a nice home there just like what they have now in Charlotte, NC.

For Ana, she has to find a job that would pay her $82,282 a year in Los Angeles to maintain the standard of living that she currently enjoys in Charlotte. The average rent in Los Angeles for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,000 depending on the location. It’s not anytime soon that she’ll be able to afford to own a home in L.A.

Do you have any questions about the cost of living in Charlotte North Carolina? Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about living in Charlotte NC.  Are you thinking of moving to Charlotte?

Once again, my name is Lynn Alvarez, a Realtor with The Ally Group of eXp Realty in Charlotte North Carolina. If you have any questions about living in Charlotte, moving to Charlotte or anything about the topic on cost of living in charlotte in 2020 for a single person or for a family of four, please call or text me at 704-975-2429 or you can just email me at

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