37. Cary, N.C.

Young woman kayaking on forest river, Cary, North Carolina, USA
Corey Jenkins—Getty Images/Image Source Enjoying the great outdoors in Cary, North Carolina.
AT A GLANCE
Population 154,588
Median Home Price $319,000
Property Tax $3,168
Unemployment rate 4.3%
Commute time 22 minutes

Situated just outside of Raleigh, Cary is a bedroom community with easy access to the shops, sports, and entertainment of a bigger city. And while living outside and away from the city might seem like a hassle, this distance comes with perks. A solid schooling system, a safer community, and increased opportunities for job growth mean living in the smaller town pays off. Located between Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, Cary offers easy access to NC State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. There are also major employers based in the smaller town, like SAS, which employs over 5,000, or sectors of companies like Fidelity or Verizon.

Cary also has some of its own attractions, with over 80 miles of greenways and a massive nature preserve. Regular seasonal festivals, like a bluegrass series or Chinese lantern festival contribute to the community camaraderie. The town is also home to the North Carolina Symphony in the summer, which lights up the town with outdoor concerts in warm weather. Side-swept suburb this is not.

Jobs are expected to skyrocket in the next five years, at a rate of 11.3%. It’s also relatively affordable, with median home prices of $319,000 and average property taxes of $3,168.

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