Thinking about moving to the Southeast? Affordable homes, Southern hospitality, beautiful weather, and comfort food await! Here are nine of the best places to live in the Southeast based on housing prices, crime rates, employment opportunities, and fun local amenities!
- Alpharetta, GA
- Charlotte, NC
- Franklin, TN
- Greenville, SC
- Huntsville, AL
- Mount Pleasant, SC
- Nashville, TN
- Raleigh, NC
- Tampa, FL
- Population: 63,013
- Home Price: $344,100 median purchase price; $1,222 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 63% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
The vibrant city of Alpharetta is a suburb of Atlanta about 30 minutes outside of the city, providing easy commutes and safe, affordable living outside of ATL. Here, you’ll find housing options ranging from budget-friendly apartments to lakeside homes on Lake Windward, as well as top-rated schools like Lake Windward Elementary School, Webb Bridge Middle School, and Alpharetta High School. Thanks to Alpharetta’s strong job market, locals can find employment opportunities with top Alpharetta employers like Halyard Health, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, and Thyssenkrupp Elevator. In addition, residents can take advantage of the city’s great shopping, dining, and annual events like Taste of Alpharetta and Alpharetta Arts Streetfest.
Things to Do in Alpharetta
See local productions of musicals like Little Shop of Horrors or attend Theater in the Park to see Shakespearean works at Act 1 Theater. Gather for outdoor concerts featuring groups like Dave Matthews Band or watch the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre. Go for a jog, try roller blading, or bike the 8.2-mile trail at The Big Creek Greenway. Gather every Friday night from April through October to catch live music from Atlanta-based country artists and ’80s rock bands at Avalon Nights Live. Chow down on Southern-inspired dishes like Potlikker Pasta, Country Captain Chicken, or George Bank Scallops at South Main Kitchen. Dig into Crawfish Mac & Cheese, a Bayou Salad, or Gumbo while sampling any of the dozens of bourbon offerings at Flatlands Bourbon & Bayou. Try award-winning Southern-style BBQ favorites like Fried Pickles, a Chopped Beef Brisket sandwich, or Pork Ribs at Smokejack BBQ. Or savor flavorful Italian cuisine like Penne Pomodoro, Baked Ziti, or a Blanco Pizza at Crust Pasta & Pizzeria.
- Population: 808,834
- Home Price: $178,000 median purchase price; $966 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 5% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
The city of Charlotte isn’t just one of the best places to live in the Southeast—it’s one of the best places to live in the U.S.! Not only does the Queen City offer warm weather, an affordable cost of living, and Southern hospitality, but it also has a booming job market. Known as a hot spot for the financial industry, Charlotte ranks among New York City and San Francisco as one of the largest banking centers in the country. Banking giants like Wells Fargo have major offices here, and Bank of America is the city’s second-largest employer with its headquarters in the heart of downtown. As far as housing, you can find everything from high-rise condos and townhomes near Uptown Charlotte to cozy bungalows and Colonial-style homes outside the city center!
Things to Do in Charlotte
Check out some of the most famous race cars in the history of the sport, sign your kids up for summer camp, or fulfill your need for speed in the racing simulator at NASCAR Hall of Fame. Hit the high ropes course, learn how to whitewater raft, or get your adrenaline fix mountain biking through more than 50 miles of forest trails at U.S. National Whitewater Center. Bring the family for a fun and educational day at Discovery Place Science where you can explore the indoor rainforest or watch captivating experiments up close at a live science show. See art collections from Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and more at Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Order Braised Boneless Beef Short Rib, NC Shrimp & Lobster Linguine, or Pan Roasted Joyce Farms Chicken at Dressler’s. Get your seafood fix at Sea Level with a bowl of Clam Chowder, Southern Fried Oysters, a Fall Harvest Salmon Salad, or a Lobster Roll. Or start off with the Goat Cheese & Mascarpone Dip before digging into a Chicken Oreganata Pizza or Tonarelli Carbonara at Mama Ricotta’s.
- Population: 70,625
- Home Price: $342,900 median purchase price; $1,221 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 62% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 3%
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, consider living in the Nashville suburb of Franklin! Even though Franklin is smaller than Nashville, residents will still have plenty of things to do! Downtown Franklin in particular has a variety of shops, restaurants, and fun events and festivals like Main Street Festival and Dickens of a Christmas for locals to enjoy. But that’s not all Franklin has to offer its residents! The city’s job market is another perk, with opportunities among big employers like Community Health Systems, Nissan North America, and Acadia Healthcare. There are also great local schools like Liberty Elementary School, Freedom Middle School, and Franklin High School!
Things to Do in Franklin
Visit Lotz House, which served as a makeshift hospital during The Civil War—visitors have even claimed to experience paranormal activity there! Stock up on fruits, veggies, baked goods, and more at The Franklin Farmers Market. Catch a dance performance or watch a movie at the restored Franklin Theatre. Go fishing, swimming, canoeing, or kayaking on the Harpeth River, which has several access points in Franklin. Check out the unique Double Arch Bridge along Natchez Trace Parkway. Book a tour at Leiper’s Fork Distillery, where you can sample spirits like the Old Natchez White Whiskey, Colonel Hunter’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, or Leiper’s Fork Premium Rye. Stop for brunch at Eat 55, where you can try the Chicken & Waffles or Huevos Rancheros. Savor Irish dishes like Pork Bangers & Mash, Corned Beef & Hash with an assortment of Irish whiskeys and beers at McCreary’s Irish Pub & Eatery. Or get a hearty meal built around Southern-style biscuits with dishes like the Southern Benny or Biscuit & Sausage Gravy at Biscuit Love.
- Population: 62,776
- Home Price: $237,800 median purchase price; $832 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Thinking of moving to the Palmetto State? You’ll want to check out Greenville, one of the best places to live in South Carolina! This Southeastern city offers affordable living, fun outdoor amenities, delicious local cuisine, and good schools. If you’re looking to put down roots, Greenville real estate has a range of options, including Craftsman-style ranches, traditional brick homes, bungalows, and Colonial-style houses. Whether you’re looking to jump-start your career or continue in your current field, you can find work with some of the area’s largest employers like Prisma Health, Greenville County Schools, and Michelin North America. And when it’s time to relax, you can spend time in charming Downtown Greenville, a pedestrian-friendly area that offers a free trolley to help you get around!
Things to Do in Greenville
See animals from across the globe like red pandas, giraffes, lions, and more at Greenville Zoo. Spend the night camping under the stars, go fishing, or take a canoe or kayak out on the water at Paris Mountain State Park. Take in views of Downtown Greenville and the Reedy River from the unique and sculptural Liberty Bridge or stroll through dozens of small blooming gardens in Falls Park. Walk or bike the 22 miles of scenic Swamp Rabbit Trails along the Reedy River. Savor Mediterranean flavors with entrees like Moroccan Lamb, a Falafel Bowl, or Mediterranean Fried Chicken—and save room for Loukamades for dessert—at The Lazy Goat. Order Belgian fare like Sautéed Duck Breast, Steak Frites, or Carbonades Flamandes paired with a Gulden Draak beer at The Trappe Door. Or if you’re looking for more of a classic Southern culinary experience, try out Charleston Shrimp & Grits, Louisiana Catfish, or Marinated Beef Tips at Sassafras Southern Bistro.
- Population: 188,973
- Home Price: $168,900 median purchase price; $750 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 20% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 5.1%
If you want an affordable place to live in the Southeast, consider Huntsville! This Alabama city offers affordable real estate with Mid-Century Modern ranches and Colonial two-story homes, as well as a great cost of living. Huntsville is an ideal place for families to live, thanks to Huntsville City Schools, which has several schools ranked among the best in Alabama. Known as Rocket City, Huntsville also provides job opportunities in aerospace and defense with institutions like NASA, the FBI, and U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. And with ample green space at spots like Monte Sano State Park and Big Spring International Park, residents will never run out of things to do!
Things to Do in Huntsville
Try the flight simulator, sign your family up for astronaut training, or visit the Intuitive Planetarium at U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Learn about wetlands or go bird-watching while exploring the 112-acre garden at Huntsville Botanical Garden. Discover more about World War I, see different types of military vehicles, and view war memorabilia from the Revolutionary War at U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum. Drive through Harmony Park Safari to check out zebras, antelope, buffalo, and more. Head out to a ball game at Toyota Field, where you can root for the Rocket City Trash Pandas (MiLB). Grab a Black Angus Filet, Purveyor Burger, or Roasted Half Chick for dinner at Purveyor. Find Cajun favorites like Ettouffee, Fried Catfish, and Blackened Grouper at Po Boy Factory. Or enjoy German delicacies like Sauerbraten, Pork Schnitzel, or Veal Cordon Bleu with a side of Spätzle while sipping on a Spaten Lager at Hildegard’s German Cuisine.
Mount Pleasant, SC
- Population: 77,907
- Home Price: $393,800 median purchase price; $1,403 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 67% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Just ten minutes outside of Charleston, the South Carolina coastal city of Mount Pleasant is a popular place for families to live! Mount Pleasant offers incredible schools like Mount Pleasant Academy and Moultrie Middle School, as well as sprawling suburban housing options that are perfect for growing families. But Mount Pleasant is more than just a great place for families to live! With amazing year-round weather, beach access via Isle of Palms County Park or Sullivan’s Island, and excellent dining throughout the area, Mount Pleasant is also a top destination for young professionals and retirees who want to live close to Charleston.
Things to Do in Mount Pleasant
Check out Charles Pinckney National Historic Site on Snee Farm, which was once the home of the forgotten author of the U.S. Constitution. Tour the USS Yorktown and USS Laffey while learning more about naval history at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Become a member at Snee Farm Country Club, where you can sign up for golf lessons, play a game of tennis, or just spend a day at the pool. Go on a jog, cast out your line, or take a stroll while soaking up the views of the Charleston Harbor at Pitt Street Bridge Park. Get your fill of Southern home-cooked dishes like Fried Green Tomatoes, Ashleigh’s Famous Shrimp & Grits, or Country Fried Steak at Page’s Okra Grill. Order a Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread, Steak Frites, or a Bison Burger paired with a Black & Blue Mule while overlooking the Shem Creek at Tavern & Table. Or head to Red’s Ice House for Red’s Rockin’ Crab Dip, a Crabby Patty, or the Lowcountry Boil.
- Population: 643,771
- Home Price: $174,600 median purchase price; $902 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Not only is Nashville known for its country music roots, but this Tennessee city also has a reputation for being one of the best places to live in America, thanks to its balance of amenities and affordable living! As one of the best U.S. cities for real estate, Nashville has everything from Craftsman-style bungalows to two-story Victorians and Colonials. The city also boasts an excellent higher education scene, with some of the best colleges and universities in the South, including Tennessee State University, Belmont University, and Vanderbilt University. And with a strong festival culture that includes Nashville Oktoberfest, CMA Fest, and Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, you’ll always have something to look forward to while living in Nashville!
Things to Do in Nashville
Learn about the history of country music and explore a collection of over 30,000 country music films and videos dating back to the 1920s at Country Music Hall of Fame. See up-and-coming artists perform at the intimate 90-seat Bluebird Cafe. Get tickets to watch top country musical acts perform at the historic Grand Ole Opry. Cheer on pro sports teams like the Nashville Predators (NHL) and Tennessee Titans (NFL). Walk the steps of the famous Parthenon replica, play sand volleyball, spend some time in the sunken garden, and see historical monuments at the 132-acre Centennial Park. Fill up on comfort food like Mac & Cheese or the All-American Burger while drinking mason jar cocktails at The Stillery. Visit the birthplace of Nashville Hot Chicken, Hattie B’s, for a Hot Chicken Sandwich at “Shut the Cluck Up” heat level! Or fill up on plant-based dishes like a Wild Reuben or Chipotle Seitan Tacos at The Wild Cow.
- Population: 441,326
- Home Price: $218,200 median purchase price; $966 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 43% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
There are many reasons why North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh, is a great place to live in the Southeast. From its growing downtown area to its abundant outdoor recreation and affordable housing, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy living in Raleigh! As part of the Research Triangle along with neighboring cities Chapel Hill and Durham, Raleigh is home to some of the best employers in the area, including IBM, Cisco Systems, and Lenovo. And if you’re a sports fan, Raleigh might be a perfect fit for you, as it’s recognized as one of the sportiest cities in the U.S. In addition, you’ll love living in the City of Oaks for its fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities at William B. Umstead State Park and Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest.
Things to Do in Raleigh
Check out North Carolina Museum of Art, where you can see unique exhibitions like Golden Mummies of Egypt. See prehistoric beasts, explore the deep sea, or watch a film at the WRAL 3D Theater at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Ride the ferris wheel, listen to live music, compete in horse shows or livestock competitions, and eat delicious fair food at North Carolina State Fair. Find a wide selection of shops, excellent dining options, and events like the Farmer’s Market or Wellness Wednesday at North Hills. Experience Lebanese flavors with Baba Ghanouj, Kafta Kabob, or Curried Lamb Stew at Sitti. Make your way to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey for comfort food like Fried Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, and Crispy Carolina Catfish. Dine on Italian-American dishes like Gnocchi or Spaghetti Alla Carbonara at Gravy. Or try the Skirt Steak Fajitas with a Basil-Lime Margarita at Salt & Lime Cabo Grill.
- Population: 361,477
- Home Price: $172,100 median purchase price; $983 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 30% of U.S. cities
- Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
Considering moving to Florida? Check out the bayside city of Tampa! The Big Guava has been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., thanks to its low unemployment rate and affordable housing options. With large Mediterranean-style homes and award-winning schools like MacFarlane Park Elementary School, Wilson Middle School, and Plant High School, Tampa is a hot spot for families. It’s also an ideal city for military retirees, as the city offers close proximity to MacDill Air Force Base, plus there’s no state income tax! In addition, this Florida city is home to an abundance of golf courses, parks, and lakes, and it’s just a short drive away from the beaches of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, so there’s always a way to have fun outdoors!
Things to Do in Tampa
Take a wild dolphin cruise, watch the jellyfish in Moon Bay, touch a Cownose Ray at Stingray Beach, and more at The Florida Aquarium. Spend a day on a safari to interact with sloths and giraffes, get your high-speed thrills on rollercoasters like Cobra’s Curse and Falcon’s Fury, or free fall on the Wild Surge drop tower at Busch Gardens. Root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) at Raymond James Stadium, catch a Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) baseball game at Tropicana Field, or get loud for the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) at Amalie Arena. Book a tee time for 18 holes or sign up for golf lessons at the award-winning Pebble Creek Golf Club. Order classic Indian dishes like Tandoori Lamb Boti Kebob or Chicken Tikka at Flames Indian Cuisine. Eat Native American-inspired dishes like Native Chili made with alligator, wild boar, duck, and venison at Ulele. Or chow down on BBQ favorites like a Half Slab of Ribs or Sparky’s Pulled Pork Sandwich with Ericka’s Spicy Collard Greens on the side at Al’s Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que.
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City statistics from AreaVibes