Settled on the historic Cape Fear River, Fayetteville is an up-and-coming mid-sized city in southeastern North Carolina. Located along Interstate 95, halfway between New York and Miami, the city has countless people and products pass by it every day. However, if you venture off the highway, you’ll find a revitalized downtown, budding art and music scenes, and well-established suburbs with lush greenspace and parks.
While its roots as a trade hub trace back 265 years, Fayetteville has since been anchored by the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world. Fort Bragg is the area’s largest employer and adds 55,000 soldiers and dependents to the city’s population. Other big-name employers, like Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Walmart Distribution, have aided in strengthening the city’s economy. Fayetteville lures new residents with its cultural diversity, low cost of living, affordable housing prices, year-round festivals, and exciting outdoor recreation. You can look forward to an excellent quality of life in Fayetteville.
Living in Fayetteville, NC: What to Know Before Moving to Fayetteville
Fayetteville, in Cumberland County, NC, is a military town filled with history museums, monuments, fighter jet flyovers, and 209,890 diverse residents. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement all made marks on the city’s heritage. Today, redevelopment is revitalizing Downtown and creating an eclectic vibrant city.
Pros and Cons of Living in Fayetteville
Every city has features that some people love, while others can’t abide by them. Check out Fayetteville’s pros and cons:
- Affordable housing: Fayetteville is one of the most buyer-friendly markets in the US.
- Diversity: The local population is 40.1 percent African-American, 40.7% White, and 10.9% Hispanic/Latino.
- Proximity to beaches and mountains: Get ready for weekend getaways – the beach is an hour and 45 minutes east, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are 3 hours and 45 minutes west.
- Up-and-coming downtown: Artisan eateries, great theater, and a shiny new minor league baseball stadium are helping to rebrand the crime-ridden urban center.
- Recreation: Nature preserves, historic golf courses, and wild environments provide plenty of outdoor activities.
- Crime: Violent and property crimes are well above the national averages, though improvements are underway.
- Job growth: Job growth is sluggish at just over 1% annually.
- Watch your step: Outside of Downtown, walkable areas are at a premium in driving-dependent Fayetteville.
- The military can be loud: Though many consider it a part of the city’s charm, you can often hear explosives and artillery fire echoing from the nearby military bases.
- The summers: Oppressive heat, sweltering humidity, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes make for challenging summer weather.
- Property Tax: At 1.123%, Fayetteville property tax is relatively high, coming in above both the statewide (.856%) and national (1.080%) averages.
- Sales Tax: Fayetteville residents pay 7% sales tax, a combined rate of 4.75% to the state and 2.25% to Cumberland County.
- State Income Tax: North Carolina has a flat state income tax rate of 5.25%, which dropped in 2019 from 5.49%.
You won’t find many more affordable housing markets than Fayetteville’s. As of January 2020, zillow.com reported the median home value was $121,427, while the median price of sold homes was $129,400. The median age of Fayetteville properties is 31 years, so this buyer-friendly area is sure to have its share of fixer-uppers.
In April 2019, Fayetteville was listed as one of ten top US cities, among 175, at risk of a housing crash. Almost 27% of mortgages are ‘underwater.’ One benefit of this precarious market is that you may be able to find a cheap foreclosed property, but the downside is that housing prices may fall to the point that you’ll lose equity or also go ‘underwater.’
If you’ll prefer to rent, as of January 2020, zilow.com reported a median rent price of $950 as compared to $962 nationally. With such renter-friendly rates, plus the town’s proximity to Fort Bragg, it’s little wonder that 44.2% of the city’s population consists of renters.
Cost of Living
Given Fayetteville’s affordable housing market, it’s not surprising that the city’s cost of living is well below the US average. According to bestplaces.net, the Fayetteville cost of living index is 80.9, almost 20% lower than the national average index of 100.
The housing index, at 44.8, is less than half the nation’s average. Groceries are 94, healthcare is 118.2, utilities 98.4, transportation 77.1, and miscellaneous costs (repairs, insurances, eating out, etc.) are 105.7.
However, in Fayetteville, the low cost of living also means low earning potential; the epi.org Family Budget Calculator estimates that a Fayetteville family of four needs to earn $85,364 per year, or $7,114 per month, to achieve a moderately comfortable lifestyle. The family median income in Fayetteville is $50,884, considerably less than the US average of $70,850.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Fayetteville offers four mild seasons throughout the year in a humid subtropical climate zone. Spring and fall are by far the most livable, with temps bouncing between 60°F and 70°F. Even the winters are mild compared to much of the country – January, the coldest month, sees average lows of 31°F and average highs of 53°F, followed by December’s average low of 33°F and average high of 56°F. While it happens infrequently, don’t be surprised to get a snow or ice event once in a while.
July is the hottest month with an average daily high of 90°F, and, like most of the south, that means high humidity and thunderstorms. Of the 45 inches of annual rainfall, July with 5.35 inches and August with 5.55 inches, are the wettest months.
Fayetteville is prone to severe natural disasters. A 2015 article in USA Today reported that Fayetteville had the most dangerous natural disasters in the US thanks to a history of hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. Be sure to review the personal preparedness information on the City of Fayetteville’s Emergency Management page.
Economy & Job Market
The 5.5% unemployment rate is higher than the 3.9% US average, and job growth in 2019 was 1%. Over the next ten years, projections predict job growth of 30.2%, a bit lower than the US average of 33.5%.
The main industrial sectors are military, educational services/health care/social assistance, retail trade, arts/entertainment/recreation, accommodation/food services, and public administration. Top employers include the Department of Defense, Walmart, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Cumberland County Schools, and Cape Fear Valley Healthcare Systems.
The highest-paying jobs tend to be the most specialized. Professional, scientific, and technological positions are the best-paid, followed by public administration and utility workers. If you’re looking for work in Fayetteville, be sure to update your resume and practice job interviewing skills. Then check out online job boards like linkedin.com, simplyhired.com, indeeed.com, and others.
Traffic and Transportation
Fayetteville is a car-reliant city due to limited walkable areas and few bike lanes. Walkscore.com graded Fayetteville 21 out of a possible 100 for its walkability, and 33 for biking options.
The Fayetteville Area System of Transit, which runs 21 bus lines throughout the city, provides public transportation. FASTTRAC!, a 16-vehicle paratransit system, provides public transit for disabled commuters.
The average commute in Fayetteville is roughly 18 minutes. Like many old towns, all roads lead to the city’s center, where you’ll find the pedestrian-friendly Downtown. Raeford Road connects a wide swath of the city’s western suburbs to the Downtown area, though many residents prefer to find alternate routes because of heavy traffic. To the north, Bragg Blvd and Murchison Road lead north from Downtown to the military bases and are among the city’s most traffic-choked. However, Highway 295, which encircles the northern half of town, has relieved some of the congestion.
The key to commuting in Fayetteville is learning to avoid two things: Interstate 95 and construction traffic. Recent hurricane damage repair and seemingly endless road-widening projects mean residents are used to seeing and attempting to avoid traffic headaches.
What to Do
For decades, Fayetteville’s main clientele were Fort Bragg soldiers. Still carrying the nickname “Fayettenam,” back in the 1960s, bars and exotic dance clubs took up most of the city’s acreage. These days, the town is more family-friendly, offering a great mix of outdoor activities and historical attractions.
You’ll find 39 park areas in Fayetteville, split between greenways, neighborhood parks, and state properties. Whether you’re looking for hidden gems like the Rockefeller House at nearby Carvers Creek State Park, or a playday alongside the Cape Fear River at Arnette Park, Fayetteville’s parks offer year-round fun. The Cape Fear Botanical Garden and Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex display the area’s cultural heritage.
For those who prefer the indoors, which is everyone in July and August, the town has loads of attractions and military-focused museums like the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, plus several others. For little ones, Fascinate-U Children’s Museum offers a welcome break from war-oriented venues.
And what small southern city would be complete without a minor league baseball team? A rookie league-level affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers play in shiny new Segra Stadium. The ballpark opened in 2019 and is a huge bullet point on the city’s plan to revitalize its downtown area. The craft breweries and eateries popping up around the stadium are a good sign. Sports fans also can find minor-league and semi-professional teams competing in basketball, hockey, racing, and roller derby.
Schools and Universities
Cumberland County School District serves 50,880 students in 88 schools. Like many cities, schools have mixed reviews; according to greatschools.org, Fayetteville has 25 schools rated six or higher on a 1-10 point scale. The highest-rated schools are Jack Britt High School, Cross Creek Early College, John R Griffin Middle, Seventy-First Classical Middle, Howard Health & Life Sciences High School, and Cumberland International Early College High School – all rated 9/10.
For post-secondary education, Fayetteville offers Fayetteville State University, a public four-year school; Carolina College of Biblical Studies, a private, non-profit four-year school; Methodist College, also a private, non-profit four-year school; and Fayetteville Technical Community College, the area’s top two-year public trade and technical school.
A comparison of towns and cities from around the country found that Fayetteville rates above the national average for both violent and property crimes. For violent crimes, Fayetteville is rated 39.1 compared to the national average of 22.7. Property crime checks in at 69.4 compared to the national average of 35.4.
Areas of higher crime include the suburbs of Red Springs, Raeford, and Ashley Heights
Be sure to open your new utility accounts well before your move.
- Gas service: Piedmont Natural Gas. To begin service, call (800) 752-7504 or visit https://cass.piedmontng.com/start.
- Electric service: Fayetteville Public Works Commission. To begin service, call (910) 483-1382 or visit https://www.faypwc.com/establishing-service/.
- Water service: Fayetteville Public Works Commission. To begin service, call (910) 483-1382 or visit https://www.faypwc.com/establishing-service/.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: City of Fayetteville. Trash, recycling and yard waste is picked up weekly in all city neighborhoods—call (910) 433-1329 to open your new account.
- Internet/cable service: Find the best pricing and packages for internet and cable service for your new home. Simply go to highspeedinternet.com, enter your new zip code, and you’ll find the providers who service your new neighborhood.
Best Neighborhoods in Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville’s Cool Spring Downtown District provides a charming urban lifestyle. However, many Fayetteville neighborhoods face high crime rates and below-average school quality. Therefore, you’ll find some of the best communities are in Fayetteville’s suburbs.
Cool Spring Downtown District
Bordered by Grove Street on the north, Old Wilmington Rd on the east, Campbell Ave and Blount St on the south, and Robeson St and Braga Blvd on the west, this historic district is where you’ll want to land if you’re looking for urban charm and excitement. You can find housing in lofts, townhouses, luxury condos, apartments, and some historic single-family homes. Downtown residents, 65% of whom rent, have a strong sense of community and appreciate having convenient amenities right at their doorsteps.
Living in Downtown provides easy walking and cycling throughout the neighborhood. Filled with museums, galleries, boutiques, cafes, coffee houses, and bars, Downtown always has something happening.
4th Friday welcomes city residents to galleries, bookstores, shops, bistros, and bars then during summer months offers free concerts. You’ll be able to enjoy everything that Downtown offers, from the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, held twice a week from early spring to late fall to The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, held every spring. This list of things to do also includes Blues n’ Brews, the Arts Council’s International Folk Festival, Downtown Trick or Treat, and Dickens Holiday. Pierros, Antonella’s Italian Ristorante, and Blue Moon Café are some popular spots with locals. Living in Downtown is fun, convenient, and exciting.
- Population: 17,600
- Median home value: $121,427
- Median rent price: $950
- Schools: Pauline Jones Elementary School, Cumberland Road Elementary School, R Max Abbott Middle School, Massey Hill Classical High School
Located about 12 miles east of Downtown Fayetteville on SR 24, Stedman is a safe community that appeals to families for its highly rated schools and affordable cost of living.
You’ll find housing that ranges from sprawling five-bedroom ranch styles to modest two-bedroom one-story traditional homes. Many homes sit on wooded lots with plenty of space between residences. In Stedman, 74% of residents are homeowners. The cost of living in Stedman is about 9% lower than the US average. Housing is affordable, with home prices 23% lower and rent 20% lower than US averages.
Many residents prefer Stedman’s slower pace of life and find commuting to Fayetteville is easy along SR 24. Some local favorites for coffee or a meal are Good Living Coffee Zone, Stedman Soda Shop Inc, PapaJacks Restaurant, and Baywood Deli and Grill.
- Population: 1,205
- Median home value: $142,400
- Median rent price: $763
- Schools: Stedman Primary School, Stedman Elementary School, Sunnyside Elementary School, Mac Williams Middle School, Cross Creek Early College, Cape Fear High School
Historical Hope Mills is seven miles southwest of Downtown Fayetteville. Unemployment, at 8.6%, is higher than in other suburbs but the public schools are some of the best. Homes range from three to five-bedroom traditional one and two-stories. And you’ll be able to find several newly built residences with plenty of space between homes.
Hope Mills offers lots of convenient amenities, including grocery stores, restaurants, entertainment, and medical offices. Although this neighborhood is an affordable suburb, the crime rates are higher than average. If you have children, living here will be a trade-off between quality education and higher crime rates.
Locals enjoy Elizabeth’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Sammio’s Italian Restaurant, and Grandsons Buffet Hope Mills. Butler Nature Preserve, located at the west end of extensive Hope Mills Lake, and Golfview Greenway Walking Trail provide recreation.
- Population: 16,189
- Median home value: $128,600
- Median rent price: $919
- Schools: Ed V Baldwin Elementary School, Rockfish Elementary School, Hope Mills Middle School, South View Middle School, South View High School
Rockfish, with its small lakes and rivers, is a small semi-rural residential community located about ten miles southwest of Downtown Fayetteville. Homes are mainly one-story, three to five-bedroom single-family residences, and 78% of Rockfish residents own their homes. If you’re looking for a home conveniently located to Fayetteville but with friendly neighbors and a sense of peacefulness, Rockfish should be on your radar.
Rockfish is known to be a safe, family-oriented community with a crime rate that’s 44% lower than the US average. Public school test scores and high school graduation rates are higher than US averages. The median household income, at $62,500, is also higher than the US average.
Sit down to comfort food at Hungry Jack’s Restaurant or try the seafood at All American Fish Market. And if you’re into Mediterranean cuisine, Pharaohs Legacy serves delicious, carefully-prepared meals.
- Population: 3,736
- Median home value: $149,100
- Median rent price: $1,104
- Schools: Stoney Point Elementary School, Rockfish Elementary School, Hope Mills Middle School, John R Griffin Middle School, Jack Britt High School
Located about five miles east of Downtown Fayetteville at the junction of I-95 and SR 24, Vander is a bedroom community that offers safety plus convenience to Fayetteville.
You’ll find a variety of housing types, from three-bedroom condos, townhomes, apartment complexes, modest two-bedroom bungalows, and five-bedroom Dutch Colonials. About 70% of Vander residents are homeowners who earn a median household income of $36,167, which is about 35% lower than the US average.
The Vander cost of living is about 14% lower than the US average, and crime rates are 51% lower than the national average, so this is a community worth considering for families and first-time home buyers.
A short drive into Downtown puts you in touch with many cafes, bars, coffee houses, and restaurants. Meet a friend for a latte at Rude Awakening Coffee House, and sit down to some comfort food at Blue Moon Café or Circa 1800.
- Population: 1,176
- Median home value: $107,300
- Median rent price: $655
- Schools: Sunnyside Elementary School, Mac Williams Middle School, Cross Creek Early College, Cape Fear High School
Just four miles north of Fort Bragg, and 15 miles north of Downtown Fayetteville via SR 210, Spring Lake is less than an hour north to Raleigh’s outskirts. The Fort Bragg North Post Commissary is at the southern border of Spring Lake
You’ll be able to find affordable housing prices with many options – from older homes on large wooded lots to many newly built homes. Spring Lake residents are mainly renters – only 21% own their homes. The Spring Lake median home value is almost $30,000 less than the Fayetteville median.
Even though Spring Lake is close to Fort Bragg, it’s not an ideal location for single service personnel who want an exciting nightlife. Crime is a factor – crime rates are 41% higher than the US average, but the good news is they’re down 8% from 2019.
Cactus Creek Coffee and Smoothie Bar and The Morning Jump Coffee Company are favorites with locals. Living in Spring Lake is great for short commutes, and residents love the proximity of nearby parks like Carvers Creek State Park and open space around Little River.
- Population: 13,258
- Median home value: $92,200
- Median rent price: $1,026
- Schools: Overhills Elementary School, Manchester Elementary, Anderson Creek Academy public charter K-5, Lillian Black Elementary, William T Brown Elementary, Spring Lake Middle School, Overhills Middle School, Overhills High School,
Although located an hour northwest of Downtown Fayetteville, historic Pinehurst is considered the top suburb and well worth the distance from Fayetteville if you need to commute.
Developed initially as a golfing resort, and still featuring the beautifully maintained historic Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst has evolved into a highly desirable family-friendly community in a village-like atmosphere. Considered North Carolina’s #1 safest city, Pinehurst is also known for its beautiful environment, excellent schools, and convenient amenities.
The Pinehurst resort complexes and central village are an official National Historic Landmark District. Famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the resort’s landscape, and even today, the resort is significant in US golfing history. A wealthy community, the median family income is $80,128 compared to the median family income of $50,884 in Fayetteville.
In addition to golf, locals enjoy convenient high-end amenities. Some favorite spots for a coffee or a meal include The Roast Office, Drum & Quill Public House, Maxie’s Grill & Tap Room, and Dugan’s Pub.
- Population: 15,821
- Median home value: $297,100
- Median rent price: $1,547
- Schools: Pinehurst Elementary School, Pinecrest High School, Sandhills Community College
Located fifty minutes northwest of Downtown Fayetteville and just a mile east of Pinehurst, Southern Pines is an attractive small town with a charming downtown. Good schools, safety, and a friendly community are reasons why families are attracted to Southern Pines.
You’ll be able to find housing in attractive single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments, however, along with Pinehurst, Southern Pines is one of Fayetteville’s more expensive suburbs. Home prices rose 5% in 2019 and are forecast to go up another 4.4% in 2020.
With many handy amenities, you can do all of your shopping locally. There’s no shortage of recreation in Southern Pines with The Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club, Pine Needles Golf Course, Southern Pines Golf Club, Legends at Morganton Park, Memorial Park, Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, and Watson Lake.
Locals enjoy a wake-up cup at Swank Coffee Shoppe or Frankie’s Southern Grinds. Curt’s Cucina, Chapmans Food and Spirits, and Ashten’s are popular spots for a good meal.
- Population: 13,694
- Median home value: $295,900
- Median rent price: $895
- Schools: Southern Pines Primary School, Southern Pines Elementary School, Pinecrest High School
Quality Moving Services from Fayetteville Movers
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Intrastate & Local Moves
Even if you’re just moving within North Carolina, moving can be a hassle. But it won’t be if you relocate with a fully vetted reputable in-state moving company. We’ll connect you with the best local moving companies so that you can get settled without hassles.
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When you hire licensed and insured moving pros, your Fayetteville NC move will go smoothly and easily. Get free quotes from Fayetteville movers now!