Feeling the call of the Carolinas? If so, set your sights on Charlotte, as the city has a lot going on! In order to truly see how the Queen City fares in terms of real estate, job opportunities, self storage and some other interesting facts that make it a unique attraction, we compared it to other cities that have similar populations.

The Wave of Newcomers Boosts Rental Construction

Charlotte is a hot spot for Americans on the move, and it welcomed about 31,587 transplants in 2018. This trend continued in 2019, when about 33,300 people moved here – which marked a 1.6% year-over-year increase. In fact, the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metropolitan area ranks quite high in the list of metros with the most arrivals for the 2018-2019 time period — it ranked as the 7th fastest-growing out of 383 metros, per US Census information.

In response to the influx of newcomers to the area, Charlotte saw an uptick in apartment unit developments, according to Yardi Matrix data. Thus, in December 2019 alone, about 9,300 new units were under construction, a 5% year-over-year increase.

Apartment Construction in Charlotte and other cities

Now, in Charlotte, around 9,100 units are scheduled for delivery, which represents a 20% year-over-year increase as compared to the number of units built in 2019. This will impact renters positively as rental rates will likely stabilize.

The Rental Market Fares Better Than in Most Other Big Cities

The rental market in Charlotte offers affordable options, as residents of the Queen City paid on average $1,270 per month in March 2020, according to data provided by Yardi Matrix. As Americans living here used to pay $1,208 in rent a year ago, that’s a 5% year-over-year increase. Even though the construction rate accelerated compared to the previous year, the number of new developments was not high enough to cover the demands of the market in Charlotte. But although the increase in rent since 2019 is quite high, the average rent in Charlotte is still lower than the national average, which is currently $1,406. A year ago, the average national rent was $1,360, a 3.3% year-over-year increase. Even though the growth rate for average rents was higher in Charlotte compared to other places, the Queen City still offers more attractive rates than the national average.

What Sets Charlotte Apart from Other Comparable Cities?

Not only is Charlotte’s average rent lower than the national average, but it is also lower than the average rates in other big cities across the US. For instance, residents of San Francisco pay a whopping $3,664 per month in rent, which is more than double the going rate in Charlotte. Washington, D.C., ($2,217) and Seattle ($2,201) are next behind San Francisco, with rates that are still worlds away from the more affordable Queen City. Denver ($1,695) and Austin ($1,455) residents pay less than Americans living in those two cities, but their rents still can’t undercut Charlotte’s. On the other hand, Fort Worth’s ($1,138) and Jacksonville’s ($1,126) rents rival the average rent of Charlotte. On the even more affordable end of the spectrum of the cities we considered, Columbus ($972) and Indianapolis ($914) offer the lowest rates of all the cities we’ve looked at. However, even for cities that boast increased affordability, such as the last two mentioned, we noticed a growing pattern as they experienced year-over-year rent growths of 3.8% (Columbus) and 4.3% (Indianapolis), which suggests that their affordable status might not stay that way in the long run.

Apartment Rental Rates in Charlotte and Other Cities

Rent to Household Income Ratio Sets Charlotte Among Affordable US Housing Markets

When it comes to earning a wage, the yearly mean household income in Charlotte is $93,601, a little higher than the national mean household income, which is currently at $87,864, per the latest US Census data. However, Charlotteans pay a lot less in rent than most Americans do. The rent-to-income ratio in Charlotte is 15%, while most Americans spend on average 18% of their income on housing costs.

Rent to Income Ratio in Charlotte and Other Cities

Even high-paying employment hubs like San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — where average annual household incomes exceed $166,500 — are not untouched by the spiraling cost of living. San Francisco remains one the country’s most expensive rental cities as renters pay 25% of their income on housing, whereas Seattle and Washington, D.C., renters shell out more than 20% and 18%, respectively, on rent.

Managers Are the Best-Paid Employees in Charlotte

Management positions tend to be the highest-paid occupations in larger cities nationally, and Charlotte is no exception to the rule. According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, residents of Charlotte earn a mean wage of $130,400 for management positions, the highest-paying profession in the city. San Francisco ($158,880) and Washington, D.C., ($150,870) record the highest mean income levels of the cities we looked at for management jobs. Moreover, residents of Denver ($144,250) and Seattle ($140,660) bring home slightly higher paychecks than Charlotte residents do for the same job. However, the average rent in these two cities is a lot higher than the average rent in Charlotte. The mean wage for managers in Columbus ($116,970) is a lot lower than what is offered in Charlotte. Additionally, the Queen City’s mean wage in management surpasses what residents of Indianapolis ($108,870) or Jacksonville ($105,680) bring home for the same position.

Besides management, Americans working within the legal profession in Charlotte bring home the city’s secondbest paycheck, with a yearly mean wage of $103,700. If you work in computer and mathematical occupations, chances are you’ll also get a considerable paycheck as this sector records the third-best wage in Charlotte, with $92,470 per year. Furthermore, Charlotteans employed in business and financial occupations record the next-highest income, as their earnings reached $81,190 on a yearly basis. However, most jobs in Charlotte are in the office and administrative sector, with a total of 158,000 employees. The median wage in this sector is $37,960 per year, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Charlotte’s Affordable Self Storage Market Makes a Splash

As using self storage is quite frequently associated with moving, prospective residents might want to see how Charlotte fares in terms of this service. While national street rates hover around $116 on average for a 10×10 standard unit, the Queen City offers much more affordable rates — at $85 per month.

Self Storage Rental Rates in Charlotte and Other Cities

Other big cities, like San Francisco ($254/month) and Seattle ($191/month), charge a premium for the same service. Washington, D.C., ($165/month), Denver ($117/month) and Austin ($105/month), for instance, offer more affordable street rates for a standard unit, but they are no match to the reasonable Charlotte rates. On the other hand, cities such as Fort Worth ($93/month) and Jacksonville ($90/month) come close to the Queen City in terms of street rates, and a standard self storage unit in Columbus ($84/month) roughly equals Charlotte’s prices. Indianapolis ($80/month) is the only city of those that we looked at which surpasses the Queen City in street rate affordability for self storage.

What Makes Charlotte Unique?

  • Charlotte is NASCAR Central

Charlotte takes pride in its rich sports traditions associated with events like the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Gander Outdoors Truck Race Series and car shows. Sports aficionados can visit Uptown’s NASCAR Hall of Fame that has an impressive entertainment center and a museum.

  • Festivals

While Charlotte might not be a hot spot for festivals such Coachella or Lollapaloozas, the city can still hold its own with a handful of outdoor festivities. “Tuck Fest” is the first festival that springs to mind and is nothing short of an outdoor party held at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. It features live music, contests and over 30 athletic competitions. Ziplining, yoga, canopy tours and rock-climbing are also part of the festival lineup.

The “Tawba Walk Arts & Music Festival” is a celebration showcasing local vendors, diverse art, live street performances, food trucks and much more. It’s a biannual festival, taking place in April and in September.

If a little historical flair is what you’re looking for, you don’t want to miss the “Carolina Renaissance Festival,” held at an amusement park in Huntersville. The middle ages come alive at this event featuring a 13-stage theater, an interactive circus, a craft fair and a jousting tournament. The festival grounds are overflowing with Renaissance enthusiasts flaunting their costumes while they interact with your family.

  • The City’s Historical Roots Run Deep

There is something for history lovers in Charlotte too. The Levine Museum of the New South is a repository of Civil War paraphernalia. Visitors can walk through the interactive exhibition to gain an understanding of the period. Besides this, there are plenty of historical sites in Charlotte, including a gold mine state park and the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

California might be known for the biggest gold rush in U.S. history, but Charlotte prides itself on attracting the first literal gold diggers. You’d might expect a grand beginning to a major new discovery of the precious metal, but it was a twelve-year-old who accidentally stumbled upon it. While playing along Meadow Creek on his family’s farm, Conrad Reed noticed a gold nugget. The place came to be known as Reed’s Gold Mine.

Charlotte is home to one of the oldest Dairy Queens . While you enjoy your tasty summer treat, remember to admire the vintage Eskimo girl sign that’s been in place since 1947.

  • The Only Exclusively Teen Library in the US

Located in the center of Charlotte’s cultural arts districts, ImagiOn was ranked #1 children’s library by Livability. Boasting two state-of-the-art theaters and library space for children aged 11 and under, the library is visited by over 300,000 people on a daily basis. Visitors can check out teen-only materials and can enjoy the multimedia studio that the library offers.

boy reaching for book in a library

  • Charlotte is Home of the Burgushi

Charlotte is home to the burgushi, an eclectic fusion dish, marrying the traditional American cheeseburger with a sushi wrapping. Sounds odd? We thought so too, but the reviews are in, and apparently this interesting concoction will delight your taste buds! Several regional food and travel publications attest to the deliciousness of the interesting food item featured on the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar menu.

Now that you’re familiar with how Charlotte fares against what some other large US cities offer, perhaps you’ll feel more compelled to allow its Southern charm to draw you in. Let us know in the comments below if there is anything else that you would like to know about the city.


Mirela is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for Yardi. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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