People want to live in the South. And why wouldn’t they? Great weather often with all four seasons, a cheaper cost of living than many places in the Northeast, Southern hospitality, natural beauty, beaches, mountains, we’ve got everything. So it’s no surprise people are flocking to the area. And here in the Carolinas, we know how great not only the south is, but our little slice of heaven in particular. So while I was thrilled when I came across this article from Southern Living that recognized a North Carolina city as the South’s best city on the rise I certainly wasn’t shocked.

The South’s Best Cities on the Rise

Even better there were a total of four Carolina cities in the top 10 of this 25-city list. Two from North Carolina and two from South Carolina. We know Southern Living is the experts in their namesake. But we still have to ask the question how did this list get created? First editors for the publication compiled a “large list of cities based on research, reporting, and our own experiences”. From there they let the people decide. Readers were able to submit their votes and make their choice in the South’s Best Awards. The results give us a list of 25 large and small cities that are truly on the rise.

The full list includes a wide variety of cities each with its own unique offerings. It’s a coastal North Carolina gem that tops the list and they are joined by a thriving suburb. Two major inland South Carolina cities were recognized from the Palmetto state. So if you’re looking for a new place to call home or just a weekend trip, keep reading to see and learn about each of the four places. And of course, get the answer to what North Carolina city is the South’s best city on the rise. You can read the full Southern Living article here.


  • 1. Wilmington, NC

    Located on the Cape Fear River at the NC Coast you’ll find the “Best City on The Rise” according to Southern Living. The historic downtown features lots of Southern charm, restaurants, breweries, and shopping. I love the historic house museums when I visit, and of course, you have to visit the Battleship North Carolina at least once. The Wilmington area features some beloved beaches including Wrightsville, Kure, and Carolina beach or my favorite Topsail about a 45-minute drive from downtown. Chances are you’ve seen Wilmington in some of your favorite movies, as it was a hub for filming for many years. Learn about some of my personal favorite things to do when visiting Wilmington here. I can certainly see why people would be moving to the area in droves leading to this ranking!

  • 3. Spartanburg, SC

    Home - Visit Spartanburg

    Packed with outdoor adventure, renowned restaurants, and events that cover even the broadest spectrum of interests, Spartanburg, SC is a great location for your next travel experience.

    Did you know Spartanburg recently came in as the 12th fastest-growing city according to data from US News? I feel like often they are overshadowed by nearby Greenville but this South Carolina city is stepping up it’s game. With easy access to I-85 to get to Charlotte and Atlanta you’re right in the middle of two of the area’s largest metropolitan areas. But you also get a calmer vibe and most likely a cheaper cost of living. That doesn’t mean giving up amenities. The city is set to get a new minor league baseball team and stadium, as well as additional downtown developments.

  • 5. Columbia, SC

    As a die-hard sports fan my first thought when I think of Columbia is USC. While I didn’t attend the school, my mom did so I’ve been to a few games and concerts there. Columbia is also the state capital. The area has spent a lot of money on improving downtown and specific neighborhoods. I won’t know that I would have said Columbia even needed to be “on the rise” but it seems even more people are discovering how great a place it is!

  • 8. Cary, NC

    Cary, N.C.

    One of the fastest-growing cities in the South, Cary is home to renowned restaurants, world-class shopping, booming business, top-tier entertainment, culture and arts and wide range of leisure and outdoor experiences.

    If I’m qualified to talk about any city on this list it’s Cary. I’ve been going to this suburb right outside of Raleigh for as long as I can remember. It’s shown a lot of growth and even become a little more affordable than previously. At least that’s what studies seem to say. It’s a great place to raise a family close to an abundance of jobs in the Research Triangle area with no shortage of things to do. If you plan on moving to the area just let me know I spent many weekends each year in a hotel in Cary.

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