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TOP 50 Cities for FIRE - CHARLOTTE

The rundown on Charlotte for FIRE chasers.

Preliminary Rank Estimate: Top 40

The final rankings will be published after all city reviews are posted.

Charlotte, NC

Home of the Panthers, Hornets, decent food, almost every major bank in the US, solid craft beer, and reasonably priced living.

The best-priced major banking city in the USA, Charlotte is also slowly becoming a solid hub for FIRE as it continues to grow.

When it comes to FIRE cities, we are looking for a few specific things:

- A low-t0-mid-cost of living.

- A good entertainment scene (sports, bars, parks, etc).

- Solid Universities and/or employers (in case you want to better yourself or pick up a -

part-time/passion gig).

- Good/great food.

- A decent airport.

- A reasonable climate.

Scoring is based on a 1 to 5 scale (1 - terrible, 5 - great).

Quick Summary Scores:

Cost of living: 3

Entertainment: 2.5

Universities/Employers: 2

Food: 2

Airport: 2

Climate: 3

Overall: 14.5/30


Cost of living

The average rent for a 1 bed/1 bath apartment in Charlotte is approximately $1,250 with 81% of all units being priced between $700-$1,500.

Charlotte apartments/housing has absolutely exploded over the prior 5 years and new "luxury" units are going up in pretty much every part of the city currently. Single family homes are less available and tend to be more costly than apartments.

The median single-family home price is $228,000.

Not cheap but the market tends to fluctuate.

The cost of living score, provided by Bestplaces.net, sits at 98.9.

The primary driver of the score is the cheaper transport & utilities costs compared with the rest of the US.


Solid breweries, decent bars, cheap(er) sports, and plenty of parks are available in Charlotte.

Uptown, Southend, and NoDa are all decent destinations - but overall Charlotte lacks the vibrant scene of many cities on the FIRE list.

Hornets games are dirt cheap and Panthers games tend to be relatively reasonable.

Concerts are hit or miss most of the time - but some big names do come through every year. The music scene is pretty weak and live music at bars/restaraunts is somewhat uncommon.

State parks are fantastic around the city & state in general - whether you are looking for hiking, whitewater rafting, camping, or simply a picnic.

The city is very dog-friendly and has a number of "dog bars" (essentially bars you can bring your dog to).

With only a few Universities around Charlotte, most night life is made of up an older demographic. Drink prices tend to be in the $5 range.

North Carolina has solid breweries in general and a number of them are scattered across the various city "pockets" - I recommend Unknown Brewing & Sycamore Brewing to anyone looking for quality.

The city also sports the NASCAR hall of fame.


There are a few universities around Charlotte - UNCC, Queens, and Central Piedmont.

These schools are decent and the education tends to be very reasonably priced.

UNCC has actually grown to be the second largest school in the UNC system (behind Chapel Hill).

For those willing to make the drive or take online courses, the UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forst, and Duke are all within 2 hours of the city.

The employment scene is centered largely around banking & healthcare.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ally Bank, Novant, and Atrium Health all have massive presences in the region.

Job openings exist but can be a challenge to obtain.

The city is certainly growing and could possibly see more diverse job openings available in the future. Money is being spent to grow the entrepreneurial scene but it will take time to see the true effects.


Easily one of the most subjective categories - Charlotte is a pretty weak food scene outside of classic southern dishes.

The city is most famous for fried chicken & biscuits - for those that love the sound of it, here's a list of hundreds of spots to sample.

Prices are generally reasonable ($10 or less) and plenty of premium restaurants are available for date nights in Uptown.

Go-to spots in the city are Amelie's Bakery & Alexander Michaels.


Airports within 3 hours of Charlotte are not great.

Airports include Charlotte International, Raleigh Durham International, and Columbia Metro.

Charlotte international serves as a major international hub for American Airlines (about 90% of activity is AA) thus giving them the ability to set the prices much higher - as most travelers are business clients.

This makes domestic and international travel for non-business travelers expensive to say the least.

The only current saving grace is that Spirit runs a small amount of flights out of CLT - your best bet will be to monitor Google Flights for deals or consider the painful voyage of flying out of ATL (about 3 hours from Charlotte) if you want to save some money.


So long story short, Charlotte has hot summers and mild winters.

July high is 89 degrees and December low is 32 degrees.

Humidity kicks in during the summer and it is not uncommon to see 95-98 during the summer season.

With this type of climate, you need to be ready for the heat and have a decent jacket for November to March.

Driving through the mountains in the spring & fall is a must-do. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the place to start for those interested.

No real need for 4-wheel drive and snow boots.

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