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The cost of living in Winston-Salem

How much does it cost to live in the City of Arts and Innovation compared to other cities and the US national average? Let’s crunch some numbers.

Clear blue sky with Winston-Salem skyline and four-lane highway down below.

There’s no place like home.

Photo by WStoday

With Winston-Salem constantly growing and announcing high-profile developments this year, we figured it was time to talk about the cost of planting some roots in the City of Arts and Innovation.

The median household income in Forsyth County is $61,229, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau. State-wise, North Carolina is No. 39 in the country for median income at ~$61,972 per household.

Table showing categories on left with columns for Winston-Salem, NC, and US scores.

The overall cost of living in Winston-Salem is lower than both the average in NC and the national average.

Screenshot via

The overall cost of living in Winston-Salem is lower than the national average, and lower than the state average.

In the Twin City, the cost of health care is lower compared to other parts of the state + the US. The cost of groceries, housing, and transportation in the city have lower average costs than other cities in NC and the country overall. However, miscellaneous expenses like meals at restaurants, personal care, entertainment, and costs associated with education are higher in Winston-Salem than in other parts of NC or the US.

Breaking down the numbers

Hypothetically speaking, if you live in a household that brings in ~$61,200, your max monthly budget for rent and utilities would be about $1,530 (30% of your monthly gross income). The average monthly rent for a 915-sqft apartment in Winston-Salem is $1,212 — nearing the top of your budget.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering how much you can currently afford to spend on buying a home in Winston-Salem, try using SmartAsset’s cost calculator. Factors like your marital status, annual pre-tax income, down payment, and monthly debt will help determine that figure. According to BestPlaces, the median home cost in the Twin City is $229,400.

While we’re crunching numbers, let’s also take a look at the chart below to see how Winston-Salem’s cost of living compares to that of NC’s capital, Raleigh.

Chart that has categories on the left and ratings for Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and the US in columns.

Winston-Salem is more affordable overall than Raleigh, with the biggest difference in housing costs.

Screenshot via

Interested in seeing Winston-Salem’s cost of living compared to cities in other states? We played around on NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator, where you can put in any city along with your current pre-tax household income to find out what other cities you could afford to live in.

We took a look at the cost of living in Winston-Salem compared to Richmond, VA. Here’s what we found using the $61,200 median income:

  • The cost of living is 2% higher in Richmond.
  • To maintain our standard of living, we would need to bring in $62,585 to our Richmond household.
  • The median cost for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,363, which is $138 more than Winston-Salem.

Local housing and developments

Winston-Salem has entities such as Goler Community Development Corporation and SG Atkins Community Development Corporation + government-funded programs to help develop more affordable units.

There are also a number of local development firms working on apartments seemingly all the time — from Adams Property Group’s The Sutton apartment complex, the 4th & Green complex for residents aged 55+ in the West End, to the affordable housing development like the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking about becoming a local? Let us know your thoughts on our cost of living in this survey.

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