What's it like to live in Winston-Salem, NC?

Brent Patterson

Profile written by local expert:

Brent Patterson

Winston-Salem, referred to by locals as just Winston, is a region with an upward trajectory that still maintains its Southern roots. But while the city is traditionally Southern in its friendliness, it has an international feel. The metro area celebrates its diversity during an array of festivals and through a variety of cuisines. You'll find restaurants serving everything from traditional North Carolina barbecue to Indian curries and Greek pastries.

Unlike many of North Carolina's other larger metro areas, like Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham, Winston has not seen a huge population boom over the years. In fact, since 2000, the population has only increased by about 40,000 people.

This slow-and-steady growth has preserved the region's small-town feel while allowing for improvements like repurposing the old textile and tobacco factories into loft apartment spaces. Due to the heavy interest in residential and corporate development, the region has become a fertile land for entrepreneurs and small businesses.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina is ranked:

#43 in Best Places to Live

#45 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Winston-Salem, NC Quick Stats

  • 654,589

    Metro Population

  • $44,100

    Average Annual Salary

  • 69.7° / 49.4°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 40.3

    Median Age

  • $140,633

    Median Home Price

  • 46.9 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.3%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $714

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 23.1 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Winston-Salem, NC?

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Winston-Salem is the bang you get for your buck. The average income of its residents is less than the national average, but the cost of living is significantly lower as well. Housing costs in Winston-Salem are much less than the national median sale price. 

Value Index

Index Score: 7.1 /10

How we calculate this.

Winston-Salem offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Winston-Salem, NC.


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What's the weather like in Winston-Salem, NC?

The weather in Winston-Salem is very mild and usually predictable.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.6 in


4.0 in


5.0 in


4.2 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Winston-Salem, NC?

A car is definitely a requirement in Winston-Salem given the sheer size of the metro area – about 132 square miles. While the majority of residents are car-dependent, the traffic is not bad at all. Typically, the average commute time to work is about 23 minutes in a personal vehicle.

A city bus is a great option for those who don't own other means of transportation. Because of the vast area that these buses service, it is not always a time-efficient way of travel.

The nearest major airport is about 30 minutes east in Greensboro, and the closest train station is about 90 minutes south in Charlotte. However, there is a large bus terminal in downtown Winston that provides local and Greyhound service.

Commuting in Winston-Salem, NC

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

23.1 minutes

3.0 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Winston-Salem, NC?

Winston-Salem's population is relatively young, perhaps due to the large number of students enrolled in the metro area's higher education institutions. It is also culturally diverse and boasts a high average number of international citizens who have shared their traditions with the rest of the community. For example, the mid-May Greek Festival is a much-anticipated event each year.

Roughly half the region's population is affiliated with an organized religion. Baptist and Methodist communities encompass a large portion of the practicing residents. Winston-Salem is also home to a number of other Christian faiths, as well as small Jewish and Islamic communities.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Winston-Salem as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Winston-Salem, NC?

The arts have been at the heart of Winston-Salem for almost 250 years. The fifth-largest metro area in North Carolina is home to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, an institution that hosts community performances and other cultural events, produced talents like Jada Pinkett Smith.

The region appeals to outdoorsy residents, too. Winston boasts a web of local hiking trails, as well as a couple of state parks, including Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock, which are just a quick drive away. The metro area's scenic Piedmont Quarry is a must-see as well.