Cost of Living in Highlands, North Carolina
Highlands is a town in Macon County, North Carolina, with a population of 1,186. The total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities for a single adult in Highlands is $38,389 a year — about the same as the annual cost of living for North Carolina of $38,661 and roughly in line with the national figure of $38,433.
Using cost of living data from the nonprofift think tank Economic Policy Institute, 24/7 Wall St. estimated the cost of living in Highlands and over 29,000 other cities and towns in the US.
Housing Costs in Highlands, North Carolina
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Highlands, the median home value is $522,500, greater than the national median home value of $204,900.
Renting is a sometimes lower cost alternative to homeownership. In Highlands, some 38.40% of occupied homes are rented, about the same as the 36.2% national renter rate. The typical renter in Highlands spends $921 a month on housing, about the same as the $1,023 national median monthly rent.
In addition to home value, one of the largest determinants of housing affordability is area income. While nationwide the price of a typical U.S. home is 3.4 times the $60,293 U.S. median household income, housing affordability ratios range from approximately 1.0 in the least expensive cities to more than 10.0 in the country's most expensive markets. In Highlands, the median household income is $55,769, 9.4 times the median home value.
Transportation Costs in Highlands, North Carolina
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Highlands, 74.40% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. An estimated 29.50% of workers commute to jobs outside of Highlands, a smaller share than the 43.7% share of commuters nationwide who live and work in different cities. The average commute in Highlands is 9.4 minutes long, compared to the 26.6-minute average commute nationwide. Taking into account the cost of gas, as well as public transit and car maintenance, the EPI estimates that a single person in Highlands spends $11,011 a year on transportation, more than the national average of $9,760.
Health Care Costs in Highlands, North Carolina
Out-of-pocket health care costs and insurance premiums — assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage — are far higher than they are on average nationwide in Highlands but in line with what they are across North Carolina as a whole.
For a single adult living in the area, average health care costs come out to $6,200 per year, compared to an average of $6,101 across North Carolina and $4,266 nationwide.
Child care Costs in Highlands, North Carolina
For families with children, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. In Highlands, the average annual cost of child care for two children — one 4 year old and one 8 year old — is $11,090, about $1,900 less than the comparable average of $13,037 across all of North Carolina. Meanwhile, across the U.S. as a whole, childcare expenses for two children averages $15,853 per year.
Food Costs in Highlands, North Carolina
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on overall cost of living. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from city to city and town to town.
In Highlands, a single adult spends an average of $3,175 on food annually, and a family of four spends $9,170 on average. For context, average annual food expenditure across North Carolina and the U.S., respectively, are $3,103 and $3,240 for a single adult, and $8,960 and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at-home preparation.
Taxes in Highlands, North Carolina
Few expenses vary as much from city to city and town to town as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll taxes, the average adult working in Highlands, North Carolina pays $6,926 annually — closely in line with the statewide average of $6,987.
It is important to note that these calculations do not include other common taxes such as property, sales, and excise taxes. Accounting for these taxes, while excluding taxes levied at the federal level, Highlands residents live in a state with a low average tax burden. Per capita state tax collections in North Carolina total $2,683 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
To estimate the cost of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, taxes, and other necessities, 24/7 Wall St. assigned county-level Economic Policy Institute data to cities, towns, villages and Census-designated places based on boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. For places that span multiple counties, data was aggregated based on the percentage of boundary overlap.
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