EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Cabarrus County, NC

Phots of Concord Race track, Dale Earnhardt statue, and Concord NC

EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Cabarrus County, NC 

Cabarrus County is "Where Racing Lives." Among the rolling hills and sloping pastures are the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMAX Dragway. This is a place where you set the pace. Choose the fast track of a busy urban environment with lots of amenities, or live a slower pace of life in a small country town. 

Located to the northeast of the state's largest city, Charlotte, North Carolina, Cabarrus County is a growing community with lots of heritage and beauty. Let's profile what life is like living in Cabarrus County.

About Cabarrus County 

Part of the Carolina Piedmont region, Cabarrus County has gently rolling countryside. The eastern half of the county contains the foothills of the Uwharrie mountains. While there are no significant or navigable rivers, the creeks and runs provide some relaxing scenery. The Rocky River is the longest river, originating in Iredell County and ending at the Pee Dee River below Norwood in Stanly County.

Cabarrus County is to the northeast of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, making it part of the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area. The other counties surrounding Cabarrus include Union, Stanly, Rowan, Iredell.

The climate here is temperate, with warm, muggy summers and mild to chili winters. In the summer, expect pop-up thunderstorms. Overall, around 46 inches of rain usually fall each year. While it's not unheard of to have snowfall or ice storms, the area typically only sees 1 to 3 in of snow in an average winter. The snow generally melts quickly. 

Something Cabarrus County residents benefit from is an affordable cost of living. According to the cost of living index, where 100 represents the United States average, Cabarrus County has an overall 93.5 cost of living, making it cheaper than most of the nation. The least expensive category was transportation, and health care was the most expensive, indexed at 100.3. Residents live an affordable lifestyle and enjoy living close to a major city.

Cabarrus County History 

The Catawba Indians first inhabited the Cabarrus County region until about 1750, when European settlers began arriving. The immigrants were primarily German on the east side and Scots-Irish on the western side. The county was officially established in 1792 from a corner of Mecklenburg County. It was named for a popular Speaker of the House of Representatives, Stephen Cabarrus Edenton. The two main groups could not reach a consensus on choosing a county seat, and to compromise, they chose a central area and named it Concord. 

When Cabarrus County was still part of Mecklenburg County during the American Revolution, Lord Cornwallis came into the area thinking he would use the farmlands and resources to supply his troops. The resistance he encountered led him to call the area a "Hornet's Nest," a nickname proudly adopted by the residents. The tradition of fierce patriotism continues to this day. 

A young Conrad Reed found a large gold chunk on his family farm in 1799, weighing approximately 17 pounds. Its discovery eventually spurred a gold rush into the area. Reed's Farm became known as Reed's Gold Mine, and large amounts of gold were continuously discovered here and at other mines in the area. President Andrew Jackson signed into legislation and established the Charlotte Mint to handle all of the gold coming from the North Carolina veins. 

Agriculture and gold mining remained an important part of the county's economy through the 19th century. In particular, the lands on the western side of the county were ideal for cotton production. Around 1906, Jim Cannon began construction of a giant manufacturing plant and created a model mill village, which he called Kannapolis.

Cabarrus County Cities and Areas

Modern Concord has a beautifully restored Victorian-era district, one-of-a-kind shops, and local dining around the historic Courthouse. Concord is the 10th largest city in the state and the second-largest city in the Charlotte metro.

Kannapolis is a major city in the north area of the county. Started as a milltown, today it is a family-oriented community close to major transportation networks. It is home to eight universities that are part of the North Carolina Research Campus. 

Near the western side is the century-old community of Mount Pleasant. Here you'll find a small-town feel, with neighbors who know each other's names and ample small-town events throughout the year.

Midland is near the southern region and the Rocky River. Residents live about 25 minutes from Uptown Charlotte. The town is an industrial center, with a growing population and increased interest from manufacturing companies. Corning's Charlotte Region Fiber Optic Manufacturing Facility is in Midland.

Harrisburg is close to Mecklenburg County off of North Carolina Highway 49, and some families here still trace their roots to the 1700s. It is an affluent area and one of the most affluent zip codes in the Charlotte region, with top-performing schools and relatively large home sites. 

Getting around these areas is relatively easy with your car. Highway I-85 runs from Charlotte north through Cabarrus County. 

Cabarrus County Job Market

Vast and varied employment opportunities await residents of Cabarrus County. For starters, Kannapolis is the home of the North Carolina Research Campus, which is a center for biotechnology research. The 350-acres campus will have over 100 biotechnology companies, 350,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and about 1,000 residential units. 

Concord is also home to several reputable companies. Atrium Health has over 4,500 employees. Other large employers include Amazon Warehouse, Great Wolf Lodge & Resort, S&D Coffee & Tea, Speedway Motorsports Inc, Shoe Show, ACN, Corning, and Hendrick Motorsports. 

The Cabarrus County unemployment rate in July 2021 was 4.2%, and the North Carolina rate was 4.6%, so slightly better inside the county than the state. As part of Charlotte MSA, some of the top employing industries were professional and business services, mining, logging and construction, and financial activities. 

Cabarrus County Real Estate Market

Cabarrus County is a growing region in the Charlotte metropolitan area. The town of Kannapolis is adding 1,000 residential units to support the North Carolina Research Campus.

Throughout the area, you will find all kinds of housing to meet your style and taste. Find everything from historic, century-old homes to ranches to modern townhouses.

The local market report from July 2021 shows that Cabarrus County median sales prices have been steadily rising since about 2013. The most recent median sales price was $323,000, a 16.6% year-over-year increase. New listings were also up by 22%. However, the days on the market until sale were eight, showing that Cabarrus County real estate was in high demand. During the month, most properties received 102.3% of their original list price. 

Looking closer at the county's communities, we see:

  • Concord real estate market reported a median sales price of $323,000, a 14.8% increase. New listings were up 21%.
  • Kannapolis had a median sales price of $235,000, a 24% year-over-year increase. The number of new listings here rose 52% YOY.

Cabarrus County real estate taxes are re-evaluated every four years. The 2020 tax rate was 0.74 of the assessed value. This does not include any special district taxes or municipal taxes. 

Cabarrus County Demographics

The 2020 US Census counted 225,804 residents in Cabarrus County. The county grew 21% over the last decade. The median age of a resident was 37. Demographically, 63% identified as white alone, while 20% reported as African-American, and 11% as Hispanic or Latino.

Of the residents aged 25 and higher, 32% held a bachelor's degree or greater. About 90% of residents had obtained a high school diploma or greater. The median household income from 2015 to 2019 was $67,328. 

Cabarrus County Education 

Residents have two public school systems that serve their families.

Cabarrus County Schools has the only K-12 STEM pipeline in North Carolina. Essentially, a student can start in kindergarten at a STEM school and graduate from a STEM high school, having 13 years of science, technology, engineering, and math education. 

The school district enrolls 33,000 students, who attend one of the 42 schools. It has an 89% four-year graduation rate, which is higher than the state average. 

Kannapolis City Schools enrolls 5,700 students across nine different schools. It is one of four North Carolina School Districts named to the College Board AP honor roll for outstanding performance in advanced placement courses. It also has a welding program where students can graduate with a welding certificate. 

Residents have 12 private schools to select from. Some of the top-ranked private schools include Covenant Classical School and Cannon School. Around 58% of the private schools are religiously affiliated. 

Higher education is offered through Rowan Cabarrus Community College, a fully accredited community college with a campus in both counties. Students can choose from 49 degrees, 31 diplomas, and 99 certificates. It also offers transfer programs for those looking to move on to a four-year degree.

Another option is the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences. These offer health care programs that help students earn an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in seven different health disciplines. 

Cabarrus County Health Care 

Atrium Health is a major health care provider to local residents, and it has an extensive inpatient and outpatient network. The Atrium Health Cabarrus is a regional 457-bed hospital operating in Concord. The network includes the Jeff Gordon Children's Center, Hayes Family Center, and Batte Cancer Center. Associated family medicine practices are available in the county in Harrisburg, Kannapolis, Mount Pleasant, and other nearby towns.

The Community Free Clinic services the area's most vulnerable population. Its mission is to remove barriers to help provide health services to its patients. It has comprehensive primary care, specialty care lab services, and a pharmacy. 

Cabarrus Health Alliance is the public health authority established in the county. It also provides health care programs, disease prevention, and health care education. 

Cabarrus County Things To Do

Motorsports are a huge attraction inside Cabarrus County. With the Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMaxDragway located inside its borders, NASCAR fans are close to the action at events throughout the year, and significant races are in May and October. The Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR's longest race.

Other sporting opportunities are present in Cabarrus County. The new Kannapolis Intimidators, a minor league club affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, launched with the 2021 season at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. 

For slower-paced action, the county has outdoor recreation, arts and culture, and historical attractions. Many communities have been established for over a century, so you will find many historic homes and architecture to appreciate. The residents of historic Concord illuminate their homes with colorful lights every September. Take a tour of these homes using your phone or by picking up a guide at South Union in downtown Concord. 

Cabarrus County is also home to some well-known golf courses. The Rocky River Golf Club in Concord has ranked as one of the most challenging public courses in the region.

Cabarrus County Local Attractions

If you're looking to make your fortune, visit the Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site. Not only can you walk the trails and see the shafts left by miners, but you can try your hand at gold panning.

The town of Harrisburg is a hub for the local motorsports industry. The Concord Motorsport Park hosts events throughout the year. Enjoy all kinds of automotive racing. Stop by the Hendricks Motorsports Museum and 600 Racing facility, which manufactures Legends cars, the forerunners of the NASCAR model.

Next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, you will find the Backing Up Classics Auto Museum. The 18,000 sqft is packed with classic cars, automotive memorabilia, a banquet facility, and a NASCAR gift shop.

The ZMAX Dragway is a facility part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is the only four-lane all-concrete Dragway in the world. 

The Concord Museum preserves and exhibits the history of Cabarrus County. It includes exhibits showcasing the impact of Native American peoples, African Americans, and Mexican American communities.

Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park, arcade, bowling, and dining venue all under one roof. It's a great family day of fun open all year round. 

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame features Carolina-based artists. Induction ceremonies are held every October, and some of the most famous inductees include Eric Church, Roberta Flack, and Charlie Daniels.

The Dale Trail guides you through the life and legacy of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Originally from Kannapolis, follow in the footsteps of the NASCAR legend. Do everything from checking out Richard Childress Racing to tasting a tomato sandwich just like Dale enjoyed it.

Cabarrus County Dining

Barbecue is a North Carolina staple, and you will find plenty of it and Cabarrus County. Concord is the home of some coveted barbecue restaurants. The area is also popular with craft breweries. Try a locally sourced and created pint and see what the buzz is for yourself. Check out a few local Cabarrus County dining destinations:

  • 44 Mills Kitchen + Tap has a modern take on southern cuisine and 16 rotating craft beer taps.
  • Gianni's Trattoria is a neighborhood Italian restaurant with an upscale atmosphere.
  • Jim' N Nick's BBQ was ranked as a top BBQ joint by Southern Living. It also has received awards for its tasty cheese biscuits.
  • The Smoke Pit sources its meat from the butcher shop next door. The line often goes out the door.
  • Southern Grace Distilleries was built inside of a former prison. Today it makes an award-winning whiskey.

Cabarrus County Shopping

The go-to place for all of your specialty and retail therapy days is Concord Mills located off of I-85. This shopping and entertainment complex has over 200 outlets, specialty retailers, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.

Cannon Village is a restored colonial-style village with antiques, outlets, and specialty shops. A former Cannon Mills owner developed it.

Living in Cabarrus County

Whether you like to take it fast or slow, Cabarrus County has a lifestyle ideal for you. Its proximity to Mecklenburg County in Charlotte means you are only 20 to 30 minutes from urban amenities. However, the communities inside Cabarrus County also have some excellent shopping, dining, and lifestyle amenities. The two school districts offer excellent education opportunities for families. When you add it all together, it's easy to see why residents enjoy living in Cabarrus County. 

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