The Charlotte suburb power rankings

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The Charlotte region is booming just about everywhere. After a decade of rapid growth in and around Uptown, the pendulum might be swinging. The Charlotte suburbs are growing in popularity.

Ratings below are based on a proprietary blend of desirability, development, political clout, coolness and amenities.

1) Huntersville

Population: 54,839
Distance from Uptown: 15 miles north
Average commute: 27 minutes
Median income: $90,253
Median home price: $250,300

Photo by Birkdale Village via Facebook

Huntersville is the LeBron James of suburbs — perhaps past its peak with competitors fast approaching, but still the greatest. Some suburbs may be quainter and more idyllic, but Huntersville is still the power center for suburban Charlotte. It’s the suburb that all other suburbs are judged by.

The town expertly blends proximity to central Charlotte and bang-for-your-buck in housing with urban amenities that even suburbanites are coming to expect. Birkdale Village is a retail destination and Discovery Place KIDS is a gem for families. Lake Norman Charter is the most popular charter school in the region and the Huntersville NO RULES Online Yard Sale group on Facebook has more than 44,000 members.

Trending: Down

2) Fort Mill

Population: 15,029
Distance from Uptown: 19 miles south
Average commute: 25 minutes
Median income: $61,773
Median home price: $192,500

With the rapid boom in housing developments ringing a lovely downtown area, it’s not a stretch to say Fort Mill could claim the top spot in a year or two.

The beautiful campuses of Movement Mortgage and Red Ventures in nearby Indian Land give it some corporate clout. Baxter Village is a dandy little hangout spot, and the schools are top notch.

[Agenda story: Why a Saturday afternoon in Fort Mill is a good idea]

Trending: Up

3) Matthews

Population: 31,495
Distance from Uptown: 12 miles southeast
Average commute: 27 minutes
Median income: $73,137
Median home price: $216,500

Matthews has gotten downright cool. Carolina Beer Temple, Temple Mojo, Seaboard, Jekyll and Hyde and Stumptown Station (to name a few) provide destinations drawing people downtown. Their Food Truck Friday has become a regular draw. Plus there’s still all the family-friendly activities in Stumptown Park. Matthews is definitely on the rise.

Now if the town could just figure out how to get people living on Main Street.

[Agenda story: Downtown Matthews is becoming a destination]

Trending: Up

4) Davidson

Population: 12,452
Distance from Uptown: 22 miles north
Average commute: 23 minutes
Median income: $105,083
Median home price: $381,200

davidson- summit coffee

Summit Coffee’s line can be out the door check out their freshly baked scones and smoothies.

Davidson is perhaps the quintessential suburban town, home to a beautiful college campus and arguably the region’s best restaurant in Kindred. It’s also one of the most affluent Charlotte suburb by household income and home prices.

This town traditionally tops the rankings of best suburbs, and No. 4 does feel low. But the brutally congested I-77 and it’s pricey future toll lanes make it a little less attractive, and the town is beginning to have a bit of an identity crisis around how to manage its future growth.

Trending: Down

5) Belmont

Population: 10,784
Distance from Uptown: 12 miles west
Average commute: 23 minutes
Median income: $48,077
Median home price: $149,600

belmont-downtown-and-homes-for-sale

Belmont is one of the closest suburbs physically, though the Catawba River still feels like a psychological barrier. Real estate is still cheap and plentiful over the border in Gaston County, and its riverfront is starting to become more popular. If you like quaint, Belmont is your place. Plus it’s home to the area’s first distillery — Muddy River.

If the River District in Charlotte can draw a big-name corporate tenant (Amazon, anyone?), the center of power could shift westward.

[Agenda story: Am I the only one who had no idea Belmont is adorable?]

Trending: Up

6) Waxhaw

Population: 14,194
Distance from Uptown: 23 miles south
Average commute: 32 minutes
Median income: $84,294
Median home price: $259,500

downtown-waxhaw

They’ve recently opened up a luxury apartment community right downtown in a historic building, alongside the homemade ice cream shop and craft brewery. The massive MillBridge community is a suburban homeowner wonderland.

This ranking also feels low. But that commute is a killer.

Trending: Up

 

7) Cornelius

Population: 28,515
Distance from Uptown: 20 miles north
Average commute: 28 minutes
Median income: $80,472
Median home price: $239,900

Cornelius might be the most underrated on this list. It’s already home to three breweries, and when Olde Mecklenburg Brewery opens its new taproom up there, Cornelius could skyrocket on this list.

The town also punches above its weight in the political arena (U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis lives there). Of course, the traffic situation still weighs it down.

Trending: Up

8) Pineville

Population: 8,593
Distance from Uptown: 12 miles south
Average commute: 23 minutes
Median income: $35,191
Median home price: $142,200

Like Matthews, downtown Pineville has also had a resurgence in recent years. Pintville and Kit’s Trackside Crafts bring people to the town square well into the evening, and their festivals are regional draws.

Trending: Up

9) Mooresville

Population: 36,543
Distance from Uptown: 28 miles north
Average commute: 26 minutes
Median income: $63,792
Median home price: $190,200

hebrews coffee mooresville

In a lot of ways, Mooresville is its own thing at this point. The Lowe’s HQ gives it corporate gravitas, the racing community gives it identity and its school district, set apart from the rest of Iredell County, is a national model.

But as the farthest north of the suburbs, they’ll be hit hardest by the I-77 toll lanes and even more isolated.

Trending: Down

10) Weddington

Population: 10,642
Distance from Uptown: 16 miles south
Average commute: 33 minutes
Median income: $135,611
Median home price: $411,900

Weddington real estate is upscale and incredible. There’s not a ton to do here, though it is very close to the new Waverly development.

Trending: Up

11) Rock Hill

Population: 72,937
Distance from Uptown: 27 miles southwest
Average commute: 23 minutes
Median income: $40,396
Median home price: $129,200

river-walk-rock-hill

Very nice schools, and tons of new development. The Riverwalk area is remarkable.

Trending: Up

12) Tega Cay

Population: 9,946
Distance from Uptown: 20 miles southwest
Average commute: 31 minutes
Median income: $119,250
Median home price: $296,800

tega-cay-golf-club

Getting here is tough, but lake life is nice. Nice golf, too.

Trending: Neutral

13) Concord

Population: 89,891
Distance from Uptown: 25 miles northeast
Average commute: 26 minutes
Median income: $53,587
Median home price: $166,300

Concord definitely has its own center of gravity, and Charlotte Motor Speedway is a national draw. With Concord Mills and the aquarium, the shopping and other amenities are excellent. It’s also convenient to the booming University City area.

Trending: Up

14) Stallings

Population: 15,378
Distance from Uptown: 15 miles southeast
Average commute: 29 minutes
Median income: $78,891
Median home price: $215,700

Stallings is sneaky big, even though it doesn’t have much of Charlotte’s collective mindshare. Independence Boulevard is a bear, though. The eventual light rail line or other public transit on the east side could vault this town up the list.

Trending: Up

15) Mint Hill

Population: 26,236
Distance from Uptown: 16 miles east
Average commute: 29 minutes
Median income: $67,477
Median home price: $207,500

mint hill town hall

Farmland and mansions and a very nice public park.

Trending: Up

16) Gastonia

Population: 75,536
Distance from Uptown: 22 miles west
Average commute: 23 minutes
Median income: $40,432
Median home price: $137,900

downtown-gastonia

Photo via Facebook

Insert Gastonia joke here (but it’s really not as bad as people say). There’s a lovely little downtown area.

Trending: Down

17) Harrisburg

Population: 15,349
Distance from Uptown: 14 miles northeast
Average commute: 28 minutes
Median income: $82,628
Median home price: $228,400

They have a nice Fourth of July festival, and this town is a pretty good option for the University City area.

Trending: Neutral

18) Indian Trail

Population: 38,222
Distance from Uptown: 16 miles southeast
Average commute: 30 minutes
Median income: $66,589
Median home price: $171,000

There’s no real downtown area, and you can’t avoid U.S. 74. They have their own brewery now, and future mass transit will help.

Trending: Up

Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau

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Andrew Dunn
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Editor-in-Chief