Is Charlotte an expensive place to live?

The skyline of downtown Charlotte, N.C., is shown in this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo.

When considering a big move to a city like Charlotte, there are a lot of factors that go into the decision, like how much does the city offer when it comes to jobs, activities and culture. It's also important to ask the question: Is Charlotte an expensive place to live? 

The city of Charlotte has a lot to offer potential residents who are considering a move. It's a big city with a small town feel. An old city with a new look and fresh ideas — it's come a long way from its early days in the textile industry to the big banking capital it is today.

You'll find everything from Fortune 500 companies to thriving small businesses. It's rich in culture with a variety of museums and art galleries. There's an abundance of activities to choose from including countless concerts, Broadway shows and professional sporting events. The city's social scene is a vibrant one with a lively night life, a robust selection of distinguished restaurants and bars, plus the city's international airport makes it easy to travel the globe. Housing options range from high-rise studio apartments in Uptown to stately mansions with ample land in family-friendly neighborhoods. But with everything the Queen City has to offer, when it comes down to affordability — is Charlotte expensive to live in?

According to Area Vibes, Charlotte's cost of living is 3% higher than the state of North Carolina's average, but 2% lower than the national average.

Here's how Charlotte's cost of living stacks up against the national average — broken up into specific categories such as health care, housing, transportation and utilities. (All percentages based on Area Vibes' report)

Dental visit: 23.3% higher
Doctor visit: 6.6% lower
Optometry visit: 13.2% higher

Apartment rent: 2% lower
Average mortgage payment: 23.1% lower
Home prices: 3.1% lower

Gas: 2% lower

Electric: 4.3% lower
Phone: 11.9% lower

The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce offers a Cost Of Living Calculator that can give you an idea of how comparable living costs are between your current city and Charlotte. It is simple and easy to use and provides a lot of information all in one place. All you have to do is enter your salary and the city you currently live in and Charlotte.

Costs that can be calculated include the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care. It can even break costs down to specific items. For example, a tube of toothpaste costs an average of $3.19 in Charlotte versus $2.49 across the country.

The calculator will also do a salary comparison that provides the actual amount of money you would bring home after income tax, as well as a total monthly cost comparison between the two locations and the national average. (The Chamber's information is based on a mid-management four-person family.)

The Council for Community and Economic Research is another helpful tool to use to find accurate information when it comes to the cost of living and deciding is Charlotte expensive to live in. They provide city-to-city cost comparisons and release cost of living information every quarter to provide the most up-to-date results for a small fee that's less than $10.