Discover Johnston County NC The Fast-Growing Gem Near Raleigh for Homebuyers and Investors

Discover Johnston County, NC: The Fast-Growing Gem Near Raleigh for Homebuyers and Investors

Johnston County, North Carolina, is on the cusp of an unprecedented growth spurt, making it one of the state's fastest-growing counties. This surge is not accidental but the result of a confluence of strategic factors that promise to elevate the county's status in the coming years. From its enviable proximity to Raleigh to smart growth initiatives, burgeoning biotech investments, affordable housing, exceptional quality of life, and strategic location near major transportation routes, Johnston County is a beacon for potential homeowners and investors alike. Let's delve into the reasons behind this growth and why the momentum is only expected to accelerate.

Map of NC Counties

The region is home to such well known Universities such as North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University as well as Research Triangle Park, one of the largest centers of innovation and employment in the state of North Carolina. These universities attract local students and students from around the country and the world. After they graduate many find job opportunities in RTP but also all over the region and often decide it is a place to call home. 

Proximity to Greater Raleigh Area

Johnston County's proximity to Raleigh and Wake County, NC  is a significant driver of its growth. As the capital city expands, many are looking for more affordable, peaceful living options within commuting distance. The county offers just that, with the added benefit of a more relaxed, suburban lifestyle juxtaposed against the backdrop of easy access to urban amenities. Being this close to Raleigh allows residents to enjoy the best of both worlds: working in the city while living in an area that offers spacious homes and a sense of community often missing in more urban settings. 

Downtown Raleigh

Not only is Downtown Raleigh a draw, Durham, Cary, Wake Forest, Chapel Hill, North Hills are all within driving distance. While moving to Raleigh is the reason a lot of folks came to NC the Wake County real estate market prices a lot of homebuyers out or rather their dream home in Raleigh is no longer in their budget. So looking for a home to suit the needs of homebuyers requires looking further afield and some of the best places to live in the Triangle is Johnston County. The county is bordered to the east and north by Wake County and shares a mailing address with such towns as Wendell, Zebulon which surprises some folks but it is common as towns grow and spread their reach.

Smart Growth Initiatives By Johnston County Leaders

Strategic Land Use Planning

Johnston County employs strategic land use planning to ensure that growth is both managed and directed in ways that benefit the community. This involves designating areas for residential, commercial, and industrial development while preserving open spaces, agricultural lands, and natural resources. By doing so, the county aims to prevent urban sprawl, reduce traffic congestion, and maintain the area's rural charm. Many parts of the county are in a transitional phase of moving from all agriculture to a mix of agriculture and residential or commercial realty. 

Infrastructure Investment

A cornerstone of the county's smart growth initiatives is the investment in infrastructure that supports sustainable development. This includes upgrading water and sewer systems to accommodate new growth, improving roads and transportation networks to enhance connectivity, and expanding public services to meet the needs of a growing population. These investments are carefully planned to align with future growth areas, ensuring that development is both efficient and effective.

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection is a key aspect of the county's growth strategy. The county implements measures to protect its waterways, forests, and wildlife habitats from the impacts of development. This includes enforcing strict environmental regulations, promoting green building practices, and supporting conservation efforts. By prioritizing the environment, Johnston County ensures that its natural beauty and resources are preserved for future generations.

Economic Development

Smart growth in the county also focuses on economic development that attracts diverse industries while supporting local businesses. The county works to create a business-friendly environment that encourages investment and job creation, particularly in sectors like biotechnology, healthcare, and manufacturing. Economic development initiatives are designed to bolster the local economy, provide employment opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for residents.

Economic Development

Community Engagement

Engaging the community is a fundamental component of JOCO's smart growth initiatives. The county seeks input from residents, business owners, and stakeholders in the planning process, ensuring that growth reflects the community's needs and values. Through public meetings, workshops, and feedback channels, Johnston County fosters a collaborative approach to development, building consensus and support for its growth strategies.

Homes For Sale and Affordability

Addressing housing needs and affordability is crucial in the county's approach to smart growth. The county promotes the development of a diverse range of housing options to accommodate different income levels, family sizes, and preferences. This includes encouraging the construction of affordable housing, mixed-use developments, and senior living communities. By ensuring access to affordable, quality housing, JOCO aims to attract and retain a diverse population.

The county's smart growth initiatives represent a comprehensive approach to managing the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid development. By focusing on strategic planning, infrastructure investment, environmental protection, economic development, community engagement, and housing affordability, the county is poised to sustain its growth in a way that benefits both current and future residents. These efforts underscore the county's commitment to creating a vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive community.

Investment and Job Growth in the Biotech Industries

The biotech industry's expansion in the region is a game-changer, bringing with it high-quality jobs and significant investment. This sector's growth is a testament to the county's strategic efforts to diversify its economy and attract forward-thinking companies such as Novo Nordisk and Grifols The presence of these industries not only boosts the local economy but also positions the county  as a hub for innovation and technology, drawing a skilled workforce keen on contributing to cutting-edge advancements. Collaborations with community colleges like JCC and Wake Tech, NC State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and the business community ensures that a well trained workforce is available to fill the jobs created.

Affordable Housing Real Estate Market 

In an era where affordable housing is increasingly scarce, Johnston County, NC stands out for its commitment to keeping living costs manageable. This affordability is a magnet for families, young professionals, and retirees alike, offering a variety of housing options that don't sacrifice quality for price. The ability to own a home while still having access to high-quality amenities and employment opportunities is a compelling proposition for many.

Homes for sale in JOCO

While homes for sale in Johnston County have increased with the rest of the market throughout the Triangle, the prices are better than certainly Wake County's and most neighborhoods in Raleigh of comparable homes. In fact there are some times when a builder will have a certain floor plan priced differently in say Clayton versus Cary or North Raleigh, same square feet , # of bedrooms etc.

Quality of Life

Johnston County's quality of life is unparalleled, with its blend of rural charm and modern conveniences. The county boasts excellent schools, a thriving arts scene, abundant recreational opportunities, and a strong sense of community. These factors make it not just a place to live but a place to thrive, appealing to those who value a well-rounded lifestyle.

Golf Courses

Johnston County is home to several picturesque golf courses that cater to enthusiasts of all skill levels. These courses blend challenging play with the stunning natural beauty of the area, offering serene landscapes and well-maintained greens. Notable courses include the Neuse Golf Club in Clayton, known for its scenic views and rolling fairways, and the Riverwood Golf Club, which offers a mix of water hazards and strategic layouts to challenge golfers.


The weather in Johnston County is characterized by mild winters and warm, sunny summers, making it an ideal location for outdoor activities year-round. This pleasant climate allows residents to enjoy the county's abundant natural resources and recreational opportunities, from hiking and biking in the cooler months to water activities and golf in the summer.

Proximity to the Mountains and the Coast

One of Johnston County's most appealing features is its strategic location, offering easy access to both North Carolina's breathtaking mountains and its pristine coastal areas.

Outer BanksWithin a few hours' drive, residents can explore the Appalachian Mountains to the west or enjoy the beaches of the Atlantic Coast and the Outer Banks to the east. This proximity provides endless weekend getaway options and opportunities to enjoy North Carolina's diverse natural landscapes.

Walking Trails and Greenways

The county boasts an extensive network of walking trails and greenways that connect communities and offer peaceful retreats into nature. These trails vary from leisurely walks to more challenging hikes, ensuring that there's something for everyone. The Clayton River Walk on the Neuse is  part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, providing a scenic route for walkers, runners, and cyclists alike. Clayton River Walk on the Neuse connects with the recently completed Sam's Branch Greenway, a 1.5 mile trail. 

Abundance of Parks and Natural Resources

Johnston County's commitment to preserving its natural beauty is evident in its numerous parks and recreational areas. From the sprawling Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, a great place to visit, offering educational programs and outdoor activities, to the community-focused parks with sports facilities, playgrounds, and picnic areas, there's a wealth of outdoor experiences to be had. These parks not only serve as green spaces for relaxation and play but also play a crucial role in conserving the county's biodiversity and natural habitats.

The quality of life in Johnston County is a significant factor in its growing popularity. With its combination of recreational amenities, natural beauty, and a climate that encourages year-round outdoor activities, the county offers a lifestyle that is both enriching and accessible. Whether you're a golf enthusiast, nature lover, or someone who appreciates the convenience of being located between the mountains and the coast, Johnston County presents a compelling case for those seeking a balanced and fulfilling life.

Strategic Location In The Middle Of NC

The strategic importance of Johnston County's location cannot be overstated. Its proximity to I-95 and the coastal regions, coupled with the completion of Interstate 540, enhances its attractiveness for businesses and residents alike. These transportation links make it easier to travel, commute, and transport goods, further integrating Johnston County into the broader economic fabric of the region. Johnston County is approximately halfway between New York and Florida. This puts businesses within a two-day truck drive of more than 200 million U.S. and Canadian consumers. The proximity to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and easy access to Downtown Raleigh the mountains to the west and the beautiful North Carolina coast to the east cannot be overstated.  Here are some of the top growing towns in Johnston County 

1. Clayton

Clayton is one of the fastest-growing towns in Johnston County, known for its charming downtown and family-friendly atmosphere. The town is responding to growth by investing in infrastructure improvements, including road widening projects and the development of new parks and recreational facilities. The Town of Clayton is also attracting businesses and jobs, particularly in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, contributing to the town's economic diversity and stability. Downtown Clayton is adding restaurants, bars and entertainment venues along with small business retail stores. 

Living in Clayton

2. Smithfield

As the county seat of Johnston County, Smithfield is at the heart of the region's growth. The town is focusing on revitalizing its historic downtown area to attract more visitors and support local businesses.The town is also enhancing its public services, including schools and healthcare facilities, to accommodate the growing population. The completion of the Johnston County Workforce Development Center is a testament to Smithfield's commitment to education and job training.

3. Selma

Selma is known for its rich history and as a hub for antique shopping. In response to growth, Selma is leveraging its historical assets to boost tourism and economic development. The town is also improving its infrastructure, with upgrades to water and sewer systems and enhancements to transportation networks to better connect residents with the broader region. The opening of the Eastfield Crossing Shopping Center in Selma anchored by Target and Belks is part of a planned development that will include various housing options with a mix of retail and office, medical buildings.

4. Benson

Benson, with its strategic location at the intersection of I-95 and I-40, is focusing on economic development by attracting logistics and distribution centers that benefit from the town's easy access to major highways. Benson is also investing in community amenities, including parks and cultural events, to enhance the quality of life for its residents and make the town more attractive to newcomers.

5. Archer Lodge

One of the newer towns in Johnston County, Archer Lodge is experiencing rapid growth. The town is concentrating on managing this growth responsibly, with a focus on maintaining its rural character while providing the necessary services and infrastructure. This includes planning for new schools, improving roads, and ensuring that development is sustainable and in line with the community's values.

6. Kenly

Kenly is responding to growth by focusing on community development and infrastructure improvements. The town is enhancing its utilities and services to support new residential and commercial development. Kenly's location, near major highways, positions it as a potential growth area for industries seeking access to transportation routes.

7. Four Oaks

Four Oaks is embracing growth by preserving its small-town charm while planning for the future. The town is updating its land use plans and zoning ordinances to guide development in a way that respects its heritage. Four Oaks is also investing in infrastructure and exploring opportunities to attract businesses that complement its community-oriented atmosphere.

Each of these towns is taking proactive steps to manage growth in a way that balances development with quality of life. By focusing on infrastructure, economic development, and community services, they are ensuring that this remains a desirable place to live, work, and visit for years to come.

The Future is Bright

The growth Johnston County is experiencing is just the beginning. With its strategic advantages, commitment to smart growth, and the ongoing investment in key industries, the county is poised for even more significant expansion in the years to come. As a real estate professional in the Greater Raleigh area, I've witnessed firsthand the potential of the region. Its allure is undeniable, and its trajectory is upward. For those considering making Johnston County their home or investment destination, the time is now. The future here is not just promising; it's bright.

Johnston County's story is one of strategic growth, economic diversification, and an unwavering commitment to quality of life. As we look to the future, it's clear that this county is not just growing; it's thriving. Whether you're looking to move, invest, or simply explore what North Carolina has to offer, Johnston County is a destination that deserves your attention.

This post is brought to you by David O'Doherty, a licensed real estate agent since 2007 helping buyers and sellers in the Greater Raleigh Area of North Carolina. He is committed to providing his clients with exceptional full-service and personalized attention throughout every step of the real estate process. If you're looking to buy or sell a property in Raleigh or the surrounding areas or have any questions about the local real estate market, don't hesitate to contact David O'Doherty today. Call or Text (919) 601-2268 or email [email protected]

Post a Comment