Best Cities for Dentists in the South

Few people enjoy going to the dentist—but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64% of American adults between 18 and 64 went at least once in 2018. With demand for dental services higher than ever, we looked at the data on jobs, median incomes and local home values to identify the best cities for dentists in the South.

Our study scored and ranked urban locations from 16 states in the South using several key characteristics, including salary information and real estate data. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a dentist in the South was $181,032 per year.

best large medium and small southern cities for dentists

Best Cities for Dentists in the South

Besides sorting cities according to population, we also looked at the overall ranking of the best places for dentists in the South. Most of the top cities we selected were large cities with total populations of over 500,000, although each place stood out for a different combination of reasons.

RankLocationRatingAverage Income for Dentists
1Tampa, FL75.0$221,060
2Raleigh, NC74.5$237,450
3Naples, FL68.0$177,810
4Birmingham, AL67.3$202,110
5Columbia, SC66.7$202,550

1. Tampa, Florida

The greater Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA was rated our best city for dentists in the South, thanks to high median dental incomes, a large supply of available housing at affordable prices, and a high demand for dental professionals. The BLS data we worked with reported over 1,290 active dentists in the area, the second-highest jobs figure among cities in Florida.

Dentists looking to buy a home in Tampa will find plenty of options, with a 30-year mortgage payment on the median area home value of $179,215 taking up just over 4% of the median monthly dental income. The Tampa metro region also ranked number one among large cities in the South for Dentists to buy a home in, which is excellent news for young dentists craving the excitement of big city living at an affordable price.

2. Raleigh, North Carolina

Ranked second overall in the South, Raleigh, North Carolina is an excellent city for dentists to settle in, thanks to its high income levels for dental professionals and growing demand for dentists. The capital of North Carolina also ranked highly in terms of economic strength, demonstrating consistent growth over the past few years. In fact, median home values in Raleigh grew by over 22% over the past five year period.

Raleigh is one of the fastest-growing cities in the South, and young dentists graduating from school won't be disappointed. In our study, Raleigh also scored among the top third of MSAs in the nation for highest median dental income. Dentists in the city earned a median salary of $237,450 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Naples, Florida

The greater Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island MSA ranked third-best overall in the South for dentists, and number one among medium-sized southern cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people. It was also the only MSA in our top five with a population under 500,000. The Naples region offers excellent value to dentists, and boasts the fastest growing real estate market in the South, with median home values appreciating by 52% over the five-year period between 2013 and 2018.

While properties in Naples are relatively expensive, dentists in the area can look forward to relatively low costs of living, a large selection of homes for sale and steady demand for their services. Naples also boasts scenic beachfront properties and over 90 golf courses around the area. In fact, the region was rated number one on the National Golf Foundation's ranking of golf holes per capita, making it an excellent destination for dentists looking to tee-off in between fillings.

4. Birmingham, Alabama

The Birmingham-Hoover MSA is fourth on our list of top cities for dentists in the South, and third amongst large southern metro areas with populations above 500,000. It's also the only place featured in our top five that's located in Alabama. Above-average salaries in the area combined with low costs of living give dental professionals a solid two-for-one value proposition.

Birmingham residents pay an average of just 0.51% of their home value in annual property taxes, while median dental salaries are above-average at $202,110. We also found that the region's real estate market demonstrated healthy growth, with home values appreciating by 23% since 2013.

5. Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia rounds out our top five southern cities for dentists. The city's above-average location quotient reflects a steady local demand for dental services. Dentists purchasing the average Columbia home can expect to pay as little as 4% of their monthly income towards mortgage expenses, assuming they take out a 30- year mortgage and finance 80% of their property. Local property values have also grown a healthy 17% over the past five year period.

Columbia is the capital and second largest city in the state of South Carolina. Despite the large government presence, residents of Columbia enjoy relatively low tax rates, with the average homeowner paying just 0.64% of their home value towards property taxes. It's also ranked number four amongst the top large cities in the South for dentists.

Southern Cities Where Dentists Earn the Most

If you're looking to increase your income as a dentist, we've also provided a short list of southern cities where dentists are paid the most. Labor data from the BLS showed that the mean annual income for dentists in the south varies widely by location, from $69,000 to $269,000. In the top-earning regions below, dentists can earn as much as a quarter million dollars per year.

RankLocationAnnual Mean Wage
1Sebring, FL$269,300
2Winston-Salem, NC$250,940
3Jonesboro, AR$249,920
4Midland, TX$249,690
5Charlotte, NC$246,970

Southern Cities with Fastest-Rising Property Values

A good way to gauge the growth of an area is to look at how quickly home values in the region grow over time. Based on the period between 2013 and 2018, median home values in the five regions below exhibited the fastest growth across the south. In fact, property values in the following five locales all increased by 40% or more over the past five years.

RankLocation2013 Median Home Value2018 Median Home Value5-Year Change
1Naples, FL$230,042$349,50652%
2North Port, FL$152,556$229,59851%
3Miami, FL$174,399$259,73149%
4Austin, TX$187,542$266,66342%
5Punta Gorda, FL$130,537$182,94340%

Most Affordable Places in the South for Homebuyers

One way to get the most bang for your buck is to go where the homes are cheapest relative to your income. The mortgage payments on properties in the following areas can cost as little as 2% of the average dentist's monthly salary. We estimated the affordability ratio using the median home value and median annual dentist's income for the area.

RankLocationMonthly MortgageAverage Dentist IncomeHome Affordability Ratio
1Sebring, FL$431$269,3001.9%
2Brownsville, TX$373$190,0702.4%
3Jonesboro, AR$550$249,9202.6%
4Rocky Mount, NC$467$200,9702.8%
5Sumter, SC$465$194,3902.9%
Monthly mortgage cost equals principal and interest for a 30-year loan at 5% with a 20% down payment on the local median home value.

Full List of Cities in the South

In our search for the best cities for dentists, we reviewed all of the major metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. This left us with data from 92 cities and MSAs across the South - one of the broadest geographic regions recognized by the Census Bureau.

RankLocationOverall RatingAverage Income for Dentists
1Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL75.0$221,060
2Raleigh, NC74.5$237,450
3Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL68.0$177,810
4Birmingham-Hoover, AL67.3$202,110
5Columbia, SC66.7$202,550
6Morgantown, WV65.3$212,440
7Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC64.9$246,970
8Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN64.8$197,690
9Wilmington, NC64.3$225,500
10Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC63.8$225,430
11Charleston-North Charleston, SC63.4$168,980
12Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV63.3$189,810
13Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA62.9$175,430
14Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX60.5$170,790
15Punta Gorda, FL59.9$188,380
16Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL58.9$217,980
17Jonesboro, AR58.6$249,920
18Knoxville, TN58.5$193,260
19Port St. Lucie, FL58.4$224,210
20Asheville, NC58.3$229,060
21Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL58.3$164,690
22Spartanburg, SC57.9$189,880
23Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX57.9$189,410
24Ocala, FL57.4$210,590
25North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL57.3$143,370
26Fayetteville, NC56.2$209,590
27Corpus Christi, TX55.7$190,190
28Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL55.1$189,210
29Savannah, GA54.8$226,550
30Midland, TX54.5$249,690
31Lubbock, TX54.5$186,380
32Winchester, VA-WV54.1$155,300
33Richmond, VA53.8$145,300
34Jackson, MS53.7$184,940
35Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL53.5$136,800
36Austin-Round Rock, TX53.4$158,930
37Sebring, FL53.3$269,300
38Durham-Chapel Hill, NC53.3$206,290
39Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD52.9$143,980
40Dalton, GA52.8$168,340
41Abilene, TX52.5$204,690
42Amarillo, TX52.2$242,910
43Salisbury, MD-DE52.1$201,930
44Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA51.6$200,890
45Tyler, TX51.2$133,250
46Florence, SC51.0$178,190
47San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX50.5$157,830
48Fort Smith, AR-OK49.6$203,020
49Winston-Salem, NC48.9$250,940
50Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC48.4$195,940
51Greensboro-High Point, NC48.0$224,200
52Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC47.9$194,980
53Charleston, WV47.8$151,040
54Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV47.4$213,050
55Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD47.3$161,530
56Memphis, TN-MS-AR47.0$191,690
57Jacksonville, FL46.9$159,490
58Oklahoma City, OK46.3$142,250
59Clarksville, TN-KY46.1$189,360
60Athens-Clarke County, GA46.0$209,420
61Tulsa, OK45.9$163,000
62Charlottesville, VA45.9$154,790
63Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS45.9$200,040
64College Station-Bryan, TX45.8$166,720
65Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL45.8$139,250
66California-Lexington Park, MD45.0$133,890
67Rocky Mount, NC43.7$200,970
68Staunton-Waynesboro, VA43.6$220,770
69Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL43.5$200,560
70Sumter, SC43.4$194,390
71Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR42.4$136,390
72Lynchburg, VA42.2$180,630
73Brownsville-Harlingen, TX41.7$190,070
74Chattanooga, TN-GA40.5$131,980
75Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL38.7$161,110
76Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC38.5$159,120
77Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA37.6$175,370
78Gainesville, FL37.4$168,230
79Killeen-Temple, TX36.7$134,560
80Mobile, AL36.4$166,060
81Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL36.1$106,240
82Lake Charles, LA35.9$69,440
83Greenville, NC34.9$177,370
84Albany, GA33.8$161,010
85Lafayette, LA33.3$107,210
86Tallahassee, FL32.0$171,190
87Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC31.2$189,320
88Roanoke, VA30.0$136,270
89El Paso, TX29.3$138,580
90Texarkana, TX-AR29.2$178,380
91Shreveport-Bossier City, LA26.5$82,590
92Monroe, LA25.5$77,250


We looked at 92 cities and MSAs located across 16 states in the South and District of Columbia, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. We ranked each city on a number of criteria, converted the rankings into scores and totaled them into an overall score for each entry. All of the entries were then ranked according to magnitude, and the top results were tabulated above.

Large, medium and small cities are defined as regions with populations of over 500,000, 250,000 to 500,000, or below 250,000, respectively.

  • Mean Wage: Locations were ranked based on their median absolute dentist salary. Larger mean wage figures received higher scores.
  • Location Quotient: This measures the concentration of dentists as a percentage of all occupations in an area. Higher location quotients indicate a higher density of dentists, and consequently greater demand for their services. Higher location quotients received higher scores.
  • Vacancy for Sale: This reflects the percentage of local homes that were available for sale or otherwise vacant. A higher vacancy for sale rate indicated more available housing and a higher score.
  • Value Appreciation The strength of a local real estate market was evaluated based on its rate of growth over the past five years. Higher rates of appreciation received higher scores.
  • Costs of Ownership: The ratio of property taxes to home value were used to gauge local costs of homeownership. The higher the ratio, the more expenses a homeowner can reasonably expect. Consequently, regions with higher tax ratios received lower scores.
  • Affordability: It's difficult to measure property values on an absolute basis due to differences in real estate markets; we therefore contrasted median monthly dentist salaries with projected mortgage payments based on average local property values. The resulting ratios formed synthetic debt-to-income measures, which were then tabulated. Higher ratios obtained lower scores.
  • Economic Strength: MSAs with high economic strength scores exhibited higher rates of growths, had strong job markets and demonstrated consistent improvement over time. We scored cities in accordance with their economic strength rankings, provided by POLICOM Corporation's 2018 survey on Metropolitan/Micropolitan Economic Strength.

Income is likely an important factor for dentists starting their career or relocating. A high salary in an expensive city may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our scoring rubric was calibrated to adjust for both absolute and relative figures, and results are intended to reflect the best value for a given location.

All employment and salary data was obtained from the Bureau for Labor Statistics, while housing data was obtained from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Cities and MSAs for which occupation or housing data were not available were not considered in this study.

Kenny Zhu

Kenny covers Mortgage, Business and Lending content for ValuePenguin and has worked in the financial industry since 2013. He produces studies, guides and opinion pieces on consumer finance.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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