Winston-Salem (population 229,600) is part of the Piedmont Triad of cities along the northern tier of North Carolina that includes Greensboro and High Point, and in assessing one, you can include the benefits of all. For example, a unified mass transit system provides express service from all the cities to the Triad International Airport, which is located between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, and from all the cities to the Duke Medical Center in Durham and the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill.
As for the lifestyle, history is instructive. The city's lineup of universities is a testament to its diversity. There's Wake Forest, the nationally recognized private university; the historically all-black Winston-Salem State University; the oldest women's college in America, Salem University; and one of the most prestigious art schools, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Its symphony, founded in 1947, is the oldest in the state, and its arts council was the first in the nation. Which is not to say the city hasn't developed more contemporary outlets. It hosts an international film festival every spring -- RiverRun International Film Festival.
Best of all, Winston-Salem is affordable: The median home price is $137,000.