I grew up in fayetteville and well has it good spots and not so good spots. As just like jacksonville is based around the military base. (my Dad is retired Army).Would i move back to fayetteville, not a chance. I have enjoyed it up in Raleigh area (now fuquay-varina) which is about 30-45 min from fayetteville/spring lake area.
The schools in wake county are far better than fayetteville, although Wake county as been having issues with reassignment and what not.
I can't say anything about the Charlotte area since I have only really just passed by going to the mountains.
Areas in Wake County
Apex- Cheaper than Cary but not for long.
Cary-Expensive but good place to raise a family.( High Concentration of Northerners)
Garner- Close to Raleigh/Cary/apex cheaper than apex cary and raleigh
Fuquay- Growing and still cheaper than all of the above
morrisville- on the expensive side
Holly springs-good area and growing alot.
Don't know how old your kids are but once they get out of high school, there are so many Colleges within the area to look at.
Duke,UNC, NC State, Wake Tech(community College), Wake Forrest. Many more smaller 4yr colleges to choose from.
So to me the area has so much to offer for a family.
Hope this helps.