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Young Family-friendly neighborhoods in Chapel Hill

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hi - can anyone recommend family friendly neighborhoods in Chapel Hill? Or perhaps mention some that are not? We are moving there, and are used to having lots of young kids in the neighborhood ... My daughter loves "visiting" with them all on our afternoon dog walks. It would be nice to have that again! (i have a 4 y.o. And 2 month old.)
Are there areas other than Carrboro/ downtown that are walking-friendly? Just having a couple of shops/restaurants and a park nearby Is so nice.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Oh, and Anyone have a patient and clued-in realtor to recommend?
post #2 of 47

We're hoping to move into that direction in about a year.... lurk.gif

post #3 of 47

Southern Village and Meadowmont are both mixed use neighborhoods with schools and shops as well as homes. They are more self contained neighborhoods and not close (as in walkable) to the town centers, though. They're both relatively newer neighborhoods developed in the 90s, I believe. There are many other newer neighborhoods, too, but I think Meadowmont and Southern Village do the integrated thing better than the others if that's what you are looking for. They don't appeal to me because I like older funky neighborhoods, but a lot of people are very happy there. Not sure how much you want to spend either. 


There are lots of parks and walkable neighborhoods throughout both towns.

post #4 of 47
Thread Starter 

I think I agree with you on the older, funkier houses Beanma! But thank you for sharing those two areas... good to check it all out :) We're coming down in a couple of weeks to look at houses with an agent, and tour the Waldorf school -- I'm excited! 

post #5 of 47

While downtown Chapel Hill is walkable as far as shops and restaurants goes, it isn't exactly family friendly, and there aren't a lot of useful places to walk (like a grocery store). Downtown Carrboro is probably your best bet for family friendly plus old/funky/walkable, but it's not cheap. 


You could also check out areas of northern Chapel Hill like the Timberlyne area. You can walk to Timberlyne Shopping Center (grocery store although not a great one, drugstore, hardware store, post office, restaurants, movie theaters, coffee shop, banks, etc) and once construction is finished on Weaver Dairy Rd., you could probably more easily and safely cross to get to Chapel Hill North (grocery store, pizza place, doctor's offices, UPS store, etc). I can't think of a park that's really close though, but in that area, you probably wouldn't need one. The houses have nice yards and you could put in some play equipment if there isn't some already. 


You could also check out Booker Creek. You can take Booker Creek Trail, which is a paved trail, to E. Franklin Street where there are tons of shops, eateries, and grocery stores (TraderJoe's, Whole Foods) in Eastgate Shopping Center and Village Plaza. I do most of my shopping in this area as do many people I know. It wouldn't be a stretch for an adult to walk to the library (which is undergoing renovations and has temporarily moved) or to University Mall either, but it would probably be a bit of a trek for little ones unless they were in a stroller. There's always the free bus though. It may not give door to door service, but it can reduce some walking. 


Good luck!



edited to fix typo

Edited by AbbyGrant - 4/23/12 at 3:08pm
post #6 of 47

There are some older (60s/70s/80s) neighborhoods in Carrboro (Windwood, etc) that aren't the historic mill houses (which are very cool, but very $$), but are still very walkable. You need to be on the interior of the 54 bypass for walkability. 


Our older (60s/70s) neighborhood is in Chapel Hill, but has decent walkability. My husband walks to work at UNC every day (uphill on the way in) and we're very close to a bookstore, park, pool, and cafe and a couple of other restaurants. We do sometimes walk to Carrboro on the weekends and go to Weaver Street, but that's more of a hike. We don't often walk downtown because it is uphill all the way! There are some historic neighborhoods closer to campus in Chapel Hill (between campus and Carrboro) that are pretty walkable. I know several families who live there. Lots of these 60s/70s era neighborhoods have families with kids in them now as the older folks move on. Our neighborhood is pretty mixed with some young families and some older folks and some in between with older or grown kids. One advantage of Carrboro is that it's generally flatter than Chapel Hill! I didn't think that was a big deal until I had kids who wanted to learn to ride bikes, but we just learned to take our bikes somewhere flatter.


Oh, if your agent doesn't seem to get you let me know. I have a friend, Anne Hoole,  who is a realtor and I'm sure she would understand where you're coming from. She's a mom with elementary school age kids. Sorry I didn't catch your request for recommendations the first time around.

post #7 of 47
Thread Starter 

SO helpful AbbyGrant! This all confirms what I read, and is just where I have been looking at houses (online anyway :) 


And thank you BeanMa - sorry, which neighborhood are you in? Or did you not mention on purpose :)

I love hilly neighborhoods for some reason, but you're right... young kids and bikes and hills are not the best combo.

My husband walks 45min to work here in Va. and i'm sure he'd love to continue doing that ... But I suspect he's going to find work in Raleigh and have to do the horrible commuting thing. I just don't want to live there or Durham :/

Carrboro is definitely the wrong side of town for driving I suppose, and probably too pricey for what we want in a house... but I love the idea of being able to walk/bike to the Farmer's Market & Weaver Street Market. It reminds me of my local organic market.. less choice than Whole Foods so I don't overbuy!


I will definitely take down that realtor's name just in case. The woman we are working with seems lovely, but buying a house that you want to be your HOME for a long time is something I want to do right. So exciting though! Can't wait to visit next week. 



post #8 of 47

Oh, gosh, don't dismiss Durham out of hand. Not sure what you've heard about it, but it's got an absolutely wonderful vibe and if we lived in either of the other 2 points in the Triangle that would be the town. Lots of cool stuff going on in Durham and it is a lot cheaper. If you're not interested in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools (thinking Waldorf all the way?) definitely do take a look at Durham. We were just over there for the Girls On The Run 5k at the American Tobacco Campus and it's so nicely done. It had been awhile since I'd been to the ATC and it's looking so good now. I'd drive over there while you're in the area and check it out for sure. Durham has a very crunchy, artsy scene with a good farmer's market and fantastic restaurants (written up in NYT). If money is an issue you can definitely buy more house for your bucks there. Check out http://www.bullcityrising.com/ for more Durm resources.


As far as CH/C a lot of the older 60s/70s neighborhoods don't really have names that anyone refers to. Our neighborhood doesn't have a sign or anything. I don't know what your price range is, but you might find the maps feature on trulia.com helpful. You can see where the neighborhoods are located. Carrboro and Chapel Hill are basically the same price range so if Carrboro is too expensive for you Chapel Hill is most likely to be too. You can find something older for $250 in either town, though. 

post #9 of 47
Thread Starter 
No, I certainly haven't dismissed it... Can't dismiss those prices! I'm just so clueless about the neighborhoods. Some look dodgy and some look like new construction dullsville.
And I'm worried we're not going to be able to afford Emerson for both kids for 12years! I'd like the best public school options as a back up. I'm sure there are good schools in Durham, but again, I'm currently clueless.. and how hard are the charter schools to get into?
We had a fun night in Durham last visit ... At a wine bar, and another bar with a nice rooftop deck overlooking the city. It reminds me of Baltimore a bit.
I'm off to look at those Trulia maps now smile.gif
Thanks so much for your advice!
post #10 of 47


Originally Posted by GreenRose View Post

I'm worried we're not going to be able to afford Emerson for both kids for 12years!


I was terrified through the entire application process at this time last year. Emerson Waldorf has been my dream school since DD was a toddler before we ever moved back to NC. Last year, I had visited one other private school nearby, which I liked, but it just wasn't a good fit for DD. After I realized how easy-going the admissions stuff was, I felt a lot better. The financial aid application is quite a process, but it's well worth it. They gave us an AWESOME tuition adjustment, and the decision was just made for next year and I'm completely satisfied with it. I've stopped teaching recently, so losing that income was scary, but the school didn't disappoint me!


We've been looking at houses (online & w/a realtor) in the Durham and Chapel Hill areas on and off for the past 3 years, and it looks like prices in the Chapel Hill area are finally dropping a little. Prices here in Durham County have been consistently dropping, especially new construction.

post #11 of 47

Well the thing is with the best public schools comes the higher tax rate, too. So that's a consideration for a lot of folks, but I do think the schools are good here. We bought a long time ago well before the bubble or we might be in Durham now.

post #12 of 47

So GreenRose, describe your ideal house and neighborhood and I'll really put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with some suggestions.

post #13 of 47
Thread Starter 

WednesdayO - thanks for being the bearer of awesome news!


BeanMa - You North Carolinians really live up to the helpful stereotype :) Thank you!  

I think i'm still formulating my definition of ideal, but will have a better idea after our visit next weekend. I'm sure the realtor is going to show us a dozen houses in various neighborhoods. I'd love to be able to walk to library with kids... a shop or two..  but not be near lots of big roads. I'd love a large, private yard... but know that's harder in more populated areas where you can walk. We're going to have to decide what we're willing to compromise on I suspect.

And higher taxes are okay if we're not paying for Waldorf school, and benefiting from good public school districts.

Anyone concerned about living near the Nuclear Power Plant?


Is anyone part of http://chapelhillmothersclub.org/  ??


post #14 of 47

For the library you'd want Estes Hills or Coker Hills which are NICE 50s/60s homes in a ranch or two story style. Could be a few split levels in there, too. There are newer houses dropped in older neighborhoods throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro and are probably a couple in those neighborhoods, too. There's also something newer (like 90s?) off Old Oxford Rd, too if I recall correctly. There's a little neighborhood called Hidden Hills (Burlage, Meadowbrook, and Hoot Owl Lane) that is right across from the permanent library location, but for all intents and purposes it's part of Estes Hills. We used to rent in that neighborhood so I happen to know it's real name is Hidden Hills, but not many people would. Hoot Owl Lane is such a cute little one track road. I doubt if there's anything for sale there, but that would be sweet. 


Carrboro's library is in McDougle Middle School so you have to go after school hours or you can go to the Cybrary in the basement of the Century Center http://www.co.orange.nc.us/library/carrboro.asp , but the Chapel Hill library is the big kahuna. I think it has the greatest circulation of any library in the state. Currently it is temporarily housed in University Mall (also walkable from Coker Hills or Estes Hills, but across a big road) while they expand the old location on Estes Dr. 


From Estes/Coker/Hidden Hills you could also walk to University Mall and Whole Foods/Trader Joes. Coker Hills is closer to TJs & WF. Estes Hills is closer to UMall and the library by a little bit, but the library really sits between the neighborhoods and there's a back way to walk to it from Coker Hills so that's negligible. There are big yards in all those neighborhoods, but they're probably pretty spendy and may be more than you want to shell out. 


Another neighborhood you might consider is Heritage Hills. It is not walkable except w/in itself, but it's more reasonable $$ wise. Again, older homes 60s/70s, but they have a great pool/club house and a lot of younger families live in the neighborhood. I think there's a park in the neighborhood. Biggish lots.


A more in-town area to consider is Colonial Heights, though again nobody knows that's its name, specifically Williams Circle and Lea Ct and to some extent Bradley Rd, though Williams or Lea would be my pref. There are a lot of young families there. It's not far from a park and cafe. I think there's a house for sale on Lea Ct right now, but not sure how much they're asking for.


In Carrboro go down North Greensboro St and N Hillsborough St and you'll see there are a lot of neighborhoods off there including Spring Valley and Bel Arbor, Barrington Hills, Bolin Forest, Cates Farm, Plantation Acres (flat, great for bike-riding), etc. Many of these neighborhoods are walkable to schools and Weaver St if you don't mind a little bit of a walk. The ones on the east side of N Greensboro also back up to the Carolina North Forest with trails that run through it.


I have a good friend in the Windwood neighborhood off Poplar St in Carrboro. It's very walkable (flat, close to Weaver St and the farmer's mkt) and there seem to be quite a few families there. Again older homes (60s, 70s ranch houses and split levels). 


I like the way this realtor has the neighborhoods described and listed, although I don't know a thing about her personally.


Good luck with your search!

post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 

Considered going into Real Estate BeanMa?! I am printing for our trip for reference :) Especially handy to know about the libraries and locations/changes.


Hoot Owl Lane... how cute is that name. Drat, I missed it: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/304-Hoot-Owl-Ln-Chapel-Hill-NC-27514/50039782_zpid/


Park and youngish families (Heritage Hills) sounds appealing too. Do you think Colonial Heights/Lea Court is too close to the airport?


Okay, better get off Trulia and make this family some dinner. At least I have an excuse for sitting in front of computer thanks to 8wk old and his constant nursing!

post #16 of 47

No, no, no. Don't worry about the airport. It only serves little bitty planes like Cessnas and is due to close soon anyway. No jets. I think it's kinda cute. Not an issue at all.


However, that area north of the airport is slated to become Carolina North and will be an extension of the University with research campus, mixed use, housing, etc, so that is something to bear in mind. It may cause traffic issues, but may increase home values in nearby neighborhoods. Having a home within walking distance of both Carolina North and the main campus could be a good thing.

post #17 of 47
Thread Starter 
Ahh... My education continues!
post #18 of 47

Well if you see any specific homes you're interested in on Trulia or elsewhere and want a little more info I'd be happy to give you my impressions. Don't think I could cut it as a real estate agent. Just can't pull off the polished thing, but over the internet I enjoy the hunt!


Personally I'd look in Carrboro if you're looking for walkable and also young families, but there are places in Chapel Hill that would work, too. 

post #19 of 47

If you're not committed to chapel hill proper you should check out PIttsboro.  It's about 16 miles south of Chapel hill and is a great little bedroom community.  You can get a lot more house for your money, plus lower property taxes.  In town is very walkable, and we have some great funky local restaurants that focus on local and sustainable foods, three local farmer's markets, and a local food co-op, just for starters!


The local public schools are good, but there are also three charter schools with I think six more slated to open soon and a montessori school that's currently private but trying to go charter.

post #20 of 47

Pittsboro is also commutable to Greensboro, Chapel HIll, RTP, and Raleigh.

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