We are making tentative plans to move to Raleigh in about 18 months. Though I really want to move to Chapel Hill, it looks like most of the jobs in our fields (software development & accounting) are in Raleigh. So...what neighborhoods are good? Bad?
Easily accessible whole foods are important for us. We also would like to be near a vibrant progressive intellectual and/or LGBT community. The kids will be in elementary school then, and we're looking for schools with above-average academics - preferably public, but we can do private as well.
Our plan is to rent an apartment or townhouse for a year or so. I'd like to cap the rent at $1200 a month. We're hoping we can spend that time visiting neighborhoods and seeing what's going on everywhere before we buy a house, but if we can relocate to a good neighborhood to start, that'll just make life sweeter.
There are tons of software jobs listed around the Triangle area all of the time. DH is in networking, optimization, security, etc, and those aren't nearly as prevalent. Accounting does seem to harder to come by from what a couple of other newcomers to the area have said.
Anyway, I'm babbling. My original point was that this whole area is pretty commutable and you can live anywhere and work somewhere else. It's all in the timing of traffic and how often you have to be at your children's schools etc.
Wendy - aspiring Waldorf handwork teacher, computer geek's wife ,
mom to former 2lb preemie (now 9) & 3x
I have seen .Net development jobs in most of the area, but the ones listed in CH, in particular, pay significantly less than what DH currently makes. We're in a low cost-of-living area now, so he should be making at least what he's making now when we move. Of course we're also assuming the job market will pick up a bit in 18 months. He's always had better luck with headhunters, so I'm assuming that's what we'll do. The searching I'm doing now is just dreaming. We've done the large city commute before and want to avoid a lengthy commute it if we can.
Chapel Hill has more of a reputation as a liberal town, but Raleigh really has a lot to recommend it. I certainly have lots of crunchy friends who live there. And truly, commuting from CH to Raleigh would be no fun. If your dh ends up with a job in RTP, the easiest commute is probably to Durham, especially the more southern parts. (We live in Durham and love it.)
I will re-evaluate Durham. Right now, since we're just doing searches through online databases, very little comes up in Chapel Hill. Most of those searches default to Raleigh locations.
I did check out a piece on Durham last night that was pretty funny. I've heard most of those lines! Still reading it was useful for me because I did have a view of Durham as the "blue collar" town of the Triangle, which isn't where we want to live. Plus, I checked out the Durham Public Schools and found some great things there. I actually really like our teachers and school system here, but the parents are generally apathetic, so the students are a good bit behind where I imagine they'd be if we lived elsewhere. I was happy to see math magnets & IB schools at the elem level.
I digress. I don't mind traveling on the weekends for things, but I'd love to be in some place where we can live, work, learn, play in one general area.
We are going to visit in summer 2011 with an eye for moving, rather than being a tourist. I'm actually hoping we'll be able to make a Triangle playdate with other MDC mamas so that we can chat with real, live people!
Anyway, I will look online at some apartments in Durham; we may reconsider living there, though I will have to get DH to stop saying "Duke has a basketball team?"
I absolutely understand that. When we lived in NoVA, it took DH an hour sometimes just to go about 30 miles. Now he drives 2 miles to work. A definite plus to sanity.
The bad part about certain areas of the Triangle isn't the mileage, it's the traffic in certain areas. If you hit I-40 at the wrong times, you could drive forever just to go a few miles. We live right at RTP in Durham County with a Morrisville address, just outside the Wake County line. I drive into Chapel Hill to take DD to "school" 5 days a week, and it's a 20 minute drive on the highway. BUT I prefer using backroads for 17 miles which takes a solid 30 minutes just so I don't have to deal with traffic. (The concept of merging and using cruise control apparently eludes a lot of people.)
**ETA** There are bad areas of most any city/town around the Triangle. Housing in parts of Chapel Hill is pretty high in general IMHO, but it's in Orange County not Durham or Wake. There are some Chapel Hill addresses in Chatham County that are quite a bit lower for housing, but you just have to weigh all the other issues (commuting, schools, etc) I spent the first 24 years of my life around here (though lived an hour away), so PM me if you'd like any specifics. We've been back in NC for just at 3 years now.
Wendy - aspiring Waldorf handwork teacher, computer geek's wife ,
mom to former 2lb preemie (now 9) & 3x
I've lived in Raleigh and in Durham and I liked Raleigh okay but I *love* Durham.
To me Durham has a more "community" feel to it than Raleigh. Raleigh seems more sprawled out and while there's some good culture downtown, it feels like it revolves around NC State in a different way than Durham revolves around Duke.
Durham definitely has a decent LGBT community, great food, and a Whole Foods right in the middle. Baseball, nice performing arts center, and a quickly-growing awesome food truck fleet!
I think you'll be able to find what you want for that price in either Raleigh or Durham. We lived in a three bedroom townhouse in NW Raleigh for $875 a month. My good friend lived in a three bedroom, two bathroom, house with an office area, a nice kitchen, and the world's most awesome backyard for somewhere around $1200 per month, I believe. Durham shouldn't be more expensive. I live in the Northgate Park neighborhood, and I highly recommend checking it out if you're open to renting a house. There are usually some for rent around, and the neighborhood has such a great feel, as well as a great museum down the street, rec center with indoor pool, trails, a park, etc.
I will say that Durham is *not* known for its great public schools. If that is a major factor then I'd definitely do some research on it. And do some research on Raleigh's schools, too. They're in serious flux right now with the way the district divides who goes to what school- it's a bit of a mess.
Pet-mom to Squirt with FLUTD & Maya the deaf wonder dog .
Hi, I love my neighborhood,it is Avent West. It is between Avent Ferry rd and Western blvd. There is a playgroup yahoo chat group and a community chat group, Everyone is very friendly. best part its in the AB Combs school district. Its a Leadership Manet school, it wins awards every year and was the best magnet school in US. My daughter is in 2nd grade there http://combses.wcpss.net/
Its an older neighborhood, large yards, mature trees, and no hoa dues!
3 miles to state farmers market and Lake Johnson
good luck with your move.
this is the list of the schools awards
I know quite a few folks who commute from Chapel Hill to Raleigh and it's really not that bad. DH used to do it, but has since gotten a job in CH so now he walks to work or takes the free bus. I think you should seriously figure out what you want as far as schools. Personally, I'd be pretty concerned about going into the Wake County schools right now. I'd rather do Durham if I had to choose between the two. That new Wake Co school board just does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
CH schools have an excellent reputation for public schools and the private schools in the area (including West Durham and Northern Chatham) are excellent with many progressive and alternative options (Waldorf and Friends among them). It's pretty common for folks around here to move to CH/C for the schools from other parts of the triangle. I also don't like a town as big and sprawly as Raleigh, but if you like the big city thing it might be a better fit for you. I like small towns so CH is better for me. I could go smaller, too, Pittsboro, Hillsborough, Carrboro (of course), Saxapahaw! There's also a great homeschooling community in Chapel Hill and Durham. I don't know as much about Raleigh because I'm not on the loop on that, but I have many homeschooling friends in CH and Durham, and when I say CH I mean Chapel Hill AND Carrboro, of course.
Raleigh has some very interesting stuff going on these days, especially downtown. I have a friend who lives in Five Points and she really likes it, but they don't have kids. I do think it's becoming more progressive culturally. I keep seeing events and thinking, wow that looks cool, but I really don't like the traffic in Raleigh to get to the events, so I usually stay in CH and Durham. Durham is much more driveable IMO. If I were going to choose a different town in the Triangle beside CH/C it would hands-down be Durham and I know my DH feels the same way. It's got a great progressive feel and I think they have some good stuff going on with the schools. I have a couple of friends who are pretty happy with the public/charter schools their kids are in.
Chapel Hill has a reputation of being much more expensive than Durham or Raleigh, even, but you can definitely find deals. I have a friend right now who is moving out of a rental in a sweet little neighborhood in Carrboro that goes for $1200 a month. It's walkable to the farmer's market, schools, local coop grocery store. It's 3-4 bedroom with a fenced in backyard, hardwood floors. It's older, but it's in a great little neighborhood with lots of kids. You can definitely buy a pretty good place for $250. You can drop $4 million, too, if you want to. I know of one that's for sale, but if that's out of your price range you can definitely buy a single family home in a nice neighborhood for $250 or maybe less. You can certainly spend more, but don't listen to folks who say you can't buy for less than $500 in Chapel Hill. You certainly can spend that much if you want to and get a very nice house, but you don't have to.
It's very LGBT friendly, with a huge local food movement in CH/Carrboro and Durham. Raleigh is starting to get on the local and organic food bandwagon, too, but CH/C have been leading the way for more than 30 years (Carrboro farmer's mkt was established in the 70s with organic growers from the get go). I've lost track of how many CSAs we have in the CH/C area. Durham has a sweet farmer's mkt now, too, started in '98. Raleigh has a big state sponsored farmer's mkt, too, which has seen an increase in organics in the past couple of years, but it started as just a very conventional big, big market, so it's got quite a different feel.
Overall, I think the three main Triangle cities are all great, but I definitely recommend renting and being open to all three. Folks commute from one to the other all the time and it's not that bad, but Raleigh, since it's a bigger city definitely has worse traffic. There are a lot of jobs in RTP, too. I think you can find your food needs anywhere in the triangle, but Orange county and Durham and Chatham are definitely the hubs. All three areas are pretty welcoming and have strong LGBT communities. Come on down, and take a look around, but take a close look at schools!
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
I'm in the south part of Durham. I feel like I am very centrally located to get to everything. Took me 17 minutes today to get to my MW appointment in Chapel Hill. I go visit aminasmom in Raleigh a few times a week, and it takes me about 15-20 minutes. I find living near-ish to I-40 makes it really convenient to get anywhere.
My husband works in Cary, and it takes him less than 20 minutes to get to work. That's how we chose our location. We looked on craigslist to see what was available within about a 20 minute drive from his new employer. (We came from NYC, where commutes were 60-90 minutes each way, and so avoiding that was a priority for us.) Then we picked what seemed most spacious and green. We are on a quiet cul-de-sac with a large yard. I like what is available within a few minutes drive.