U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 04-11-2016, 07:41 AM
 
161 posts, read 167,165 times
Reputation: 49

Advertisements

As an adult with a family, what is living in a college town like? What are the pros and cons? I've come across articles that say "if you enjoy living in college towns....." And I'm just trying to figure out what type of people may or may not like living in a college town since I am considering Chapel Hill as an option. My college was in a major city so I have no insight. Thanks!!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 04-11-2016, 07:57 AM
 
2,200 posts, read 2,319,826 times
Reputation: 1941
Simultaneously idyllic and annoying.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-11-2016, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,969,122 times
Reputation: 3503
I have not lived in a college town as a family man, but did spend many years in college towns when I was younger.
In Chapel Hill I'd say at least 50% of your life will revolve around UNC...from entertainment options to general conversation. Tar Heel sports are a big enough deal...your kids might get sucked in although I don't get the sense it's quite to the degree of some other crazier college sports towns.
That said, Chapel Hill is not like your typical small college town...it's a part of a much larger CSA and on top of that it's within the spheres of influence of several other major institutions of higher education. So Chapel Hill is very different from Gainesville, FL, for example.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-11-2016, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,572 posts, read 12,671,394 times
Reputation: 8333
I think that if you live in the Midwest or similar rural/country areas, then college towns are appealing versus a regular small town because the college town offers more things to do (sporting events, lectures, theatre, etc.) than a typical small town. However, living on the East Coast or similar, I find it much more appealing to live in a city that has things going on because of its size not because its has a college contained it it. I'd much rather live in a place that revolves around its residents than around its college, with the possible exception that I am part of that college in some way (alumni, grad student, professor, etc.).

I just reread your post and see that you are considering Chapel Hill, which happens to be the college town that I live in. If you are into basketball, work for UNC, or are connected to it in some other way, then you will probably like it. For me, no one in my family works or went to UNC, I don't particularly care for basketball, the main street is really geared toward and filled with college students, that I don't find this place to be that exciting.

Almost everything in Chapel Hill revolves around the university- even the firetrucks are painted Tarheel Blue. While there are some benefits to having a university population nearby- it's easy to find babysitters/nannies, some of my kids' sports coaches are UNC students, there are sometimes events that the college sponsors that are fun/beneficial for our kids, I find it much more stimulating to live in a regular town near a big city. I'm just one opinion, however. Others seem to love it here.

Where are you coming from? I came from the DC area and Phila. before that, so to me this place is too out of the way/rural, the nearby cities of Durham and Raleigh are pretty small and suburban in comparison to what I'm used to, and I like the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic better than the south. Unless I was choosing between middle-of-nowhere Podunk town A versus middle-of-nowhere Podunk town B with a college it, I would not choose to live in a college town again, unless I was, in fact, a college student.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 02:52 PM
 
15 posts, read 13,488 times
Reputation: 11
I currently live in Madison, WI. One thing hobby I have come to enjoy is listening to a police scanner on the weekends. Madison is known to be a party college so I can hear what all the dumb, drunk college students do.

Driving DT while students are trying to get to their next class is annoying. They don't pay attention to the crosswalk or lights. Surprised we don't have more deaths on the road.

However, it does bring great diversity to the area. College sports are also a major part of the city. Personally, I like it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Planet Earth
7,222 posts, read 8,235,579 times
Reputation: 4910
Chapel Hill is interesting in the sense that it's close enough to two larger cities in Durham and Raleigh (I believe parts of the city extend into Durham County FWIW) that it doesn't feel really out there with nothing around it like say Auburn or Clemson or Oxford, but it also doesn't "blend in" with its bigger-city neighbors like say Tempe or Evanston. The city very much has its own identity and vibe.

Friends of our family live there in a cookie-cutter type neighborhood some 3 miles or so from campus, they love it. The mother and the father both met at UNC as undergrads and both are die-hard Tar Heel fans and not just Basketball either. Both also work in the city which helps lessen the commute. They say living there helps make them feel young. In their case it makes sense to live there.

OTOH, a friend of my brother lived in Tuscaloosa Alabama for 2 years, he couldn't wait to leave. The whole "Roll Tide" thing was a little too much for him to handle and this guy loves College Football! He said a lot of the students there were from small towns and/or grew up Crimson Tide fans so they found it to be heaven. He would often go to Birmingham on the weekends just to get away from it all. Ironically he lives in Ann Arbor now and actually enjoys living there, says it is not "Rah rah go team go!" like Tuscaloosa.

I hate to play the it-depends-on-the-town card but it really does. Most college towns tend to be moderate to overwhelmingly liberal and tend to attract such individuals. A lot of artsy types find college towns to be right up their alley. Someone who loves NCAA Football and Mens Basketball will likely appreciate living in a college town, especially one that might a strong program in one of the two, or both. Small business owners seem to like college towns, especially ones that might be coffee/cafe/bookstore type business.

Do all the research you can. I think michgc made some good points regarding Chapel Hill. It isn't for everyone but then again no place is 100% utopia.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 06:52 PM
 
226 posts, read 167,573 times
Reputation: 409
I love living in a college town, but I chose one that has a lot going on aside from the university. And we don't live close enough to campus to be annoyed by partying students. I can only think of pros: culture, more restaurants, the progressive politics, the youthful energy. My kids have gone to summer camps at the university, we've found tutors and music teachers and babysitters there, too. We meet interesting people from all over. I guess a con could be traffic on game days, but that isn't a big problem.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 07:02 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
1,446 posts, read 2,288,971 times
Reputation: 1361
First off, I consider "college towns" to be small to mid-size towns where the major university exerts a lot of influence on daily life. Places like Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Athens GA, Gainesville Fla, etc. When cities grow to a certain size (maybe a metro pop of over 750,000 or so) then I personally don't consider them college towns anymore. So places like Austin or Columbus, Ohio don't count for me b/c even though the major universities there do have influence there is a ton of other stuff as well.

For several years in my 30's I lived in a college town of a college I didn't attend. It was a mixed bag. Mostly good, but I eventually wanted to move on. Compared to a comparably sized smallish city without a college it was much better b/c there were more restaurants, bars, cultural events, etc. And the city wasn't too big, so it felt like there was a lot of bang for the size. Traffic isn't horrible, crime is often not too bad, and it is usually pretty easy to get out of the city and get into nature. But on the other hand, a lot of the life of the town revolved around the college and I was not particularly invested in the college, and thus a lot of the happenings. And after a few years I started feeling like the town was a little small for me b/c I felt like I had seen and done most of the things in town.

IMO college towns are better than comparable towns of similar size b/c they are livelier, but you also sometimes can feel a touch "left out" if you don't have a connection to the university. I'd prefer to live in a slightly larger city. For me the sweet spot is a metro area between 1-2 million. I think at that size there is a bit more going on, but the cities don't feel as fast paced or big as major cities (over 3 million or so).

Chapel Hill is probably a slightly unusual case b/c of the proximity of Durham and Raleigh.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Research Triangle Area, NC
3,750 posts, read 2,565,983 times
Reputation: 5380
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canes2006Champs View Post
Chapel Hill is interesting in the sense that it's close enough to two larger cities in Durham and Raleigh (I believe parts of the city extend into Durham County FWIW) that it doesn't feel really out there with nothing around it like say Auburn or Clemson or Oxford, but it also doesn't "blend in" with its bigger-city neighbors like say Tempe or Evanston. The city very much has its own identity and vibe.

Friends of our family live there in a cookie-cutter type neighborhood some 3 miles or so from campus, they love it. The mother and the father both met at UNC as undergrads and both are die-hard Tar Heel fans and not just Basketball either. Both also work in the city which helps lessen the commute. They say living there helps make them feel young. In their case it makes sense to live there.

OTOH, a friend of my brother lived in Tuscaloosa Alabama for 2 years, he couldn't wait to leave. The whole "Roll Tide" thing was a little too much for him to handle and this guy loves College Football! He said a lot of the students there were from small towns and/or grew up Crimson Tide fans so they found it to be heaven. He would often go to Birmingham on the weekends just to get away from it all. Ironically he lives in Ann Arbor now and actually enjoys living there, says it is not "Rah rah go team go!" like Tuscaloosa.

I hate to play the it-depends-on-the-town card but it really does. Most college towns tend to be moderate to overwhelmingly liberal and tend to attract such individuals. A lot of artsy types find college towns to be right up their alley. Someone who loves NCAA Football and Mens Basketball will likely appreciate living in a college town, especially one that might a strong program in one of the two, or both. Small business owners seem to like college towns, especially ones that might be coffee/cafe/bookstore type business.

Do all the research you can. I think michgc made some good points regarding Chapel Hill. It isn't for everyone but then again no place is 100% utopia.
I'd say that sums it up pretty well. I did attend UNC but graduated about 5 years ago (what?!?!?!?!?) and still live and work in CH and (mostly) really enjoy that.

I don't know if I'd feel the same way though if Chapel Hill was an isolated college town like Athens, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, etc . I like that Chapel Hill is part of the Triangle region and that Durham and Raleigh are also nearby. It's the best of both worlds in my opinion. I'm currently looking to buy my first place and am hoping to stay in Chapel Hill when I do (though it is definitely one of the most expensive areas in the state to buy a home).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-12-2016, 07:52 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,437,888 times
Reputation: 12307
Generally, college towns are more politically liberal towns, even in conservative states. They provide a fresh supply of young people from many different parts of the country and/or the world, which keeps the area current. Usually there are interesting stores, music venues, and unique restaurants to serve such a diverse population. For students who work, they will usually do it cheaply, if you need some added labor (babysitting, snow shoveling). Since most professors live locally, that adds to the general intellectual composition of the town.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top