Well, as a realtor and former teacher, I might be able to help you on both counts!
1. With regards to your salary, plus your wife's (in Wake County, she'll start somewhere in the neighborhood of $30k, depending on her experience), you'll be very comfortable here. If you're planning to buy a house, talk to a mortgage broker sooner rather than later to get prequalified, then talk to a realtor about what your housing needs are. Coming from LI, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised at what's available here.
2. There is a huge need for teachers in Wake County. We are expecting about 7000 new students each year, so obviously the need for qualified teachers grows, too. There are several threads on this topic in the Raleigh/Durham Metro Forum, you can search it for details. A couple websites to get her started would be www.wcpss.net
(Wake County Schools) and www.teach4nc.com
(explains NC certification).
Overall, Durham county schools perform lower than Wake, and have a reputation of being inferior. I taught in Wake, and my kids are in Wake, so I can't offer first-hand experience if you choose Durham County. Evaluate your choices on a school-by-school basis, though, because there are good schools in Durham, just like there are not-so-good schools in Wake. www.greatschools.net
offer test scores for individual schools.
3. As a "northern transplant", you'll probably find yourself in good company! A lot of people are coming here from up north, as well as FL, CA, and other places where the cost of living has skyrocketed. I was showing a client from NJ around Cary (known for its high percentage of northerners), and we stopped to talk to a neighbor at one house who turned out to be from Long Island! They had a great chat, and my client felt much more comfortable about the move in general after hearing how much the negihbor liked it here.
4. Towns/areas - Well, Cary, as mentioned above, or Apex, are usually the first that come to mind... but there are several great areas in the Triangle. I would recommend that your wife evaluate her school options, look at test scores and talk to a couple principals. Usually, a good school is a good barometer of the neighborhoods around it. If she's comfortable at a school, chances are, you'll be comfortable living near it, and she won't have to drive very far! That's actually what we did, since I was a teacher when we relocated here.
5. One last thing - you didn't mention what grade she teaches, but please research the traditional vs. year-round school issue in Wake County. Our schools are excellent, but due to fast growth in certain areas, some elementary and middle schools have been converted to mandatory year round. (Logistically, the high schools can't convert, so if she teaches high school, don't worry about it.) There have been several threads on the topic in the Raleigh Metro forum.
There are a lot of great people on this forum, and I'm sure you'll get a lot of great advice from them as well. Feel free to pm me for specifics about anything, I'd be glad to offer any help I can.