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Old 01-21-2013, 08:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Spruce Goose View Post
Hi tompope, thanks for the advice! By the way, it was reading one of your comments (on a different thread entirely) that prompted me to start this thread, so I'm very grateful for your input.

I've noticed people have suggested a number of good places to look in Durham; would anyone mind sharing the best neighborhoods for us to focus on in Raleigh? A sample of some I've come across that sound very nice are: Oakwood, Five Points, Mordecai, Cameron Village, and Boylan Heights. (Although some of those may be too pricey for us and I realize some are pretty distant from the freeway). Any thoughts?

Also, if there's anyone on here who makes/has made the commute from downtown Raleigh to Duke or from downtown Durham to NCSU, how long does it take in practice? When I map it out it seems to be roughly 30-35 minutes without traffic depending on exactly where in each downtown area I start. Is that way off from reality?
Yes, Raleigh is (to me) great, too, and as stringerb3 said, the commute from central Raleigh to Duke is relatively doable, even if slightly less desirable (to me) than the Durham to N.C. State commute. I wish the public transportation connections across the region were better; as you hinted at with your experience in Seattle, a 20 to 55 minute commute is a lot more tolerable (to many people, at least) if riding in comparative comfort on a train or a bus as opposed to the mental and psychological aggravation of driving in traffic. Sadly, though, as you said, as it stands currently, the public transportation options in the Triangle often just aren't really competitive with driving in terms of time and convenience, especially over longer distances. Like toot68 said, though, it's actually not out of the question for someone in your situation. I've ridden some of the Raleigh-to-Durham buses on TTA (although I've never used them for a regular commute), and they're not a bad ride, and certainly the price is excellent. The time it takes can range from a little longer to a lot longer than driving, although like toot68 said, it is particularly convenient if you're traveling between the Duke and N.C. State campuses. Still, in my experience, the bus can be hard to justify for a daily commute if you have driving as an alternative. Hopefully some day that'll change, and the region will finally get some sort of rail or BRT or other means of more closely and conveniently linking Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and RTP (I would argue, in fact, that that lack of connectedness is one of the very biggest factors preventing the Triangle from becoming a true top-line national metro). But that's quite a ways off, so now you guys could be probably left primarily driving between Durham and Raleigh. I do think public transportation around here gets a bit of a bad rap, and I ride the CAT buses around Raleigh quite a bit and find them to be a fairly good way of getting around. But for regular commutes over long distances, they're not great at this point.

I'm happy to help with some neighborhood suggestions in Raleigh, also, but it can be a little difficult. In my experience, there's a bit of a problem in the inner parts of Raleigh in that some of the cooler, older neighborhoods are not always clearly defined or named, even less so than in Durham. You mentioned a few that are pretty clearly defined and named, like Oakwood, Mordecai, and Boylan Heights, which are all outstanding places if you can find something suitable for you there. But I find that a lot of the other areas Inside the Beltline in Raleigh either don't have clear neighborhood names, sometimes because they may not even necessarily be thought of as an actual discrete neighborhood by the residents there at all, or else the "official" neighborhood name doesn't jibe with what the area is actually called in everyday usage or in real estate listings. Oftentimes real estate listings will refer to one of the well-known place names (like Five Points or Cameron Village) that's sort of close to the property, even if it wouldn't necessarily actually be thought of as being in that neighborhood. Or they'll refer to a major, well-known street that it's near, or simply say "near downtown" or "near NCSU" or something like that. Or they may even just say "Inside the Beltline" or "ITB," although even that can be confusing. Technically, of course, all of Raleigh within the Interstate 440/40 loop could be said to be "Inside the Beltline," but in common local parlance that phrase is often used to refer primarily or exclusively to the traditionally upscale northwestern quadrant of that area, running from roughly Cameron Village and Broughton High School up towards Carolina Country Club. That usage is more cultural than geographic, of course, but it is prevalent, and can add to confusion for someone unfamiliar with the area.

Another problem with older Raleigh neighborhoods (and with older Durham neighborhoods also) is that many of them just aren't very large. Durham and Raleigh just weren't very big places before about 1960, and so while many of those older neighborhoods that do exist are terrific, they're mostly pretty small, and the total volume of housing stock in them is often quite low. So, depending on how patient and selective you're able and willing to be, pinpointing one or a few specific target neighborhoods could be sort of a waste of time, since just happening to find a suitable home there just when you happen to be looking for one may be partly a crapshoot.

In any case, approximately what price range do you have in mind? Are you set on buying, or is renting for a while an option? How large a home would you need or prefer? Would you prefer a detached single-family home, or would a condo or townhome be an option? How comfortable are you with a bit of urban edge and grit, as opposed to a more sterile, sanitized feel? If you're a minority, are you comfortable in an area that's mostly white, or if you're white, are you comfortable in an area that's mostly minority? To me, one of the really good things about the Triangle is that it's reasonably well integrated racially and ethnically, so that while some areas are predominantly either white, African-American, or Hispanic, people of other races and ethnicities are rarely made to feel outrageously conspicuous or out-of-place almost anywhere.

Regardless, if you're going to be considering Raleigh, the most natural area for someone in your situation to start looking probably would be the areas just west of downtown and just east or north of N.C. State's main campus. Again, some of these areas are not clearly defined, but certainly Cameron Village and Cameron Park are well-known areas and would be prime locations. They can be quite expensive, though, especially Cameron Park, but can be well worth it if you're at that end of the market. Further west, the Oberlin Village neighborhood is pretty distinct and is a neat place with a lot of character and personality and generally smaller, less expensive houses. And the whole rest of the big swath running between Hillsborough Street and Wade Avenue from Oberlin Road to Faircloth Street could be very suitable, too, although that's an area where the neighborhood names aren't always consistently used or applied (there's a charming little section in that area, for example, that's officially called "Forest Hills," but in my experience the people living there don't really call it that all that often). Any of those neighborhoods in that part of town would be pleasant places that are reasonably walkable, and in fact could literally be walking distance for the one whose job is at N.C. State. They'd also be decently convenient to Durham, since the shortest route to Durham from much of ITB Raleigh is to shoot straight out on Wade Avenue.

Beyond that, there are a lot of other cool areas. You mentioned "Five Points," which originally referred to the five-way intersection of Glenwood, Fairview, and Whitaker Mill, but has become a catch-all term for several neighborhoods more-or-less near there, and it's gained enough cachet that one does see it used frequently in things like real estate listings. Those areas actually vary quite a bit, though, such that the neighborhoods to the north and west of that intersection are quite different (expensive and fancy) from the areas to the south and east of it (more modest, but still charming). For someone in your situation, those areas to the south and east of there could be really good choices. That includes neighborhoods like Roanoke Park, Glenwood-Brooklyn, and Georgetown. Similarly, "Glenwood South" is another popular but sort of generic term referring to the area around Glenwood Avenue between about Peace Street and Morgan Street. It's largely an entertainment district, with a number of popular restaurants and clubs, but also with several blocks of nice but pricey residential areas as well.

Otherwise, Oakwood is, of course, a magnificent place, and stringerb3 can attest to the deceptive feasibility of commuting from there to Durham. Nearby, Mordecai is a little smaller and not as opulent, but still excellent. There are also several blocks extending north from Oakwood and east of Mordecai that are another area not consistently named (sometimes called "Oakdale"), but another outstanding area, combining some of the best attributes of those other two neighborhoods. A little further north and east from there are some less spectacular but very appealing neighborhoods like Woodcrest, Belvedere Park, Capitol Heights, Hi-Mount, and Forest Acres. These are mostly areas of simple, understated architecture, but subtly charming character, and tremendously convenient locations. All have become popular with young professionals, young families, and even some "hipster" types, but remain prevailingly quiet and diverse.

Personally, Boylan Heights is probably my single favorite neighborhood in Raleigh. It's another one that's unfortunately rather small, though, and has become quite expensive in recent years. But if you can find a house there that suits you and that you can afford, it's tough to beat.

There are a lot of other areas around the inner parts of Raleigh that could also be good choices, especially depending on how adventurous you are. There's a very cool and distinctive—but also very small—little neighborhood just south of downtown called Caraleigh. It's a bit edgy, but not unsafe, and it definitely has personality. It's become largely Hispanic, but there are lots of Anglo people there, too. I have friends who live there (who are non-Hispanic) and enjoy it a lot, but it's clearly not for everybody. For what it's worth, though, it is an area with a lot of potential to increase in value over time due to its advantageous location, especially with the upcoming redevelopment of the Dorothea Dix property nearby. It sits right next to I-40, also, so it would be pretty convenient to Duke, although a massive reconstruction project on that stretch of 40 over the next few years could make that temporarily more problematic.

Some of my favorite older neighborhoods in Raleigh are the ones just east of downtown, and they have a lot of appeal to a lot of people. I live in the Thompson-Hunter neighborhood (another neighborhood name that's not always used uniformly, though), and I like it a lot. Like a couple of the areas in Durham we were discussing, it's sort of what could be called (somewhat euphemistically) a "transitional" neighborhood, in that it's an area that had gotten run-down and fairly slummy in the 1970's, 80's, and 90's, but has undergone tremendous growth and revitalization over the past five or ten or fifteen years, and has attracted people of lots of different ages and races and backgrounds. Personally, I don't mind the fact that it retains a bit of its old urban edge and grit, and I've never felt unsafe here, but clearly again it's not a place that would appeal to everyone. But again its potential for growth and increasing property values is enormous, and it's really a great place to live, a very short walk, drive, bike ride, or bus ride from downtown. Even closer to downtown, the northern half of the South Park neighborhood (the portion north of Martin Luther King Boulevard) is another very nice area, with a few blocks of numerous old bungalows and triple-A houses that have been fixed-up and are amazingly close to downtown and still adequately commutable to Durham. Again, though, the "South Park" neighborhood name is another one that's not always used for that area, in part I think because of the TV show, and in part because of the notoriety of the southern part of the South Park neighborhood, now cut-off by MLK Boulevard, which is one of the rougher areas in Raleigh and probably not a place I would recommend you consider living, unless you're extremely adventurous.

There are other areas on the east side of Raleigh with possibilities for someone in your situation, too, depending on your budget and your preferences. Just east of Oakwood is the Idlewild neighborhood, an area where even just ten years ago I probably wouldn't have wanted to live, but has had an infusion of interest and investment, and is now kind of a cool transitional area, too. Cooke Street, on the boundary between Oakwood and Idlewild, has become a particular hot spot. East of Idlewild is College Park, an area that has been—and to some extent still is—even rougher, but I've known of people who have begun to rehab some of the old houses there in recent years, and it has definite charm and potential, and could be worth considering for a daring person, especially west of Hill Street. Even further east there are other neighborhoods of some note (like Longview Gardens, Battery Heights, Longacres, Worthdale, etc.), but they tend to become progressively less walkable, and would put you unnecessarily farther and farther from Duke.

Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stringerb3 View Post
My husband and I are in a similar situation -- he works in Raleigh & I'm at Duke. If you have the ability to maintain flexible working hours, the commute from ITB Raleigh to Duke isn't too bad. I live in Oakwood, and the commute if I leave my house at 9am is just about 30-35 minutes (in ideal conditions, approx. 10 minutes to get up Wade, 10 minutes on 40, 10 minutes on 147).

Occasionally (maybe 1-2 times a month, or if I try to go at the worst times which, in my experience, are between 8-8:45 in the morning and between 4:45-6 in the evening), it can take up to 45 minutes. The new 540 toll road/bypass often helps bypass most of the worst traffic on 40 (worst areas: the merge from 147 to airport exits), so I often use that option in the evening if I leave early & there are rumors of traffic on the radio.
Thanks stringerb3! It's nice to hear from someone who is in a similar position to us and doesn't regret their choice to live closer to downtown. Thanks for describing your commute in detail. To me that doesn't sound bad at all (well, on most days at least).

Last edited by Spruce Goose; 01-21-2013 at 08:42 PM.. Reason: clarity
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tompope View Post
In any case, approximately what price range do you have in mind? Are you set on buying, or is renting for a while an option? How large a home would you need or prefer? Would you prefer a detached single-family home, or would a condo or townhome be an option? How comfortable are you with a bit of urban edge and grit, as opposed to a more sterile, sanitized feel? If you're a minority, are you comfortable in an area that's mostly white, or if you're white, are you comfortable in an area that's mostly minority? To me, one of the really good things about the Triangle is that it's reasonably well integrated racially and ethnically, so that while some areas are predominantly either white, African-American, or Hispanic, people of other races and ethnicities are rarely made to feel outrageously conspicuous or out-of-place almost anywhere.
Wow, thanks so much for the extensive descriptions, tompope! You've already helped so much ... but I'll go ahead and answer your questions in case you or anyone else has thoughts to add.

We are looking at approximately the 300K (or lower) price range. We would prefer to buy sooner rather than later. We don't need a very large home but want at least 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. We would likely prefer a single-family home, although we might consider a townhome if we can't find a suitable single-family home. We are definitely OK with urban grit (I would say it is desirable, to a point), although being reasonably close to parks/nature would be a big plus. We are white and OK with a lot of ethnic diversity.
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:43 AM
 
Location: Downtown Durham, NC
915 posts, read 2,382,531 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spruce Goose View Post
Thanks mkloyer! We'll certainly take a look at the neighborhoods you mentioned.

I'm just curious, is there a specific reason you think Durham would be a better bet than Raleigh? Is it because the interesting neighborhoods are closer to the freeway and would make a commute into Raleigh bearable? Or is it mostly because the Durham --> Raleigh commute is easier (less traffic) than Raleigh --> Durham?

Thanks!
Durham->Raleigh is a reverse commute. RTP, which is located in South Durham, is a huge employment center and there is lots of traffic from Cary/Raleigh->RTP. There is also a considerable amount of traffic from DT Durham->RTP, but you get stuck with only 3-5 miles of traffic on NC-147, vs. the 15 or so miles you'll get on I-40 coming in from Raleigh.

FWIW, when I used to commute from Cary, off of Harrison Ave near the Harris Teeter, to Duke Med Ctr I would spend 30 minutes in the morning and about 45 in the afternoon in the car. This was for what was a 22-mile drive at the time, so the morning commute wasn't too bad at all. I don't know what it is about the afternoon that gums everything up, but I guess folks are more likely to get in a fender bender?

As other mentioned, the DRX route on Triangle Transit isn't actually too bad when compared to driving. It only makes three stops in Durham-- DUMC, Duke's West Campus, and the Durham Bus Station. I would recommend finding something near those areas. If you don't mind biking 1-2 miles each way to the bus station, then all of DT Durham is good for you. Alternatively, look at a neighborhood near the Bull City Connector route, which runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and stops at the bus station.

For $300k in urban Durham, you have some pretty good options. Trinity Park is of course the one closest to Main St and the Brightleaf Square shopping, but if you want more house for your money check out Burch Ave, Old North Durham, Cleveland-Holloway, and (some parts of) Morehead Hills. All of these are walkable to at least some small area of nightlife or activity. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of walkable, full-service grocery stores in Durham just yet, but Harris Teeter is opening up a location at 9th and Hillsborough, so once that opens at the end of this year there will be a really convenient grocery store for Old West Durham and Watts-Hillandale. There is a Compare on University Dr. at the foot of Morehead Hills/Forest Hills.

[Mod cut: Make specific realtor recommendations via DM.]

Last edited by RedZin; 01-22-2013 at 05:55 AM..
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:18 PM
 
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Hi peperoberto: thanks for your comments! Glad to hear about the grocery store going in at 9th and Hillsborough, that will be nice. Also thanks for mentioning the Bull City Connector; I wasn't aware of that but it looks very convenient.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Downtown Durham, NC
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Originally Posted by Spruce Goose View Post
Hi peperoberto: thanks for your comments! Glad to hear about the grocery store going in at 9th and Hillsborough, that will be nice. Also thanks for mentioning the Bull City Connector; I wasn't aware of that but it looks very convenient.
I guess I failed to mention that it's only 2-3 blocks from a Whole Foods. So that exists, I just don't like shopping at Whole Foods so I tend to forget it when giving the lay of the land.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:14 PM
 
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When committing to a commute I would also consider where you have to park on campus. Will you have to drive, park in a remote lot, then take a bus or shuttle to your building? That last step could add 10-15 minutes to your commute and turn 30-45 minutes into more like an hour.

We been renting in the ITB area for several months and really like it. The prices around here could be an issue but we are a <5 minute drive from 2 grocery stores and Whole Foods at Wade and Ridge. I like Cameron Park a lot and it has a nice public library for the kids (not sure if you have any). We were in Cameron Park for Halloween with the kids and it was a lot of fun. There is a greenway path right near Whole Foods that goes to the Art Museum and the Hillsborough St YMCA is great. There is another neighborhood if you go south on Dixie Trail past Wade Ave, not sure what it is called, but I know someone who lives there and likes it. You are starting to get more of a mix in the neighborhood there with NC State Students and socioeconomically.

We sort of gave up on the walkability here since we needed a bit more space and had to consider schools for the kids, but have found so much within a few minutes drive - all the above, plus Lake Crabtree in 10 minutes, Umstead State Park in 10 minutes, Crabtree mall in 5-10 minutes, etc. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Beautiful and sanitary DC
2,504 posts, read 3,542,114 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spruce Goose View Post
I'm just curious, is there a specific reason you think Durham would be a better bet than Raleigh? Is it because the interesting neighborhoods are closer to the freeway and would make a commute into Raleigh bearable? Or is it mostly because the Durham --> Raleigh commute is easier (less traffic) than Raleigh --> Durham?
Can't speak for the other poster, but a few factors come to mind:
- In 1940, Durham was a larger city, with 60,000 to Raleigh's 45,000, at the time when Americans plumb forgot how to build walkable neighborhoods
- In 2010, Raleigh had ballooned to 416,000 to Durham's 233,000 (plus another ~500,000 who live in suburban Raleigh), almost all housed in some dreadful sprawl, and therefore sending many more commuters onto the roads
- Highways pierce both cities, but the 147 Durham Freeway did a much more thorough job* of displacing Durham's Black business district than the equivalents in Raleigh (I-40 and Wade Avenue), with the upshot that 147 runs much closer to the old downtown (* I do not condone such practices)
- N.C. State is on the nearer-Durham side of Raleigh, whereas Duke is on the farther-from-Raleigh side of Durham

Both campuses are fairly large, so take a closer look at where the offices/labs/facilities will be before making a final decision. Only a small portion of NC State's activities are along Hillsborough Street, its traditional northern spine, and likewise only a bit of Duke is near Ninth Street.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dimitri1000 View Post
When committing to a commute I would also consider where you have to park on campus. Will you have to drive, park in a remote lot, then take a bus or shuttle to your building? That last step could add 10-15 minutes to your commute and turn 30-45 minutes into more like an hour.
Thanks dimitri1000, this is a great point that we'll definitely consider. And thanks for your thoughts on ITB -- the area you are in sounds very nice even though it isn't as walkable as some other areas.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by paytonc View Post
- In 1940, Durham was a larger city, with 60,000 to Raleigh's 45,000, at the time when Americans plumb forgot how to build walkable neighborhoods
- In 2010, Raleigh had ballooned to 416,000 to Durham's 233,000 (plus another ~500,000 who live in suburban Raleigh), almost all housed in some dreadful sprawl, and therefore sending many more commuters onto the roads
- Highways pierce both cities, but the 147 Durham Freeway did a much more thorough job* of displacing Durham's Black business district than the equivalents in Raleigh (I-40 and Wade Avenue), with the upshot that 147 runs much closer to the old downtown (* I do not condone such practices)
Thanks paytonc, your response makes perfect sense. It is interesting to get some historical context into why things are this way.
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