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Old 01-19-2013, 11:00 AM
 
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Hi folks,

I have read through a bunch of threads on this site and found them to be really helpful in learning more about the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill area. My wife and I are moving to the area in the next few months. One of us will be working at Duke and one at NCSU.

We're planning on buying a home and seeking a little advice. Specifically, we are hoping to find an area that has character yet keep our commutes manageable. What do I mean by character? We both love historic neighborhoods, walkable core areas, diverse restaurants and businesses, and parks/greenways. We'd like to avoid the more sprawl-y, planned type of community. Those places certainly work for some people but they just aren't our cup of tea.

We realize that probably the easiest, commute-wise, would be to look in an area like Brier Creek, western Cary, or Morrisville that is more central. But I don't think we'd be as happy given the kinds of neighborhoods we like to live in. At the moment we are thinking downtown Durham or central/NE Raleigh ITB. Are those our best bet? We heard anecdotally that the Durham --> Raleigh commute is more manageable than the reverse, is that generally true?

Thanks for your advice!
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:30 PM
 
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Default Re: Looking for interesting/walkable/historic neighborhoods and commuting between Durham/Raleigh

I've lived in the Triangle for about 2 years. My husband and I both work in RTP and we're in a similar situation....trying to find interesting, walkable places to live. In the suburbs, I haven't seen much. Cary, Morrisville, and Brier Creek (where we currently live) while convenient, don't have that unique factor. Not a lot of small businesses, and traffic is heavy.

I think that your best bet would be communities in Durham. There are a few neighborhoods in/near downtown that are worth a look: Cleveland-Holloway (said to be more "up and coming" and in the heart of the city), Tuscaloosa-Lakewood, Forest Hills, Long Meadow, Watts-Hillandale, Trinity Park, Golden Belt, and Rockwood are all fairly close to the universities and more interesting than a lot of the generic subdivisions popping up everywhere.Hope Valley is also beautiful, but a little farther away from the restaurants and activity of the city.

Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
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I think I would consider a proximity to Wade Avenue, rather than Glenwood Avenue, if commuting to Durham. Anything within walking distance to Cameron Village would be interesting.

It would not be an enviable commute, IMO...
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly NoVA and Phila
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Where are you moving from and what kind of commute are you used to?
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Where are you moving from and what kind of commute are you used to?
We are moving from Seattle. At various places we've lived in Seattle, we've had commutes ranging from 20 minutes to 45-55 minutes. But that's been on public transit, as it is quite expensive to park. I looked into the Triangle Transit Durham-Raleigh Express, but from what it looks like on their webpage it seems to be significantly slower than driving.

For what it's worth, we will have somewhat flexible work schedules and won't necessarily need to be on the road, say, at 8:30 am or at 5:00 pm.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mkloyer View Post
I think that your best bet would be communities in Durham. There are a few neighborhoods in/near downtown that are worth a look: Cleveland-Holloway (said to be more "up and coming" and in the heart of the city), Tuscaloosa-Lakewood, Forest Hills, Long Meadow, Watts-Hillandale, Trinity Park, Golden Belt, and Rockwood are all fairly close to the universities and more interesting than a lot of the generic subdivisions popping up everywhere.Hope Valley is also beautiful, but a little farther away from the restaurants and activity of the city.
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!
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:29 PM
 
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Hello, Spruce Goose, and welcome (in advance) to town!

Yeah, unfortunately, your situation is pretty common around here, due to the Triangle having such a polycentric development pattern, with at least six major employment centers: downtown Raleigh, downtown Durham, RTP, and the three large research universities' campuses, so it's all too common for spouses to work many miles apart from one another. And the areas that are most centrally located (Brier Creek, Morrisville, northern and western Cary, far southeastern Durham) are among the least distinctive and most dreary and sprawly places in the region. So, it's inevitable that at least one of the two of you is going to have a significant commute, especially if you prefer (as I do also) a relatively walkable, interesting place to live.

I think that you're correct in identifying the older, inner parts of Raleigh or Durham as the places in the area that are most likely to offer the most of what you're looking for. For example, I live Inside the Beltline in Raleigh, just east of downtown, in an area that's fairly walkable and bikeable and has some character and personality. I love it here, but there are numerous neighborhoods in the older parts of Durham that are at least as good. And I do agree with your general perception that all else being equal, a daily commute between the central parts of Durham and the N.C. State campuses would be preferable to a daily commute between the central parts of Raleigh and the Duke campuses, because of slightly more favorable traffic patterns, although it's not a huge difference, and either commute can be a substantial hassle depending on conditions. So, it may make sense to at least be open to considering areas in both Durham and Raleigh. I think that neighborhoods in Durham that mkloyer mentioned are all good choices to consider, but I would also include the Morehead Hill and Burch Avenue neighborhoods, which share the advantage with some of them of being adjacent to the Durham Freeway, as well as Old North Durham, which is (to me) one of the coolest old neighborhoods in Durham, albeit a few minutes further away from N.C. State.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:20 AM
 
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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?
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:33 PM
 
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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. I'm from the Northeast so a 30-min(ish) commute is pretty reasonable to me, and I use the time to listen to NPR.

Also, just as an aside, we lived in Morrisville before moving ITB, and honestly, having both of us with ~20 minute commutes seemed silly. We were also farther from all of the downtown activities in both Raleigh and Durham, so we were driving more on the weekends, too. There are often weekends where the only driving we do is to the grocery store & that's it! I'll take a mostly-reasonable commute in exchange for living walking distance to entertainment options.

Hope it helps!
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:09 PM
 
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I'll note that there's a TTA express bus that runs from Duke to NCSU, picking up both at Duke and the downtown bus station. Ride is 30 min from bus station and 40 min from Duke. Good option for a daily commute.
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