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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary The Triangle Area
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:18 AM
7 posts, read 16,975 times
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Hello, we are a couple of 24yr olds moving from new jersey to raleigh the beginning of september, and would like advice from some locals on what neighborhoods or towns around raleigh are best for our situation. We don't have a car and expect to walk bus or bike everywhere, and were curious as to how easy or difficult this is going to be. It seems that Raleigh has a great and affordable bus system, but is it only beneficial if you live downtown? Would it be difficult to get around the further out you get from downtown? Apartments seem to be bigger and more affordable (our max rent is $800) the further out from downtown you go, into Durham or cary or wake forest, but is it more difficult to get anywhere by bus or walking from these areas? We plan on working in lower level jobs like retail, customer service, restaurants and hospitalty (until we have a years residency to be able to go to school) which im assuming the most jobs are going to be in downtown. so overall, how easy or difficult is it to get around raleigh without a car?
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:23 AM
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Getting around Raleigh without a car is a bit of a chore. Most retail will be located OUTSIDE of downtown in the North Raleigh area (suburbs) but there is retail over in Cameron Village Close to downtown. There is a circulator bus that loops downtown and is free, but bus service to and from the suburbs is limited and can be time consuming due to a high number of stops and bus transfers.

Bottom line, unless you really plan it out well and know where you will be working and can find a place along a known bus route, I would plan on getting at least one car to share. You should definitely come for a visit to get the lay of the land as Raleigh really does have two separate areas each with their own dining and activities scene (Downtown vs. North Raleigh).

Good Luck!
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:29 AM
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I see, I had assumed that downtown was where all the businesses and jobs would be, but we are very flexible and used to planning out bus routes for commuting so we will definitely plan acfordingly. We plan on spending at least a month in raleigh to get a feel for things and learn the area before we commit to staying, but are prepared to stay and settle down if it all works out, a car would just take some time to get. So as a temporary set up without a car, it would be easier to live in north raleigh vs downtown would you say?
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:31 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Others may disagree, but I would imagine that Chapel Hill would be the easiest place to live without a car.
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:35 AM
Location: Finally in NC
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I don't have an answer to your question, but have to say, coming from a large city with a mass transit system that went from end-to end of the city, I have not seen that in Raleigh and am unsure how anyone could survive here without a car. Everything is really spread out. As JKg said, Chapel Hill might be better without a car.
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:06 PM
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Ive seen a lot of listings for jobs and apartments in chapel hill, if its easier without a car we will definitely look into that area as a starter for us. Thank you everyone for your advice, any and all is appreciated
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:42 PM
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Chapel Hill/Carrboro would be a good fit. The Chapel Hill buses are free and cover the area pretty well. There are alot of businesses that cater to the college crowd. Coffee shops, resturants, clubs and bars. The bus also goes to University Mall and there are supermarkets on the bus line. You could find a place on your budget and there are alot of people your age. Biking around Chapel Hill is good...but can be, well, hilly, haha.

Triangle Transit runs to Durham, RTP, Cary and Raleigh from Chapel Hill.

Durham has a pretty good bus system (DATA). I think it would be a good second option for you. There is a bus called the Bull City Connector that cuts across town that would be a good starting place for you. The Connector is free but the other buses are $1.. If you want a more neighborhood feel, look at Old West Durham, 9th St, Watts Hillendale, Broad St area. Brightleaf, and Duke West Campus area would be a bit more expensive. Further east is the Goldenbelt area that would be easier on your budget. There are supermarkets and plenty of businesses along that bus line. Pretty flat terrain around the City parts of Durham so biking is easy

You will hear alot about how crappy our mass transit is on this site. It isnt NYC or even NJ, but its not so bad. Most who complain never take the transit thats available. They complain that it takes so much longer than driving themselves. But anyone who has mass transit experience knows that is how it is everywhere! Except maybe commuting into NYC, DC, Atlanta or LA.

Durham will have the more "Jersey" like feel to it. Its a very diverse, urban area. Not like Hoboken or Jersey City but closer to that. Chapel Hill is a Village type place more reminiscent of Morristown, NJ, South Orange, NJ or maybe Cherry Hill, NJ. But Durham and Chapel Hill are only 8 miles apart.

I dont know Raleigh's bus system well, so I will leave that to someone with experience.

I moved from Jersey 20 years ago. Love it here. We'll talk Pizza at another time!!
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Old 08-20-2013, 01:22 PM
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Raleigh without a car is totally doable. I have been doing it for almost a calender year now when my last car's transmission died. I bike and bus my way around town and to work in RTP. It's not for everybody but coming from Jersey you would probably be used to the public transit "culture" shall we say. I would advise setting up residence if you can around the the #4 or #8 bus routes as they service major areas with plenty of shopping/grocery/laundry/pharmacy,etc Make friends with a local university student who doesn't use mass transit and ask them to give you their GoPass. This will allow you to ride any local bus system for free for a year.
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Old 08-20-2013, 01:39 PM
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Oh wow, that is a lot of solid advice! I'm relieved to hear that there are plenty of options for us in the triangle area, as I said we will have at least a month to get our bearings and visit these towns to see where's best for us. It's unbelievable to me that the buses are so cheap or even free! We're definitely used to mass transit and how it can take forever sometimes so I'm sure we'll adapt just fine, and i will be taking notes from all of your advice!

Ncmickey, i would definitely appreciate recommendations for good pizzerias. I havent traveled much but everyone says that pizza is different and not as good when you're used to nj/ny pizza, which is so bizarre!
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:36 PM
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Unless you work downtown, jobs are usually sprawled all over the place. That's why we never got rail although a line was planned out years ago.

You really need to decide if your needs will be met by the limited public transit in many areas.

Most roads are poorly planned and unlighted.

I once lived in Manhattan and dearly miss the MTA.

Chapel Hill can be much more expensive than other areas in the RDU area.
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