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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary The Triangle Area
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Old 02-11-2015, 10:16 PM
 
12 posts, read 21,185 times
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Hello!

I have an option of working in one of the three areas above (Specifically Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Philadelphia) in half a year or so, and it's been a difficult decision to make, so I've been doing a lot of research online. Wasn't sure which forum I should post this, but came here because I felt like the Triangle was the place I was the least familiar with.

I'm in my late 20's and will be looking to rent an apartment. I'm a big foodie and thinking that it'd be especially nice to have a variety of Asian food options (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc.), but I'm coming from Midwest so my standards are probably not terribly high. I'll be similarly paid at each of the three locations (+-$5k difference at most). Bar scenes, I don't care about since I don't drink.

I've listed some of the pluses and minuses of each areas (for me, not necessarily for everyone) so far, as well as some questions below:

Triangle
Pros
- One of the fastest growing areas in the country
- Generally clean and safe
- Plenty of restaurants and young population
- Warmer climate
- Pretty safe for the most part
- Raleigh getting Google fiber

Cons
- While I was visiting, I got a feeling that CH and Durham were pretty detached from Raleigh, and I felt like CH by itself was too small of a city for my liking
- Asian food/grocery options limited?
- Small downtown?

Charlotte
Pros
- Also a quickly growing region
- Due to rapid expansion in past couple decades, buildings tend to be newer and cleaner than most East coast cities
- Warmer climate
- Clean, decent-sized downtown
- Pretty safe, considerably improved crime rate in the past decade
- Also getting Google fiber

Cons
- City feels a little too spread out?
- Asian food/grocery options limited?

Philadelphia
Pros
- Best public transportation options
- By far the largest area (population wise) out of the three, which generally means more options for food, entertainment, etc.
- Has a Chinatown for Asian food options

Cons
- Terrible availability of parking spaces
- Considerably older buildings on average. Also didn't feel anywhere near as clean as the NC cities
- High crime rates
- Harsh winters
- Higher COL


Questions:
- Is it realistic to live near Raleigh and commute to CH? What's it like to live right between the two cities (apartment, restaurant, crime)?
- Does the Triangle actually feel like one metro area or does it feel like 3 separate cities that are just relatively close to each other?
- What are some of the big differences between living in the Triangle compared to Charlotte?

- Will someone here also be able to answer a few questions regarding Charlotte and Philly? I'm guessing I won't be allowed to repost this in other forums.

Thanks so much!
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Old 02-12-2015, 01:10 AM
 
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Chapel Hill has options, not China town options but options.

Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are all part of the Triangle and at the same time are all three their own city, and at the same time are connected, there are several people who live in one and work in the other.

Durham and Chapel Hill are really close, parts of Chapel Hill is in Durham county so it's not like you miss out on anything no matter where you stay at in the triangle since it's not like you are going out your way to get from one to the other.

back to food and Durham another option is Food Trucks:


there are some pretty good ones.

you can also hit up


you can also hit up

(this is in Cary, closer to Raleigh and is a good middle ground but a more family oriented place and while Durham and Chapel Hill have decent downtown's(don't sleep on chapel hill based off it's size has some good stuff) if you stayed in Cary you will find yourself commuting albeit a short commute to one of the other three areas in the triangle.)

In regards to crime, I don't think you will have any major concerns if you find some where in between, Morrisville and Cary are good middle grounds at the same time, there isn't a real reason to not just stay in Durham, Raleigh, or Chapel Hill. Durham is also a good middle ground since again parts of chapel hill is in Durham county, and it shorter to get to Raleigh.

A good place to look in Raleigh would be the Brier Creek area about 25 minutes from Chapel Hill taking 40, and about 15 minutes to Downtown Durham. I use to work in Chapel Hill and lived in Cary, depending on when you get off that commute isn't bad, going home can suck or not suck depending on when you get off. 3:30 no big deal, 5:00 it sucks.
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Old 02-12-2015, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Durham
660 posts, read 1,006,594 times
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I'm moving to Durham in April after 8 years in Upstate NY, preceded by 13 years in Seattle and 27 in the Philadelphia area (where I still have family). I'm moving to Durham because it's less generic in feel than Raleigh, grittier, and yet close enough to both Raleigh and Chapel Hill (and their distinct personalities) to be very workable. I chose the Triangle after extensive research, lots of travel and because of the great year-round weather and economy -- plus it's affordable (compared to other cities I looked into like Austin). I spent a week in the Triangle last October and loved it, and I can't wait to move! I love Philly but the weather would keep me from living there again. I can't speak to life in Charlotte because I haven't been there yet.
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Old 02-12-2015, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly NoVA and Phila
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I can speak to Philly and the Triangle, not Charlotte. If you want warmer weather, then the Triangle and Charlotte obviously have Phila. beat. But if you want a big city, you just cannot compare Philly to the Triangle. Philly feels like the major metropolitan city that it is. The Triangle feels like two small cities and a town. Raleigh feels separate from Durham. Chapel Hill kind of goes along with Durham.

The food options in Phila are much more varied and in greater volume than what is available in the Triangle. Phila. has its own (albeit small) Chinatown. And the Italian food...yum...along with the dozens of ethnicities - Greek, Polish, Italian, etc. - that settled Philly, you are in foodie heaven there. Check out pictures of the Reading Street Terminal for a taste of what Phila. offers. Now that's not to say there aren't good food options here - there are, although the Asian is pretty lacking imho. Now, I'm sure most people would be quite content with most of the dining and restaurant choices here, particularly if you are from a small, Midwestern place, and it is growing as the region grows.

As for safety, unless you live in certain parts of Philly proper, the Phila. suburbs are as safe as the Triangle suburbs.

The city of Phila. is much older. If you live in an inner-ring burb, then your housing will be older and smaller. If you live in a newer suburb, you will find similar housing stock as in the Triangle. The history of the city of Phila. will surround you - you can walk the same cobblestone streets where the founding fathers of our nation walked - see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, where Washington crossed the Delaware, climb the steps of the Art Musem that Rocky climbed (ha!). It is a living museum. You won't experience that type of history here, if that's important to you. Yes, there is history here, too (it's everywhere) but not major American historical events. Being in the Triangle, you can almost be in anywhere, USA with a taste of the south thrown in. Being in Phila. you know where you are - it's a much more unique place.

Cost of living will be higher in Phila. but is actually one of the lower cost of living cities in the Northeast compared to NYC, Boston, and DC. So if you want a big city experience, you can do it there for less than other places. And while it's more expensive than Raleigh, it's not THAT much more expensive.

I'd say if you want a big city, urban, walkable, faster-paced downtown living experience, Philly is the only choice of the three. If you want a low-cost, warm weather, generic type small city, then Raleigh is your best bet. Charlotte would be a bit more urban than Raleigh but not on the same scale or feel as Phila.

Disclaimer: You asked for opinions and this is mine. Everyone has their inherent biases. I was born and raised in the Phila. area for 20 years, and then lived in the Wash, DC area for 20+ more. I've been here for 3 and don't find this area particularly exciting.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Durham
660 posts, read 1,006,594 times
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Default Decisions!

I pretty much totally agree with this assessment.

For me it came down to "big city feel" versus weather, and I chose weather -- of course I have experienced the "big city" or a "real city" plenty, so that might not matter as much to me as it will to you. Really, you won't find anything like NYC, Chicago, Boston, DC or Philadelphia outside the North Midwest/Northeast simply based on the way this country was founded and "colonized". What I like about the Triangle is that you can be in DC in a few hours by car and in Philly in 8 by train -- if you want the feel of a "real city" (my language) for a weekend or more. :-) If you want to live in downtown Philly it will cost you, though not as much as the other cities listed, substantially more than anywhere in the Triangle; my friend lives in Old Town/Old City and pays $1500 a month for a small 1-BR with no on-site laundry and zero parking.


Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I can speak to Philly and the Triangle, not Charlotte. If you want warmer weather, then the Triangle and Charlotte obviously have Phila. beat. But if you want a big city, you just cannot compare Philly to the Triangle. Philly feels like the major metropolitan city that it is. The Triangle feels like two small cities and a town. Raleigh feels separate from Durham. Chapel Hill kind of goes along with Durham.

The food options in Phila are much more varied and in greater volume than what is available in the Triangle. Phila. has its own (albeit small) Chinatown. And the Italian food...yum...along with the dozens of ethnicities - Greek, Polish, Italian, etc. - that settled Philly, you are in foodie heaven there. Check out pictures of the Reading Street Terminal for a taste of what Phila. offers. Now that's not to say there aren't good food options here - there are, although the Asian is pretty lacking imho. Now, I'm sure most people would be quite content with most of the dining and restaurant choices here, particularly if you are from a small, Midwestern place, and it is growing as the region grows.

As for safety, unless you live in certain parts of Philly proper, the Phila. suburbs are as safe as the Triangle suburbs.

The city of Phila. is much older. If you live in an inner-ring burb, then your housing will be older and smaller. If you live in a newer suburb, you will find similar housing stock as in the Triangle. The history of the city of Phila. will surround you - you can walk the same cobblestone streets where the founding fathers of our nation walked - see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, where Washington crossed the Delaware, climb the steps of the Art Musem that Rocky climbed (ha!). It is a living museum. You won't experience that type of history here, if that's important to you. Yes, there is history here, too (it's everywhere) but not major American historical events. Being in the Triangle, you can almost be in anywhere, USA with a taste of the south thrown in. Being in Phila. you know where you are - it's a much more unique place.

Cost of living will be higher in Phila. but is actually one of the lower cost of living cities in the Northeast compared to NYC, Boston, and DC. So if you want a big city experience, you can do it there for less than other places. And while it's more expensive than Raleigh, it's not THAT much more expensive.

I'd say if you want a big city, urban, walkable, faster-paced downtown living experience, Philly is the only choice of the three. If you want a low-cost, warm weather, generic type small city, then Raleigh is your best bet. Charlotte would be a bit more urban than Raleigh but not on the same scale or feel as Phila.

Disclaimer: You asked for opinions and this is mine. Everyone has their inherent biases. I was born and raised in the Phila. area for 20 years, and then lived in the Wash, DC area for 20+ more. I've been here for 3 and don't find this area particularly exciting.
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:56 PM
 
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Thank you for really detailed responses, I appreciate it!

Brier Creek area sounds like a good compromise of location between the three cities. I see that it's right by the airport, which would be very convenient, but at the same time, is there a noise issue there? Is it pretty safe?

michgc, I think that if I moved to Philly, I would probably want to live in either University City of Center City considering I'd be working in the Center City area... unless it's possible to live in a suburb and commute to CC without being extremely frustrated with traffic every day? Is there a nice suburb that's within reasonable distance of CC?
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly NoVA and Phila
9,777 posts, read 15,788,843 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sei42 View Post
Thank you for really detailed responses, I appreciate it!

Brier Creek area sounds like a good compromise of location between the three cities. I see that it's right by the airport, which would be very convenient, but at the same time, is there a noise issue there? Is it pretty safe?

michgc, I think that if I moved to Philly, I would probably want to live in either University City of Center City considering I'd be working in the Center City area... unless it's possible to live in a suburb and commute to CC without being extremely frustrated with traffic every day? Is there a nice suburb that's within reasonable distance of CC?
In Phila. there are definitely suburbs you can live in and commute to the city via the train so you don't have to deal with traffic. Any of the towns on the SEPTA line would work. Media is a nice walkable town that many people like and it's on the train line, admittedly toward the end. Also, any of the Main Line towns would work (Ardmore, Wynnewood, Narberth, etc), but they are generally expensive. Also, as a young professional, the city would be so much more fun! My niece who is 24 lives in the Fishtown area of the city and LOVES it! She lives, works, and plays (she's a musician) in the city and rarely leaves it. There are definitely parts of the city you'd want to avoid (North Philly for sure) but many parts of the city are fine. and the suburbs are mostly nice and safe. Overall, it's quite a lively city, and I think you'd need to check it out in person to see if that's the kind of lifestyle you want.

Living in Brier Creek would be way way way too suburban for me if I were in my 20's. Plenty of time for that later on in life. If you choose Raleigh, I'd at least look in the downtown area unless you really want the suburban lifestyle.

In any case, I think you need to visit both places (Charlotte can be combined with a trip to Raleigh). They are vastly different.
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Old 02-13-2015, 06:36 AM
 
Location: East Mt Airy, Philadelphia
1,119 posts, read 1,464,457 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sei42 View Post
Hello!

I have an option of working in one of the three areas above (Specifically Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Philadelphia) in half a year or so, and it's been a difficult decision to make, so I've been doing a lot of research online. Wasn't sure which forum I should post this, but came here because I felt like the Triangle was the place I was the least familiar with.

I'm in my late 20's and will be looking to rent an apartment. I'm a big foodie and thinking that it'd be especially nice to have a variety of Asian food options (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc.), but I'm coming from Midwest so my standards are probably not terribly high. I'll be similarly paid at each of the three locations (+-$5k difference at most). Bar scenes, I don't care about since I don't drink.

Philadelphia
Pros
- Best public transportation options
- By far the largest area (population wise) out of the three, which generally means more options for food, entertainment, etc.
- Has a Chinatown for Asian food options

Cons
- Terrible availability of parking spaces
- Considerably older buildings on average. Also didn't feel anywhere near as clean as the NC cities
- High crime rates
- Harsh winters
- Higher COL


- Will someone here also be able to answer a few questions regarding Charlotte and Philly? I'm guessing I won't be allowed to repost this in other forums.

Thanks so much!
I don't see why you shouldn't be able to post to other forums. After all, that's what C-D is for, to solicit (and offer) opinions. Go to https://www.city-data.com/forum/phila...some-maps.html, and use that as a starting point for a new thread in the Philly forum.

MICHGC has already offered some good insights into Philly. I'll add (maybe duplicate) some of that here.

I've lived in Philly since 2008 after having been in Chapel Hill for 30.+ years. The quick summary of the two is "Chapel Hill is easy and lulling, Philly is boisterous, exciting, and challenging". Obviously, my personal opinion. My wife and I got tired of being car-bound for everything we did - shopping, socializing, etc. Plus the area was slowly losing the charm that attracted us there and started to have the same office park/strip mall/subdivision look that you could find ... pretty much everywhere. It's attracting people, to be sure (the population of the metro area has soared), but it wasn't for us any more.

Your take on Philly is more or less accurate. It's colder (-1 wind chill right now, but that's unusual), but the summers are much less oppressive than the South, and the transition seasons are spectacular (Spring can arrive later than one would like some years).

Crime and parking are problematic in some areas. We live in Mt Airy and feel safe and have plenty of on-street parking. In some other areas you have to ditch your car and have some street smarts, but for the most part the city's image of being crime-ridden is overblown. Compared to the Triangle, personal and property crime are higher. But you can live a safe/non-paranoid day-to-day in most areas of the city.

The food scene here - Chinese, Korean, all other cuisines - is getting better every year. No comparison between Philly and the Triangle in that respect.

Transit: again, no comparison. We have light rail, regional rail, subways, trolleys, buses as well as plentiful downtown (aka "Center City") taxis and Uber (maybe Lyft?). There are miles of bike and walking paths as well. I use my car for local errands and usually fill up about once a month. My wife commutes via regional rail to Center City. There are many public transit options available - you can even get to NYC for your Chinatown fix for only $15 via Bolt or Megabus.

Finally, cost of living. PA state tax is lower than NC, but Philly has a 3.9% wage tax. Insuring a car will be more expensive here than in NC (it varies almost down to the ZIP code level). But if you eventually buy a condo/house you'll make out well, because real estate taxes are lower than most locations in the Triangle (I can't speak to a comparison of rental costs between the two areas). After our first year here in Philly, I compared our COL to Chapel Hill. Factoring in reduced gas usage, lower cost of food, lower real estate taxes, higher local taxes, etc. etc. Philly was only about $1,500 or so higher than Chapel Hill (can't recall the exact figure). We're much, much happier with our lives in Philly, so if the $1,500 is a "happiness tax," bring it on :-)

Like I said at the start of this post - explain your situation, use the boilerplate form in the Philly forum, and start a thread there. You'll find that Philadelphians are never at a loss for opinions.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
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We all know this is really a two-city race-- Philly is out, too cold, more expensive, and the people aren't nearly as friendly/nice.

Charlotte and the Triangle are quite similar. One advantage Charlotte has is that Atlanta is a 3.5 hour drive away, which is great if you are foodie, particularly Asian food. You also have a shorter drive to the mountains, especially Asheville, which is another great destination for a foodie/beer lover.

I think the Triangle has more culture than Charlotte, mainly because of the 3 major universities in the area. By culture I mean more dance, music, plays, exhibits, etc., going on. The Triangle is also much closer to the beaches. You can be at Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington in a little of 2 hours.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Living in Brier Creek would be way way way too suburban for me if I were in my 20's. Plenty of time for that later on in life. If you choose Raleigh, I'd at least look in the downtown area unless you really want the suburban lifestyle.
It really depends if the OP is willing to drive a lot. I find Brier Creek pretty convenient, but I'm not heading out to the bars in downtown Raleigh every night, or going to shows in Durham every week. But BC is pretty convenient if you really want/need to locate yourself in a central location where everything is about a 20 minute drive away.
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