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Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary The Triangle Area
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Old 08-22-2008, 05:16 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
64 posts, read 175,996 times
Reputation: 39

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My family and I are contemplating our re-location (a.k.a. escape from "AZ"kaban) within the next 1-2 years. We are constantly doing research and visiting places to see what will be a good fit. I know that we will never know 100% until we get settled in somewhere... but we are hoping that if we take our time and learn all we can, we can make the right decision and find a place to raise our children for the long haul. (that is our ultimate goal). Anyways... the Carrboro / Chapel Hill area are high on our list - currently #1. From all our research and our minimal vacation time spent there, it seems to be a good fit for our family/ lifestyle.
The purpose of my post is that I would love to get feedback from people who live there about things they honestly love or don't love about it. I really want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think its important for us to look at all sides. Thanks!! Can't wait to read.

Last edited by megh; 08-22-2008 at 06:13 PM..
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:25 PM
 
Location: WA
4,246 posts, read 8,438,607 times
Reputation: 2374
Pros:
Good restaurants and grocery stores. Great foodie town.

Excellent schools, from pre-school to university...

Small town feel: not a lot of traffic except during rush hour heading out of the city.

People are into gardening, so Spring is a really nice season here.

All that hippie stuff: Farmers market twice a week, lots of yoga studios, an excellent co-op grocery store, freecycling events, bike trails, lots of local coffee shops, etc.

University brings in cultural activities which are open to the public.

Some degree of commitment to local businesses. Not many chains, etc. Even the mall has local businesses in it.

Cons:

Property tax+housing prices higher than in other parts of the Triangle

In general, the town filled with college students, 20 somethings, families and retired people. A 30 year old might have to drive to Raleigh for dating.

Town politics geared towards fulfilling the needs of the university, for better or worse.

Again, as for going out to bars, there are only a few that are geared towards a +25 year old crowd. You will learn these quickly.

Limited job opportunities in Chapel Hill itself. Though a commute to RTP is only 20 minutes, depending on what side of town you live on.

The kid stuff tends to be in the Raleigh area. I'm talking about things like go-carts, putt-putt, inflatable nonsense, etc.

The smallness of the city sometimes gets you a little stir crazy. But a plus for the area in general is that its towns aren't far from each other: so I can go to Durham to try a new restaurant, or to Raleigh to go to the Arts museum.

There's a few greenways and a couple of artificial "lakes" , but, in general, I find the hiking to be dull. This is a Triangle-wide issue though. I'm biased because I prefer elevation gain (or drop, as in AZ)

So my two cents.
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Old 08-23-2008, 01:36 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
64 posts, read 175,996 times
Reputation: 39
Awesome.. thanks for the feedback! That is exactly what I was hoping for! Many Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 08-23-2008, 04:05 AM
mzd
 
419 posts, read 852,176 times
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I agree with what "seattle" said above.

One drawback of Chapel Hill is the high property taxes. I just got my tax bill: $5.6K for a 2,500 sq-ft house. It would be half of that in Durham or Raleigh.

I have been living in Chapel Hill since 1997, when I started grad school at UNC. For me, the "pros" far outweigh the "cons". If you have children, the schools here are uniformly excellent, so you don't care if your kids get re-districted every few years. In other areas it may be a crap shoot: you may live close to a good school, but your children may be assigned to a different one that is not so good.

And I think that the average education level in this town is higher than average, with all of the students, professors and researchers at UNC. So for me, it's worth putting up with the high property taxes.
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Old 08-23-2008, 06:04 AM
 
Location: Raleigh
1,539 posts, read 5,365,260 times
Reputation: 794
Remember to hit the Weaver Street Market when your in Carrboro.
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Old 08-23-2008, 09:59 AM
 
3,155 posts, read 10,369,937 times
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When we originally thought of moving to this area, I thought we would move to Chapel Carrboro or Inside The Beltline Raleigh. One thing against Chapel was that it was on the "western edge" of the Triangle. Hubby works from home but I'll eventually go back to work. And I did not want to commute from Chapel Hill to say Downtown Raleigh.

And while the Chapel Hill schools are good I felt like they were too competive for our family. Also, they are less racially & economically diverse than other school districts in the area. Diversity was/is important to our family.

Lastly, I did not find living in a college town desirable. Chapel Hill has only 50,000 residents and the university has about 28,000 students. For me this was too many college students.

BTW, we picked SW Durham for the centralized location. If commuting is not a concern, I would recommend looking at Pittsboro. It has a similar vibe as Carborro. Pittsboro is a mix of artist, natural/hippie folks, long time residents, and new folks. It's not quite as earthy as Carborro, but it's there and I think more on the way. And you don't have the university students to contend with. BTW, Pittsboro is just south of Chapel Hill on 15/501.

Have fun with your research!!

Last edited by PDXmom; 08-23-2008 at 10:01 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 08-23-2008, 12:10 PM
 
Location: WA
4,246 posts, read 8,438,607 times
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Oh, I forgot. Pro: Free buses with a pretty extensive transportation system within the town. I find the buses in general to be very safe too.
Con: Traffic on Saturdays and some nights is bad due to football and basketball games. Sometimes parking in town is impossible at those times.
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Old 08-23-2008, 04:10 PM
 
1,627 posts, read 6,267,274 times
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We chose Chapel Hill (although moved out of the area this summer for work reasons) over the rest of the ITB. For us, it was absolutely the best choice. We lived in a very quiet established residential neighborhood and honestly it was as if there was no university in town unless you sought it out. The university only affects you if you either choose to live right downtown or you choose to take advantage of it (take classes, see the ballet there, etc. We did take advantage of these things).

The diversity question, well, we found it very diverse. We are white with a black son and wanted to be sure we were in a diverse area. In our child's K class of 21 kids (public) she had kids from (directly from): Australia, France, Korea, Japan, China, Phillipines, India, Bangladesh, and of course here! Additionally there were black (American) children. The other classes were very much the same. There is also a relatively high Hispanic population. Contrary to what some people think, there is also economic diversity, with a number of (very) low income students in class. Schoolwide, there are more than I expected, and before holidays the public schools have the kids who can, bring in food to cover the meals of students who would typically be eating lunch and breakfast for free (or a discounted fee) at school.

It is very liberal (which you'll either love or hate!), people are from all over the US and the world (again, thanks in part to both UNC and Duke (many who work at Duke live in Chapel Hill b/c of their school system).

The schools do have a reputation of being "the best" which also means very competitive I hear, although we did not experience an overly competitive atmosphere.

Housing and taxes? That depends where you come from. We thought it was CHEAP but I hear others say it's expensive, so all depends on what you're used to!

The main drawback to me would be proximity to work for many people. I wouldn't live there if I worked in Raleigh, for example, although certainly we knew people who do!

I was actually amazed at the number of people I met who could have lived anywhere in the US (literally, as they were self-employed) and chose Chapel Hill. In all honesty, I would not have chosen it over all over choices (maybe Austin, TX? ) but it has a lot going for it for sure.

We looked at ITB, which we loved, but we really wanted a smaller town feel and Chapel Hill has that. Also we didn't want to have to think about traffic and in CH we didn't. There is basically no traffic in Chapel Hill. Yes, there is some downtown on games days (although I never saw it--guess I wasn't there on game days). And there is some on 15-501 going toward, guess where, Raleigh, at rush hours, but that 's it. Driving around day to day, at any time otherwise, there is just minimal traffic on the road.

So although I might not choose it out of anywhere, there is a lot to be said for Chapel Hill.

Carrboro is great too btw--we would have lived in either, just found the house/neighborhood we wanted in Chapel Hill.
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Old 08-23-2008, 08:33 PM
 
1,627 posts, read 6,267,274 times
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ps--just a quick correction. In the first line I said we chose it over the rest of the ITB. I mean over the rest of the Triangle!
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
64 posts, read 175,996 times
Reputation: 39
Awesome info from everyone.. I love getting honest opinions!! The great thing about this board is that some of things people have listed as pro/ cons for themselves are the opposite for us.. or maybe don't even apply to us but most of them are exactly what we are looking for. Thanks again everyone.. great detailed answers!
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