Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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What's it like to live in Chapel Hill?

What is it like to live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina? I’m considering a relocation from Columbus, Ohio.
I wish I knew what you like and don’t like about Columbus, because it would be easier to draw comparisons. Homes and places to hang out range from neo-hippie rental houses to $15,000,000 mansions. There’s a quaint little former drugstore that serves excellent lunches and there are restaurants where it’s fairly easy to spend $100 a person for dinner. There’s a first-rate hospital with an ER waiting area that can sometimes look third-world, and there is a public clinic where you will be treated as if you actually matter. If you are a clothes-shopping snob, you’ll be disappointed, with a very few noteworthy exceptions, but if you love bargains you’re in luck.

We have a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods (with an absolutely authentic Whole Foods parking lot) and a number of excellent supermarkets for every part of the social spectrum.

And because there’s a first-rate public university, you can expect the clerk in Whole Foods to drop a quote from Sartre, and your barista will be celebrating getting into grad school. We have a beautiful public library, well-maintained walking paths, a world-class wellness center, lots of people on bikes and riding buses is free.

Now, get on Yelp, MeetUp, Google Streets, The Daily Tarheel, Carolina Performing Arts, instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Meet the people who have something to say about this place. Look for places similar to where you enjoy hanging out in Columbus. You’ll learn as much as or more than you would from any number of Quorans.

Two final suggestions. First: Whether you are visiting or have already moved here, spend an afternoon nursing a beer or two on the porch at The Dead Mule Club on Franklin St. It’s a place where you can easily strike up a conversation with a table of people you don’t know, ask a question about Chapel Hill, and get lots of answers, most of them reliable. It’s a little like Quora IRL. There should be more places like that.

Second: Whatever your political affiliation, get in touch with party headquarters and get on the mailing list for fund-raisers. If you’re an independent, get on both mailing lists. You can do the same with nonprofits that you care about. Many of these events are at the homes of prominent people with well-connected contacts who actually show up. An afternoon or evening at a couple of these things will not only get you “free” food and drinks, but will provide the kind of networking opportunities that you will find nowhere else as easily. Many of them make the size of your donation optional, so for $20 you can get a lot of food and a lot of contacts. Having a business card is not a bad idea.

What are the downsides of living in Raleigh, NC?

“Every coin has two sides”

Just because you asked, I’ll list the cons of living in Raleigh first and then the positives out there.

Downside(s) :

  • Definitely not a big city. The triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) is so widely spread out, that each by itself doesn’t actually constitute in providing everything.

  • It’s laid-back and for someone moving from a bigger city might give a feeling that the place moves slow for their comfort.

  • You definitely need to rely on having your own means of transportation. Public transportation isn’tas well-connected as in any other major city.

  • Entertainment : (Although growing in quality and quantity now)
    Sports : Outside college sports in the area and the hurricanes (ice-hockey team that warns to move out), Raleigh doesn’t have a major national team locally.
    Arts : You can’t find opportunities to watch good drama or shows out here. You do get some really good performers in the music industry come down for their shows (once in a while), but you either need to drive down to Charlotte or DC for the major events.

  • Not that diverse (making the availability of good food from diverse places limited).

  • Although it can boast of its four seasons weather, the weather is very erratic (actually I shouldn’t be calling this a downside, or maybe …)

  • The city doesn’t have huge skyscrapers (yeah that’s a thing for some)

  • If trees can be listed as a positive, then I should definitely point the pollen, fall-cleaning and it’s fall-outs. (Personally only thing that I hate here)

I think i can talk well about the advantages in living out there though:

  • It is a moderately sized city that is definitely growing (where the cost of living is still cheap, that’s a big +). Buying your own real-estate is still an affordable thing for every class of families living in the area.
  • I’ll not talk much about the primary schooling, but the area is awesome for providing the best opportunities for undergraduate and graduate programs through
    NC state : Engineering
    UNC : Arts, Sciences
    DUKE : Law, Management, Medicine
  • Mountains and the ocean are a drive away.
  • Moderate weathers to experience the four seasons. (Neither harsh winters nor harsh summers… wait maybe the humidity in late July)
  • Trees … trees … trees (nature lovers paradise)
  • Lakes and parks are well-maintained and everywhere.
  • Opportunities in the software industry are abundant through the Research Triangle Area. Lots of interesting work in the area, channeled through the research from the engineering programs at all of the three schools funds in to the tech presence.
    Tech-presence through startups is also increasing every year.
    The diversity in the area is definitely improving, again with the tech opportunties, resulting in lots of new restaurants/cuisines. (I know I listed this up as well, but signs of it getting better in future and for someone ok with it has right now )
  • Lots of breweries brewing up.
  • Lots of Interesting coffee places coming up in the area.
  • It has a very-established feel to the area, with everything available (comes in the right size and amounts)
  • Great places to bike around (would not call bike-friendly city though)
  • Cheaper/direct international flights to major destinations are being promoted out of the local airport.
  • It’s the BEST PLACE TO LIVE.

Which city is the best place to live as a single guy in mid-twenties: Durham or Chapel Hill?

At 25, Chapel Hill is a lot of fun. At 35, it’s a drag and you really start to prefer a more interesting city.

Durham would win hands down in my book, but I’m 37 and would just feel ancient in Chapel Hill.

I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, now — the Chapel Hill of the North. Basically identical towns, in good ways and bad.

I lived in the Triangle from 2007 to about 2013. Back in 2007, Durham was still slightly scary and kind of an abandoned city. Downtown was essentially a ghost town. That’s definitely over. The city has bounced back pretty nicely. Last time I was there, it felt a lot more hip than when I first moved to North Carolina.

Chapel Hill is a fine community, but it always seemed like the “cool” side was Carrboro. The sort of stodgy, university-professor, white-picket-fence side was Chapel Hill proper. Franklin Street is fun for a hot second, especially when you’re young (and especially when you’re horny), but once you grow up, it’s just a street and actually kind of an annoying place. Durham looks a lot more attractive once you mature and get over your party days, without it ever being “boring.” What’s boring (for an adult) is Franklin Street. But again, from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill is 30 minutes tops. So no big loss either way.

Raleigh just never appealed to me. But it has its fans.

Best house I ever lived in was about a block from Duke. Good memories. Otherwise I’d probably live in Carrboro. I lived down by the mall in Chapel Hill for a year and that was boredom itself.

If you do live in Chapel Hill and plan on biking, try to get a house or an apartment at the top of the hill. It’s called Chapel Hill for a good reason: it’s a big ass hill, and riding up it is no fun in the summer heat. Other than that, it’s an extremely bike-friendly town and you’d probably never really need to drive anywhere. Just live at the top of the hill.

If you’re a single guy interested in babes — or potentially even in guys, I guess — you’ve just stepped into paradise. There are more smart, good-looking people in those few square miles around Durham and Chapel Hill than just about anywhere else. Except in the summertime, when most go back to whatever town they live in: I never figured out why. But since Durham’s more of a “real city,” I’d prefer it in the doldrums of summer.

You can’t go really far wrong with either. But my vote’s for Durham. Rent’s a little cheaper over there, too, though if you’re working or going to school in Chapel Hill, even that 20–30 minutes commute could potentially suck. Rush hour on U.S. 15–501 is a clusterfuck around the UNC hospital and the big stadiums. Live somewhere close to where you work and bike. The weather’s good enough for most of the year, biking isn’t a serious issue, and a relief compared to driving.


Posted byu/[deleted]7 years ago

If you could choose, would you guys live in Chapel Hill or Greensboro?

Grew up in Greensboro, went to school in Chapel Hill, about to move back to Greensboro after graduation until I can get myself set up for grad school. I know both cities pretty well.

Before I go any further, it would REALLY help if you specified what your priorities are. Chapel Hill and Greensboro are hugely different in a lot of ways. I'll start by hitting up the concerns you listed here though.

Construction sites - Pretty much entirely around campus/downtown Franklin St. Campus construction never ends. Ever. The downtown stuff will end eventually, and almost everything that is being worked on/has been worked on has improved Franklin St. I for one can't wait for University Square to get replaced with something better. Greensboro, on the other hand, is in the process of constructing Painter Boulevard (a loop boulevard). Highly visible and occasionally in the way. I wouldn't include this into your calculations, personally, I don't think either one will be in your way enough to make a difference.

City Feeling - This depends entirely on WHERE you live in those cities. I'd say neither one of them feel particularly urban unless you're in downtown. Greensboro's downtown has gotten better, but the city as a whole still feels like one gigantic suburb housing 250,000 people. Chapel Hill is also very suburban unless you're on Franklin, but its a much smaller community.

Traffic - Anecdotally, I prefer Chapel Hill's traffic…most of the time. There are roads where the speed limit is way too low that get annoying (looking at you MLK). Sunday morning/afternoon on Franklin can get crowded. Especially around Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. Heading towards Raleigh on 40 E or on 54 towards the 40 junction during or near rush hour is a really bad idea and probably the worst traffic I've ever experienced in NC. So if that's something you think you'll be doing a lot, prepare yourself. Oh and game traffic for football/basketball games is miserable anywhere near campus. Greensboro isn't too bad, it just always feels cramped on the roads to me nowadays. And I personally would avoid Wendover like the plague unless you have a reason to be over there.

Besides that, what do you value? Do you like/want to potentially use public transportation? Chapel Hill's bus system is currently free to ride and absolutely destroys Greensboro's in terms of scope and frequency. Book reader? Between the public libraries and university libraries which you can pay to gain access to on an annual basis, Chapel Hill towers over Greensboro for this too. Google Fiber is coming to Chapel Hill, and consequentially internet speeds are going up whether or not you actually sign up for Google's service. Like coffee shops/cafes? Chapel Hill. Public parks/lots of green open spaces I will give to Greensboro, although it really depends on the part of the city. Etc. I have no idea what you like, but if you tell me I can tell you which city has it/is better at it (for instance, I think Greensboro has the better disc golf scene if that's your thing, but its all on the outskirts of town and requires a goodly amount of driving)

One last thing - you may want to consider Durham, there's a reason UNC and Duke have the Tobacco Road rivalry - they're really close, like 8 miles apart. Very easy to commute from Durham to Chapel Hill if you have to work in CH, and housing/rental prices in Durham are cheaper. Durham has a lot of character and is way more urban than either Gboro or Chapel Thrill.

Moving to Chapel Hill North Carolina? Here are 7 things you MUST know before you move!