Barbecue is the third rail of North Carolina politics.
- John Shelton Reed
The Best Thing About Durham?
It’s a big city packed into a small town
Durham, NC, sister-city to Raleigh, has all the best parts of a large city, packed into a much more reasonable package. Because it used to be a big tobacco town, there was already a lot of infrastructure needed to make a great little-city. All of the brick buildings used to house those workers are now some of local's favorite places to live, eat, and work!
Some of the perks include a ton of opportunities for outdoor activities, great restaurants with dog-friendly patios, a surprisingly great art community, and a big university.
Review of Durham from a local:
I LOVED living in Durham. Especially when I worked in Wake Forest. It was a straight shot down 98. I ended up moving back to WF/N Raleigh line when I got a job further in north Raleigh. I lived on the border of Lakewood/Maplewood and I loved it. I was off Chapel Hill rd and while my apt was awful the location was great. 5 min to downtown/Brightleaf and I very much frequented Durty Bull brewery, Motorco, Accordion Club, Geer St, James Joyce, Devines, & the Social. Made an occasional appearance at the Green Room too. The social atmosphere is a world away from downtown Raleigh where everyone’s concerned with your job and status. In Durham it’s far more intellectual. I always felt like the people I met in Durham were far more genuine. Plus the food is awesome.
The Worst Thing About Durham?
Not particularly bike-friendly or walkable
If you talk to a Durham local about moving there, they’re going to mention that besides a few ritzy neighborhoods, it’s not the most walkable or bike-friendly city in the US. That being said, there are a lot of areas specifically for recreational activities, but you do lose that city feel the more you talk about walkability. With people also complaining about the public transit, it’s definitely considered a must-have car town unless you live right smack-dab in the center of downtown.
Here's a note from a local about city efforts to improve public transport: The TLDR is it's a priority to city council and they are making progress. It's at the research phase right now. We need to be patient because these improvements don't happen over night, but we need to keep telling them this is important to us.
Worklife of Durham
In terms of work, Durham is big on tech and medical. As a growing tech city and part of The Research Triangle, or The Triangle, it’s home to one of the most prominent high-tech research and development centers in the US, making it a hotspot for people wanting to use University’s resources. Not to be outdone by tech, the city of Durham is also dubbed “The City of Medicine” according to durham.gov and has over 300 medical and health-related companies.
Most of the Durham workforce works at one of the hospitals/universities in the area either Duke or UNC. There is an awesome biotech hub here with Syngenta, Biomerieux, Monsanto (sorry), BASF, Bayer Crop Science, EPA all represented. There is a pretty thriving agriculture scene here with a lot of small farms in the area. Those are mostly in the northern part of the county and in adjacent Orange and Chatham county.
Why You Should Move Here Now?
Cost of Living/Opportunities
Like many mid-sized cities, Durham is becoming less and less of a hidden gem by the day. That being said, there are a lot of housing opportunities due to the rotation of students and fellows at Duke. Speaking of Duke, according to the University, the cost of living in Durham is about 23% lower than the national average.