If you’re longing for the comforts of Southern hospitality mixed with one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country, look no further than Raleigh. But the job market isn’t the only thing that’s hot in North Carolina’s state capital – you’ve also got top-notch universities, an incredible food scene that’s home to America’s Best Chef (James Beard Award Winner Ashley Christensen), charming neighborhoods, and ACC basketball.
Known as the “City of Oaks” for its abundant oak trees, Raleigh, NC forms one point of the famous Research Triangle with neighboring cities Durham and Chapel Hill. There are tons of things to see and do in the city, whether it’s studying at the state-of-the-art facilities at North Carolina State University, hiking in William B. Umstead State Park, or grabbing a pint at one of the city’s many breweries. And if you decide you want a break from the city, you’re just a few hours away from the beaches of Wilmington, the Outer Banks, and the mountains in Asheville. Get ready to join the incredibly friendly people who call Raleigh home!
Living in Raleigh, NC: What to Know Before Moving to Raleigh
Whether you’re moving to Raleigh to attend one of the several universities in town, relocating for a new job in Research Triangle Park, or moving with your family to enhance your quality of life, Raleigh has something for everyone. With more than 450,000 residents, it’s the second-largest city in North Carolina.
As the exploding job market is driven by the demand for highly skilled tech jobs, the city continues to grow and attract highly educated people to its neighborhoods and suburbs. Here’s what you should know before calling The City of Oaks your new home:
Pros and Cons of Living in Raleigh
- Booming job market: One of the hottest job markets in the country, North Carolina, has seen a 40% increase in demand for information technology jobs. As part of the Research Triangle, many of these jobs are in the Raleigh metro area.
- Four seasons: Enjoy the benefits of each beautiful season without having to worry too much about snow.
- Colleges and Universities: Raleigh is home to 12 colleges and universities, including NC State University, Meredith College and Shaw University. The local population is well-educated, with nearly 50% of residents 25 and older possessing college degrees.
- Lower property taxes: Property taxes in Raleigh are lower than the national average.
- Cost of Living: A family of four needs to make about $90,000 to afford to live in Raleigh, which is higher than the national average. Home prices are also higher than in other places across the country, with a median home value of $277,400.
- Walkability: If you’re going to live in Raleigh, you’ll need to have a car. Although public transportation options are available, the sprawl of the city means a car will be your most efficient way to get around.
- Sales Tax: At 7.25%, Raleigh has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.
- Property Tax: The average property tax rate for Wake County is 0.861% of assessed home value. For a home valued at $250,000, that means your property tax bill will be about $2,150 annually. This rate is slightly higher than other places in North Carolina (0.855%) but lower than the national average, where taxes for the same home value are about $3,030 annually.
- Sales Tax: Raleigh has one of the higher sales tax rates in the state. The 7.25% rate is a combination of North Carolina’s 4.75% rate, Wake County’s 2% rate, and a special rate of 0.5%.
- Income Tax: North Carolina has a flat income tax, which means everyone is taxed at the same rate, regardless of income level. In 2019, the state reduced the income tax rate from 5.499% to 5.25%.
Although home prices in Raleigh are higher than the national average, it’s still an affordable place to live. According to Zillow, the median home value in Raleigh, as of June 2019, was $277,400. Home values have risen 6.2% over the last year, which is lower than the national average of 7.7%. With so many colleges and universities in the area, it makes sense that renters comprise 42.6% of Raleigh’s population. As of July 2019, the average 1-bedroom apartment costs $1,010 per month, and the average 2-bedroom apartment costs $1,167 per month, which is lower than the national average. Studio apartments are closer to $900 a month.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Raleigh is higher than the national average, plus higher than neighboring Durham and the state’s other major metropolitan area, Charlotte. Bestplaces.net calculates the cost of living index using a US average of 100 to determine the cost of living in a specific city. According to their calculations, the Raleigh cost of living is 111, compared to an average of 96.2 for other cities in North Carolina. But it’s not all bad news. Although they pay more for housing, Raleigh residents pay less than others in the state when it comes to healthcare, groceries, and utilities.
As of March 2019, the median household income in Raleigh was $61,505, which is higher than the national average of $57,652. Taking household expenses into account, a family of four with two adults and two children has to earn about $90,000 to afford to live in Raleigh.
Weather & Natural Disasters
If you’re looking for a city that experiences all four seasons, Raleigh is the place for you. You’ll experience cool sweater-worthy winters, hot, humid summers, and some fun foliage action in between. Temperatures are highest in July, with highs/lows of 89/69 degrees F. On the flip side, it’s coldest in January with highs of about 51 and lows of around 32. Raleigh averages four inches of snow per year, which is well below the national average of 28 inches per year.
North Carolina is the ninth rainiest state in the US, based on annual precipitation rates, with Raleigh receiving an average of 47 inches of rain annually. The wettest months are July, January, and March.
Like most cities on the east coast, Raleigh has the potential to experience severe weather, like hurricanes and winter storms. Both the City of Raleigh and Wake County have excellent emergency preparedness resources available on the web.
Economy & Job Market
According to a March 2019 article from the Wall Street Journal, the Raleigh metro area is the sixth hottest job market in the country. The tech sector drives most of this growth—demand for information technology jobs in North Carolina grew by 40% from 2018 to 2019.
Raleigh enjoys an unemployment rate of 3.5%, which is less than the national average of 3.9%. And there’s no end in sight for this booming local economy – job growth in Raleigh over the next ten years is expected to be nearly 50%, which is considerably higher than predictions for the country as a whole.
Raleigh has received its share of economic accolades over the years. It earned the #2 spot on Forbes’ 2018 Best Places for Businesses and Careers list. In 2015, Forbes named it the second easiest city to find a job, and in 2016 ranked it the #2 hot spot for tech jobs and the third best city for young professionals.
The three biggest industries in Raleigh are technology, healthcare, and education. Since there is so much overlap with the other cities in the Research Triangle, it makes sense to look at the area’s largest employers at a county level. In Wake County, the largest employers are the Duke University and Health System, the State of North Carolina (Raleigh is the state capital), and the Wake County Public School System. Other big names in the private sector are IBM, SAS Institute, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
Work in the Triangle can help you learn more about employment in the Research Triangle. On their website, you can explore industries, check out business rankings, investigate salaries and wages, and even explore job opportunities. You can also use online job search sites like indeed.com, simplyhired.com, careerbuilder.com, and monster.com.
Traffic and Transportation
GoRaleigh provides bus services for the city, operating 27 routes in the city’s municipal area, plus five regional and express routes with the regional provider, GoTriangle. Even with the bus service, your safest bet for getting around is to own a car. Your commute times will be shorter than the national average — an average one-way commute for a Raleigh resident is just under 25 minutes.
According to Walkscore, Raleigh is ranked 30/100 for walking, 30/100 for transit, and 37/100 for biking, which places it solidly in the “car-dependent” category. Based on these ratings, it’s the 46th most walkable city in the nation.
I-40 cuts through the southern part of the city, serving as the lifeline for the Research Triangle. You can head west and reach Durham and Chapel Hill or take it east to where the ocean meets the land in Wilmington. The city also has two loops, I-440 is known as the “Inner Beltline” and I-540, the “Outer Beltline.”
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is 13 miles northeast of downtown. Amtrak operates the Carolinian, connecting Raleigh to New York. The Silver Star will take you from Raleigh to Florida or New York, and The Piedmont travels from Raleigh to Cary and Charlotte.
What to Do
There are lots of perks to living in the capital city of North Carolina. If you’re looking for air-conditioned culture during the hot summer months, there’s no shortage of world-class museums. Prefer your fun with a side of beer? Raleigh has that too, not to mention a thriving sports scene and tons of green space.
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the largest natural history museum in the Southeast
- North Carolina Museum of Art, home to the country’s largest museum art park
- North Carolina Museum of History, with 150,000 state artifacts on display
- PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes and NC State University’s Men’s Basketball Team
- Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
- William B. Umstead State Park
- Pullen Park, an urban oasis just outside of downtown
- Raleigh Beer Garden, with the world’s largest selection of draft beer under one roof
- Any one of James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurants
Schools and Universities
Raleigh is a well-educated city, with approximately 50% of residents 25 and older holding a bachelor’s degree. It’s home to 12 colleges and universities, including NC State, the state’s largest university, with more than 100 majors for students to choose from. In addition to the main campus, located between Western Blvd. and Hillsborough Street, there’s the always-expanding Centennial Campus which hosts both the university’s engineering students and several STEM-focused businesses. And just a few miles down the road is the College of Veterinary Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best in the country.
Also close to downtown Raleigh are Meredith College and Shaw University. Wake Technical Community College, which services more than 74,000 adults every year, has six campuses around the city and offers more than 240 certificates, diplomas and associate degrees.
For kids, Raleigh has excellent K-12 options, including magnet and charter schools. The top-rated public K-5 school is Sycamore Creek Elementary on Leesville Road. Martin Middle and Leesville Road Middle receive the highest marks for public middle schools. And according to greatschools.org, Leesville Road High School offers the best 9-12 education, receiving a score of 8/10.
Unfortunately, the crime rate in Raleigh isn’t something for this southern city to brag about. According to neighborhoodscout.com, Raleigh’s crime rate is higher than the national average. But if you take a closer look and compare it to cities with similar populations, the crime rate in Raleigh is considerably lower than average. Compared to other cities in North Carolina, Raleigh’s crime rate is about 80% higher. It may be statistically safer than neighboring Durham, but the City of Oaks has some work to do in this area.
Raleigh’s violent crime rate is lower than the national average. That said, the city’s property crime rate is higher than the national average, with Raleigh receiving a rating of 44.4 versus the US average of 35.4, according to bestplaces.net.
There are several options when it comes to television, internet, and phone service. If you’re looking to bundle your internet and TV, AT&T and Spectrum by Charter are your two primary options. You can also have your choice when it comes to cell phone carriers, but AT&T and Verizon offer the best coverage in the state.
Best Neighborhoods in Raleigh, NC
Here’s the scoop on the top places in the Raleigh metro area to call home.
About 15 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh, at the intersection of US Route 70 and I-540, the Brier Creek area offers convenient amenities for all stages of life. Convenience is the main attraction of this suburban-feeling enclave. In addition to great restaurants and shopping at Alexander Place Promenade and Brier Creek Commons, the area is home to William B. Umstead State Park. Despite its proximity to RDU International Airport, noise pollution isn’t a major problem.
This community was established in the early 2000s and features primarily large homes and condos. Given the size of the homes and larger lots, the median sales price is higher than the average value for homes in Raleigh.
- Population – 18,380
- Median Household Income – $80,500
- Home Price – $241,000
- Apartment Rent – $1,060 for a 1-bedroom
- Schools – Brier Creek Elementary, Leesville Road Middle, Leesville Road High
Something to try: Watch planes take off and land at RDU Observation Park.
Adjacent to NC State University and just minutes from downtown, the Cameron Village neighborhood was built in 1947 as the first mixed-used community in North Carolina. This historic neighborhood includes a shopping center anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store, office buildings, and several restaurants, including Tazza Kitchen and Flying Biscuit Café. The Cameron Village Public Library is also nearby.
The neighborhood features ranch-style homes that were built in the 1940s, though many have undergone upgrades over the years. Given its historical status and proximity to all the amazing things Raleigh has to offer, home prices are significantly higher than other parts of the city. The vast majority of households don’t have children, which makes sense given this is a favorite area among older college and graduate students.
- Population – 427
- Median Household Income – $58,7700
- Home Price – $660,000
- Apartment Rent – $1,273 for a 1-bedroom
- Schools – Lacy Elementary, Olds Elementary, Wiley Elementary, Daniels Middle, Needham Broughton High
Something to try: Watch an ACC sports event with friends at Village Draft House.
If you’re looking for craftsman-style bungalows and tree-lined streets, Boylan Heights is the neighborhood for you. This area is a small, close-knit, artsy community with a love of architecture that has seen a lot of growth in the last few years, including the addition of Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing.
Located between NC State University and downtown, this charming area is within walking distance of Raleigh’s Warehouse District. The neighborhood has its own park – Dupont Circle Park – and the area is zoned for good public schools, with Needham Broughton High School receiving an 8/10 for College Readiness.
- Population – 403
- Median Household Income – $60,924
- Home Price – $512,000
- Rent – $1,200 for a 2- or 3-bedroom house
- Schools – Wiley Elementary, Daniels Middle, Needham Broughton High School
Something to try: Take in the unobstructed downtown skyline view from the Boylan Bridge.
Historic Oakwood features some of the oldest homes in the county and is one place where the “City of Oaks” really lives up to its name. Bordering downtown, neighborhood residents can easily walk to downtown to enjoy all the fantastic restaurants, and nightlife Raleigh has to offer. Oakwood is Raleigh’s first local Historic District; residents take great pride in honoring their neighborhood’s aesthetic and traditions.
This community hosts several annual events that are open to the public, including the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour and the Garden Club Tea & Tour. There are also several resident-only events, including an Easter Egg Hunt, National Night out, and a Fall Pig Pickin’. Oakwood truly is a special place in the heart of the city.
- Population – 1,540
- Median Household Income – $43,174
- Home Price – $519,000
- Rent – $1,800 for a 2-bedroom house
- Schools – Root Elementary, Leesville Road Middle, Leesville Road High
Something to try: Enjoy a 1-hour Victorian tea service and peruse beautiful gardens as part of the Annual Oakwood Garden Tour and Victorian Tea.
Considered the midtown of Raleigh, North Hills is only 10 minutes from downtown and is right off I-440. If you’re looking for apartment living, it’s a premier destination to live, work, shop, and play. But North Hills also offers single-family ranch-style and luxury homes.
Residents enjoy the convenience of grocery stores, a 60,000 square foot gym, and several bars and restaurants in this mixed-use community. The World of Beer is one of the main area attractions, with 50 different beers on tap.
- North Hills is one of Raleigh’s fastest-growing areas, zoned to good schools, close to major highways, and has several access points to the Greenway for outdoor fun. Population – 1,843
- Median Household Income – $65,663
- Home Price – $462,000
- Rent – $1,077 for a 1-bedroom apartment
- Schools – Root Elementary, Leesville Road Middle, Leesville Road High
Something to try: Check out a live concert the North Hills Commons farmers market.
Rated the #1 ‘Best Place to Raise a Family in North Carolina’ according to Niche.com, Morrisville is 25 minutes west of downtown Raleigh. Its proximity to Research Triangle Park, RDU Airport, and I-40 makes it a prime location if you’ll be working in Raleigh’s booming tech sector. Lenovo is one of the area’s major employers.
Home to several parks, including Morrisville Community Park, Crabtree Creek Nature Park, and Indian Creek Greenway and Trailhead, there’re plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Area schools are very highly rated, and crime rates are much lower than the national average, making this a great place for families.
- Population – 24,000
- Median Household Income – $95,763
- Home Price – $304,000
- Rent – $1,060 for a 1-bedroom apartment
- Schools – Morrisville Elementary, Cedar Fork Elementary, Mills Park Middle, Davis Drive Middle, Green Hope High, Panther Creek High
Something to try: Scale the 55-foot rock-climbing wall at Triangle Rock Club.
Located 15 minutes west of downtown Raleigh, off I-40, Cary is another superb option for young professionals and families. A growing town with lots to do – it has tripled in size over the last 25 years – Cary is the quintessential suburban town. But don’t assume that means it’s devoid of culture – it’s home to several great restaurants like Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and Bond Brothers Brewery, named the best brewery in the country by USA Today.
The city also boasts several sports facilities, including a tennis park, two softball/baseball complexes, and the Sk8-Cary Skate Park.
Glassdoor recently ranked the Raleigh/Cary area as the #1 ‘Best Place for Jobs in the Country,’ with companies like Cisco, IBM, SAS, and Apple having offices here. With incredible schools and low crime rates, Cary is an excellent option for someone looking to relocate to the Raleigh metro area.
- Population – 160,000
- Median Household Income – $97,755
- Home Price – $323,000
- Rent – $1,070 for a 1-bedroom apartment
- Schools – Highcroft Elementary, Davis Drive Elementary, Mills Park Middle, Davis Drive Middle, Green Hope High, Panther Creek High
Something to try: Listen to your favorite band at Koka Booth Amphitheater.
Another picture-perfect Raleigh suburb is Apex, located 20 minutes southwest of downtown Raleigh along US-1. In 2015, it was named Money Magazine’s #1 ‘Place in Live in the US’. No wonder its nickname is “the peak of good living!”
With its quaint feel, highly rated schools, and friendly people, Apex draws a lot of comparisons to the fictional Mayberry. Seventy-two percent of residents own their homes, so the community vibe is strong. With a very walkable downtown area filled with antique shops and award-winning restaurants, residents love the small-town feel of this former railroad town.
- Population – 46,000
- Median Household Income – $100,305
- Home Price – $390,000
- Rent – $1,035 for a 1-bedroom apartment
- Schools – Apex Elementary, Olive Chapel Elementary, Apex Middle, Lufkin Road Middle, Apex High, Apex Friendship High
Something to try: Go for a swim in Jordan Lake.
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Now that you’ve done your research and you’re ready to relocate to Raleigh let’s make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible. Contact Great Guys Moving today to get your free moving quotes.