The Complete Triangle Area Relocation & Cost of Living Guide
Thousands of new residents come to The Triangle area in North Carolina every month, lured by high-tech jobs, a prime location and countless nearby amenities.
Introduction to the Area
From sports and outdoor recreation to area museums, highly respected universities to outdoor recreation, The Triangle area of North Carolina is a desirable place to call home. The area boasts historic homes and new construction, top employers and a number of high-ranking public schools.
Sometimes called the Research Triangle, The Triangle takes its name from the towns and cities tied to three of the nation’s most prestigious universities: Duke University in Durham, North Carolina State in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The area also anchors the renowned Research Triangle Park, a well-known research and business campus in Durham.
Living in The Triangle area of North Carolina offers many of the advantages of living in a larger metro area, but the cost of living stays relatively close to the national average. It is considerably cheaper to live in this part of the country than in some of the nation’s biggest cities, which makes it a great place for professionals, couples, families and even retirees.
While Raleigh is very close to the national average in terms of its cost of living, Chapel Hill is slightly more expensive and Durham is a bit more affordable. The housing rate, in particular, is what seems to set these three cities apart. The median home cost in North Carolina is around $242,000, while it is higher in each of these North Carolina cities:
- Durham - $310,000
- Raleigh - $346,000
- Chapel Hill - $459,000
Tens of thousands of people are employed by research and development facilities in Research Triangle Park. Other major employers include some of the local universities, health systems and public school systems in the region, including:
- Duke University and Duke Health Systems
- State of North Carolina
- Wake County Public School System
- WakeMed Health & Hospitals
- North Carolina State University
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- UNC Health
Because there are several cities and towns in The Triangle, there are also several public school districts. They include:
Durham Public Schools: Consisting of 29 elementary schools, numerous middle schools, secondary, specialty, magnet and high schools, Durham public serves students in the county and City of Durham.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
The majority of younger students living in Chapel Hill attend school in the top-rated Chapel-Hill Carrboro City Schools. The school district gets an overall grade of “A+” from Niche.com, based on its academics and more.
Wake County Public School System
Students from a number of communities in Wake County, including Raleigh, attend classes in the Wake County Public School System. The district boasts 194 schools, including 31 high schools. Serving an estimated 161,000 students, the district gets an overall Niche grade of “A-“.
Johnston County Public Schools
More than 37,000 local students attend classes as part of Johnston County Public Schools. Enrollment numbers have doubled in size over the past 15 years. The district boasts 12 high schools and academies.
The three main universities that form The Triangle include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State. Here are some of the largest colleges and universities in the region:
- Duke University- Durham
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-Chapel Hill
- North Carolina Central University-Durham
- North Carolina State University-Raleigh
- Meredith College-Raleigh
- Shaw University-Raleigh
- William Peace University-Raleigh
- Saint Augustine’s University-Raleigh
From area museums to hiking trails, dining and nightlife to Durham Bulls baseball, there’s always something to do, see and experience in The Triangle area of North Carolina. Some of the larger local museums include:
- North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh
- Nasher Museum of Art - Durham
- North Carolina Museum of Life and Science - Durham
- Carolina Basketball Museum - Chapel Hill
- Marbles Kids Museum - Raleigh
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences - Raleigh
- North Carolina Museum of History - Raleigh
Several restaurants and retailers make up the popular American Tobacco Campus in Durham. Just adjacent from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the registered historic site and mixed-use development of today was once home to the original American Tobacco Factory.
Nightlife abounds on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, too. The center of university nightlife, this is also where you can go to grab some coffee or stroll through some of the local shops. The trendy Glenwood South District in Downtown Raleigh is another top destination for shopping, dining and nightlife in the region.
Triangle Area Lifestyle Guides:
For outdoor fun and recreation, including hiking, exploring and more, there are several options in the area, including:
- Eno River State Park- Durham
- Jordan Lake
- American Tobacco Trail
- William B Umstead State Park- Raleigh
- North Carolina Botanical Gardens- Chapel Hill
The housing market in The Triangle area of North Carolina is quite active and competitive. In late summer of 2021, WalletHub.com ranked Durham as the seventh best place to buy a house. The city rose to fourth place when ranking just midsized cities.
Raleigh, in particular, is seen a top rental market. The Raleigh/Durham area was ranked one of the top emerging markets, in part due to the many job opportunities tied to the Research Triangle area. For the fifth year in a row, the region is one of the top five hottest US markets.
Most single-family homes in the Raleigh area tend to be traditional designs, but you will find some older bungalows in areas including Downtown Raleigh, the NC State University area and Cameron Village. Some of the largest homes with largest lots tend to be found in North Raleigh. The city’s historic homes can be found around the downtown area and the Oakwood neighborhood, including some old Victorians. There are also more and more townhomes and condos going up.
In Durham, some of the older homes tend to be in East Durham. Examples include some Craftsman-style homes, bungalows and Tudors. Duke Park, close to downtown, also has some older homes, as does Forest Hills. You will find some brand new construction homes in Durham, as well.
Generally speaking, housing styles in Chapel Hill vary greatly, from Colonials to Craftsman, Prairie-style homes to Farmhouses. Some of these are older homes, while others are new construction. Thanks in part to the nearby university, the area also boasts a number of rental properties.
Apex: Town of Apex Public Works
Cary: Town of Cary Utility Account Services
Chapel Hill: Town of Chapel Hill
Clayton: Town of Clayton Utilities & Billing
Durham: City of Durham Public Works
Fuquay Varina: Fuquay Varina Public Works
Garner: Town of Garner Public Works
Holly Springs: Holly Springs Public Works
Raleigh: City of Raleigh Services
Wake Forest: Town of Wake Forest Public Works
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