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pre-relocation weekend trip

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Alexandria, Virginia
posts: 2
pre-relocation weekend trip

Hello everyone,

My family and I may have the option to relocate from Washington DC to the Triangle. At this point, it looks like we could live anywhere in the Triangle. Despite the fact that we are generally happy about where we live now (Alexandria, VA), there are a number of aspects of the Raleigh area which are appealing to us. Specifically, the primarily the cost of living, highly educated, relative (to the DC area) lack of transience , traffic, generally slower pace, smaller city but has culture, etc.

So my wife and I are intending to spend next weekend (14-16th) in the area. Our main intention is to get a feel for the culture of the region and determine if it might be a good fit for us. So we'd love some advice on how to spend our couple days in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill areas. Our hope is to look at neighborhoods to get a feel for where people actually live as well as to attempt to take in the local food and cultural scene. However, to help out here's some info about us and what we're looking for out of a place to live:

We currently live in the City of Alexandria, VA which is an inner suburb of Washington DC. Our neighborhood is filled with older homes (our home was built in 1922) which are are mixture of styles (bungalow, cape cod, colonials, craftsman). It is definitely a neighborhood where every house looks different. We like that. One of our favorite parts of it is that it is very walkable to a "main" street with shops, restaurants, the elementary school, playgrounds, etc. The community gets together quite often for events, etc and that is something that drew us to this area. Our current neighborhood is also abundant with children which is great because we have two (4 and 1) and one one the way! So obviously neighborhoods that are family friendly is important. Not to mention schools are important and we are more than a 'little' confused as to how the public school systems work.

One other major consideration is that our current neighborhood is very diverse (race, nationality, religious/non-religious, sexual orientation, etc.). We highly value that the community is open minded and accepting of all as they are and something we will be looking to try and replace in NC.

Our initial plan is to look primarily at the neighborhoods inside the beltline in North Raleigh (five points, etc.) as well as Chapel Hill. We are going to look at hte various other suburbs (Wake County, Cary, etc) though our expectations are that those might be a drastic difference than what we're used to. Have we missed anywhere? We were also thinking of talking to a couple realtors simply to get their insights on neighborhoods. Is this a good idea or will we just be wasting our time?

We both enjoy music, enjoy the outdoors, and would like to consider ourselves "foodies". Any great restaurants, activities, etc. that are unique to the Triangle and fun for a couple in their early thirties would also be appreciated because outside of looking at neighborhoods we don't have much planned and a weekend without the kids should NOT go to waste! Of course my wife is 5 months pregnant so no brewery tours (...though she could drive...hmm).

Thank you for all your help and we look forward to touring your wonderful city next weekend!

Raleigh, North...
posts: 91
reviews: 1
1. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

Inside the beltline and North Raleigh are 2 very different things... Don't miss Oakwood, Mordecai, Pilot Mills, Cameron Park neighborhoods. Don't know where you are staying but Oakwood has Oakwood Inn and Cameron Park has Cameron Park Inn. Before we moved to Oakwood, we spent a week at the Inn and that cinched our decision for us. All of these are great downtown neighborhoods that are walkable. Good luck with your scouting weekend.

US
posts: 1,302
reviews: 70
2. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

Another good forum to check out is:

city-data.com/forum/…

Hillsborough, North...
posts: 75
reviews: 40
3. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

I can 't really reply about Raleigh itself but I can speak a bit to some of the surrounding areas.

Chapel Hill is a unique community for a number of reasons, most of which are good. It is probably the most pedestrain amd cyclist friendly although I'm sure there are folks who might take exception with that. CH does have a free transit system which is used by students and a wide cross section of the community and there is good connectivity to other transit systems. Chapel Hill and Carrboro may be the foodiest places you will ever experience. CSA's are numerous and quality markets dedicated to locally grown and organic fare. Many good restaurants, not many chains in CH proper but in neighboring Durham all the options one could imagine.

Within NC, Chapel Hill may have one of the highest real estate price points up there with Asheville. But that's relative to other areas of NC. Relative to where you are coming from the rpices may seem to be a real deal. There are 2 neo traditional neighborhoods in CH: Meadowmont and Southern Village. School system is exceptional in my opinion IF you are a top notch student or a student with special needs. The mediocre and middle of the road seem to be left to fend for themselves.

CH is quite diverse and very progreesive in a lot of ways. It is not a paradise but is a good community. And you've got all the energy that comes from being in a major university town!

I can''t speak to Durham either or some of the Raleigh suburbs. But if you really want to experience something different from city living that really is in great proximity to all the amenities of the Triangle then I would strongly suggest you at least take a glance at Hillsborough. Close to Chapel Hill, about a 35-40 minuute commute to Raleigh, equally close by to Burlington and Greensboro. Orange County Schools, which are quite fine. Small walkable community, local restaurants and farmer market scene (a chef who was a finalist for Food and Wines regional New Chef), beautiful rural landdevelopments themed around horses and farmland. Historic (pre revolution) with active preservation scene. Might be worth a look as well!

4. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

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Charlotte, NC
posts: 7,067
reviews: 158
5. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

Definitely check out Carrboro/Chapel Hill - even if just where to go on Saturday or Sunday - if you decide to live in Raleigh... If you have time to spare during your visit, see the Rembrandt in America Exhibition - NCMA

http://ncartmuseum.org/exhibitions/rembrandt/ until January 22, 2012; you can buy the tickets online....

Carrboro & Chapel Hill seem the most liberal towns in NC (apart from parts of Ashville, New Bern, & Charlotte) - but that's just my opinion....

http://www.ci.carrboro.nc.us/

http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/

Chapel Hill, North...
posts: 2,006
reviews: 13
6. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

I agree that this post is probably better suited to citydata, but since you posted here...

For diversity, you can't beat Durham.

Generally, folks regard the Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools as the best public system in the state.

The Wake county schools have been in a bit of a kerfluffle for the past few years when a very conservative school board was elected on the basis of neighborhood schools vs the nationally recognized economic diversity policy that had previously been in place. The Wake county system is also one of the largest in the state.

Durham schools are a bit of a mixed bag with a few folks down on them, but more that I hear are liking them these days. There are some good magnet and charter schools in the Durham district.

As for tourist attractions in the area which is a more appropriate topic for this forum, probably, we've got quite a few places worth visiting.

Durham, of course, is home to Duke University and also NC Central University (a historically black college). The Nasher art museum is at Duke and is by all accounts a great place. They often have family friendly events, too. The NC Museum of Life & Science (http://ncmls.org/) in Durham is a fantastic place to take kids and fun for grown-ups, too. Sarah P Duke Gardens are lovely, especially in the spring.

In Chapel Hill, there's the overpowering presence of UNC, of course. There's the Morehead Planetarium, and the Ackland Art Museum, as well as FRANK, a gallery on Franklin St (the main drag). There are some brewpubs about, too, but maybe that should be better left to another time. The Cat's Cradle (http://www.catscradle.com) is a nationally known music club ala the 9:30 club in DC. The ArtsCenter also in Carrboro (conjoined sister city to CH) brings in lots of national acts to an intimate theater setting (http://www.artscenterlive.org). UNC's Memorial Hall (www.carolinaperformingarts.org/genres/all) brings in world famous acts like Wynton Marsalis, etc.

There are tons of excellent restaurants in Durham and Chapel Hill/Carrboro and also Raleigh. Two 2011 James Beard award-winning restaurants are in Chapel Hill, Lantern (best SE Chef, Andrea Reusing), and Crooks Corner (Classic award), and there are also other excellent restaurants in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham, especially. The NY Times (nytimes.com/2010/04/21/dining/21carolina.html) and Bon Apetit (bonappetit.com/magazine/2009/10/americas_foo…) among other publications have written up the area, especially the emphasis on local food.

I live in Chapel Hill and go over to Durham (about 20 minutes away) fairly often, but I really don't find myself in Raleigh very often, so I will have to let someone else elucidate Raleigh's finer points. I'm more of a small-town person and don't enjoy driving on 40 or 540 to get over there, but there definitely are many lovely historic neighborhoods and many attractions such as the NC Museum of Art, the Natural Science museum, the NC History Museum, great clubs to see music, great restaurants, etc. It's too big and sprawly for me personally, but many people (who live there!) obviously disagree with me!

Chapel Hill, North...
posts: 2,006
reviews: 13
7. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

The Daily Beast rates Durham as the most tolerant city in the US thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/01/16/the-u… .

Whether you agree with the methodology or results the fact that Durham was even included in a ranking of tolerance (not to mention came out on top) points to how diverse Durham really is.

8. Re: pre-relocation weekend trip

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