Moving to Chapel Hill / Research Triangle

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Raising a liberal child in Chapel Hill?

Feb 2015

We have an opportunity to move to the Chapel Hill, NC area and am wondering if anyone has advice about what it's like there. What we love about Berkeley is the diversity, the liberalness and that being Jewish here is not unusual. We are actually not religious at all, but we don't want, our child especially, to feel out of place. I'm very concerned about raising a liberal child in such a conservative place. So what's it like now? Are there liberal friendly pockets there? What are the schools like? I read the archives, but the most recent posts were from 9 years ago. Thanks!

Chapel Hill is great! The whole triangle area is really vibrant and full of people from all around the world. We moved to the east bay from Chapel Hill last year and still miss it!! The chapel hill/carrboro schools are pretty good, and there are several private schools in the area. It's a great college town! Carrboro would probably be a good fit for you. Lots to do, great local food and music scenes, farmers markets, southern charm, friendly people, plus UNC brings lots of great entertainment to the community. The cost of living can't be beat! We would move back in a heartbeat! Ask the moderator for my email if you want to connect. Go Heels!

Like you, several years ago my husband received a great opportunity in North Carolina. We did all kinds of online research, went to visit, and ultimately made the move. The schools in the area had rave reviews. The cost of housing was a night and day change from the bay area. We went 'all in' and began construction on a new custom home. A very long story, short, we spent more time building the house than we did living in it. By the time our house was finished we were evaluating all of our options of how we could come back home to the Bay Area.

We felt so completely out of our element there - in so many ways. While there may be some pockets of more liberal, diverse areas, we found that on the whole, the area was very conservative, extremely religious (all the kids went to 'vbs' or 'vacation bible school'), and extremely unlike anywhere we had lived before.

When looking for preschools, we had a really hard time finding one that was not based in a church - the only option was a montessori school (that we did end up loving), but were so surprised by how prevalent/dominant the churches were in the community - it was really the social 'thing' for most of the people we met.

We love to enjoy all of the great ethnic restaurants that the bay area has to offer - we love Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, you name it - something that quite simply doesn't exist there - most restaurants are chains in a strip mall. Yuck! We found one pub called the Hibernian that we loved - and one restaurant in Chapel Hill that had great homemade healthy foods, but that was about it.

The one place we did find had a slightly more liberal/diverse feel was in Chapel Hill - right around the University. There were a few pubs, restaurants, etc that felt more like 'home' - but as soon as you got outside of the University area, it got conservative quite quickly.

There is another suburb there called Cary, that the locals refer to as the 'containment area for relocated yankees' where you can find a lot of people who aren't from NC - but mostly north easterners who've moved down. We met very few people from the west.

If we had to do it again, and didn't have a choice about going, I would stay near the University and commute to wherever we had to go. If we had a choice, I wouldn't go. We are now back in the area, and are so appreciative of all that we have here - even with the traffic, cost of living, and hassles associated with living here. We are so thankful that things worked out for us to move back - and we look back on our time there as a weird dream that seems like it never happened.

Best of luck to you whatever you decide.
Been there, done that

Chapel Hill (and other parts of the Triangle) are quite liberal compared to the rest of the state. In the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area the political, social, environmental attitudes are similar to what you find in Berkeley. The town of Chapel Hill and areas of Durham are somewhat ethnically diverse but often still segregated in practice. Housing prices are much cheaper than in the Bay Area, but the region is spread out and not well served by public transit.

Whenever I visit my family in the area, we spend much more time in the car than we do at home. The weather is also more extreme (ice storms this week, hot muggy summers). The universities are excellent and attract top-notch faculty and grad students. I don't know as much about the local schools. I think Orange county (surrounding Chapel Hill) has good ratings but many families living in Durham send their kids to private school. The area has some things to recommend it but I would be reluctant to move unless there was a very compelling case. Duke grad

We just moved to San Leandro from Durham, NC about 6 weeks ago, so I can offer some very up-to-date info, though maybe can't do a very exact comparison with Berkeley. Let me just say that have lived in a lot of different places in my life, and NC was by far the friendliest. I’ve never had an easier time settling in and getting to know people.

Chapel Hill is very diverse and very open-minded. It is a university town par excellence - and in fact, I would say that it is one of a handful of university towns that all others are modeled on (Berkeley, Ann Arbor among them). UNC-Chapel Hill vies with UVA for the title of oldest public university in the US, after all. A move from Berkeley to Chapel Hill will probably be a lot less disorienting than a move from Berkeley to, say, East Oakland. And Carrboro, which someone else mentioned, is the most Berkeley-esque part (technically a separate town, but contiguous with Chapel Hill).

There is a diverse Jewish community (or more accurately, communities). My husband is Jewish, and though we didn't make much effort to integrate ourselves into a Jewish community, it was certainly rarely perceived as a remarkable trait in Durham-Chapel Hill. We ran into and befriended other Jewish families all the time, and there were lots of other Jewish kids in our son’s daycare and preschool. We did a mitzvah day with the newish JCC in Durham one Christmas - several hundred people participated and it was a lot of fun.

I did very much miss the kind of Asian diversity you find here, though, and am happy to be back on the West Coast for that (being Asian American myself). There has been a huge influx of Latinos into NC in the last 10-20 years. And of course, black-white diversity is fully present, embedded in a very long and complex history.

Politically and socially, Chapel Hill and Durham are very, very liberal. Fear not. (Check recent voter returns.) In fact, all the urban areas in NC lean decidedly left. But the recent Tea Party takeover of the state gov't is deeply frustrating and is taking a serious toll on education and other state services, so that is definitely something to take into account. Chapel Hill public schools are very strong, for example, but those trends in state government are presenting serious challenges.

But yes, the diversity and the liberalism in Chapel Hill are *different* from Berkeley's. It is the South; it has a very different history and it is a different culture. Personally, I found that fascinating and a lot of fun to explore. Good luck with your decision! Tanya

Moving to the Research Triangle

May 2013

My family is relocating to the Research Triangle part of North Carolina this summer and I would love to get some current advice about the area. I'll be working in RTP and we've pretty much decided on Chapel Hill/Carrboro to live in. I understand that the school system there is supposed to be excellent, but does anyone have thoughts on particular elementary schools? I read some reviews online but again it would be great to get some advice from the BPN community if anyone has recent experience there. And any other advice about moving from the Bay Area (where I've lived for 20 years, though a CT native) to North Carolina would be appreciated! Also, does anyone know if there's a BPN-like group or service for the Triangle area?? Many thanks! ksc

Moved two years ago after quite a while in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro School District. All the elementaries in the district are about the same in quality (good). Don't be put off by the older buildings (e.g. Estes) which have programs that are just as good as newer-built ones. One school had a Chinese immersion option but you have to start at kindergarten, I believe. In some of the schools all the kids study French, other schools Spanish. But they're all pretty much the same. Had two kids go through Phillips Middle School, which was excellent (also an older building, feeds to a lovely newish high school). Not aware of a BPN-style list there. Other advice? No good bakeries in CH and hard to find a decent avocado! You will miss Bay Area food and weather! glad I moved (but yes, schools there were better!)

Research Triangle, NC/Southeast in general

Aug 2012

We're considering a move to North Carolina to be closer to our families, and to enjoy fireflies, warm summer nights, and a lower cost of living. I'm wondering if anyone out there has advice on the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area? Is there anything remotely like the East Bay, culture-wise? Are atheists made to feel unwelcome? Any great neighborhoods we should check out? Or are there other great cities in the Southeast that we might like as much as Oakland or more? Atlanta's on our list, too, so any advice there would be great.

moving east

I am originally from Chapel Hill, NC and highly recommend it as a place to live. It is a nice university town - VERY liberal politically, with lots of local, organic food, local music scene, etc. Carrboro neighbors chapel hill (you can drive between the two without realizing you are in a different town) and is also very happening. Durham, which is a bigger city, is a new hip place to live and is worth checking out. I know that a lot of friends who are still there do lots of fun stuff in Durham, though it definitely has more variety in the neighborhoods (read - there are more dicey sections of town) since it is a bigger city. Overall, it is an area where there are a lot of super educated folks (because of 3 major universities and the Research Triangle businesses) and a lot of cool cultural stuff going on.

You mentioned being an atheist - in the circles I grew up in, we knew folks who were nominally Christian, but not religious, who were Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist and most anything in between. The rest of North Carolina does tend to be more religious Christian. I think that if you are happy in Berkeley, you could be very happy in Chapel Hill and parts of Durham. Avoid Cary. Good luck on the move! Claire

The southeast is very different from the Bay Area (obviously!). I don't know the Research Triangle very well but I have heard great things about Carrboro and the food there and in Durham. The NYtimes has done several pieces lately about this area (including featuring it this weekend in their 36 hours!): I can tell you more about Atlanta ... (see more)

Biracial family considering a move to the Chapel Hill area

April 2006

We are considering moving to North Carolina so we can afford to buy a house, which it doesn't look like we will ever be able to do here. We're thinking perhaps Chapel Hill, Carrboro City or Durham. We live in North Berkeley and I love that I can walk to the health food store, bank, market, pharmacy,etc. I also love that a lot of people are out walking too. It's important for me to be in a culturally diverse and accepting of different cultures area. I also need to feel safe, like I do walking in North Berkeley, as I am out walking several times a day. Does anyone know which area would be like Berkeley? Also is NC accepting of mixed race couples? Thanks!

Should I move?

We considered moving to North Carolina a couple of years ago because of the high cost of living and wanting to be closer to family on the East Coast. Carborough and Chapel hill are right next to each other, you really don't know the difference. It's a very small town area, nothing like Berkeley. Although the town is a college town, it really feels like that's all it is. Mostly quick food restaurants a few stores, etc. We found you could get more for your money but it wasn't inexpensive.

We had researched the area extensively and were really excited to go there. We were dissapointed overall. After being in the Bay Area for years, it's hard to deal with the differences- food, people smoking a lot, the whole ''bible belt'' issue, lack of culture and diversity, etc. Raleigh, the ''big city'' wasn't much of a city to us either. And other then that area, everything is pretty much strip malls and new houses.

But everyone has diffent likes and dislikes. I know the schools are great, and I liked the health food store and area and feel around it in Carborrough a lot. For us, it just didn't feel right for us personally as much as we had hoped it would. I met someone else that checked it out as well and felt the same way. Good luck in your decision! Tracey

Hello! I am so happy that you posted. I, too, am considering a move to the Raleigh/ Durham/Chapel Hill area and have the same questions that you do. I would be happy to share any info I find out as I search, you can email me directly if you are interested. So far, I have found a couple of helpful websites: is home of Sperling's Best Places, a research firm. You can select two places and compare data on weather, crime, jobs, housing, health, etc. is a realtor's page with links. saladfriend

I was stationed in North Carolina in the mid 80's and was back there for work for about a week last year. Chapel Hill is the only city in North Carolina that really appealed to me. It is a bastion of liberal hippydom in what is mostly very conservative and Christian North Carolina. There is even a great food co-op there!

I was there last summer and sitting at a table out front, watching the hacky sack players and all the college students sitting on the lawn felt very ''Berkeley'' to me.

Durham and the Research Triangle area has the reputation in North Carolina of being tolerant. That is probably true by NC standards. The area kind of felt like San Jose to me.

I would avoid the rest of the state, especially the rural Western and Southern parts, where people tend to be pretty redneck. One exception is Asheville, which is a beautiful artistic community in the Appalachias.

Housing is much cheaper there than here. We looked at a nice 3 bedroom/2 bath house in Chapel Hill that was listed at $320k. The realtor said that Chapel Hill is very desirable and if we wanted to look 20 minutes outside of town, we could get that for half that price(!).

Salaries of course, are much lower, too.

Oh, I was with my wife, who is Asian, and everyone all over the state were very friendly to us. Even in rural areas. Jim

The following is from a friend who lives in Chapel Hill, relocated there about three years ago. She has lived all over the world, including Berkeley and Oakland for several years, and taught in Oakland (private and public schools) for a few years in the 80's. She is in a mixed-race marriage and has a mixed- race adopted child so is reasonably well qualified to comment.

Chapel hill/carrboro are essentially equivalent to Berkeley while durham is equivalent to Oakland. Carrboro is a very artsy community (lots of musicians, healers, artists, grad student types, writers, etc.) which will enable you to walk or bike to the center of town, organic stores, locally owned stores, etc. depending on where you live in chapel hill (which basically encompasses carrboro, but they are separate entities politically) you could do the same. It's a very bike friendly area, lots of people jog and walk places, it's very safe, the public schools have great reputations, etc. durham is more urban, the schools have a bad reputation (I suppose better than Oakland, but still bad, compared to chapel hill/carrboro), is less safe, you might have to do more driving, depending on where you live. Durham is about 50% black, 50% white. Chapel hill/carrboro is basically white with a small African American and growing Latino population.

Integration at schools occurs through lines drawn on maps, and students being bussed. Communities are not integrated. An interracial couple is accepted in chapel hill because it is a progressive town that considers itself outside of the norm of the rest of the conservative state. An interracial couple is not common in chapel hill because most of the people are white--

it's a highly educated university town of very liberal-minded artistic professional middle class people for the most part- therefore, it ends up being white, according to the norms of the country. Diversity comes through university students coming in from other countries, basketball players being drawn from other states, adoptions from china by white couples, etc. you would be welcome, uncommon, comfortable, and see very few people of color, unless you hang out in certain parts of town where they tend to live. These are poor neighborhoods with apartment complexes, or older run-down houses. Clearly these are generalizations: there are well off Indian or Chinese families, there are some mixed marriages between latinos and whites who live in safe communities, but this is not too common.

Signed, Thought NC was beautiful, wouldn't want to live there

Before moving to Oakland, I grew up and spent 30 years in South Carolina, and most recently, Durham, North Carolina. I think the ''Triangle'' (as Raleigh, Durham, & Chapel Hill are called) is surprisingly similar to the Bay Area at about 1/3 of the cost of housing. 4 communities within 25 miles of each other all have counterparts here:

Chapel Hill is most like Berkeley. A small town built around a large, prestigious state university. Quite a liberal community, you'll find Franklin St the most walkable place for restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc. Chapel Hill spills over into Carrboro, which is a little further out and cheaper.

Durham is a miniature Oakland--formerly a mill town (cigarettes & textiles) rebounding from urban decay. More ethnically diverse than Chapel Hill, Durham has the big-chain shopping that Chapel Hill won't let in, and a hip area near Duke University campus on 9th street and a nice baseball stadium for the Bulls.

Raleigh is the capital city, so government and yet another huge university (NC State) are the major employers.

In the middle of these is a somewhat unique Research Triangle Park--a huge commercial and light industrial area in Durham and near the airport. Tech companies such as IBM, Glaxo-Smithkline, Ericcson, Biogen, & more than I can name have campuses here. So many jobs and no housing in the zone creates what I consider unneccessary traffic congestion. If you work there and commute from Durham or Chapel Hill, an 8 mile drive on I-40 can take 30-45 minutes. Same with Hwy 55 from Apex. With the tech boom, tiny Cary has exploded into a Walnut Creek-like upscale suburb. ''Rich'' people live in Cary, but if you have a chunk of equity here you can afford anything in the Triangle, and the schools in Cary are superb.

You'll be safe anywhere in the Triangle at night except Raleigh around State's campus & Durham between E Cornwallis Rd & Hwy 98. I am most familiar with south Durham, having lived there for 6 years.

The Triangle as a whole is far from the red state stereotype. Tobacco is a part of the DNA of this state, but a statewide smoking ban has been proposed & (I predict) will be passed within 2 years. Their tech boom has brought so many transplants that the area is cosmopolitan *enough* for Berkeley residents.

Obviously there will be adjustments. ''Support the Troops'' is not a motto, it's a devotion in a state with so many military bases. The Christian Right and the progressive Left have parity in the Triangle but the middle is wide, so if you keep an open mind you'll be fine. Seasonal weather might be the biggest adjustment. Hot humid summers keep you indoors in the afternoon, and a hard run in the evening is out a few weeks a year. It's great to feel the seasons change, though, and mild autumns & brisk dry winters beat our rainy season. Casey

Moving to Raleigh/Durham/CHill

Dec 2005

Well our family has decided to move to North Carolina. We have a five year old and a 2.5 year old. Any moving advice at all. We are thinking of driving the minivan across country in the span of a week or two and hiring a moving company for the rest. My husband and I have never done such a major move and we would welcome any advice. Moving companies, emotional help with kids dealing with move, should we sell most of our big furniture here to save on moving costs???? Any and all advice is welcomed. Also my husband and I have lived in California all of our lives so any insight into North Carolina, specifically the Raleigh/Triangle area would be great!!! Thank you! Sandra

I would be happy to provide info about relocating to North Carolina. We moved to Chapel Hill from Berkeley in June 2005 & we are very happy here...we have a 5 1/2 y.o a 4 y.o. and a baby on the way. The Chapel Hill schools are top notch, very highly regarded & so far my son is thriving in kindergarten. We live in a beautiful home which we could never afford in Berkeley. Yes there are fewer progressive liberal types like us but there are still plenty out here. My husband has some old friends in Durham who are highly ''crunchy granola.'' It is just more family friendly here, just easier to raise a family. I sure do not miss bay area traffic!! I miss my friends of course and the incredible tolerance/diversity of Berkeley but I am still glad we moved. Our kids are thriving here. Feel free to e mail me

I am from SC and have visited the Raleigh area many times. It's a beautiful area with a mild climate (it does get hot, but there are actually 4 seasons!). The pace of living is a little slower than here and there are wonderful opportunities for great art/music/drama programs because of the local universities. Check out Duke University Campus - it's gorgeous - especially the chapel.

May 2005

As my family explores the possibility of relocating to another area of the country, I would like some information on this area. Are there neighborhoods, say in Chapel Hill, where public schools are decent yet integrated (we have a bi-racial son and a Chinese daughter)? We would prefer not to live in a brand new suburban development but am open to that if it allows us access to strong schools and neighborhood diversity. I would love to hear any information or advice from people who are familiar with the area. 
[no replies received]

March 2005

The schools and cost of living have finally forced us to consider alternatives, after 20 years in the Bay Area. My husband has never lived anywhere but here, and I am a contented transplant from New England. We are considering a move to the Raleigh/Durham/CHill area. Will my husband be miserable with the climate change? Are the public schools good? What small town would you want to live in? Any comments appreciated.

My wife & I are Carolina natives who moved our family to Oakland from Durham, NC and still own property there. It's amazing how many parallels we've noticed between the bay area & the ''Research Triangle'', as Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill are called. Durham=Oakland (ethnically diverse, economy struggling due to lost industries; tobacco & textiles in their case) Chapel Hill=Berkeley (college town, access to arts). For public schools, look in Cary (bedroom community=Walnut Creek) or North Raleigh (Wake County schools). FWIW, my wife is a recruiter w/ many contacts in the area if you're looking.

We have found the affordability argument a bit overblown, believe it or not. The higher income & mortgage deductions more than offset the tax hit out here. Certainly you can afford more house there. However, we do not miss our 2000 sf/ 0.5 acre property back east, with the recreational opportunities & 250 pleasant days/year here. The first year we moved here, we figured a family making below $105,000 pays more taxes in NC than out here.

All in all, Raleigh/Durham (they hate to be be lumped together, like SF-Oakland) is a great mid-sized community with many transplants, cultural & recreational opportunities, & an expanding local economy without going completely rural. Feel free to email with more specific questions. Casey

I went to law school in Chapel Hill, and it's a cute little college town not unlike other college towns throughout the country. It's very mellow and relaxed -- lots of bakeries and coffee shops and used bookstores. It also has two fabulous food stores of the Berkeley Bowl variety. And if you like college basketball, it doesn't get much better. The summer is very hot and very humid, but it doesn't last that long, and the fall, spring and winter are all lovely. It has good food -- if by good food you mean good fried chicken -- but if you want Bay Area type fare, you'll be very disappointed. When I lived there, I was bothered by the rednecks and the conservatives and the bible thumpers -- but I was young and I didn't have a family, so the stuff that seems important to me now (good schools, family friendly, relaxed lifestyle) didn't seem important then. When I lived there, I didn't have a family or own a house, so I emailed a friend of mine for you. This is what he had to say:

1) Climate change: Well the key is if you can stand hot humid summers. Spring and Fall of course are fantastic and I actually like winter here. Most winters (of course not this one since i got a sled for my birthday!) have one decent snowfall when the town shuts down.

2) Public schools: The public schools are generally excellent. Chapel Hill/Carrboro are universally good though very competitive and not very good for black kids and maybe some other minorities. Durham has very good individual schools but there are some not so good ones. They do have some great magnet schools. I think Wake County schools (Raleigh) are generally excellent as well.

3) Where to live: Chapel Hill and Carrboro are both great though I could see someone finding them very precious or at least not very diverse. Lots of volvos and such. Durham is a more ''real'' place with cheaper housing and a more urban feel. Housing is cheaper generally there then anywhere else. Problems are some racial polarization in government especially school board and lack of much of a downtown life though I am hopeful that is changing. They are developing some of the warehouses around the new Bulls park. Raleigh is nice inside the ''beltline'' but prices are rather high. I really don't like the rest of Wake County though especially the new developments of Cary, Apex and North Raleigh. Lots of transplanted Northeners who retreated here to get a way from high taxes. These are the folks that kept Jesse Helms in power. I guess if I was moving from the Bay Area, I'd live in Carrboro or Chapel Hill. Prices are not incredibly cheap--I would say a nice 3-4 bedroom house would run you between $250K and 400K depending on location. Durham would probably generally be about 25% cheaper. You could also just live outside of Carrboro/chapel hill and get cheaper housing if you were a little less concerned about being in the school systems. Housing is cheaper and I think Chatham and Orange County schools are getting better. Transplanted Tarheel

I am from this part of North Carolina and you should be aware that it is very different from the Bay Area. Not necessarily worse, just different. One thing to be prepared for is the dominance of church in social settings. Church is the primary social outlet, which is fine if you don't mind joining a church, but if you don't want to do this you may have a hard time connecting with others. Most pre-schools are church-based.

There are quite a few people from Asia and Indian who are not Christian who have come for job opportunities, but because they are in the minority culturally they tend to stick together and are not necessarily always open to making friends not from their background.

Also, its definitely a small town. The kind of culture and diverisity in the Bay Area is just not available. There is a certain small town mentality that you have to be OK with.

But there are pluses. Its a good job climate. Public schools are generally good. The weather isn't too is humid in the summer, but winters are mild, and the climate is much preferable than say New York or Boston. You will most likely be able to afford a large house with a yard (as long as you don't mind a suburban tract home). Quality of life in some ways is higher.

It can work for the right person....just be sure to visit before making any decisions! NC native

August 2003

We are moving to Raleigh next summer and are hoping to buy a house before then. Having never lived in that area nor owned a house before, we are a little overwhelmed with the idea of a new place and the home- buying process. Does anyone have thoughts on nice areas, good school districts, neighborhoods/towns to avoid, etc.? We would really like to live in a place that is child-friendly but still has some character, and, if possible, within walking/biking distance to NC State. On a brief visit we thought the Oakwood district looked great, but are unsure of whether it is good for kids. Any recommendations or suggestions for information sources would be a great help. Thanks! Anna

I grew up in Raleigh (my parents still live there and my father works at NCSU) so I know the area pretty well. I would also check out areas around Cameron Village, Peace Street, and even up Wade Ave towards Ridge Road. Also near the Rose Garden. And near 5 Points off Glenwood Ave - that is a nice eclectic neighborhood - some very very posh houses, but some that are more reasonable. They have varying amounts of character. Oakwood is nice as well, though I am not sure what schools serve the area (or what ages your kids are). We went through the magnet schools when I was a kid, so I went to school at Underwood Elementary, Ligon Middle and Enloe High (all great schools at the time, though don't know what the status is now). Email me if you want to ask any questions about the area! kelly

Progressive interracial family moving to Chapel Hill

April 2003

This summer my family is moving to Chapel Hill for a few years, and having never lived there, we don't know where to begin to search for housing. We are a young, interracial, progressive family who will be living on student loans for a time. Do you know of any neighborhoods that are inexpensive (less than 800 dollars a month) yet close to services like groceries, cafes, bookstores, corner stores and that have charming rentals and a family vibe to them? Do you know of any websites that have searchable rental listings for the area? I'm looking for a lot of general advice on the area, and if you have the time and info to share, I'd love it if you could e-mail me. milkmilk

Hi -- I lived in Chapel Hill for three years when I attended law school. It's a great area, and the nice thing is that there are lots of places nearby where you can live that aren't so expensive (living in the Chapel Hill city limits is by far your most expensive option because of all the students attending UNC). I recommend Carrboro, which is an adjacent town. Depending on where you get a place, you can walk to an organic grocery store, restaurants, used books stores and the like. It's much less expensive than Chapel Hill, but very close to everything. It also has bike lanes, which is nice for getting around. Durham is about 8 miles away from Chapel Hill and is also much less expensive. If you want to get away from the students, Durham is a good bet. The only problem is that you would have to drive from Durham to Chapel Hill every day, which can take a surprisingly long time because of the amount of congestion in the area. There are also small towns all over the area that are about a 20-minute drive but are much less expensive (I'm thinking in particular of Hillsborough and Pittsboro). The drive would be on quiet country roads, not on freeways like around here. One thing I don't know about is the quality of the schools in these areas. I know Chapel Hill schools have a good reputation, but I don't know about Durham and the others. Another very slight warning: Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas are great by North Carolina standards, but if you are looking for a walking neighborhood like Albany or Piedmont Avenue, you might be disappointed. There's a lot more walking and biking in Chapel Hill than in the rest of the South, but nothing like our urban environment. That being said, it's as progressive and diverse as you are going to get in that part of the country. Feel free to email if you want more information. Good luck! amyd

We nearly moved to NC for graduate school at Chapel Hill, but decided against it. Good friends of ours did move for job opportunities. Things we liked: Less expensive, slower pace of life, great money for fellowships, very beautiful.Things we liked less: real racial stratification, not much diversity culturally, very church based social life, lots and lots of tobacco smoke everywhere you went, not very good food for vegiterreans Our friends who did move were reasonably happy for a couple of years, but have moved to New York. They missed diversity, houses with character (lots of McMansions) and their friends. They liked real school choice for their G kids, the amount of physical space they were able to buy with their dollar and the great job opportunities. They were in telecom, so the job opps are not true now, but perhaps for other areas. Linda