Moving to Chapel Hill

Archived Responses: 

see also: Moving to North Carolina
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