Moving to North Carolina

See also: Chapel Hill

Archived Q&A and Reviews


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!)

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

Moving to Charlotte

Jan 2004

Our family is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina in February. Any recommendations about how to meet other parents, resources for children (ours are currently 1 and 3 years), school & preschools, anything similar to this ucb electronic newsletter.... any info at all... is very welcome. thanks. Kelley

Advice from a friend of mine who lives in NC, but not Charlotte:

I would go on the web to see if they have a magazine in the area for Moms and families, we have one called Carolina Parent. It's at the grocery store, a freebie deal.

There is also a mother's club here, and I would bet that Charlotte has one too. They do playgroup assignments, mom's reading group, etc.

I would go to the Libraries in Charlotte, to Storytime, and sometimes Barnes and Noble or Bookstop has Storytime too. That's a good way to meet up with people, glean info. Also, signing up for Kindermusik, a weekly music class (Cameron has done it since 5 mos old) is a good way to meet people and find out the ''scene''. Kindermusik is on the web, and there are undoubtedly classes in Charlotte.

The children's secondhand clothing stores, and the boutiques will all have moms and people who know the vibe of the town. They can be resources too, just going in, shopping, asking around. ''What do people with kids do here?''

The commmunity park is the other place, figuring out the neighborhoods where people congregate and have kids - striking up conversation. Mommy Baby Yoga, that kind of thing, most likely occurs. There are resources out there, this is where I would start.

Schools and preschools will be listed with the local gov'ts and childcare agencies. Also just yahoo the phoneboook with private schools? Maybe the chamber of commerce could help, too. Trying to help :)

April 2003

We are considering moving to Charlotte, NC. Any recommendations for kid friendly neighborhoods with good schools? Are we going to feel ostracized if we are Jewish? Anything you know about Charlotte would be greatly appreciated.

We have close friends (Jewish) who live in Charlotte. I can put you in touch with them if you'll email me directly. Mike

I am actually a federal lobbyist for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County so I work with folks there daily and visit occasionally, but I have never lived there. Charlotte has developed into a pretty cosmopolitan town in many ways. Lots of highly educated people, good restaurants, entertainment, recreation, and a fairly strong arts community. They have received national recognition for their environmental restoration activities such as restoring their creeks and watersheds and preserving open space (there is still a TON of sprawl there but they do what they can). They have a progressive Sheriff in the County and were pioneers in developing mixed income housing. The Mayor is a moderate and extremely popular Republican but as in most cities, the Councilmembers run the gamut from left wing to conservative. In Congress they have a moderate Republican woman and a liberal Black Dem and the two of them get along well. The downtown area, called Uptown, has been pretty thoroughly redeveloped and restored with lots of chic housing that may not be affordable or practical for a young family. I find people in Charlotte to be extremely nice. So nice it makes you resent Easterners and Westerners. However, this is a Christian town. Most people are Baptist and religion is the center of their lives. My impression is also that it is a Black and White town, not a lot of other ethnic groups. There are two or three temples in town and literally thousands or churches. I do know someone who is Jewish and relocated from New York and would be happy to put you in touch with her if you e-mail me. I have some other folks you could e-mail about neighborhood suggestions. It is the South so I am sure there will be culture shock and like any place, it has drawbacks but I certainly know a lot of terrific people who love living there. Good luck! Elizabeth

We have cousins who live in nearby Statesville, NC and have had opportunities to go to Charlotte when we visit. You will not be the only Jews in town: our cousins out in Statesville are Jewish and belong to a synagogue there. There's a pretty sizable Jewish community in Charlotte.

It's a nice city, definitely Southern with all the pluses and minuses of that culture. Okay, so people drive a lot more big gas guzzling cars and eat fried foods and have the bodies to show for it (do you know what ''fish camp'' is?), and you will undoubtedly encounter tension between blacks and whites (but we have that here too).

No doubt that the biggest plus is how much less expensive it is to live there compared to here. Also, there are little islands of familiar culture in the numerous college towns in the vicinity. Davidson College and Wake Forest are nearby, as is the much funkier NC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, which has top- notch and inexpensive ballet, opera, and theater performances. There are lovely lakes to row in during the summer, and it's a quick trip to Asheville, a beautiful mountain spot that is also home to many liberal types. You can also get to the Outer Banks, some wild beaches that are worth a summer trip.

I hope this little bit helps. -- Carolina on my mind

A good friend of my husband's from high school is now the assistand rabbi at the conservative synogogue in Charlotte, and he and his wife would love to help you settle in in any way they can. Good luck with your move! Laura

Move to Ashville, NC?

Feb 2003

In the never-ending conversation of can we-should we-will we- stay and raise our family in the Bay Area, we are once again looking at other possible communities in the U.S. Does anyone come from Ashville, North Carolina? Know anything about the life style - the educational opportunities for children - real estate? Would really appreciate a first -or even second -hand experience. Thanks so much. gia

I've never lived in Ashville, but I spent some time near there while working on my MFA at a college nearby (Warren Wilson). Asheville is lovely, and seems quite livable if you are willing to put up with some contradictions. The Blue Ridge Mountains there are beautiful. The French Broad River runs through it, and there are hills and valleys to hike in. If you want a feel for the terraine, you might check out the novel, Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. It's set right there, although set just after the Civil War.

Asheville itself is a very liberal, progressive town. There's a branch of the Univeristy of North Carolina there, and the small, alternative college, Warren Wilson, just fifteen minutes away. Accordingly, there are lots of book stores, cafes, food coops, art galleries, and some good restaurants, including one of the best vegetarian restaurants and the only completely Native American restaurant I know. It's a small town, about the size of Berkeley downtown, with a lot of residential, rural area around it. I don't know what rents or housing costs are like, but my guess is that it would seem very inexpensive after living in the Bay Area.

But Asheville is a bit of an island in the middle of the Bible Belt, and there is a very politically concervative, evangelical community everywhere you look.There are bill boards for Jesus along the freeways, and lots of businesses post a cross or born-again fish next to their logos. Your kids can even attend Billy Graham summer camp nearby.

All of the people I spent time with were affiliated with the college, so I don't know what the residents of Asheville are like, altough they seem friendly and open. Alot of them are artists, or work with the Universities.

It would be worth taking a vacation there this summer if you are really interested in moving there. There is plenty to do, from watching the night-blooming primroses around the lake at Black Mountain to white water rafting. There are even some fine golf resorts in the area if that is your thing. If you do end up going, send me an email note, and I could get you some names and phone numbers of people who are there that you could talk to. cbw