10 things I love about living in Raleigh, North Carolina

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Justin and I moved to Raleigh from Greenville, North Carolina in 2009 just a few months after we were married. We were both in Greenville for college but amidst our dating and engagement, Justin decided to pursue an engineering degree so we thought it would be best to move just a few hours over to Raleigh for him to attend N.C. State University. We lived on the eastern edge of Raleigh for some time but then moved over toward the southwest side and have been living in that area for the past several years.

We are so happy here and I’m long overdue for a post dedicated to all the things I love about living in Raleigh.

Let’s dive right in.

One. The climate. I love that we still get seasons and that summer tends to linger well into October. I prefer warmer temperatures over cold winters, especially after growing up in the midwest and having to endure brutal winters until I was 19. Raleigh is in the middle part of the state so we have a few rolling hills but generally, it’s heavily treed and full of nature.

Two. The city-feel with access to beaches and mountains. I can’t help but compare Raleigh to Chicago since Chicago was the major city near where I grew up. Raleigh feels a bit small and quiet, but it has a lot of the city things you’d hope for without being overwhelmingly large and full of traffic. Downtown Raleigh has a vibrant community, which in my experience, feels artistic and has a “foodie” vibe ( I say that in a complimentary way, of course ) but I will fully admit that I haven’t lived downtown nor spend a great deal of time there. I love going downtown to some of the popular destinations (Village District, 5 Points, State Farmers Market, etc.) and have many more places on my list to still check out! Overall, it’s nice to have the perks of living in a city, but also an easy short drive from the coast or a mountain getaway.

Three. Southern warmth, and I’m not talking about the weather. In my experience, there is a slower more relaxed pace here than what I experienced growing up in the midwest. While I have only lived my adulthood in the south, many others would agree that the pace is just slightly more casual or relaxed. It’s not unusual to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger at the grocery store, and I remember being pleasantly surprised by the small gestures of kindness when I first moved here.

Four. The food/restaurants. So listen, I’m not a huge barbecue, pimento cheese, and Cheerwine kind of gal, but I can throw down some biscuits and gravy like nobody’s business. I’ve found so many great restaurants in the area already and I’ve only just scratched the surface. A few of my personal favorites are Lily’s Pizza, Gravy, The Pit, Benelux Coffee, The Flying Biscuit, The Provincial, Crosstown Pub and Grill, Cristo’s Bistro, The Mason Jar Tavern, La Farm Bakery, Chanticleer Cafe, Enrigo Italian Bistro, Gonza Tacos and Tequila, Tatopos, Dos Taquitos, and so many others.

Five. The flow of the city. There is almost never a time that I’m stuck in traffic. Even when I worked at a salon closer to downtown, traffic was never horrendous. There is a highway that encircles Raleigh called “the beltline” and it makes it very easy to get to anywhere you need to go.

Six. The greenery and access to outdoor activities. I remember being profoundly impacted when I was driving on highways in North Carolina and seeing trees! Huge trees and so much natural area. That didn’t really exist where I grew up (It was more grey and industrious) so I really appreciate being surrounded by nature. Building off of that, there are wonderful parks and lakes with walks to hiking paths that make it really easy to enjoy the great outdoors.

Seven. It’s full of great colleges, universities, medical care and has a strong research + technology market. Some of the more well-known schools in the area (not all in Raleigh, but certainly nearby) are Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, Meredith, and Shaw University. There is also an abundance of medical facilities and hospitals. Some of the larger corporations are research and technology-based offering great career opportunities.

Eight. Lower than the average cost of living. There is a wide variety of housing options in the area, and even further out you go from the city, you still can maintain relatively simple access to downtown, if that is important to you.

Nine. Family-friendly with a great mix of community and privacy. There are so many little pockets and suburbs of the city and each one has its own culture and esthetic. There seems to be great pride in where one lives, and that is such a great thing to experience.

Ten. It is continually highly ranked in “US best places to live” lists! 

While all of my reasons are subjective, of course, so many other people enjoy living here as well. I can’t see ever moving away from Raleigh, and I’m truly so happy to live here!

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Comments (20)

  1. U Zacharias says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    I live in Raleigh too! (Actually, Cary.) And we LOVE it here too for all the same reasons. My teen daughter and I have recently volunteered quite frequently with a non-profit located in Raleigh that helps women get back into the workforce (Designed For Joy), and it’s exposed us to more and more of the City. Still love this amazing place! Hope it doesn’t grow too quickly!

    • Kate says
      Posted April 12, 2021

      Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Melene says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    I was born in Raleigh and returned there for to go to Meredith College. I miss it so much. Also where is your dress from in the first photo? Thanks!!

  3. Megan Lanier says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    I’m a new follower after seeing a local article in WRAL and it’s been fun. We live near Apex out in the country and love it! I feel like I wilt a bit in the hot and long summers but truly a great place to live! If you haven’t caught a show or outdoor movie at Koka Booth or visited the museums, definitely hit those up!

    • Kate says
      Posted April 12, 2021

      Oh yes I’ve been to a lot of the museums and also been to a show at Koka Booth! All wonderful places! 🙂

  4. Posted April 12, 2021

    You summed up our little part of the country well. So many of the same reasons for me.

    One thing to note. I think we are actually slightly above average cost of living for the US. Nothing like NYC or San Francisco but with my job, we get a percent increase due to location. The Triangle is on the list for that increase. I think the main influence is housing and property taxes – both are high here and a struggle for people who move from more rural areas. I do appreciate that our sales tax isn’t crazy high like some places I visit – though those states usually don’t have state income tax.

  5. Melissa says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    I live in a small town in Johnston County, NC. I agree with some of these things about living in North Carolina in general. I grew up in New York, I moved down here when I was 10 because my mom needed to help my grandparents. I do not know about city life feel because I live in the country. I agree with you on the barbecue and the pimento cheese, but I am a Cheerwine girl when I drank it. I do not like the summers here. They last forever. Other than that I do love it here.

  6. Posted April 12, 2021

    Sounds like a wonderful place! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  7. Molly says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    Please add a favorite “places to go”in Raleigh! Moved here over the summer and I’m still trying to find the park you showed on stories with little ramps for scooters!!

    • Kate says
      Posted April 12, 2021

      I will!

  8. Leah Sherwood says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    It sounds like a wonderful place to live. I’d like to visit Raleigh one day when we are able to travel again. I grew up in a tropical climate and now live in an area which has all four seasons and I absolutely love it!

  9. Ann says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    Amazing list, could not agree more! Went to college in Fayetteville and wish I still lived in NC

  10. Courtney says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    LOVE you forever for mentioning Meredith!!! C/o 2003 angel

    Also, man this makes me miss Raleigh so much. We have been in Charlotte almost 6 years and while it isn’t vastly different, it’s different enough for me to miss RDU a ton. 💛

  11. Shannon says
    Posted April 12, 2021

    I’ve lived in the Raleigh area for almost 16 years now! I’ve lived in Raleigh, Cary, Apex and I’m moving to Holly Springs this summer! I’ve loved every city I’ve been in. I’m a native North Carolinian (Charlotte was where I grew up) so I agree with the weather being ideal with a little of each season. We don’t get too much snow, but plenty of warm weather for sure! I’ve always loved how close the mountains and beach are. I also love how many parks and lakes we have. People love being outside and there’s so many fun sports to do or go see. Thanks for sharing! Love NC! ❤️

  12. Katie says
    Posted April 13, 2021

    Thanks so much for sharing this – so many great reasons! My husband and I are looking to move to either NC or SC and Raleigh is on our list. 🙂

    XO, Katie | http://www.meshkomoments.com

  13. Melissa says
    Posted April 13, 2021

    Apex here! And don’t forget the Carolina Hurricanes! (And all the other local sports!)
    So many fun museums for kids (museum of life & science)
    I’m a halfback (originally NY, grew up mostly in Florida…came halfback to NC) and love the Triangle!

  14. Andee says
    Posted April 13, 2021

    I moved to Raleigh 7 years ago…had never been here and knew no one. It has quickly become home for me. Such a wonderful place to live!

  15. Posted April 14, 2021

    We visited Raleigh a few years back and absolutely loved it there! You guys have the best food!

  16. Anna M. says
    Posted April 18, 2021

    Love this!! We are moving to the Raleigh area at the end of next month from Texas (born and raised, have spent the first 12 years of marriage here), but our family is looking forward to this next adventure and reading this has made me that much more excited!

  17. Lynda March says
    Posted May 10, 2021

    THANKYOU!!!I’M PLANNING A MOVE TO RETIRE WITHOUT BEING IN A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY!!I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE “BEAUTIFUL HUGE GREEN TREES!!IN FACT EVERY PLACE IS GREEEEN!!!AND YOU’RE 100% RIGHT NOTHIN COMPARES ANYWHERE TO THE WARM RELAXED FOLKS!!THANKYOU FOR YOUR GOOD NEWS!!