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Anyone live/lived in the NC Research Triangle?
Old 01-30-2011, 07:18 AM   #1
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Anyone live/lived in the NC Research Triangle?

In our ongoing quest to find our next hometown, the Raleigh/Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill area has shown up on our radar. I have two co-workers who I will tap as resources (can't yet) but I figured there must be some knowledge here too. PM if you'd rather...thanks.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:18 AM   #2
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I lived in the triangle for 8 years. What do you want to know?

I love the area and would move back in a flash. Out of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary, I like Raleigh the best. It's cosmopolitan while retaining some southern charm. It's large but still manageable. I think the city offers its resident a great quality of life at a reasonable cost. Beaches and mountains are not far away. The airport serves quite a few destinations with direct flights. The presence of large universities and RTP ensures that the area has one of the most highly educated populations in the country.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:25 AM   #3
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Our son went to UNC Chapel Hill and now lives in Durham. Both he and our DIL work in RTP. We visit often and have looked at places to live in the area now that our first grandchild has arrived. Compared to the D.C. area where we now live, RTP area seems very attractive.
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Old 01-30-2011, 12:09 PM   #4
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I had a couple of job offers there back when I was working. I was impressed during our visits. Lots to do, with the universities and students and all. Thriving music scene, good hospitals and medical facilitites, lots of parks, trails, and lakes, decent home prices (back then, not sure about now), not too far from the beach (3 hours or so to Nags Head). Weather is not bad, still 4 seasons, but not as cold as DC. Taxes are a little high. But overall a nice area. If I was looking to retire somewhere else, I'd give it some serious consideration.
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Old 01-30-2011, 01:11 PM   #5
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I went to college in Chapel Hill and loved the town while I was there. The region is highly educated, with 3 major universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, and Duke University) and the Research Triangle Park and has a good wealth of activities, arts, sports, health care/hospitals, a good airport, etc. As previously mentioned, it's not that far a drive to get to either the NC/SC beaches or the NC mountains. We have four distinct seasons here in NC, which is nice - we get a flavor of the heat and the snow with neither lasting too long, and a delightful spring and fall in between.

I live near (and work in) Charlotte now (just down the road), but would definitely consider living in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary area. And yes, notice that I did leave Durham off that list... aside from Duke University's campus (which is absolutely lovely and looks like it came out of a movie as the picture perfect ivy-covered-walls university), Durham would be nearer the bottom of my list. It has a few more icky sections... and, in my opinion, is just not as nice a place to live/work as the others.

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Old 01-30-2011, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FD View Post
I lived in the triangle for 8 years. What do you want to know?

I love the area and would move back in a flash. Out of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary, I like Raleigh the best. It's cosmopolitan while retaining some southern charm. It's large but still manageable. I think the city offers its resident a great quality of life at a reasonable cost. Beaches and mountains are not far away. The airport serves quite a few destinations with direct flights. The presence of large universities and RTP ensures that the area has one of the most highly educated populations in the country.
Thanks for all the replies, I apologize for not asking anything specific, but I got a lot of good info nonetheless. Frankly, other than periods of high humidity in summer and I don't know how the cultural attractions will compare to Chicago (not expecting a match, but some attractions), I am having a tough time finding reasons to take Raleigh-Cary off our list. Cost of living looks reasonable, I like having major universities near, good medical facilities, lots to do, 4 seasons - I need to plan a trip this summer for a look see. I will swing by Asheville too, though I've read some really odd reviews on Asheville.
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:21 PM   #7
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I lived there from 1984-2000. I liked it but got tired of seeing shopping centers springing up everywhere. The heat and humidity of July and August (and sometimes longer) got to me too, but the weather the rest of the year is very nice. Mostly I just wanted to go somewhere less populated and in the mountains.

Cultural depends on what interest you, but they do have a symphony, art museum, college sports out the wazoo, NHL hockey, concerts, etc. I came from a smaller city so what seemed pretty good to me may look sparse to you.

I don't see anything to disagree with in the previous comments. I lived mostly in Cary, which is still more or less a bedroom community, but has pretty easy access into Raleigh.

newsobserver.com is the Raleigh paper website.
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:54 PM   #8
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Asheville is a football town, as in where all the halfbacks live. Huge retiree population. I've got a buddy that moved away from there two years ago and still hasn't been able to sell his house. Beautiful scenery, though. Fantastic place to be if you like hiking and biking. The Smokies kick ass.
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:27 PM   #9
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I thought that the area lacked a bit in cultural attractions when I lived there, but keep in mind that I lived in much larger cities before moving to Raleigh. It is my understanding that the city has made moves in the right direction in that regard since I left. They have worked hard to revive downtown, which was sorely needed. The NC museum of art has a surprisingly nice permanent collection and they have some excellent exhibitions. Music and movies are played in the park behind the museum throughout the summer. Another favorite of ours was the NC State University Arboretum, a great botanical garden to visit (for free) throughout the year. They have interesting plant sales in the spring for gardeners.

Ashville is a nice little town, but it is too small and too remote for my tastes. The scenery might be awe-inspiring, but it takes hours to get to the nearest city of note.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:27 AM   #10
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I am glad I asked, I really appreciate all the thoughtful replies to my overly general question. We want lots of options for dining, theater, shopping, outdoor activities , etc. So we're convinced we need to be near or in a significant metro area. We've lived near Chicago for the past 18 years and have loved the options BUT we don't go in as often nowadays due to traffic and expense. We are not expecting comparable options to Chicago. Indianapolis is high on our list but we'd like a little less winter without blistering summers. We've lived in FL and TX so we assume NC can't be as hot in summer. I am having a tough time not liking the Triangle area on paper, looks like I need to visit in July. Thanks again everyone.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:50 AM   #11
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Interesting, someone sent me a PM that summarizes perfectly what we're looking for...
Quote:
Ah yes, the great conundrum - where to find educated/artistic/intellectual people, without high cost of living/taxes?
And we think our criteria are:
  • Preferably a college town.
  • Preferably a metro population of at least 250K.
  • Lots of diversity in dining, cultural events, shopping.
  • Lots of outdoor activities, including water (would choose water over mountains).
  • At least one Whole Foods within reason (20 miles).
  • Average cost of living or less if possible.
  • Decent medical facilities.
  • 4 seasons, not too cold not too hot (good luck huh?)
  • Don't care about major leagues sports
  • Don't care about having an airport really close, within hours is fine.
  • Most of the western US we've ruled out, right or wrong - future water supply
Short list right now is:
Carmel/Indianapolis
Raleigh/Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:18 AM   #12
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I live in Chapel Hill and love it here. Whole Foods or Whole Paycheck as we call it is a 5 minute walk away. There's a great farmers market in Carrboro right next door. Lots of good places to eat. DPAC in a great new preforming arts facility in Durham is 15 minutes away. We don't have 250,000 people thank God, but if you add Raleigh, Durham and Cary. It is hot and humid in the summer. The beach is 2 1/2 hours away and Jordon Lake is 15 minutes away. You might as well move here everybody else is.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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As far as weather goes, it's true, the months of July and August can be hot and humid. But compared to where I live now (Alabama), the summer months in Raleigh are still pleasant enough even for those of us who are accustomed to more northerly climates (the area has a lot of transplants from northern states and they seem to do just fine). Maybe it's due to the proximity of the ocean, I don't know.

The hardest time of year for me was perhaps the few weeks in the spring when everything turned yellow and the air was thick with pine pollen. The triangle area might not be ideal for some airborne allergy sufferers.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:09 PM   #14
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Thanks for mentioning the allergies there. I did alot of research on this great area and nixed it due to the high allergy season and humidity there...but it is a pretty area and certainly has a highly educated population.
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:22 PM   #15
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Midpack - did you visit the area last summer, and if so, could you post a report?

We are considering making a visit this summer and it would be very helpful to learn what you liked and didn't like (assuming you did visit). I am not being more specific, since I have found that an open query about likes & dislikes often provides better info.

Thanks!

Amethyst
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Old 03-09-2012, 04:42 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Midpack - did you visit the area last summer, and if so, could you post a report?

We are considering making a visit this summer and it would be very helpful to learn what you liked and didn't like (assuming you did visit). I am not being more specific, since I have found that an open query about likes & dislikes often provides better info.

Thanks!

Amethyst
I did visit late last summer and liked the area such that the Triangle area is #1 on our list. However, we aren't pressed to decide, and I intend to go again this Spring. In addition to the Triangle again, I hope to visit Charlottesville VA, Charlotte NC and Wilmington NC. I liked Asheville NC a lot, but as a place go visit, not to live.

What we liked, almost everything.

What we didn't like, the COL is a little higher than where we are now and NC is less fiscally sound than IN, we'd like to see how that plays out a least short term. And NC is not among the worst fiscally either by any means. And we'd like a more walkable area after a life entirely in suburbs. Those areas are the exception in the Triangle, like most newer cities, it's mostly suburban sprawl.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:03 PM   #17
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If you are checking out Charlotte, NC, you may as well go a little further south and check out Columbia, SC. Columbia has a lower cost of living, lower taxes, and less crime than Charlotte or the Research Triangle/Raleigh areas of North Carolina, probably because it is smaller and does not have half of the NYC metro area retired there. It is also closer to ocean beaches and has a decent amount to do because it is the state capital and home to the University of South Carolina. Real estate prices are unbelievably low, and I don't think the hot summers are any more unbearable than they are in the Northeast. Unlike North Carolina, there are no estate or inheritance taxes in South Carolina and it is very tax friendly to retirees.

I'm not there (yet), but maybe I shouldn't be writing this or helping to get the word out. LOL
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:09 PM   #18
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Interesting that several folks I've talked to, off this forum, about retiring in NC, also had the reaction "Why not try SC - lower COL, and nicer than NC." For us, the Bailey Decision is a deciding (no pun intended) factor. Under Bailey, our Federal pensions and TSP distributions are not subject to (admittedly quite high) NC tax. SC offers no such protection. In fact, if we can't escape state taxes, we may as well stay in MD.

But for those who don't qualify under Bailey, then SC sounds like a less expensive alternative.

BTW I'm originally from NJ, and all my ancestors were Europeans who immigrated to either NYC or NJ, so I don't actually mind having "half of NYC" living near me That part of the country is in my DNA!

Cheers,

Amethyst

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If you are checking out Charlotte, NC, you may as well go a little further south and check out Columbia, SC. Columbia has a lower cost of living, lower taxes, .
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:13 PM   #19
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This was sort of our reaction, too, after a couple of days in the Henderson County area, but a couple of days isn't enough for a firm decision.

We did think the real estate there was unbelievably overpriced. Mountain views aren't worth THAT much of a premium, especially when you have to drive miles and miles to go shopping.

A.

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I liked Asheville NC a lot, but as a place go visit, not to live.

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Old 03-09-2012, 07:03 PM   #20
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Asheville is a football town, as in where all the halfbacks live. Huge retiree population. I've got a buddy that moved away from there two years ago and still hasn't been able to sell his house. Beautiful scenery, though. Fantastic place to be if you like hiking and biking. The Smokies kick ass.
+1 love that area, could diffentially visualize a nice retirement home there.
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