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Helping you to live well in the Triangle

Pros and Cons of Raleigh

Over the last couple weeks I have received a few comments from people who moved to Raleigh recently and hate it and are now moving back to where they came from. There are definitely things about Raleigh that make some people HATE living here. I think it’s fair to say that the things some people hate about it are exactly why those of us who live here love it. So today I am going to share some of the real pros and cons of living in Raleigh. First let’s start with just a few of the pros because there really are a lot of reasons people enjoy living in the Triangle. And then I am going to dig into the cons. There are cons. The very last con I’m going to talk about is the social scene and I think this one is very important, because this is the thing I hear most often from people who leave Raleigh. if that one bothers you, you will hate it here. 


I met with a couple over the weekend who are moving here from Tennessee. One of the first things I like to ask people is what traffic is like compared to where they are coming from. Apparently compared to the Nashville suburbs, the Triangle is pretty chill when it comes to traffic. There are people who will disagree with me, but I think we are planning pretty well for the changes in traffic patterns as the city grows. I’ve said this before, but if you’re coming to Raleigh from a city that is known for its traffic issues, Atlanta, D.C., L.A., San Francisco, Boston you WILL NOT think that we have “TRAFFIC” here.  One thing that is having an impact on traffic patterns is the way the area is growing economically. Rather than businesses clustering in just one central area, small towns around the Triangle have gotten the idea they would rather attract businesses to them, rather than being a commuter community for RTP. We’re seeing this in places like Holly Springs, Clayton and Sanford who are all doing their part to create quality jobs within their towns, rather than depending on jobs being provided by larger cities. And of course this has a huge impact on traffic because instead of everyone trying to commute into one central location, people are going to different places. If you live in Holly Springs, you might work right here at one of the life sciences companies in town, or you might commute to RTP, or downtown Raleigh and soon, you might commute to Triangle Innovation Point in Moncure. People flowing in different directions makes it easier for everyone to get everywhere they want to go.  So, yes, our population is booming in the Triangle, and it is more crowded than it was 10 or 20 years ago, but I still think our traffic and commuting situation is a plus for the area.

Housing prices 

Back in the day, Raleigh was a little bit of a secret.  It was a place that offered decent amenities, good job prospects, and really affordable housing.  The secret got out and the pandemic boom seemed to mark an end to the idea that Raleigh was a cheap place to live.  So, the big news has been how expensive it has gotten in the Triangle. And it has definitely gotten pricey in some areas. But I want to put things into perspective a bit.  The median home values in 2023 as reported here, have North Carolina, as a state, cheaper than everything northeast of us, everything on the west coast, and Texas to boot.  Now Raleigh is definitely more expensive than other parts of North Carolina, but even at that the Raleigh median home price of $381 thousand is still a bargain compared to other major tech hubs in the country.  To match the median home price in Austin, Raleigh homes would have to increase 42%.  To match SanFrancisco, our prices would have to increase 240 percent.  Raleigh is 58% cheaper than LA, 50% cheaper than Seattle, 39% cheaper than D.C., and 46% cheaper than Boston.  Raleigh is even cheaper than Charlotte, Nashville, and Atlanta. So, while it seems strange to say this, comparatively speaking Raleigh is still a good deal.  Yes, housing prices are up compared to last year, but they’re up everywhere.  They’re just a little cheaper here.  And because we have so much land to build on here and because it’s not difficult to get new builds through permitting, unlike many other cities, housing prices should remain reasonable for a city.  Look at this home currently for sale.  For under 400 thousand you can move into Holly Springs.  For the same amount you can get new construction homes around the Triangle.  For just over 300 thousand you can get a NICE single family home in the suburbs, in a safe beautiful area. I still think its reasonable to say that home prices in Raleigh are still in the “pro” column.

Kids stuff

While we don’t have a ton of bars or nightlife and we’ll talk more about this in a minute. what we do have is so much for kids to get involved in here in the Triangle. My daughter lived in Miami when her son was born in 2021 and there was absolutely NOTHING for her to do with him there.  OK she did take him to Flamingo Gardens once.  BUT, There were No mommy and me groups, no baby play cafes. She was so incredibly bored and felt trapped in the house with an infant. When she got here it was like Disneyland for little kids.  It’s not just the parks and playgrounds, it really is a cultural lifestyle sort of thing here.  People do things with their kids. There are a couple of things that contribute to the wealth of kids’ activities here. First, some of our schools are year round. Not all of them and in most cases you get the choice if you want traditional or year round calendar. But many families love the year round calendar because they can take vacations at non-traditional times and avoid the crowds. Because we have year round schools, private businesses have cropped up to provide services to “tracked out” families. Basically if you’re on a year round schedule, your kids will have roughly 9 weeks on and 2-3 weeks off, and then a very abbreviated summer. So in all of those 2-3 week track outs, there are camps and activities geared towards these kids. And these businesses are open year round so even if your child isn’t tracked out, there are still programs for them. Also, there is a huge homeschooling community here. The museums and colleges and universities have many classes and activities geared toward kids of all ages. It’s unbelievable how much there is to do for kids here. 

pros and cons of Raleigh: Pro is a picture of a fun kids park in Raleigh


Raleigh is a city that was founded on farming. Back in 2016 Redfin searched through national listings for properties that included words like greenhouse, garden and chicken to understand where the most urban farming was happening in the US. Raleigh ranked #10 on their list. Even as bougie as Cary is, it is not unusual to see vegetable gardens in people’s front yards throughout the town. And a handful of years ago, people voted to change the laws to allow chickens in the town of Cary. You can find the Cary’s urban farming rules here. And homes for sale that allow chickens in Cary here. And you can find farms and homesteads with acreage throughout the Triangle here.

Also, there are tons of farms you can visit. Every year when my kids were little we used to go to the open barn at Celebrity Dairy. They did this annually when their goats had kids because it helped them get the kids used to people and made them friendlier for milking. There are all kinds of things like this around here. There are more than 1000 farms in North Carolina that offer agritourism. Whether you want to pick your own lavender or apples or stay on a working farm in an airbnb or you want to do yoga while baby goats jump on top of you, you can do it here. 

pros and cons of raleigh: pro is a picture of a woman holding her chicken that she keeps in her backyard

A Big small town? 

I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’ve lived in south Florida, Denver Colorado, Charlottesville, Virginia, Houston Texas, Bethesda Maryland, and Raleigh North Carolina. Of all the places I have lived, Raleigh has been the friendliest. People are willing to not only talk to you, but they’ll go out of their way to help you. This is the place that people return your wallet if you drop it in the grocery store. And I think that friendliness is just a part of the small town vibe that Raleigh has, even if it is really a small city.  For a small city we’ve got great museums.  For a small city, we’ve got a great diversified economy that tends to avoid the big booms and busts.  For a small city we’ve got a brewery scene and a real music scene, whatever your taste is.  Raleigh is growing and diversifying and most people here are excited about that.  But we aren’t a big city, and that’s going to lead us right into the list of con’s. 

All of these cons are taken from comments made by viewers on my videos who have decided to leave the Raleigh area. Personally, none of these things have any impact on my quality of life, but they might affect you if these things are important to you. 


Small downtown and no attractions. 

One person commented that our downtown is small and boring. Touche. It’s small for sure. This person also said they couldn’t wait to get back to Maryland where they could catch the Metro into DC. Okay, now wait a minute. Did ANYONE move here from a major city and think Raleigh had any kinds of amenities close to Washington DC? I mean, seriously. Raise your hand if you did. Because I would hope that nobody came here unaware of how much smaller Raleigh is than someplace like DC. There are 74 museums in Washington DC. 74. Not to mention all the other incredible attractions. Raleigh has 3 museums. And none of those is remotely on the scale of the Smithsonian. YOu can walk around the entire downtown Raleigh in an hour. And the museums…the science museum is a really good museum but in all fairness, it’s a one day visit.  The one attraction that I think is way better here than in any other city is our Zoo. Now it’s not in Raleigh. It’s in Asheboro which is a little over an hour, depending on what part of the Triangle you’re in.  But our Zoo is one of the best in the world. It’s 2600 acres compared to the Smithsonian Zoo in DC which is 163 acres. When I see other zoos and those tiny little enclosures where those poor animals live out their days it makes me sad. Now go to the North Carolina zoo and you can’t even tell where the habitat begins and ends. They’re huge. And they seem very natural and similar to what a zoo animal might normally live in. So if you enjoy zoos, you have to visit ours whether you move here or not. It’s truly amazing. 

No mountains or beaches nearby 

Another comment was there are no mountains or beaches nearby. Of course this is relative, but if I’m being honest, this is one that sometimes bothers me but it really depends on where you’re coming from. And even at that, it may not be as important as you think it is. For example, I grew up in Florida. My childhood home was about 25 minutes from the beach and I could hop on the city bus to get there, which was a lot of fun once I was old enough to do that by myself. We were all free range kids in the 80’s. Our parents didn’t really care where we were. But, once I became an adult, living 25 minutes from the beach held no charm for me. Who wants to walk on the beach and get sand all over the place. It’s in the car, inside your clothes, you shake out your towel and rinse off at the shower but then the sand just sticks to you. And when you get home you still traipse sand all into the house. If you haven’t actually lived near a beach for an extended period of time, you may not realize how overrated it is. Especially if you have young kids. It’s one thing to get yourself clean after lying on a bed of sand. But a toddler? No thanks. The mountains are a little bit of a different story. I do wish we were a bit closer to the mountains in Raleigh. I actually wouldn’t want to live in the mountains because winter in the mountains driving over treacherous roads with steep dropoffs is not for me. Vacations only please. So the 3 hour drive to the mountains is a perfect distance if you’re going for a vacation. Not so perfect if you LOVE to be in the mountains all the time and want easy access to hiking and waterfalls. The absolute closest mountain hike is at either Pilot Mountain or hanging rock state park, which are both 2 hours from Raleigh. If you live on the west side of Durham like in the Hillsborough area it’s about 90 minutes. Also, there are some hiking areas within the Triangle that feel kind of mountain-y. If you’re eager for that mountain feel, but don’t have time to haul yourself to the mountains, Oconneechee Mountain State Natural area or Hemlock Bluffs in Cary both offer a hiking experience with more elevation than you can find in other parks in the area. Being totally honest, what I would love to see closer to the triangle is mountain views. While I don’t want to be IN the mountains. I really loved when we lived outside of Charlottesville and everywhere you drove there were beautiful views. But it wasn’t IN the mountains. I could stand to be closer to that kind of topography. 

No metro

It’s true. We have very bad public transportation in the Triangle. And even worse, the recent expansion of the GoTriangle Bus line had to be contracted because of the worker shortage. We can’t find drivers to drive the buses. I don’t see this getting better anytime soon and I personally think the best solution to this problem is autonomous buses. This has nothing to do with Raleigh but I am not afraid of AI. I think it’s awesome and will remove the need for smart humans to do boring, repetitive work that nobody likes anyway. Incidentally, I actually used Chat GPT to write a script for me about moving to Raleigh just to see what it would come up with. It was rather hilarious but unusable.  

That’s not me.  I don’t think I’m going to be replaced with robot Ellen anytime in the near future.  But maybe I’m wrong about that?  All you guys working on this stuff, let me know how long it will be before YouTube creators outsource their videos to AI!


One of the commenters who said how boring Raleigh is did admit that there are a lot of parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy. But….he thinks it’s too hot to enjoy them. Now again this is something that is very subjective. It IS hot and humid in the summertime. But this is not Texas. And here is a little tidbit that should make you take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That commenter… he was from Maryland. I’ve lived in Maryland. It is no less hot and humid in Maryland than it is here in North Carolina. Summertime heat and humidity is an east coast phenomenon. There are slight differences from state to state and Florida is arguably subtropical. The heat and humidity in Raleigh generally starts in July and runs through mid-september. Look at the temperature differences in Maryland compared to Raleigh. The point is, sometimes people don’t like things about Raleigh, which is totally understandable. It IS a slower pace of life which doesn’t suit everyone. But, it’s not unusual for that dislike to cloud people’s judgment about other things that are perfectly enjoyable. People actually move here for the weather. Maryland was the first place I ever lived outside of Florida. That first winter was the worst winter of my life. So much sleet. We get little to no winter precipitation here. Honestly, we could get snow a little more often and that would make me happy. But just a little. [me in my “I love snow” sweatshirt drinking hot cocoa with a snow hat on. 

Social scene

Raleigh has no social scene. I’m not sure exactly what this person meant by social scene but I think they just meant the places that people hang out and meet other people. I have never lived in a large city, I’ve always lived in the suburbs. so I don’t really understand how that works there so I’ll just explain how things work here in Raleigh and you can decide if it meets your needs. Historically, Raleigh has been a pretty religious city. I’m guessing that this is why newcomers here don’t find the kinds of social institutions they are used to. Let me explain what I mean. When I moved here 23 years ago, if you wanted to make friends, you went to church. As a matter of fact, back then, when you moved here, just about everyone you met would invite you to their church. It has actually been a source of discomfort for people who move here and aren’t a member of the dominant religion, Christianity. I’ve seen some people be offended by these invitations. It isn’t really like that anymore, but I do still think it still impacts us in potentially having fewer social clubs. If you don’t go to church on Sunday morning, you won’t be the only person in your neighborhood who doesn’t.  23 years ago, you probably would be. Now it’s kind of flip flopped. Most people don’t go to church, but there is still a decent sized group who does. What’s important about this is I think that the history of churches as the primary social scene really has impacted how people socialize today. Again, I’ve already said I don’t really understand how this works in larger cities, so I might be totally off. But the truth is, we don’t have a whole lot of clubs and bars that are good places to meet people. I mean there are some, and the brewery scene is pretty extensive for sure and there are actually a good number of family friendly breweries. You can find this post on my blog and I’ll link it in the comments. But most people who want to make friends when they move here look for groups to do the activities that they enjoy. There are hiking and biking groups, book clubs, gardening clubs. All kinds of things and that is primarily where socialization happens. I would actually love to hear from someone who can speak more intelligently on this subject. Do you think the social scene in the Triangle is lacking? 

Tell me in the comments if you live in a big city, where do you meet people? In clubs, bars, coffee shops? Just run into them on the street and say hey. 

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