20 Pros and Cons of Living in Raleigh, NC

The Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina offers an atmosphere that is family-friendly and exceptionally welcoming. If you are thinking about moving to the southeastern United States and want to enjoy life in a bigger city, then this is the place to be. The region is often named as one of the best places to live in the state, and it has also garnered awards naming it as the best large city in the southeast.

Over the past generation or so, the community has been transitioning from one that was focused on agriculture and blue-collar opportunities to a technology hub. It is a community that offers a quaint experience that feels like it comes from yesteryear, but at the same time it also feels exceptionally modern.

If you are thinking about a move to NC, then Raleigh should be one of the top destinations that you consider. These are the pros and cons that you will want to review before deciding to move to this beautiful southeastern metropolis.

List of the Pros of Living in Raleigh, NC

1. The city of Raleigh is exceptionally beautiful.
This urban area is often referred to as the City of Oaks because there are stunning oak trees that line the streets at the heart of the community. Most people know that the metro area features a Research Triangle Park that provides big city opportunities for jobs, but it also maintains the charm of a small town in the region despite the presence of multiple interstates that allow you to manage your commute effectively. It offers a chance to explore history, enjoy time lakeside, or take a short road trip to the beach thanks to its central location.

2. Housing costs in Raleigh are very competitive compared to other cities of comparable size.
If you are trying to rent an apartment when you decide to live in Raleigh, then the average cost per month is just under $1,000. Your sales tax is also 7% lower than what the national average happens to be in the United States. Fuel costs are also cheaper than the rest of the country, sometimes by as much as $0.50 per gallon. The median home cost in the city is $260,000, but you can save some by relocating to Durham if you prefer. All-in-all, you will find that the big city vibe doesn’t come with a significant price tag.

3. The job market in Raleigh is thriving right now.
Although the median household income for Raleigh is about $5,000 less per year than the national average, you will also discover that the unemployment rates are typically much lower. There are numerous job opportunities in multiple industries, giving almost everyone an opportunity to pursue a career in a field that they love. In 2017, this North Carolina city was named as the third-best of those looking for work.

It is home to the oldest research park in the United States, with over 200 companies and 50,000 people working at the Research Triangle Park. Environmental sciences, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology are all represented there, just 10 miles from downtown Durham and 14 miles from Chapel Hill. Living in Raleigh places you about 20 miles away from this complex.

4. Educational opportunities are excellent in Raleigh, NC.
The Raleigh metro area is home to 11 different universities, colleges, and satellite campuses that provide students with the means to pursue an education in almost any field. The city’s universities also double as one of the area’s largest employers. The Research Triangle Park has affiliations with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State – all of which are within a 45-minute commute of each other.

Although the rivalry between Duke and UNC is globally famous, NC State is the largest university in the state, educating over 35,000 students each year. This institution adds over $6.5 billion to the economy, which is the equivalent of almost 90,000 jobs.

5. There are numerous outdoor activities for you to enjoy in Raleigh.
It doesn’t matter if you identify as a beach person, someone who loves the mountains, or an individual who loves everything about the outdoors. There are trails, parks, and plenty of spots outside that will help you be active during your off hours. The Neuse River Trailer offers a 28-mile path that goes from Falls Lake Dam to the Johnston County line in the city. Lake Crabtree Country Park offers 16 miles of trails and 215 acres to explore. Pullen Park is there too, which was the first public park in the state. It offers an indoor aquatic center, trips on paddle boats, and carousel rides.

6. Raleigh offers a culinary journey that you will want to explore.
There are over 1,200 restaurants currently operating in Raleigh, NC. You will find a wide range of cuisine options that fit all price points. There are fine dining opportunities, spots to grab a quick lunch, and everything in-between. Although there is an emphasis on barbecue in the city, along with sweet tea and an addiction to hush puppies, comfort food comes in many different styles as well. If you like ethnic cuisine, then you are going to love living in this city.

7. You will have access to several world-class museums when living here.
Some people have come to call Raleigh the “Smithsonian of the South” because of the number of historic attractions which are available in the city. Several of the museums and educational spots offer free admission throughout the week as well. Some of the best places to visit include the Museum of Art, which features a 164-acre outdoor park, special exhibits, and sculptures to make it the largest facility of its type in the United States.

The Museum of History offers exhibits that will take you through 14,000 years of North Carolina history, featuring decorative art, local artifacts, and the stories of the heroes who called this place their home. The Museum of Natural Sciences offers four floors of exhibits while allowing you to see its operational laboratories.

8. Healthcare access in Raleigh is at one of the best ratios in the United States.
Having access to high-quality healthcare is an advantage that is important to consider in any community. If you decide to make Raleigh or the Triangle your home, then you will be living in a place which offers one of the highest concentration levels of doctors and hospitals to patients in the United States. You will also have access to some of the best care facilities that are in the world today. Even if the only thing you need to treat is a simple injury, you will find that this access can help to alleviate your discomfort without creating a significant impact on your checking account.

9. You will find a variety of fitness options available to you in Raleigh, NC.
If being physically active is important to you, then you will find that there are several excellent providers in the city that can make sure that you’re sweating off the calories from all of the great food you will be eating. There are plenty of traditional gyms here if all you want to manage is a membership. You will find boot camps that can get you back into shape quickly if that is a need. There are plenty of Barre studios in the city as well.

10. Raleigh is home to the largest beer garden in the world.
Is having access to plenty of cold, refreshing beer ever a disadvantage? When you call this North Carolina city home, then you will be in close proximity to the largest beer garden in the world. The Raleigh Beer Garden has over 350 different beers on tap at any given time, allowing you to sample some of the best craft products that brewers are making today. If you don’t drink, then you can obviously ignore this advantage, but it is certainly something to consider as part of the moving process.

11. World-class golf is available when you live in Raleigh.
When you are living in Raleigh, NC, then you are a 60-minute drive from Pinehurst, which is known as the home of the sport in the United States. This region has 3 of the 5 top golf courses in the state as ranked by the NC Golf Panel. You will find several communities in the city supporting this sport as well, with Lonnie Poole providing an excellent venue to put in some swings. People travel from all over the world to visit the various courses, so make sure that you take advantage of their quality if you start living here.

12. It provides a family-friendly atmosphere throughout the city.
One of the most significant criticisms that you will find in Raleigh is that many describe it as being “beige.” You could do a lot worse than living in the city, but if you don’t have kids or a family, then living here can seem boring. Because the rental costs are low and incomes are often relatively high, you can easily support your crew living here without needing to pick up a side hustle or a second job. When you consider the slower pace of life and the fact that everyone is so friendly, it tends to be a pleasant place to settle down when you’re ready to do so.

List of the Cons of Living in Raleigh, NC

1. The cost of living in Raleigh is a little higher than the state and national average.
If you decide to start living in the Raleigh area, then there is a good chance that your cost of living expenses is going to be higher than what you’re currently paying. Compared to the national average, it costs 6% more to live in the city than in the rest of the country. It is also 11% higher to live here compared to the median in North Carolina. There are some ways to save on your expenses, especially if you are judicious about your housing costs, but this disadvantage can be significant for those who have a household income below $60,000 per year.

2. There is an overall lack of nightlife options in the Raleigh area.
If your idea of a good time is to visit a museum with the family, have a picnic on a sunny day in a park, or explore a vibrant arts scene, then Raleigh is going to have a lot to offer you. If you would describe yourself as being young, single, and looking for a vibe that is similar to other larger cities, then what you discover here in this North Carolina community might not make the grade. You can always find a bar or the occasional dance club, but the entertainment options here are geared toward family-friendly options more than they are for mingling.

3. The weather in Raleigh can be an adjustment for some newcomers.
Because you are living in the southeast, the weather in North Carolina is not always something that offers four prominent seasons. The summers can be downright hot, with temperatures hitting the 90s frequently in July and August. Your proximity to the coast can cause humidity levels to rise too, which creates a certain stickiness that is not always pleasant. Winter is pleasant, with highs consistently in the 50s, and the low temperatures in January and February rarely dip below freezing. If you like to experience all of the seasons, then Raleigh can struggle to provide you with that experience.

4. You will need to learn to love college sports when living in Raleigh, NC.
Because you are in close proximity to Duke, UNC, and NC State, college sports are a way of life when living in Raleigh. You really can’t avoid the subject, even if you’re not a fan. College basketball is always a topic of conversation, and there is an excellent chance that you will be asked about which tone of blue is your favorite one. There is no middle ground here. You can catch professional hockey with the Carolina Hurricanes if you prefer, while minor league baseball is present with the Durham Bulls and Holly Springs Salamanders.

5. It can be a significant drive to get out to the beach.
Although nothing is really too far away when you live in Raleigh, the drive to the beach in the summer can be a challenging one when you’re in North Carolina. On a good day with light traffic, it will take you about two hours to reach the Atlantic Ocean. During a hot day at the peak of the summer, you might need to add a couple of more hours to that total. You are also two hours from the mountains when living here for skiing and snowboarding. There are plenty of outdoor activities which are close to the city, but the most popular options are going to require that you take a day trip.

6. The pollen cycles in Raleigh can be detrimental to those with allergies.
It is not unusual for the pollen cycle in Raleigh to begin in early March for the trees that are in the area. You will experience three peaks to the season as well, with trees in April, grasses from May to August, and then weeds peaking in September. On a warm year, you can see it start as soon as February and lasting until the end of October. If you are sensitive to pollen, have hay fever already, or have a family history of allergies, then these cycles could have you feeling miserable throughout the year.

7. Where you lived before sometimes matters when living in Raleigh.
There is still plenty of people in the older generation who are not big fans of people that they identify as being “northerners.” It is not unusual to hear someone blaming these transplants for the way that their community is changing. Some people offer the criticism without thinking about it, while others may go out of their way to target you with it if they perceive you to be from anywhere other than the south.

8. There is a lot of urban sprawl to contend with when you live in this city.
Raleigh offers plenty of benefits, but offering a walkable city is not one of them. When you live here, then you will need to expect to drive from one parking lot to the next as you go about your day. There often tends to be traffic in the city for no good reason at times as well, and like most urban areas, you will discover that there are enough bad drivers that the experience can trigger a headache.

The pros and cons of living in Raleigh, NC, work to balance opportunity and cost with some of the typical challenges that exist when living in the southeastern United States. The city may not offer a lot of variety to explore, but it can introduce you to a favorite spot that you will want to visit multiple times. It is a place that people adore because there is a sense of community, even if it tends to take a laid-back approach.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.