Durham is a great place to live, which is why people are moving here at an incredible pace. The area’s job prospects and its deeply rooted communities make Durham one of the best places in the U.S. to live, work and retire.
Durham also has that lovely Carolina weather, hospitable people, and access to some of the best healthcare in the country.
What’s it Like Living in Durham, NC?
Durham residents enjoy a very high quality of life. The city is consistently ranked as a great place to live, work, and play because of its mild weather, friendly people, and access to some of the country’s best education and health care.
Some of the reasons why so many people choose to call Durham their home include:
Durham is a progressive, mid-sized city with a diverse population of 260,000. It’s a place where people solve problems and come up with new ideas every day.
With the city’s background of civil rights activism and African-American history, its residents are all welcoming and have an accepting attitude toward different cultures and races.
You’ll love the weather in Durham, especially since it’s so mild. If it snows, it’s gone within 24 hours, and the average snowfall is slight. Nine months out of the year, you’ll enjoy an average high of 60 degrees or higher—easier on those transitioning from harsher climates.
Excellent Job Opportunities
Thanks to the presence of top-notch hospitals, prestigious schools, and Research Triangle Park, Durham continues to draw interest from highly sought-after employers. People who love research and cutting-edge innovation are thrilled to live here; the university and park attract lots of people, so they keep moving to Durham.
Beautiful Nature Scene
Durham is a city full of nature lovers. Surrounded by parks, gardens, and protected forests, it’s easy for residents to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and catch a breath of fresh air.
Its state parks also have a variety of natural wonders to explore, offering hiking, picnicking, and nature observation opportunities.
Good Food Scene
Durham’s food scene is one of the most exciting and varied in the South. You can find everything from regional favorites like biscuits and barbecue to tastebud challengers like beef tendon crackers and black garlic ice cream. Durham also has lots of wonderful restaurants at a variety of price ranges.
Tons of Events
Durham is bursting at the seams with exciting events every day of the year. You never have to wait for the weekend to enjoy yourself. There’s a festival, show, concert, book reading, sporting event, or something incredible happening all week long.
What Should I Know Before Moving to Durham, NC?
Durham has grown a lot in the past ten years, but it still retains its small-town charm. It’s often listed among the best places to live in the United States for its booming economy, beautiful nature, and fantastic food scene. But before you move to Durham, there are some things that you should know about this great city.
Durham County’s economy is thriving, and it ranks among the lowest costs of doing business compared with major US cities. Some of its top industries are life sciences and biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and technology.
The Term “Triangle”
The term “Triangle” was first coined to refer to an area anchored by three major universities: Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, which joined together to create Research Triangle Park.
Today, the term is also used to refer to metropolitan areas surrounding Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.
The name “Raleigh-Durham” refers to an airport serving two distinct metropolitan statistical areas—one centered around Durham, the other called Raleigh-Cary. You may also hear people refer to Raleigh-Durham as a shorthand term for the two-metro Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill combined statistical area or the 22-county television and radio coverage area.
Durham is well-served by both interstate and public transportation. You can avoid driving altogether by taking one of 20+ bus routes with GoTriangle. You can also use GoDurham bus routes to travel around Durham.
- Taxi cab: A cab ride from RDU International Airport to Downtown Durham costs between $30 and $45 on average. It varies depending on the time you’re going and how busy traffic is.
- Go Durham: A one-way fare on a city bus is $1, and it is free for students 19-21 years old, youngsters under 12 years old, and seniors 65 and older.
- Go Triangle: Go Triangle’s regular transit fares are $2.25; express fares are $3.
Driving in Durham
Durham drivers should be aware that road names and numbers sometimes change on roads that appear the same. Even more confusing is that some roads may be referred to by a number, a name, and a memorial name, which is often used to pay tribute to an individual.
Alcohol in Durham
The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has ten ABC Stores in Durham. The stores sell liquor and spirits to those 21 years and older between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except Sunday when they are closed. Wine and beer are sold at most grocery and convenience stores.
Durham’s Real Estate Market
Durham’s real estate market is hot, with demand on the rise and competition among buyers increasing. This trend has been fueled by the city’s constant growth, which has attracted individuals, organizations, and companies from around the country. The pandemic also contributed to the shortage of houses for sale because of uncertainty among sellers.
Best Way to Get Settled in Durham
If you move to a new town in Durham and feel like you belong there, get involved with the local community. Introduce yourself to neighbors or join an organization, such as a church, club, or volunteer center. The people in your community make up your experiences that create that sense of comfort and support.
Are There any Bad Things About Durham, NC?
While Durham’s rich history, thriving economy, and great cultural scene make the city special, it also has a few bad aspects. It’s not a highly walkable city, and it does have a relatively high crime rate.
One of the biggest drawbacks of living in Durham is that it’s not very walkable, except for the downtown areas of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. These areas tend to be more expensive to live in than other parts of the city. The suburbs and their thoroughfares are not bike-friendly either; however, there is a growing “bike culture” in the downtown area and countryside.
High Crime Rate
The other thing you should know about Durham is that it has a high crime rate, which is higher than the national average. But Durham’s crime rate, like Chicago’s, is high because of a few dangerous neighborhoods that bring the average up. You can enjoy a very safe life in Durham if you avoid those specific neighborhoods and keep yourself out of trouble.
Is Durham, NC Expensive to Live in?
Durham is a relatively affordable place, especially for people moving there from California and other expensive areas. Many people relocate there precisely because of its affordability and economic opportunity.
Durham has lower living costs than most places in the U.S. Housing expenses, utility bills, and transportation costs are less expensive in Durham than they are across the country. Grocery prices are also lower than average. Durham’s lower cost of living than the rest of the country makes it so attractive, especially to retirees.
How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Durham, NC?
The living wage for a single adult with no children in Durham is $31,660. To live comfortably, you should aim to earn more than $43,000 per year. This amount of money was calculated based on the 50/30/20 rule, which divides your after-tax income into three categories: basic living expenses, discretionary spending, and saving or paying off debt.
According to the analysis from SmartAsset, annual expenses total about $9,700 for housing, $5,100 for transportation, almost $3,200 for food, more than $2,700 for medical care, and about $6,250 owed in taxes on average.
What’s so Great About Durham, NC?
Durham, NC, is a city that has it all. It’s got a rich history, a cultural center, and is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in the country. So what else makes Durham so great?
Most Educated City in the South
Durham is known as one of the most educated cities in the South. Its colleges and universities—including Duke University, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), and Durham Technical Community College—offer students a broad range of educational opportunities for students from all walks of life.
City of Medicine
Known as the City of Medicine, Durham is a great place for medical professionals to travel, study, and live. The city has more than 300 medical and health-related companies. The city’s medical practices have a combined payroll that exceeds $1.2 billion annually.
Largest Research Park
Durham is home to the Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest high technology research and science park in North America. It’s home to more than 170 major research companies that have over 39,000 full-time employees and around 10,000 contract workers. Durham also has a corporate park and residential area called Treyburn that’s home to companies like BioMérieux, Becton Dickinson, and many more.
Sports Scene in Durham
Durham is undoubtedly a sports-centric city. Duke has incredible basketball and football programs.
The Duke University Blue Devils men’s basketball team has been competing for more than 100 seasons, and they have won five NCAA championships—with their most recent win in 2015. More than 100 former players have been drafted into the National Basketball Association, and 26 are currently on rosters.
What Are the Best Neighborhoods in Durham?
Durham has many good neighborhoods, each offering its own unique characteristics and advantages. Its neighborhoods have everything from historic homes to new condominium developments, warehouse lofts, and transitional houses. Here are four of the best neighborhoods in Durham:
Downtown Durham offers many benefits to homeowners in the area, including plentiful amenities and affordable pricing. This neighborhood is home to the Durham Bulls AAA baseball team and is considered a budding craft beer scene.
This section of Durham includes several neighborhoods that have been developed since the 1960’s. Many of these neighborhoods are located near Duke University Medical Center and the Duke University campus.
This neighborhood is located just north of downtown Durham, and Millbrook Road runs through it to connect with NC Highway 147 (Lawrence Street). It’s made up mostly of small homes built in the early 20th century and some newer developments built since 2000.
The Southpoint neighborhood has a lot of benefits. The Streets at Southpoint walking mall, easy access to Jordan Lake, and the peace of suburbia make this Durham neighborhood one of the most sought-after family neighborhoods in the area.
Durham is a place that people visit for its restaurants, thriving arts culture, and booming business community. It has grown exponentially in the last decade and will continue to grow as more people are attracted to the city. So, no matter your particular tastes, interests, or needs, Durham is bound to have stuff for you.