At the Coley Group, we love living in the Triangle. We think it’s the best place on Earth, and we can’t wait to help others make their home here. But… even we have to admit that the best place on Earth has a flaw or two. Read on for our list of the best and worst things about living in the Triangle.
Pros of living in the Triangle
1. We have a thriving economy.
Whether you’re a recent grad, a seasoned professional, or an independent businessperson, the Triangle’s booming economy is the ideal place to make leaps forward. WRAL TechWire shared that Raleigh is currently one of the best economic regions in the U.S. Investment by large technology, healthcare, and financial companies have made high-paying jobs readily available in the City of Oaks, while WRAL.com recently reported that Durham has 14 huge economic development projects underway—equating to thousands of new jobs.
Additionally, Lending Tree lists Raleigh as the #1 place to start a small business in the U.S. followed closely by Durham at #4. Why? Low unemployment, a huge talent pool, and great support. The City of Raleigh’s website calls small businesses “the heart and soul of Raleigh,” and provides many resources to get started.
2. It’s beautiful here.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill all contain tree-lined streets and spectacular skyline views in addition to verdant parks, wide open spaces, and picturesque downtown neighborhoods. The Triangle’s anchor cities are also well planned and well cared for, offering a clean and clutter-free visual.
While this might not seem like a critical feature at face value, a 2019 study showed that beautiful environments equate to happier and healthier residents. According to Dr. Chanuki Seresinhe, “people are indeed happier in more scenic environments, even after controlling for a range of variables.” She goes on to explain that “picturesque streets with broad views and fewer distractions might also function as restorative settings” and that these restorative settings “allow us to become less fatigued, more able to concentrate, and thus perhaps even less irritable.”
3. People are friendly and welcoming.
Southern hospitality is alive and well in the Triangle. We welcome visitors and new residents alike, and we’ll be happy to give directions, share a meal, and help anyone in need. Downtown Raleigh’s unofficial welcome sign is a rainbow mural declaring, “All are welcome,” and we mean it.
With the Triangle’s growth has come an increase in diversity, and Raleigh has active inclusivity initiatives to make sure every person feels at home. Discover Durham states that “Y’all means all in Durham” while expanding on the city’s long history of Black entrepreneurship and strong communities including all gender identities and orientations. To gain a global perspective in a down-to-Earth Southern city that feels like home, choose any city in the Triangle.
4. Educational opportunities abound.
From accessible community colleges to ultra-prestigious private universities, education in the Triangle is on the cutting edge. Duke in Durham is one of the most elite schools in the country, while the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the United States’ very first public university. Other notable public colleges include North Carolina Central University in Durham and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
If you’ve got a technical trade in mind, consider the Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh or the Durham Technical Community College in Durham. Both offer affordable options for career-oriented students as well as transition plans to the Triangle’s four-year universities for those who desire to continue their education.
If none of those hit the mark, there are even more options offering robust research-based, liberal arts, and specialized education. All you have to do is look!
Cons of living in the Triangle
1. The cost of living has gone up in recent years.
Honestly, the cost of living has gone up everywhere in recent years. Stories about inflation and corporate price gouging have dominated national headlines, so the Triangle isn’t unique in that respect. However, a population boom and high demand for housing have driven the cost of previously-affordable Triangle real estate up to about 9 times the average annual salary. To put that in perspective, the general rule is that purchasing a home should cost about 2.6 times your annual salary.
Rapidly appreciating home values are great for homeowners, but they’re more challenging for first-time buyers and transplants from other, less highly-valued markets. And if you put off buying, the news for renters isn’t much better. News & Observer reports an enormous 50% jump in Triangle rent prices since this time last year. These numbers might deter some prospective residents and certainly represent a con of living in the Triangle.
2. Southern summer weather isn’t for everyone.
Triangle residents enjoy four distinct seasons, including mild winters with very little snow. The other side of that is hot summers that can be an adjustment for newcomers. Temperatures in summer hang in the high 80°F to low 90°F range but can climb upwards of 110°F during a heat wave, while the humidity hovers around 80%. That’s only marginally cooler and drier than an actual steam room—so prepare to take it easy during the hottest hours of the day.
3. You (probably) need a car to live here.
When Bloomberg released a piece on The Best and Worst U.S. Places to Live Car-Free, we were bummed to see Raleigh on the bottom of the list—but not surprised. Raleigh is the fastest-growing city in North Carolina, and the sprawl of suburbs to keep up with this growth is a challenge for public transportation. If you live Downtown or in a nearby neighborhood, you have many amenities within walking distance and good access to public transit—but unfortunately this represents a relatively small area of an otherwise car-dependent city.
If you have your eye on the Durham-Chapel Hill area though, it’s a different story. This region made Bloomberg’s top 5 list of car-free medium-sized metros, which means you don’t need a car to do most things. The downside is that Durham and Chapel Hill combined are about a third smaller than Raleigh, so you may need to leave the metro area to find what you’re looking for. That means you’ll need—you guessed it—a car.
4. Allergy season is intense.
If you have springtime allergies, living in the Triangle may be a seasonal struggle. The Raleigh-Durham area was once ranked one of the worst places to live for spring allergies—and according to a 2021 study, climate change is only making it worse. The pollen is so intense here, it even has its own Twitter account: @NCPollen.
Excessive pollen can give you a runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat along with sneezing, headache, and fatigue. Tough allergies last all spring, but News & Observer reports that the highest pollen counts in Raleigh occur “between the last week of March and the second week of April.” Time of day matters too—if you avoid going out between 5 AM and 10 AM, you may find a little relief.
On the upside, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America recently rated Durham as the #1 best place to live for people with fall allergies. So while spring might be a struggle, autumn in the Triangle will have you breathing easy.
Pros and cons of living in the Triangle: bottom line
Even with its faults, there is a lot to love about the Triangle. If you think Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill is the nearly-perfect city for you, get in touch! Our team has over two decades of experience buying and selling real estate in the Triangle—including helping out-of-towners make a smooth and stress-free transition. Fill out the form below to get started.
Or text "Triangle" to 984-409-7339 if you're ready to start your move to The Triangle today!