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15 Things to Know About Living in Raleigh

Considering moving to Raleigh? The City of Oaks is one of the best places to live in the South, thanks to its mouthwatering Southern food, sunny weather, and things to do for kids and adults alike! These are 15 things to know about living in Raleigh!

Discover Affordable Southern Living

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One of the best perks of living in Raleigh is its affordability and low prices alongside Southern charm. With low statewide property taxes and an overall cost of living 4% below the national average, Raleigh is an especially affordable place to live! Rent prices are lower on average than in Charlotte—as are property taxes, so owning a Raleigh home is relatively inexpensive. Raleigh is also about 7% less expensive than similarly sized Southern cities like Atlanta. With a 3% unemployment rate, the strong Raleigh job market and comparatively high household salaries allow you to live comfortably in the South! And you can make your dollar stretch farther after moving to Raleigh by settling in safe, affordable neighborhoods like Brier Creek or North Hills.

Pursue Raleigh Jobs in The Triangle

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Many people moving to Raleigh do so because of its exceptional job market. The City of Oaks is one of America’s best cities for jobs, largely because of Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest research park in North America. RTP employs almost 60,000 people at over 300 companies and is near Raleigh’s largest employer, Duke University, as well as NC State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Along with top industries like education, healthcare, and financial services, technology is an emerging sector in Raleigh. As one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the US, many large tech companies have or plan to relocate to The Silicon Triangle, including notable startups and international names like Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle. Break into the industry with cybersecurity and software jobs at IBM or Cisco Systems. Make a difference as a medical professional at one of three Raleigh hospitals within the healthcare group, WakeMed. Or find opportunities in the financial industry at MetLife.

Enroll in Raleigh Universities

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Pomp and circumstance await when you graduate from some of the best colleges in Raleigh! Pursue a career in STEM, the humanities, agriculture, and more at NC State University (NCSU), the largest college in North Carolina that is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide. Earn a degree on your schedule with programs tailored for working adults at William Peace University. Major in biology, business administration, and criminal justice at Shaw University, the first historically Black college in the South. Take advantage of study abroad programs, get involved in community-based learning, and enroll in one of more than 90 majors available at Meredith College. Immerse yourself in a faith-based learning environment, collegiate athletics, or the Falcon Battalion Army ROTC program at Saint Augustine’s University. Or find accelerated workforce training, more than 100 online programs, and courses with easily transferrable credits at the largest North Carolina community college, Wake Technical Community College.

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Get Around NC with Ease

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The city of Raleigh is an especially walkable and bikeable Southern locale with several ways to get around. Explore hiking, biking, or walking trails that connect most of the major parks in Raleigh through the Capital Greenway Area Trail System. Catch public transit bus routes throughout Raleigh’s municipal area with GoRaleigh, or bus around regional Raleigh from Chapel Hill to Durham and the greater Triangle area on GoTriangle. Biking in Raleigh is easy thanks to its on-road and off-road navigation through the BikeRaleigh App, the bike parking program Bikes on Buses, and the city’s interactive bike map. Travel affordably with Raleigh bike rentals through Cardinal Bikeshare or find commute partners throughout North Carolina to carpool or vanpool with Share the Ride NC. Board a train to Charlotte, Cary, New York, and more through Amtrak’s Carolinian/Piedmont routes at Union Station. Or depart to some of the largest cities in the US by booking a flight at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Have Fun Outdoors in the City of Oaks

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Nicknamed the “City of Oaks” for the area’s many oak trees, outdoor recreation is a major aspect of Raleigh. Go horseback riding, picnicking, or fishing in Raleigh near Crabtree Creek at William B. Umstead State Park. View stunning sculptures like Lunar Bird, Ogromna, or Ulalu, or pedal your bike ride around the stunning 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Take your dog on a walk, admire the daffodil fields, or throw a frisbee around with friends at Dorothea Dix Park. Attend family-friendly events like Moonlight in the Garden at one of the largest, most diverse collections of landscape plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Go hiking in Raleigh to the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky, the “camera obscura for the heavens,” made by British artist Chris Drury. Or take a day trip to some of the best beaches near Raleigh like Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or the Outer Banks.

Visit the North Carolina State Fair

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The North Carolina State Fair is the ultimate Raleigh attraction! Almost a million people attend this 11-day event each year to ride roller coasters, listen to live music, compete in horse shows, learn about crops grown in the Tarheel State, and more! Eat your fill of new fair food like Boozie Cupcakes, Deep Fried Gimbap, Ostrich Smashburgers, and more. See vintage farm tools and milk bottle displays at Antique Farm Machinery or walk through a winding pathway of flowers at The Flower & Garden Show. Buy hand-coiled pottery, dolls, or wood-carved bowls from Raleigh artists at the Village of Yesteryear. Catch a live Raleigh concert with genres ranging from electronica to country, or see Brad Matchett’s comedy hypnosis show at the J.S. Dorton Arena during Homegrown Music Fest. Or watch competitive cloggers tap across the stage at the Folk Festival.

Celebrate at Raleigh Events & Festivals

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Attending Raleigh festivals is one of the best ways to celebrate pride, make connections, or simply have fun. See pride-themed performances, including drag and more at Out! Raleigh Pride. Explore world heritage and foster cross-cultural connections by watching global performances, appreciating traditional artwork, or sampling delicious cuisine at The International Festival. Watch over 200 independent films, see panel discussions, and enjoy live music at the Raleigh Film and Art Festival. Sample wine from North Carolina wineries like the Biltmore Estate Winery, Slightly Askew Winery, and Shelton Vineyards at the over-20-year-old NC Wine Festival. Dig into German food and beer, cheer during the Wiener Dog Races, and clap along to live music performances at the annual Triangle Oktoberfest. Or jam out to live music and browse industry vendors at the world’s largest urban bluegrass music festival and one of the largest Raleigh music festivals, IMBA Bluegrass Live!

Be Part of the Krispy Kreme Challenge

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Every year, the students at NCSU host one of the most unique things to do in Raleigh, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. What started as a dare among friends has since become a national event where over 5,000 people join to raise money for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. In fact, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is UNC Children’s Hospital’s largest unrestricted donor! Entrants have one hour to run five miles and consume 12 donuts. You’ll sprint 2.5 miles through Downtown Raleigh to Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen glazed donuts, and then run 2.5 miles back to the Memorial Belltower. For attendees and participants alike, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is a truly one-of-a-kind Raleigh activity you won’t find anywhere else!

Root For Raleigh Sports Teams

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Are you an avid football, basketball, or baseball fan looking forward to sports in Raleigh? Host a tailgate party with friends to get pumped before a showdown between local rivals, the Tar Heels (NCAA) and the Blue Devils (NCAA). See the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) shred ice and shoot slapshots each season at PNC Arena. Cheer on North Carolina FC (USL) on their home turf, or don your purple and red jersey for an NC Courage (NWSL) soccer match at WakeMed Soccer Park. Watch the Durham Bulls (MiLB) hit home runs at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Or catch a fly ball in the stands at a Holly Springs Salamanders (CPL) game at Ting Park.

Enjoy a Family Outing in Raleigh

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Spending the day with kids in Raleigh is made easy, thanks to its family-friendly things to do. Get up close with snapping turtles, examine preserved minerals and fossils, or sit in on DNA presentations at the largest natural history museum in the Southeast, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Check out the history of North Carolina railroads and bring the whole family aboard a real locomotive at the New Hope Valley Railway. Let your little one play with solar, wind, and hydropower at Ecosphere, learn healthy money habits at Moneypalooza, or become a River Ranger at the River Playway at the Marbles Kids Museum. Board the miniature train, relax on Lake Howell pedal boats, or bring the kids on carousel rides at Pullen Park. Experience Raleigh rock climbing with family in over 40 top roping lanes, bouldering terrain, and freestanding climbing walls with a membership to Triangle Rock Club. Or watch your child ride around and catch some air at the BMX, MTB, and skateboarding indoor or outdoor parks at the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex.

Dive Into Raleigh Arts & Culture

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Often dubbed the “Smithsonian of the South“, Raleigh museums and cultural showcases are some of the city’s best attractions! Appreciate Ancient Greek vase paintings, Jewish ceremonial objects, and Egyptian funerary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Marvel at rotating Contemporary art exhibits or attend First Fridays for live art and food trucks at CAM Raleigh. Dig into North Carolina history with interactive displays and memorabilia—along with exhibits like The Story of North Carolina and Signs of the Times—at the North Carolina Museum of History. Get tickets to stunning live dance performances of seasonal programs like Carmina Burana, Jekyll & Hyde, or Bolero from the Carolina Ballet. Be wowed by powerful vocal performances in live showcases like Ernani and The Marriage of Figaro at the North Carolina Opera. Or listen to classical concerts in Raleigh like Symphonie Fantastique, Beethoven Symphony No. 8, and Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3 at the North Carolina Symphony.

Fill Up on Carolina Barbecue

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Of course, no visit to Raleigh is complete without getting your fill of Carolina barbecue. Enjoy two popular North Carolina barbecue styles while living in Raleigh: Eastern and Lexington. Eastern style involves cooking a whole pig over wood coals and using vinegar and pepper sauce—while Lexington style uses only the pork shoulders with ketchup, vinegar, and brown sugar. Whichever you prefer, you’ll find them in abundance at various Raleigh barbecue restaurants. Savor Smoked Turkey Sandwiches, Spare Ribs, or a Jones Family Chicken Tray from Sam Jones BBQ. Fill up on Brunswick Stew, BBQ Pork Sandwiches, and Banana Pudding at Ole Time Barbecue. Chow down on delicious Barbecue Fries, Fried Mac & Cheese, or Chopped Barbecue Turkey at one of the best BBQ places in Raleigh, The Pit. Or sample a BBQ Pork Platter, Rib Platter, or Beef Brisket Platter at Big Al’s BBQ.

Experience Unique Raleigh Restaurants

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Barbecue joints aren’t the only restaurants in Raleigh you’ll find! Share entrees like the Bone-In Tomahawk, New York Strip, or Espresso Rub Filet Mignon at Angus Barn. Bite into delicious seafood in Raleigh like Seared Rare Tuna, Lump Crab Cakes, or Crispy NC Catfish at Glenwood Grill. Take a seat for Lebanese food like Samkeh Harra, Kibbee Nayyeh, or Mouhamra at Sitti. Have vegetarian dishes for dinner like Fried Okra, Grilled Artichoke, or Mushroom Vadouvan at the Irregardless Cafe. Try favorites from Nana’s Cucina like Whole Wheat Penne, Eggplant Rollatini, or Chicken Parmigiana at one of the best Italian restaurants in Raleigh, Bella Monica. Indulge in a little of everything—like soul food at Iyla’s Southern Kitchen or English fare at Oak City Fish and Chips—at a unique Downtown Raleigh dining hall, Morgan Street Food Hall. Or try specialty menu items at your favorite Raleigh restaurants during Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week!

Check Out Breweries in The Triangle

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Raleigh has a fantastic brewery scene! Enjoy a massive selection of over 350 draft beers—like a Mango Kolsch, Motel Paloma Blonde, or Bearwalker Brown Ale—on the outdoor patio at The Raleigh Beer Garden. Taste unique beers like the Surf Wax West Coast Style IPA, Lightgrinder American Porter, and Innertube Lager at Burial Beer Co. in Transfer Co. Food Hall. Marvel at the city mural on the taproom walls as you sip in-house brews like the Hidden Pipe Coffee Porter, Sweet Treat Blonde, or The First Squeeze Wheat Beer at Raleigh Brewing Company. Head downtown to an award-winning, eco-conscious Raleigh brewery featuring pub fare and cellar beers like the Mulligan Pale Ale, Cloud Surfer Modern IPA, or Trophy Husband Witbier at Trophy Brewing. Bike over to a cycling-inspired brewery that has its own racing team, and enjoy brews like Skinny Wheels, Whitewall Wheat, or Pedal Puncher at Crank Arm Brewing. Or get some fresh air in the beer garden and order rotating beers like Kolsch for Outlaws, Imperial Light Lager, or the Saloon Style Pilsner at Lonerider.

Explore Nightlife in Raleigh

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From open mics to bar nights, there’s no shortage of Raleigh nightlife opportunities for having fun after dark. Flex your stand-up skills during an open mic night or see professional comedians like Julia Desmond or Akaash Singh at Goodnights Comedy Club. Enjoy stunning Raleigh skyline views as you sip craft cocktails like the Rosa Royale, Goldenrod, or Moscow Mule on the rooftop bar at Highgarden. Enter through the hidden bookcase door to order drinks like the Bent Umbrella, Honey Rose, or Cham Raleigh at the local Raleigh speakeasy The Green Light Bar. Hit the dance floor or see a drag show at Legends Nightclub. Test your pinball skills, play air hockey, or shred a solo on Guitar Hero at The Boxcar Bar + Arcade. Or get tickets to acts like Ricky Montgomery or gather with friends for drag shows at The Ritz.

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.