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13 Things to Know About Living in Raleigh

Thinking about moving to Raleigh? Not only is the second-largest city in North Carolina one of the best places to live in the South—the City of Oaks has mouthwatering Southern food, sunny weather, and tons of fun things to do for all ages! Here are 13 things to know about living in Raleigh!

Affordable Southern Living

A skyline view of Raleigh featuring trees and several skyscrapers. Photo by Instagram user @thisisraleigh.

Photo via @thisisraleigh

With low statewide property taxes and an overall cost of living 7% below the national average, living in Raleigh is extremely affordable! Rent prices in Raleigh are lower on average than in Charlotte—as are property taxes, so owning a home in the City of Oaks is relatively inexpensive. Raleigh is also 6.8% less expensive than similarly sized Southern cities like Atlanta. With a 3.3% unemployment rate and a high rate of predicted job growth, Raleigh’s strong 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 down in one of the city’s affordable neighborhoods like Five Points or Mordecai.

Pursue Raleigh Jobs in The Triangle

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). RTP employs almost 55,000 people at over 300 companies—including universities Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and NC State University as major points. Along with top industries like education, manufacturing, and trade, technology is an emerging sector in Raleigh. In fact, many large tech companies have recently moved offices to The Triangle, including Apple, Google, and a variety of start-ups. 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 WakeMed healthcare group. Or seek employment at another one of top Raleigh employers, MetLife.

Enroll in Raleigh Universities

The William Peace University campus featuring several students socializing on the lawn. Photo by Instagram user @wpeaceu.

Photo via @wpeaceu

Attend the state’s largest college, NC State University (NCSU), ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide with unique campus features like the Free Expression Tunnel. Earn a degree on your schedule with programs tailored for working adults at William Peace University. Major in biology, business administration, and more at the first historically Black college in the South, Shaw University. Take advantage of study abroad programs, get involved in community-based learning, and enroll in one of 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 community college in North Carolina, Wake Technical Community College.

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Outdoor Fun in the City of Oaks

Overhead view of pond and greenspace with bridges and shelter at Pullen. Park Photo by Instagram user @rawsta_photo

Photo via @rawsta_photo

Nicknamed the “City of Oaks” for the area’s many oak trees, nature and outdoor recreation are big deals in Raleigh. Board the miniature train, relax on Lake Howell in pedal boats, or watch the kids ride the carousel at Pullen Park. Go horseback riding, fishing, or picnicking at William B. Umstead State Park. View sculptures or pedal your bike ride around the stunning 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Catch major air on the outdoor BMX course at Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex. Take your dog on a walk, admire the daffodil fields, or throw a frisbee around with friends at Dorthea Dix Park. Attend events like Moonlight in the Garden in one of the largest, most diverse collections of landscape plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Hike to the local camera obscura by British artist Chris Drury, the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky. 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

View from under large ferris wheel at dusk at North Carolina State Fair. Photo by Instagram user @sophienelise

Photo via @sophienelise

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 Sparkling Churros, Korean Corn Dogs, Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey Legs, Pumpkin Spice Mini Pancakes, and more. See vintage farm tools and milk bottle displays at the Antique Farm Machinery exhibit. Buy hand-coiled pottery, stuffed dolls, or wood-carved bowls from The Village of Yesteryear. Watch cloggers tap across the stage at Folk Festival. Or catch a live concert in genres ranging from electronica to country, or see a comedy hypnosis show at the J.S. Dorton Arena during Homegrown Music Fest.

Celebrate at Raleigh Festivals & Events

People walking between tents at the NC Wine Festival in Raleigh. Photo by Instagram user @ncwine.

Photo via @ncwine

See pride-themed performances from drag, to spoken word, to comedy, and more at Out! Raleigh Pride. Celebrate cultural holidays by watching global cultural performances or sampling delicious cuisine at The N.C. International Festival. Watch more than 200 independent films, see panel discussions, and enjoy live music at the Raleigh Film and Art Festival. Sample wine from North Carolina wineries at 20-year-old Raleigh festival, the NC Wine Festival. Dig into German food and beer, cheer during the Weiner Dog Races, and clap along to live music performances at the annual Triangle Oktoberfest. Or jam out to a full week of live music at the world’s largest urban bluegrass music festival, IMBA Bluegrass Live!

Be a Part of the Krispy Kreme Challenge

Runners holding a large Krispy Kreme Doughnuts coffee cup during a race. Photo by Instagram user @ncstate

Photo via @ncstate

Every year, the students at NCSU host one of the most unique things to do in Raleigh, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. What once started out as a dare among friends has turned into a national event where over 5,000 people join together 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-Area Sports Teams

Canes hockey player celebrating on the ice. Photo by Instagram user @canes

Photo via @canes

Are you a sports fan moving to 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 put on 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.

Dive In to Raleigh Arts & Culture

Don’t miss out on some of the best things to do in Raleigh! Appreciate Ancient Greek vase paintings, Jewish ceremonial objects, and Egyptian sarcophagi 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. Get tickets to stunning live dance performances from the Carolina Ballet. Dive in to North Carolina’s history with interactive displays and memorabilia—along with exhibits like The Power of Women in Country Music—at the North Carolina Museum of History. Meet snapping turtles and a sperm whale skeleton called Trouble, or sit in on DNA presentations at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. Or teach your kids about deep-ocean animals on the U.S.S. Science Sub, make recyclable percussion instruments, or tinker with robots at Marbles Kids Museum.

Fill Up on Carolina Barbecue

Overhead view of large tray of barbeque meats, cornbread, sides, and a glass of iced tea. Photo by Instagram user @citybbq

Photo via @citybbq

Enjoy two popular North Carolina styles of barbecue 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. Order More Cowbell (brisket topped with peppers) or Lolo’s Pulled Pork at City Barbecue. Fill up on Brunswick Stew, BBQ Pork Sandwiches, and Banana Pudding at Ole Time Barbecue. Head to The Pit—one of the best places for barbecue in Raleigh—for delicious Barbecue Fries, Fried Mac N’ Cheese, or Chopped BBQ Turkey. Or sample a BBQ Pork Platter or Beef Brisket Platter at Big Al’s BBQ.

Experience Unique Raleigh Restaurants

Barbecue joints aren’t the only restaurants in Raleigh you’ll find! The city offers a variety of cuisines. Share entrees like the Bone-In Tomahawk or Espresso Rub Filet Mignon at Angus Barn. Savor delicious seafood like Seared Ahi Tuna, Lump Crab Cakes, or Crispy NC Catfish at Glenwood Grill. Sample Lebanese food like Samkeh Harra, Kibbeh Nayyeh, or Mouhamra at Sitti. Order meatless dishes like Teriyaki Tempeh, Red Curry Udon Noodles, or Mushroom Stroganoff at the Irregardless Cafe. Try weekly specials like Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschette, Baked Ziti, 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

Interior view of Raleigh Beer Garden with people sitting at the bar and a large tree in the middle of the floor. Photo by Instagram user @ralbeergarden

Photo via @ralbeergarden

Raleigh has a fantastic brewery scene! Enjoy a massive selection of draft beer—like a Peach Party hard cider or 60-Minute IPA—on the outdoor patio at The Raleigh Beer Garden. Taste unique beers like the Mango Hop Drop ‘N Roll IPA, Big Wave Golden Ale, or Vanilla Porter 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 or The First Squeeze American Wheat Ale at Raleigh Brewing Company. Head downtown to an award-winning, eco-conscious Raleigh brewery featuring pub fare and cellar beers like Libertine Wild IPA or Epic Big Bad Baptist 2013 at Trophy Brewing. Bike over to a cycling-inspired brewery with its own racing team and brews like Skid Lid or Trail Wizard at Crank Arm Brewing. Or get some fresh air in the beer garden and order from a rotating menu, featuring items like IPA for Outlaws or Hoppy Ki Yay at Lonerider.

Explore Nightlife in Raleigh

People playing games at Boxcar Bar + Arcade in Raleigh. Photo by Instagram user @boxcarral.

Photo via @boxcarral

Flex your stand-up skills during an open mic night, see professional comedians like Steve Hofstetter, or watch live podcast performances at Goodnights Comedy Club. Belt your favorite tune during Karaoke Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays every week at LGBTQ-friendly nightclub, Flex. Enjoy stunning Raleigh skyline views as you sip craft cocktails like the Bad Cat or the Highly Refined Pirate at Highgarden‘s rooftop bar. Enter through the hidden bookcase door to order drinks like the Bent Umbrella or Cham Raleigh at local speakeasy The Green Light Bar. Hit the dance floor or see a drag show at Legends Nightclub. Test out your pinball skills, play air hockey, or shred a solo on Guitar Hero at The Boxcar Bar + Arcade. Or get tickets to acts like Mother Mother or gather with friends for themed parties like Taylor Swift Night at The Ritz.


Moving to Raleigh soon? With convenient storage facilities throughout the area, Extra Space Storage can help with your transition. Find a storage unit near you!