30 Pros and Cons of Living in Raleigh, NC (Plus Moving Tips)

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Moving and Living in Raleigh, NC Pros and Cons

Raleigh, The city of Oaks, has had a huge uptick and is constantly making the list of growing cities and best places to live. I moved to Raleigh in 2019 and am sharing some of the pros and cons of living in Raleigh, NC. I was living in New York previously and lived in Florida before that; I am a fan of living in new places.

Fun Fact: While many think Charlotte is North Carolina’s capital, it is actually Raleigh, located just about in the middle of the State.

At the end of the day, I love calling Raleigh my home. It might seem like I am bashing the city, but keep in mind I still adore living here despite some of the cons. At the end of the day, no place is perfect.

Related: North Carolina Fun Facts You May Have Not Known!

Living in Raleigh NC

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Pros of Living in Raleigh, North Carolina

Let’s start off with the pros I have experienced living in Raleigh. I’ve learned no place is perfect, but Raleigh undoubtedly offers some nice perks.

1. Close(ish) to the Mountains and Beach

One of the pros of living in Raleigh is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds, the mountains, and the beach.

From Raleigh, the mountains are located in Western North Carolina and are 3 hours away (depending on the town). The Blue Ridge Mountains are a part of the greater Appalachian Mountains, and it is one of my favorite places to visit!

Whether you spend a weekend in Boone, NC, head to trendy Asheville, or do a Blue Ridge Parkway Road trip – you will definitely get a good taste for the mountains. North Carolina is actually home to the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi and has several ski slopes.

East of Raleigh is the coast, and North Carolina is home to some fabulous beaches. The closest beach from Raleigh is about 2 hours (Wrightsville Beach). Within 4 hours, you can explore the Outer Banks as well! You can typically experience blue water, great fishing, surfing, and shelling.

Blue Ridge Parkway sunset road trip
Sunset near Rough Ridge Parking Lot
Jockeys Ridge in the Outer Banks NC
Jockeys Ridge in OBX

2. Good Job Market

One of the reasons we originally considered moving to Raleigh was because of the job market. For the South, Raleigh offers pretty high salaries and is home to a lot of banking jobs, tech, medical, and marketing jobs.

During the time we were moving, I was able to find jobs with equivalent salaries I was seeing on Long Island, NY. Raleigh is located right next to the Research Triangle, where many corporate companies have campuses, including IBM.

There are also 3 colleges within the Triangle Region (Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham).

Views of Downtown Raleigh

3. More Affordable Living

While the prices have gone up considerably in the past couple of years, Raleigh is still a very affordable city. Raleigh has relatively low property taxes, and gas/grocery prices are also on the low end.

When you buy a home, the property tax does not go up by the sale amount (unlike Florida), and HOA’s in communities are reasonable. Because Raleigh is not impacted as much by severe weather (Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornados), the home insurance is also on the lower end.

4. Lots of Greenways

If you love being in nature, living in Raleigh is for you! Raleigh offers dozens of Greenways and beautiful parks to enjoy. Some of my favorites are Doretha Dix Park, Umstead State Park, Lake Johnson Park, and Pullen Park.

Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and fishing are also quite popular activities to do in Raleigh.

Related: Ultimate North Carolina Travel Guide

Umstead State Park in Raleigh NC Fall
William B. Umstead State Park

5. Big on Sports

Because Raleigh is home to several big colleges, UNC, North Carolina State, and Durham, college sports are huge! March Madness and College football, in particular, get this city going.

Raleigh is also home to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team that plays at PNC Arena.

6. Raleigh is College Town

Technically this can be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. I see it as a pro since having a younger generation helps keep the city buzzing and growing.

The downtown area near NC State is and has college bars (Glenwood South) lively, and nearby is the Camden Shopping Center which includes several restaurants and shops to enjoy.

Plus, if you have kids and you would like them to attend a state school, living in North Carolina can help keep your babies in arm’s reach.

Related: Instagrammable Places in Raleigh

Living in Raleigh downtown Glenwood South
Glenwood South

7. Raleigh is Lively With Regular Events

Another pro about living in Raleigh is that they regularly have events going on, so if you’re looking for a sense of community, you can surely find it here. From events at North Hills, Downtown Raleigh, Dix Park, and the New Feton Shopping Center, you’re sure to meet some new friends. You can find additional Raleigh events here.

Below is the sunflower event in Downtown Raleigh at Dix Park.

Walking through the sunflower fields at Dix Park in Raleigh, NC

8. Raleigh is Dog-Friendly

One thing I love about Raleigh is how dog-friendly it is. When we lived on Long Island in New York, it seemed like our pup could never go anywhere with us, but Raleigh is not like that.

Most parks are dog-friendly, and many neighborhoods even have dog runs as a part of the community. So if you like to stay active with your furbaby, Raleigh is a great place to move.

WRAL Azalea Garden in Raleigh, NC
WRAL Azalea Garden in Raleigh, NC

9. Has a Foodie-Scene

Raleigh also has a pretty great food scene – although the prices of food are a little bit higher than I would generally expect from the South. You can, of course, find all your Southern fixins, including North Carolina’s famous take on BBQ.

Additionally, Raleigh has a lot of food trucks, Mexican food, and Italian food (from all those New Yorkers that have moved down here).

Big Eds Southern Breakfast

10. The Smithsonian of the South

Did you know Raleigh has often been referred to as the Smithsonian of the South? That is because Raleigh has a handful of free museums for everyone to enjoy!

Some of the free museums to enjoy include:

  • The North Carolina Museum of Art
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Museum of History
  • CAM Raleigh
  • City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum)
Cam Museum in Downtown Raleigh

11. Near Other Big Cities

When living in Raleigh, you’re not too far from other popular cities that can make perfect day trips or weekend getaways.

Some nearby cities to visit from Raleigh include:

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Asheville, NC
  • Charleston, SC
  • Savannah, GA
  • Washington DC
  • Gatlinburg, TN
  • Atlanta, GA
Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC
Biltmore Estate in Asheville

12. Experience all Four Seasons

If you’re someone who likes to experience all the seasons, Raleigh has you covered! You can experience beautiful fall foliage in NC, including Raleigh. You will also be treated to generally mild winters that sometimes get a couple of inches of snow.

If it does snow, the whole city shuts down, so you can really feel like you’re experiencing a snow day.

Living in Raleigh during the winter in the snow

13. A Lot of Transplants

If you’re looking to move to Raleigh, you can rest assured that you won’t be the only new person in town. Raleigh is known for having a large transplant community – especially people from up North.

In fact, the suburb just outside of Raleigh, Cary, jokes that it is the “containment area of relocated Yankees.” Maybe not so nice, but I almost feel I never meet locals anymore.

14. All Your Major Shopping Centers

Sometimes when you think of the South, you may think more country/isolated, but that is not the case with Raleigh, NC. There are dozens of large shopping centers all around the city.

You will find Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Aldie, Whole Foods, Target, Trader Joe’s, Home Goods, and all the other big box stores. Raleigh actually reminds me a lot of Long Island, except the shopping centers in Raleigh are much nicer.

We live within 5-10 minutes of restaurants, grocery stores, and pharmacies.

15. Diverse Wildlife

Another one of my favorite things about living in Raleigh is the diverse wildlife I get to experience. Just in my own backyard, I get to see bunnies, hummingbirds, and deer. I have also seen a few coyotes, which for some, could be a little scary, but I don’t mind them.

We also get tree frogs and a variety of different birds and lizards. I love it, but if you’re a city person who doesn’t like wildlife, this could be a con of moving to Raleigh for you.

Humming Bird Raleigh living

Cons of Living in Raleigh, NC

With the good, there is usually some bad. Here are some of the cons of moving to Raleigh

16. The Pollen is Intense

One of the biggest cons of living in Raleigh, in my humble opinion, is the pollen. When spring rolls around, you can expect the streets to turn yellow; I kid you not. I am an allergy sufferer, and after a couple of years, my body has certainly adjusted. However, I definitely avoid the weeks when it feels as if you can taste the pollen in your mouth.

Flowers in Raleigh

17. Venomous Snakes

Another con of moving to Raleigh, NC, is the large population of venomous snakes – namely copperheads. There are other venomous snakes in North Carolina, but you likely will only run into copperheads in Raleigh. While these snakes are not considered deadly, they still have a nasty bite, and we live in a neighborhood these snakes like to frequent.

I’ve never been bit, but I usually see at least one copperhead a year. Coming from a place that doesn’t have venomous snakes can make it feel just a little terrifying.

It is worth noting that there are locals who have rarely ever seen these snakes, so I’ve chalked it up to certain areas of Raleigh. Raleigh is actually a pretty big city.

Copperhead Snake in Raleigh NC
Copperhead snake at night in Raleigh

18. Traffic in Raleigh

Coming from New York, I would never consider the traffic being bad in this city, but the locals complain about traffic often. So I imagine 10-20 years ago, the daily commute for most locals was nice and smooth.

To be fair, I work from home, so I don’t experience rush hour like most people, but I know it’s not like sitting on the Staten Island Expressway or the Belt Parkway, or Los Angeles Traffic, for that matter.

Downtown Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh

19. Garbage Around the City

Another turn-off for me when driving around Raleigh is the trash you will see on the side of the road. I am not sure why the culture is for people to just throw their trash out the car window.

You won’t see this EVERYwhere, but down Capital Blvd., and some highways is common to see it.

20. Friends and Family Less Likely To Visit

Because Raleigh is not really known as a tourist spot and doesn’t have MAJOR attractions, friends and family are less likely to visit you. Maybe you prefer them not to come, and it is actually a positive.

If we lived on the beach in Florida, I know I would have more out-of-town people stopping by.

21. Not Close Enough to the Beach and Mountains

I mentioned being kind of close to the mountains and beaches as a pro, but it is also a con. When we initially moved, we thought this was a great selling point.

However, after living in Raleigh for almost 4 years, we found that we almost never visit either place because it is not close enough that you would want to make a habit of visiting. I think we would be far more likely to visit a place one hour away, but 2-3 hours is a long roundtrip journey for just a day.

Boone NC mountains are a must visit in a weekend
Boone, NC in Fall

22. Rising Prices in Raleigh

Because so many people have been moving to Raleigh, NC, the prices have gone up tremendously. One of the main reasons we moved to Raleigh was to be able to buy an affordable home in a nice city.

While the home prices are still lower than in New York and Florida, the home prices are not what they used to be, and inventory is super low. We have realtors reaching out all the time about selling our home.

This has also negatively impacted the local economy and has been pushing locals out. This is happening because people with money from the North (generally higher salaries) have been bidding way over asking prices. This whole ordeal has propped up the market.

Raleigh Skyline of Downtown Raleigh

23. Not As Lively As Other Cities

While Raleigh as a city is large, the actual downtown area is very small. You can easily walk the whole city. Therefore, it is not as lively as, say, Charlotte.

Part of me sees this as a positive because I wanted to get away from city life, but others coming from places like New York can feel like there’s not enough going on.

24. Raleigh is Hot and Humid

The heat and humidity in Raleigh is no joke. It might not be as bad as Florida, but it can feel quite intense, especially because the city is not close to the ocean. That also means cooling down in the ocean is also not as accessible unless you don’t mind doing that 4-hour round trip drive.

25. Raleigh and Bugs

This can really be expected for any more Southern and humid places. Raleigh certainly has a wide variety of bugs. You can expect to find mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and more. We also see European Wasps and other creepy crawlies.

If you live in the South, you will be used to this. But if you’re coming from a more Northern city, you will likely experience more bugs here.

26. Raleigh Does Not Have a Major Airport

Technically the Raleigh Durham International Airport is considered a major airport, but I disagree. For one, there are barely any non-stop International flights, and most of the flights leaving out of Raleigh are very expensive.

Charlotte has better flight options, but this is a pain point for me as someone who travels for a living.

Natural History Museum in downtown Raleigh

27. It Rains a Lot in Raleigh

Did you know it rains more in Raleigh than in Seattle? The average annual rainfall is around 41.5 inches per year When it rains, it kind of rains all day. Oh, and Raleigh has that orange clay mud instead of sandy dirt, so the drainage is not great.

28. A Lot of Transplants

If you wanted to move to Raleigh to feel a local connection, it could be pretty hard making transplants also a negative. It can feel like some of the culture the city had could start diminishing with such a high influx of people. These are growing pains of any city, and it can really feel like a double-edged sword.

On one end, you want the city to grow and do well, but on the other hand, locals don’t want to be pushed out of their city.

29. Locals Are Not Always Happy About New People Moving In

Local North Carolinians and Raleighites have always been nice to me, however, that doesn’t mean locals are happy about feeling pushed out of their homes. You could experience some shade being a “Yankee” or “outsider” in the state.

Raleigh Capitol Building
Raleigh Capitol Building

30. Lacking Public Transportation

If you were used to getting around using public transportation, moving to Raleigh will be a wake-up call. Raleigh does not thrive in the public transportation area, so having a car is almost a necessity.

Raleigh Downtown train station
Raleigh Amtrak train station

Additional Things to Know and Tips For Moving to Raleigh, North Carolina

If you’re still thinking of moving to Raleigh, here are some additional things you might want to know.

Raleigh is currently one of the quickest-growing cities in the USA, with an approximate population of 482,504 people.

Insta-worthy Sprinkles Mural in downtown Raleigh. Large mural of cat with a crown, red and pink flowers with woman.
Photo-Worthy Sprinkles the Bobcat Mural in Downtown Raleigh

Buying a Home in Raleigh

If you decide to move to Raleigh (or North Carolina), make sure to change your license over. You can encounter penalties otherwise.

When looking to buy a home, you will have to offer due diligence and earnest money. Earnest money is what shows the homeowner you’re serious about buying the home. You can usually get this money back if you pull from the house (check with your agent).

Due diligence, on the other hand, is usually the money you will not get back and is like a bonus for the seller taking the house off the market. You are not required to put in due diligence, but the likelihood of your offer getting accepted without it is slim.

Additionally, because Raleigh has a lot of transplants, you can also find a lot of short-term rentals while house hunting.

Car Tax and Insurance in Raleigh

Additionally, you have to pay a car tax each year in Raleigh and get your car inspected. The tax is based on how the city appraises your car. Speaking of cars, North Carolina is a fault state. So if you get in a car accident, someone will always be at fault.

Areas to Live in Raleigh

Living in and around downtown Raleigh is popular among the younger generations.

More affordable places to live in Raleigh are around South Raleigh and East Raleigh.

More desirable areas to move to in Raleigh (especially for families) is around North Hills, Six Forks, Hayes Barton, and Northwest Raleigh. Oh, and if you have kids, Raleigh has several year-round schools. This means that instead of the kids getting summer breaks, they will have a handful of short breaks throughout the year.

A lot of people have also started moving right outside of the city. Places people also consider moving outside of Raleigh include Apex, Holly Springs, Cary, Wake Forest, Garner, Knightdale, and Morrisville.

Dillon roof top in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina is one of the best free things to do.

Pros and Cons of Living in Raleigh NC Wrap-up

If you’re considering moving to Raleigh, I hope this list of pros and cons of living in Raleigh, NC has helped you! Despite some of the cons, I am still glad I made the move from New York to Raleigh.

Have any questions about living in Raleigh, NC or would you like to see any information added to this guide? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you find this guide of the pros and cons of living in Raleigh, NC helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Living in Raleigh NC

Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

5 thoughts on “30 Pros and Cons of Living in Raleigh, NC (Plus Moving Tips)”

  1. Thank you for all of the pros and cons. We are visiting next weekend from Charleston. We moved to Charleston 18 mo the ago from St. Louis. Charleston doesn’t have much going on but the beach, lots of restaurants that serve oysters or seafood and tons of alcohol everywhere. I for one doesn’t drink or like seafood. I am used to more options other than just the beach. I miss having museums and culture.

    Reply
  2. Hi do you have anything on Louisburg, NC?

    My friend shared this link with me. I found it very helpful. Thank you for writing it!

    Reply
  3. What a wonderful detailed review of your city! I am a realtor in Chandler, AZ and for the sake of curiosity I looked up Raleigh to see what life looks like there. Your real estate prices are quite similar to ours here in the Valley of the Sun. We also do not have weather issues like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes so that was a big plus that you added that info as well. You are well suited as a travel writer and I bet you love your job!

    Reply
  4. yes, your article was very helpful! Especially the rain and pollen info! We are considering a move from Seattle due to weather and the fact Raleigh gets more rain than SEA is something we didn’t know. My husband also suffers from pollen so this info too was extremely helpful!
    Thanks again!
    -Beth

    Reply

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