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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Durham, NC

Ava Miller | 3/25/21

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Durham, NC

Durham is more than the old tobacco town it once was. The city is now a place with a rich history, loads of innovation and a vibrant culture. Also called the "City of Medicine" or "Bull City", it's full of great people, food, jobs, nature and much more!

West Point on the Eno River, Durham NC

1. Get the lay of the land

Durham is a diverse county and city with tons of different neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own culture and charm. In the center of it all is downtown Durham, home to the best restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment.

At the heart of downtown, you'll find the Durham Bulls park in the American Tobacco District of the city, south of "Five Points". Drive west for a few miles and you'll find yourself on Duke University's beautiful campus. Visitors love the blend of Gothic and modern architecture, and the open outdoor spaces the university provides like the Duke Gardens. Drive north of I-85 will put you in North Durham, which is known for larger home lots and the Eno River, a local favorite for outdoor spots (hiking, fishing, and more).

The surrounding neighborhoods are equally as exciting, but do your research before renting a home to make sure the area would be a good fit for you! 

Duke University with its great blend of Gothic and modern architecture.

2. Duke University 

Duke University is a major pillar in the creation of Durham, both physically and historically. Driving innovation, expansion, and the job market as Duke grew, so did Durham. Just a ten minute walk from downtown is Duke's East Campus, a well maintained section of the overall campus with a great running path and quick access to shops like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter.

Duke is also home to the aforementioned Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke Forest, Nasher Museum, and so much more. That being said, Durham has more to offer than your typical college town. 

3. Bull City History

In the Mid 1800s, Durham exploded in growth due to the production of tobacco, which, with the help of the Duke family, established Durham County and created jobs for thousands of families. Additionally, the founding of N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Co, the nation’s first African American-owned life insurance company, and the creation of the M&F Bank helped create "Black Wall Street.”

The historical Black Wall St in downtown Durham is a major focal point in the city's rich history.

Today, the city of Durham is home to the American Tobacco Historic District, Brightleaf Square, Durham Performing Arts Center, and the Durham Bulls stadium (popularized by the 1988 film Bull Durham). Durham is also apart of the Research Triangle and is home to dozens of biotech and software companies. The city is thriving, and it's easy to see why.

4. Affordability

It’s no wonder that both people and companies are moving to Durham for a better quality of life. If you are looking for a steady job and a solid cost of living, Durham is the place for you!

According to Area Vibes, Durham, NC has a cost of living that is 5% less than the national average. In terms of housing, it's hard to beat. Compared to the rest of the country, you can find average home prices in the mid $200s, a reason why many transplants have laid roots here.

5. Durham Bulls

The Durham Bulls are Durham’s local triple-A minor league baseball team. Made famous by the movie “Bull Durham,” Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a place loved by all Durham residents.

Catch a game in the summertime or just a view of the impressive stadium from Tobacco Road. Because of the pandemic, the Bulls haven't been able to play in over a year. Expect a full stadium when games open up to the public again. We, for one, can't wait!

6. Entertainment 

From the American Tobacco Historic District to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, there are a plethora of fun things to see and do in Durham. The restored tobacco factories are now home to Brightleaf Square and the American Tobacco Historic District, where you can shop, eat, and take in the beautiful scenery.

Additionally, enjoy a concert or musical theater performance at DPAC (which hosts top tier comedians, Broadway shows and more). Plus, check out the 21C hotel’s art galleries, catch a local show at Motor Co., or find more artistic performances at Pinhook and Durham Fruit Co. to get the true vibe of Bull City.

7. Food 

Durham is full of award-winning restaurants perfect for any foodie. From sushi to pizza, there is something for everyone. Check out Alcove’s list of the best Durham restaurants here!

Whether you're craving sushi or burgers, Durham has them all. In fact, Durham is so focused on supporting local food joints that there are no franchises within the downtown area (as by law), other than McDonald's.

Check out Bull McCabes on a sunny summer evening. It won't disappoint.

8. Weather

North Carolina has excellent weather all year round. Considered atypical for most of the country, Durham actually gets four distinctive seasons and the weather patterns that come with them!

Winters are mild, with only a few snow days a year and the occasional surprise above 60 degrees in January or February. Springtime is beautiful with tons of blossoming trees and flowers. Locals like to make fun of the perennial "pollening" events, so make sure to take your allergy medication with you because everything is covered in pollen. Summer is hot but perfect for all of the outdoor activities Durham has to offer, especially drinking a cold one at Bull McCabes at Five Points in downtown. The fall season is mild and full of beautiful changing leaves (be sure to check out the Eno River around October), really putting you in the fall mood. 

9. Dog-Friendly 

Durham is a dreamland for dogs. With countless dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants and breweries, and locally owned pet stores, you practically never need to leave your dog at home (which you know they will love).

Some of our favorite dog-friendly spots include Dirty Bull Brewing, The Durham Farmer’s Market, and Other End of the Leash Pet Boutique and Bakery.

In Durham, NC coffee is more than a morning pick-me-up, it's an insight into the city's culture

10. Coffee isn’t just a beverage 

Here in Durham, coffee is an art. Our local coffee shops are one of a kind offering a variety of original brews. Some local favorites include Cloche Coffee, Cocoa Cinnamon, and Joe Van Gogh. If brewing coffee at home is more your style, we highly suggest buying beans from Bean Traders in south Durham or from Counter Culture Coffee.


While we just laid out a few reasons to visit and/or move to Durham, come and see for yourself. Durham is progressive, diverse, and very centered around community. "Durhamites" love supporting local businesses, getting out into nature, and enjoying what the city has to offer.

If you want to learn more about Durham, check out our Durham City Guide for more details. We hope to see you in the Bull City soon!