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6 Reasons People Are Moving to Raleigh, NC and Loving It

Taylor Fisher | 1/27/21

6 Reasons People Are Moving to Raleigh, NC and Loving It

Raleigh, North Carolina is known as one of the best places in the nation to live! Home to numerous James Beard-nominated chefs and the largest high-tech R&D center in the U.S. (Research Triangle Park), Raleigh has easily lured thousands of new residents year-over-year looking for a fresh start.

Becoming the 2nd fastest-growing metro in the country, this vibrant Southern city offers a lot in the way of strong job growth, an exciting food scene, and unforgettable cultural experiences. Still unsure if this could be the place for you? Here are the top 6 reasons people are moving to Raleigh and loving it!

1. Cost of Living

The cost of living in Raleigh is a lot lower than in other major cities.

The cost of living in Raleigh is ever so slightly above the national average. Due to the steady increase of residents moving to the area, home prices have gradually gone up over the past few years. However, this doesn't stop most people from moving to the City of Oaks.

Raleigh still remains cheaper than most cities in America, and a lot of homeowners go into buying knowing that their new home will continue to appreciate in the coming years. Here is a closer look at the average cost of rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Raleigh compared to other cities around the U.S.

  • Raleigh, NC- $975

  • Atlanta, GA- $1086

  • Washington, DC- $1469

  • New York City- $1291

  • Denver, CO- $1265

  • Houston, TX- $992

  • San Francisco- $2639

  • Los Angeles- $1545

Zillow suggests that the typical home value in Raleigh is around $303,677 and projected to rise by 6.7% in the next year. With its increasing population (17.1% increase from 2010-2019), and low mortgage rates, the Raleigh real estate market is surging and shows no indication of slowing down. 

The cost of living is high on the list of reasons young professionals and families decide to make the move to Raleigh, NC. You not only get more space for your dollar but also get to live in a city full of opportunity and vibrant culture.

2. Higher Education

NC State, UNC-CH, and Duke are all within 30 miles of each other.

The City of Oaks is a dream for those who have a career in higher education or a passion for research. The Raleigh area is home to three tier-1 universities and ranked as the 2nd most educated city in America. In the city proper is North Carolina State University (NC State), an international leader in veterinary medicine, which is close neighbors to the nation's first public university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), as well as the prestigious research university, Duke.

These three colleges attract people from all corners of the world, not only bringing a lot of talent and young professionals to the city but also $3 billion in federal R&D funding each year. NC State alone adds $6.5 billion to North Carolina's economy annually, equivalent to creating 91,505 new jobs.

Speaking of jobs, many professors and educators (9,000 faculty and staff from NC State alone) call Raleigh home. On average, professors in the area receive between $126,602-$194,531 with Duke professors being on the higher end, NC State professors more on the low end, and UNC-CH professors in the middle. The higher education community in and around Raleigh makes it a great place for educators and students alike to travel, study, and live.

3. Jobs

There are tons of job opportunities throughout the city of Raleigh.

With unemployment rates lower than the national average and tons of potential for salary growth, Raleigh is a popular choice among recent grads and those looking for a career change. Home to numerous renowned universities (mentioned above), as well as the largest research park in the United States, Raleigh is a hot spot for new research and development.

If you're in the medical field, Raleigh is an attractive city for many doctors, nurses, and medical researchers. Three major medical centers, Wakemed, UNC Health Care, and Duke Health are all within 30 miles of one another and account for the high physician-to-population ratio (23 physicians per 10K population). The city also houses almost 500 health care companies, making this lucrative industry within Raleigh, a great place for medical professionals to call home.

Perhaps you're an entrepreneur on the hunt for a city that supports small businesses and innovators. We can confidently say you've looked in the right place. Raleigh has been ranked as the third-best city in the U.S. for opportunities in tech. According to researchtriangle.org, Raleigh and its neighboring city Durham are ranked #10 among 50 metros in the US, as a hub for tech talent. Providing tons of co-working options, like Industrious, Loading Dock, Raleigh Founded, American Underground, and Nest, it's apparent there's a large community built around helping small businesses launch to their full potential.

The job market and economy within the city are always thriving, as Raleigh continues to grow with highly-educated people and successful companies, making it the perfect move for someone on the job hunt. Whether you're a researcher, entrepreneur, artist, or just plain confused about your career path, Raleigh has a ton to offer.

4. Culture

Raleigh has a lot to explore, including the North Carolina Museum of natural sciences.

If you're visiting or moving to Raleigh, you'll quickly realize that this sprawling Southern city is really a small-town at heart. From festivals to sporting events, Raleigh has a lot of enriching experiences pioneered by smart and passionate locals. Here are just a few of the fun cultural experiences the City of Oaks has to offer:

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences- Sitting downtown Raleigh, the Museum of Natural Sciences is seven floors of interactive exhibits that span two city blocks making it the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. This vast museum truly has something for everyone. Whether you're interested in glistening gemstones, pieces of meteorite from space, bones from prehistoric predators, or vibrant aquariums, this museum gives every visitor a glimpse into North Carolina's past, present, and future.

Hopscotch Music Festival- Hopscotch is an annual festival that highlights musical diversity and brings together the creative community of Raleigh. For 3 days, this city-wide celebration stretches across 12 walkable venues, including a large main stage that sits in the middle of downtown. Ticket holders from across the nation get to experience one of the most eclectic music festivals in America with thousands of other carefree music lovers.

Carolina Hurricanes- Raleigh is home to the Stanley Cup-winning ice hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes came to Raleigh in 1997, bringing with them excitement and fun for all ages. Playing all their home games in the near 19,000 seat PNC Arena, you arrive feeling hyped up from the sound of the hurricane siren and warmth from the large fan following.

Videri Chocolate Factory- Perhaps you finished exploring one of the many museums in downtown Raleigh and now you want a locally crafted treat to top the day off. Videri is a chocolate factory that creates high-quality chocolate from bean to bar, every day. Nestled downtown, Videri is dedicated to being a welcoming presence in the community by hosting factory tours and putting a smile on every chocolate lover's face with their scrumptious treats.

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours- Throughout the year, Taste Carolina hosts walking food tours in the capital city. Ticket holders get to enjoy innovative southern and global cuisine from some of the most dynamic restaurants in the nation. Whether you're a resident or visitor, you'll get to explore multiple local restaurants and talk with the chefs behind the delicious creations. Why not explore everything Raleigh has to offer through your taste buds!

Between the museums, festivals, sporting events, and tours, the city of Raleigh is rich with diverse experiences and activities. There is never a dull moment living in the capital city. You can always walk into the bustling streets of downtown Raleigh and find something memorable to explore.

5. Nature

Just 2.5 hours away from Raleigh and you'll find yourself on a lovely beach with wild horses roaming the sand.

Raleigh is ideal for those who love city life but want access to nature. Surrounded by a plethora of outdoor activities, it's easy for one to break away from the bustle of everyday life and catch a breath of fresh air. Here are just a few natural escapes locals turn towards.

Neuse River Greenway Trail- This 27.5-mile paved greenway trail stretches all the way from North Raleigh down to southeast Raleigh. Offering scenic views of the Neuse River to walkers, runners, and cyclists, the trail winds through historic sites, wetlands, and agricultural fields. Many locals even opt to take their canoe or kayak down the river for a wet and wild adventure.

Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden- Perhaps you're looking for something a little more relaxed and calming. Get out of the city and stop to smell the roses at the Raleigh Rose Garden. Dedicated in 1951, this spectacular display of roses, trees, and perennials bring people from all over to walk their grounds and explore over 60 rose varieties. Every year they host an "Art in the Garden" event, inviting more people to get outdoors and enjoy live entertainment right in the city.

Pullen Park- This historic amusement park is 66.4 acres of outdoor fun. Pullen Park is the 5th oldest amusement park in the nation and offers recreational activities everyone can enjoy. It includes pedal boat rentals, train rides, a historic carousel, multiple playgrounds, tennis courts, and even a cafe to grab a fresh bite between activities.

Beach/Mountains- Another reason people are moving to Raleigh is the ease of access to both the mountains and the beach. Take a 2.5-hour drive west from the City of Oaks and you'll come upon the beautiful blue ridge mountains. The NC mountains are a great escape from everyday life, so grab your skis, hiking boots, or climbing gear and reset with a weekend trip away from home. If the mountains aren't your thing, head east from the capital city and within 2.5 hours you'll be sipping a drink on the beach. The North Carolina Coast is unlike any other with 100+ miles of open shoreline called the Outer Banks. These barrier islands attract people from all over with their open-sea beaches, wild horses, and shipwreck diving sites. It's just a short drive from downtown to see why Forbes ranked the Outer Banks as a top destination.

6. Bars and Restaurants

Mulino Italian Kitchen and Bar is one of many bars and restaurants to discover in Raleigh.

Raleigh attracts foodies from all over to come and experience dining at its finest. With delicious restaurants on every corner, the city has become home to numerous world-renowned chefs and prestigious James Beard nominees (the Oscars of food).

Whether you're looking for some Indian-Asian cuisine from the 2020 nominated chef Cheetie Kumar at Garland; locally sourced New American dishes at Death and Taxes from the multi-award-winning chef Andrea Reusing; or freshly prepared seafood at The Cortez from a first time James Beard semifinalist Oscar Diaz (just to name a few), Raleigh offers a wide variety of cuisine to suit every palate.

Downtown Raleigh is booming with tasty eats as the community continues to grow with passionate chefs and foodies from all over the world. From bakeries and delis to pizzerias and breweries, Raleigh surrounds you in endless options. Maybe you just want to enjoy an artisanal cocktail from the speakeasy Watts and Ward or take in the killer view of downtown while sipping on a cold one from Raleigh Times rooftop bar. If alcohol isn't your thing and you want a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee, check out Morning Times Cafe. There really is a bit of something for everyone in Raleigh. Get our full list of the best restaurants in Raleigh.


Raleigh is a large city with a small-town charm about it. Elite universities, top of the line health care, and lower than average housing costs, draw people in from all over the nation. Not to mention the award-winning cuisines and the lively festivals, it's no wonder people are moving to Raleigh and loving it.

Want to know if Durham, NC might be a better fit for you? Find out now.