City Guide to Living in Raleigh NC and Its Neighborhoods

City Guide to Living in Raleigh NC and Its Neighborhoods
Credit: Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Living in Raleigh NC means job growth, entertainment and quality of life for all ages. Learn more about this city's population, cost of living and more.

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The city of Raleigh is part of the tri-city region known as the Research Triangle, which also comprises Durham and Chapel Hill. Primarily known for being a research hub and for area college rivalries between the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and Duke University, Raleigh also has a lot to offer its residents with job growth, entertainment options and quality of life. Here’s what you should know about living in Raleigh, NC.

Living in Raleigh, NC: What to expect

Raleigh is a vibrant city. It offers a variety of restaurants, shopping opportunities (large and local businesses), outdoor recreational avenues such as lakes, trails, rivers and parks, and community activities such as free concerts, festivals downtown, farmers markets and more.

“You can be in one area that is full of people and activities and walk a few blocks down the street and be in a sleepy historic district,” said Julie Bell, a real estate agent in North Carolina. “A lot of people now live in smaller cities and commute to work in Raleigh. Many were born and raised here and have never left.”

According to Bell, Raleigh is in one of the top five housing markets in the country, with people moving from other states such as Texas, California and New York for the lower cost of living. Many retirees move to Raleigh to be close to their families or enjoy its activities and mild weather.

“However, a lot of our growth lately has been because a lot of large companies are moving here and building sites, such as Google, Apple, Fujifilm Diosynth, Tergus Pharma and Fidelity Investments,” Bell said. “The Research Triangle Park is between Raleigh and Durham and is both tech and pharmaceutical industry-heavy, and an electric-car company, VinFast, is building a plant at Triangle Innovation Point in Moncure, about 45 minutes from Raleigh, and will be bringing even more jobs and people.”

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Other existing and well-established employers in the Triangle include Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Red Hat, IBM and more.

Walkable areas in Raleigh, NC

According to WalkScore, Raleigh has a walking score of 31, which defines it as somewhat walkable. Its most walkable neighborhoods are Oakwood, College Park and Stonehenge East. Raleigh also has transit and biking scores of 29 and 39, respectively, which means the city has a few public transit options and is somewhat bikeable. Raleigh is definitely a car-dependent city.

Best public schools in Raleigh, NC

Raleigh’s main public school district is the Wake County Public School System. The district is ranked as the No. 1 district for athletes in North Carolina and No. 8 overall, according to Niche. It also gets an A rating for cultural and economic diversity.

Top three elementary schools

  • Davis Drive Elementary
  • Mills Park Elementary
  • Highcroft Elementary

Top three middle schools

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  • Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy
  • Mills Park Middle
  • Davis Drive Middle

Top three high schools

  • Wake NCSU STEM Early College High School
  • Panther Creek High School
  • Green Hope High School

Commute time in Raleigh, NC

According to the US Census Bureau, the average commute time in Raleigh is about 27 minutes. Additionally, 7.5% of the population has a commute of fewer than 10 minutes.

Raleigh, NC weather

Chart of weather in Raleigh NC.

Most people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Raleigh’s summers are pretty hot and muggy, with temperatures often rising near 90 degrees. However, it’s also wet and partly cloudy all year, with August being the rainiest month with an average of four inches of rainfall. Winter and spring tend to be short and mild.

“We are within two hours of the beaches and three to four hours of the mountains,” Bell said. “We love our beaches and mountains, and lots of people take day trips during the weekends. “

Raleigh, NC crime rate

Chart of crime rates in Raleigh NC.

Raleigh gets an F rating for crime, according to AreaVibes. Violent crime, including rape, murder, assault and robbery, is 57% higher than the national average. Property crime, which includes burglary, theft and vehicle theft, is actually 10% lower than the national average.

Raleigh, NC city population

Graph of population growth in Raleigh NC.

According to the Census Bureau, Raleigh has a population of 469,124 as of July 2021, up from 403,892 since April 2010.

Cost of living in Raleigh, NC

Table of cost of living in Raleigh NC.

Raleigh’s cost of living is 7% lower than the national average, according to PayScale. Broken down further, housing costs are 9% lower, utilities 3% lower and groceries 13% lower. The median home price is $364,131, and the average monthly rent is $1,112.

Median household income in Raleigh, NC

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in Raleigh was $69,720 from 2016 to 2020.

Raleigh, NC neighborhood map

Top 5 Raleigh, NC neighborhoods by population density


Image of Hillsborough in Raleigh NC. Photo credit: Sharkstock/Shutterstock

The Hillsborough neighborhood in Raleigh is comprised of mostly families and young professionals who own their homes. According to Niche, this area offers a sparse suburban feel with highly rated public schools. It also gets an A rating for ethnic and economic diversity.


Central Raleigh is known to be one of the more expensive neighborhoods within the city. According to, areas like Central Raleigh tend to have less crime and a better quality of life, though housing disparity varies greatly.

South Central

According to AreaVibes, South Central ranks as the No. 7 neighborhood in Raleigh, with an exceptional livability score of 76. Its cost of living is 7% lower than average for the state and 12% lower than average for the US. Homeownership is 33% lower than the national average.


The neighborhood of Wade is largely made up of single-family detached homes in a variety of architectural styles. There is also a lot of new construction, including a good amount of two- and three-story townhomes. Residents can also enjoy being close to entertainment venues like PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium on NC State’s campus, the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest.

North Central

Image of North Central in Raleigh NC. Photo credit: Fayettesvillestreet via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA4.0)

North Central is the No. 17-ranked neighborhood in Raleigh, with a below-average livability score of 6, according to AreaVibes. Its cost of living is 1% more expensive than the national average. Homeownership is also 36% lower than the national average.

Median home price in Raleigh, NC

The average home price per square foot in Raleigh is $218, according to

Average rent in Raleigh, NC

The average monthly rent in Raleigh is $1,112, according to the Census Bureau.

Moving to Raleigh, NC

While certain areas of Raleigh may offer a higher cost of living than you might expect, the city has a lot to offer people seeking job opportunities in rapidly growing industries like healthcare and technology. Its overall mild weather and close-by beaches and mountains appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the downsides of living in Raleigh, NC?

One of the biggest downsides of living in Raleigh is it’s generally not very walkable. You will most likely need a car to live in Raleigh, which is important to consider if you want to avoid a long commute. Its higher cost of living compared to other cities is likely to be a downside for many people, too.

Additionally, while it’s not incredibly far from the beach, it’s not minutes away like in other famously coastal cities like Los Angeles or Miami.

Is it better to live in Charlotte or Raleigh?

Deciding where to move between Charlotte or Raleigh will depend on what you’re looking for. Charlotte is the way to go if you prefer more of a city-living feel rather than suburbia. However, remember that Charlotte will offer a slightly higher cost of living.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.