Is Durham, NC a terrible place to live?

I applied for a position that is based out of Durham, NC. In the introductory call, the recruiter said I would eventually have to relocate. That’s when I looked up Durham, NC and found it has a terrible crime rate - it is safer to live than just 5% of all comparable cities in the US. Though part of the famed research triangle, it appears that Durham has a poor quality of life and is rife with crime too. Anybody from around that area who can shed light on what it is really like to like in/around Durham? Any recommendations or advice are welcome.

I lived in Durham for the better part of two different years, albeit some time ago–in 1993 and 1999. Fellow White people at that time kept warning me about how dangerous it was. That was not at all my experience of living there.

Durham has a very vibrant art scene, an amazing scene for political activism, a breathtakingly gorgeous university campus, and some walkable shopping/living districts. It’s very close to Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Raleigh.

I would definitely consider moving back there.

The crime rate is real, but disproportionately hits young Black men and boys. There’s some real poverty in some areas of Durham, and those areas have more victims of violent crime. I lived in a neighborhood next to Duke’s East Campus, and later in an apartment complex off the highway, and in neither case did I worry about my safety.

Just to compare, I looked up Chicago on that site - it came in at 8.

Sure, there are some areas of Chicago you definitely do not want to live in, but there are MANY areas in which anyone could feel quite safe. Not to mention even safer areas in the surrounding area.

I’m not familiar w/ that area of NC, but it would shock me to learn that one could not style a safe and enjoyable life in that area.

Hmm, looks like Durham’s crime rate is roughly double that of North Carolina as a whole, and their violent crime rate is close to twice the national average. Chapel Hill on the other hand does considerably better on both counts.

All those Dukies (Dookies?) have to live somewhere, probably for the most part in safer and more expensive suburbs.

I live in Raleigh, but have worked in Durham for about 15 years. Durham used to be a tobacco town with factories and warehouses, but that industry has largely moved out. Downtown was revitalized, and now it looks really nice. They turned the warehouses into apartments and villages, and there’s no more tobacco aroma.

There are some trendy restaurants and bars downtown. I used to meet coworkers at an oyster bar. I went to shows at DPAC and Man Bites Dog Theater, and took a drawing class at the museum. Ninth Street is the cool hangout area. There’s a Mexican food place called Cosmic Cantina that uses old furniture and chalkboards, but the food is excellent and it’s got a great atmosphere. Get used to liking ACC basketball. Duke, UNC, and NC State are nearby along with numerous small colleges, so there’s definitely a collegiate feel to the area.

There are some high crime rate areas, but that’s typical of any large city. I’m sure whatever resource you use for home finding will help you avoid those areas. Durham knows it had a bad rep, but they’ve really cleaned up nicely.

North Carolina traditionally had liberal annexation laws, so Durham is pretty spread out. There are plenty of neighborhoods that can be described as “anywhere suburbia”.

Durham’s crime rate is bad, but not quite as bad as those statistics make it seem. Crime rates tend to be higher in big towns and cities than in small ones. So, of course a relatively big-ish city of 280,000 like Durham has a higher crime rate than the average town. There are thousands upon thousands of smaller towns, mostly with low crime rates, and only 73 cities in the US that are bigger. I went through the neighborhoodscout crime stats of the 23 cities between 250,000 and 300,000. (Some of them like Chandler AZ and North Las Vegas are essentially suburbs of larger cities). I found three that were worse than Durham: Orlando, Anchorage, and Lubbock; and three that were almost as bad: Greensboro, Toledo, and Buffalo. Not one of of 23 cities of that size breaks the 50% barrier, meaning every single one is more dangerous than the “average place,” the average place being much smaller in population.

I just looked up Milwaukee and could say the exact same thing. It came in at an 8. There are some parts of town I wouldn’t want to live in, there’s a few that I’d avoid driving through if I didn’t have a reason to drive through them, but there’s plenty of very good, very safe (and a lot of upper class) areas as well. Plus there’s all the suburbs. Spitting distance from the actual city of Milwaukee (still in the county of Milwaukee) but have a totally different feel to them and the majority of those are totally safe.

You don’t have to live in Durham. There’s plenty of smaller towns nearby that are considered RTP bedroom communities, like Cary, Morrisville, Hillsborough, Carrboro, and Apex.

Don’t forget Fuquay-Verina! (I actually know nothing about Fuquay-Verina other than it’s in the general region, and I don’t know how convenient it is to Durham, but I always loved saying the name. Fuquay-Verina. :slightly_smiling_face:)

I might as well be the one to give you the bad news–the second name is spelled Varina.

Since in my spoken dialect Verina and Varina are virtually indistinguishable, I’m just as happy saying Fuquay-Varina. Fuquay-Varina. Yep, still fun :slightly_smiling_face:.

I don’t live in Durham, but I’ve lived in the town next door for 20 years and I go to Durham all the time. I like it quite a bit. It has sketchy areas just like any other city, and really nice ones too. Great restaurants, an active arts scene, lots of college sports, a really nice little minor league baseball stadium, etc.

You’re very unlikely to find trouble unless you go looking for it.

That’s true, although from what I remember traffic on I-40 sucks during rush hour, or it did when I commuted from Raleigh to my internship in RTP 20 years ago. So if it were me I’d try to live as close to work as possible.

I-40 still sucks mightily. I moved to NE Raleigh, close to 540, the Outer Loop. At first the traffic was light, but eventually the north Raleigh area boomed. 540 got just as bad as 40, especially around RDU airport.

It’s also known by a much more vulgar name. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: It’s south of Raleigh and would be well over an hour commute to Durham during rush hour.

(nitpick: it’s “Fuquay-Varina” - that first vowel is an A, not an E). (aha, I see someone else fixed that).

The only time I ever drove through Fuquay, my roommate and I had just done an all-night drive from her home in Florida at the end of spring break. For some reason, the concept of “Sunriiiiiiiiise… over Fuquay-Vareeeeeeeeeena” was hysterical and we sang that all the rest of the drive. F-V was the “joke” town, as in “for excitement, they go to the corner and watch the traffic light change” and similar.

It’s been 30 years since we moved away (sniff) so I’m sure things have changed, a LOT, but even back then there were some up-and-coming areas in Durham - and as noted they were annexing unincorporated land as soon as they thought the tax revenue would make it worthwhile. So you could live “in” Durham and still get a fairly rural feel.

For the I-40 haters: I used to commute from Chapel Hill out to the Triangle on NC-54. It was slow, lots of traffic lights, and at one particular intersection, several months of the year the light was directly in front of the sun as you waited at the the light. I could never tell whether it was red or green because I was blinded by the sun. I would just grit my teeth, inch forward, and hope nobody was coming on the cross-street.

I-40 was just a suggestion then: quite literally it was about 10 miles long, from the middle of RTP until it dead-ended in Raleigh. They rushed construction when some kind of international sporting event was to be held in the area, and it was a real game-changer. I’m sure there’s a lot more traffic there since we moved away but I’d be shocked if it approached the DC-area traffic. The roads around Raleigh were not, at that point, up to interstate standards.

Chapel Hill (and its suburb, Carrboro) are bastions of liberalism, to the point where the late Senator Jesse Helms wanted to build a wall around the town. And they’re an easy drive to Durham. Raleigh is a bit further but with I-40, tolerable. Politically, when I lived there they were not as far-left as Chapel Hill - but still closer than pretty much anywhere else in the state except Asheville.

Wake Forest is a suburb of Raleigh. Interestingly, Wake Forest University is NOT in Wake Forest - it’s in WInston-Salem, about 100 miles west. Yes, the cigarettes were named after the town. Durham was a big tobacco town, mostly prior to my time there; I remember one area that was redeveloped into yuppie shopping was Brightleaf Square (referencing the tobacco heritage).

I don’t know where you’d be moving FROM - but I suspect that you’ll find affordable housing within a reasonable commute of wherever your “office” might be. Terrain-wise, it’s on the eastern edge of the Piedmont; you’d be 3-4 hours drive (maybe less, with I-40) from beaches, and a similar distance from mountains. There are watersports available fairly near - we went waterskiing on Lake Jordan several times with friends.