Moving to the triangle area Cary vs. Chapel hill

Hi everyone, I’m moving to the triangle area in august because my dad got a got at the research triangle. The high schools I’m mainly looking at are in Cary but I also like East chapel hill high. I’ve read some negative opinions on Cary like that it’s really boring. Anyone have a positive experience there? I need to decide which high school to attend before august. Any experiences with how fun Chapel hill, Cary, or Raleigh are would be very helpful. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Opinions? Moved from General Questions to IMHO.

samclem, Moderator

I grew up in Cary, and in general found it a good place to live. My parents still live there. It is mainly a bedroom community for RTP, Durham, and Raleigh, but honestly all of them are close to one another.

If music is your thing, Chapel Hill / Durham probably have more going on than Raleigh.

I grew up in Chapel Hill, and to be honest I can’t even see how there’s a choice about it. Chapel Hill is a university town, which means there are a lot of things geared toward younger folks. Plenty of decent restaurants, a totally awesome comics shop (owned by a friend of mine, but who’s checking?), a lovely walkable downtown, lots of music, a university with a lot of clubs and activities that you can possibly get into (when I was in high school I spent a lot of time on the university campus), a castle hidden in the woods, blah blah blah. Cary has got all the strip malls you could ever want and then some.

My best friends worked/lived in the Triangle for about 3 years. They lived for a while in Chapel Hill and for a while in Cary.

Chapel Hill is where everything happens - all the music, sports riots, parades, awesome parks, good eating. Therefore, it is: interesting, loud, and expensive to rent/buy.

Cary is boring - bedroom communities, tract housing, normal supermarkets, no real city center. Therefore it is: sedate, quiet, and inexpensive, and only about a half-hour to 45 minutes from Chapel Hill where everything is fun and noisy.

Not to harp on things, but it’s 45 minutes away by car. In Chapel Hill, almost everything is 45 minutes away if you’re on foot. Depending on your car’s mileage, this can save you ten bucks or more per trip just in terms of gas.

Thank you for telling me! Sorry I’m new to using this website… how do I do that?

I have lived in both cities and grew up close to Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill is much, much cooler for a young person, although IMHO its coolness is a bit overrated and a shadow of its former self. Still, the town with 30,000 university students is going to be the cooler one.

Cary has got some Stepford Wife stuff going on, especially around the country clubs but it is otherwise a very convenient and pleasant place to live. It has a reputation as overwhelming Caucasian, but there is a relatively strong South Asian and East Asian presence. Not really recommended if you are looking for a African American or Latino community however!

I actually feel that Cary has the edge in restaurants, depending on what you’re looking for.

Home prices are significantly cheaper in Cary.

I feel like Left Hand is overstating the walkability of Chapel Hill a little, but it is definitely friendlier in that way than Cary and it has a decent bus system.

As for schools, I would give the edge to Chapel Hill, although both cities have good schools. The kids at the Chapel Hill schools are probably going to be more interesting.

I should add, Chapel Hill is MUCH more politically and socially liberal if that matters to you.

Where do you live now, and what do you like/not like about it?

Cary- As someone said, Cary is just a bedroom community. This means it is suburbia, with not a whole lot to do. On the flip side, this means better schools, more safety, and cheaper.

Chapel Hill- Cool college town with lots to do. This is an expensive area to live, so it is very white and very well off. It is safe, and probably the best choice if you can afford to live here.

Raleigh- This is the big city of the triangle. It’s where the best museums are, largest arenas, etc. There’s a lot to do, but since it is bigger, it is a little bit tougher to navigate.

You didn’t ask, but FWIW Durham is the third point on the triangle, not Cary. It is somewhere inbetween Chapel Hill and Raleigh. In the last 5-10 years or so, all of the old tobacco factories have been turned into warehouse lofts and there is a lot of stuff to do. Generally speaking, it is poorer and more dangerous than the others on this list, but there are a lot of safe places with great schools. The Durham School of the Arts is very highly regarded and so is the NC Academy of Math and Science.

A note about the schools. The area has embraced charter schools in a big way. So you have to do some work in the area to find and apply for a school you would like. Wake Country (Cary+Raleigh) does some funky things with districting, and although I’m not all that familiar with them, I hear complaints.

Maybe. From the ages of 5-18 I lived in Chapel Hill, in four different houses. One of them there was no way you could walk anywhere interesting; one of them you could get to campus or the mall with a half-hour walk; the other two you could get downtown, to the library, and to at least one other commercial area (the mall or the Weaver Street Market area) within a 20-minute walk. When I moved back, briefly, during college, I rented a room in a house for very cheap, like $250 a month, and was literally a three-minute walk from downtown. In my experience, it’s a very walkable town.

For high school, go to East Chapel Hill. It’s very competitive academically and one of the best high schools in the country.

And yes, you’ll find Chapel Hill more interesting as a young person. Cary is … beige. :slight_smile:

I live in Durham and I vote for a high schooler, definitely Chapel Hill! Repeat what everyone has said about coolness/walkability vs. strip malls/boring/need car. Which is not to say that Chapel Hill isn’t suburbia. But it’s some of the cooler suburbia on offer.

And East Chapel Hill high school has an excellent reputation.

Aren’t Cary schools Wake County schools and therefore part of the whole Wake county school board reassignment brouhahas? (This question is obviously for the other local posters and not the OP)

A couple of my nieces from Fuquay-Varina went to Enloe High in Raleigh and seemed to like it there. I do know they have an outstanding music program and lots of options for AP/College Credit courses, if that’s your thing. But that’s about the extent of my knowledge of the school. May be worth your time to check it out.

So, do you have input into the decision of where your family lives? Or do kids in the area get to pick what high school they go to? Boy, things sure have changed since I was in school!

Best of luck to you – and welcome to the Dope! Hope you stick around.

I would pick Chapel Hill over Cary any day. Cary is a massive gathering of strip malls; Chapel Hill has things to do, as mentioned upthread. I don’t know about Chapel Hill’s schools, but I do know that you do not want to deal with Wake County schools right now…the redistricting has left everything a huge mess.

[quote=“treis, post:10, topic:627078”]

Where do you live now, and what do you like/not like about it?

I’ve lived in Portland, OR for the past 6 years and other than the weather I like it. My favorite part is downtown, I’m there almost every weekend. From what I’ve read parts of downtown portland seem comparable to Chapel hill, and cary is more of a beaverton type city. Although I like it here I’m very interested in seeing a different environment and culture. My family is canadian, so I’m a little worries about cities that are more conservative. I’ve heard some stereotypes like the women only drink tea, EVERYONE goes to church, and people never cuss. My family wouldn’t adapt to this very well lol.

Thank you! :slight_smile: I have a lot of input on where my family lives. My dad is getting a job in the research triangle, as long as it’s near there the decision of schools is up to me. I made the decision to move across the country with him, so he’s letting me pick what I will enjoy the most while I’m there. Lots to do since were moving in august!

[quote=“Kenzyv, post:16, topic:627078”]

This area is the most liberal spot you could be in North Carolina (with the possible exception of Asheville), so no worries. :slight_smile:

It’s hotter than 40 hells in the summer, though.

Downtown Portland is nothing like Chapel Hill. Portland is a city, bigger than Raleigh or Durham. Chapel Hill is a college town. I.E. there is basically one main strip with restaurants, bars, et al. Just looking at pictures, it resembles Beaverton, but has a lot more bars/restaurants/clubs due to the proximity to UNC.

Strongly suggest you push for Chapel Hill!! Cary is nice in many ways but you are going to be much more comfortable in Chapel Hill.

I don’t think this has come up, but IMHO the commute to RTP is a little better from Chapel Hill.

I have never heard this tea thing, I don’t think it has any foundation whatsoever. Other stereotypes about North Carolina are overblown, but Chapel Hill and Cary are probably the two cities in the state which are least representative of southern culture (for better or worse.)