Pros And Cons Of Living In Durham, NC

Durham, North Carolina is located in the north-central part of the state. It’s 2 hours to Pamlico sound and a little over an hour to Winston Salem.

Durham is just northwest of Raleigh, the capital city. While it’s famous for the Durham Bulls, the minor league baseball team, it’s also famous for very hot summers.

Make sure you dress cool and bring a fan to the game.

Here are the pros and cons of living in Durham, NC.

Grunge rubber stamp with name of Durham, North Carolina, vector illustration

Key takeaways

  • Winter weather can be decent while the summers are hot and humid with a risk of hurricanes.
  • Lower cost of living but the average home price is higher in Durham than other parts of NC.
  • Excellent job market.
  • Family-friendly with excellent school options including Duke university.


Pros: While the summers can be very sticky, the winters in Durham are quite nice. If you long to garden all winter long, consider getting a greenhouse or setting up hoop houses; overnight temps often hover right around the freezing mark.

Spring in Durham is flat-out gorgeous. Plan to spend at least a few days just strolling around in the city and checking out local gardens and parks. Don’t forget to visit Duke Gardens!

Cons: Summers in Durham can be miserable. The humidity stays high and the low temps hover around 70 degrees, which means that, as soon as the sun comes up, the day is going to get uncomfortable.

If you can plan your days so you can stay indoors from noon until sundown, you may be more comfortable.

It’s also important to note that North Carolina as a whole is vulnerable to hurricanes. In addition to being on the coast, North Carolina is flat and at greater risk of storm surge and flooding.

While Durham is seldom directly impacted by storm surge, the costs of helping the state recover are shared among all citizens.

Roads and utilities in repair on the coast will impact any needs further inland and may contribute to your tax bill.

satelite image of hurricane on eastern usa

Cost of Living

Pros: The cost of living in Durham is slightly lower than the national average. Transportation is markedly lower than most U.S. citizens pay. The cost of food, both at the grocery store and at a restaurant, is also lower than across the United States.

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Because Durham offers many festivals for vacationers in the spring and fall, citizens of the region will have more access to quality entertainment and dining than a city of just under 300,000 can offer.

Cons: North Carolina citizens pay a flat tax rate of 5.25%. The sales tax rate is 4.75%, including food. If your income is variable, do make sure that you have savings to help out during lean times before you relocate to Durham.

You can dial back your expenses, but these expenses will need to be addressed.

Durham’s status as a fun town for tourists will keep restaurant costs high. Selections at grocery stores may be more varied, but you will pay more for specialty foods.

The push to keep tourists happy will contribute to higher prices for fun in Durham.

Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina


Pros: There are several beautiful neighborhoods in Durham for those who love history and historical character. There are also many planned neighborhoods of other vintages and new construction going on.

Because the housing market in Durham is tight, you will need to stay prepared to buy and be ready to move quickly.

Rental options in Durham are more readily available than houses for sale. If you’re considering buying in the near future, note the end of your lease and talk to your landlord or rental manager.

You may be able to go month to month as you save and search for a home, saving the trouble of having to break your lease.

3 story rental apartments

Cons: Because the housing market is tight, you will pay more for a home in Durham than in other areas of North Carolina. Additionally, the neighborhood in Durham that you choose will contribute greatly to your monthly rent.

If you have a car and don’t mind the commute, you can get much lower rent outside the city center. Of course, if you long for a loft or a high-rise apartment, you’ll probably need to be closer to downtown.

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Just be aware that the rent for a one-bedroom in downtown Durham will get you a small house on the city’s outskirts. Plan accordingly.

durham, raleigh highway sign


Pros: The job market in Durham is good as of the end of 2022. Even better, the job market in Raleigh, just to the southeast, is very good.

If you’re looking to rent a place in Durham for a fresh start, consider seeking out housing between Durham and Raleigh along highway 40 or near one of the beltways, 440 and 540.

Of course, if you can work remotely you have even more options in the area around Durham. The leadership of this area is working hard to make this city an ideal spot for remote workers and it shows. You can live and work very comfortably in Durham.

Cons: The job market in Durham is hot, so you need to be a nimble employee. How is your training? How long since you’ve taken classes or improved your certifications in your field?

The pressure to be a more skilled employee may make it hard to stay excited about your job. If you’re getting close to retirement and have been coasting a bit, it may be time to invest in your skills.

jobs classified newspaper section

Family Friendly

Pros: Durham offers many chances for family fun, such as the Eno River State Park and the Museum of Life + Science. Additionally, the public school options for middle and high schoolers in Durham are excellent.

Of course, Duke University is there, providing excellent inspiration to young students.

Cons: The public elementary school options in Durham are not as good as the middle and high school options.

Like any school system, Durham has had bubbles of positive growth and also a bit of lag. Involved and concerned parents can improve the quality of their child’s school by becoming involved in the process.

However, if your child needs more stimulation and options for growth, you may want to consider a private school to start.

Retail shops in Durham, NC
Retail shops in Durham, NC

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