If you had asked me freshman year- or even junior year- if I would ever move back to North Carolina, I would- and did- laugh. “Absolutely not,” I would say. To me, North Carolina was just an incidental stop- albeit an eighteen year stop- on my way to bigger and better things. Hence my decision to attend The George Washington University in Washington, DC- a city that is both geographically and culturally between the North and the South.
But here I stand (while, I’m technically lying in bed) a college graduate and in 51 short days, I’ll be moved into an adorable one bedroom apartment near downtown Raleigh, conveniently located approximately .01 miles from my big sister’s condo.
After taking a 4 year break from the Triangle, I realize it really does have it all.
I can drive with the windows down and the radio blasting. The baristas at Starbucks know my order. Strangers in the photo store start conversations about Habitat for Humanity. The volunteer scene is bumpin’ (yeahhh Change the Triangle). Chamber of Commerce staff members take the time to provide an in-depth and personalized response to my form email inquiry. The weather is stunningly beautiful the majority of the time. People are active- hiking, biking, running, etc. Smoking is banned from bars and restaurants. There are several cool co-working spaces. It was named #3 on Best Places to Launch [a business] in 2009 and #8 on Best Cities for Recent College Grads. There is a kitchen incubator nearby (in Durham). Interesting places like CAM Raleigh open everyday. My sister is a hop, skip, and a 30 second drive away. There are hundreds of off-the-beaten path day trips accessible from Raleigh-Durham [I bought that book for my sister and plan to make good use of it]. The mountains and the beach are both within several hours’ drive. There are several lakes nearby, including Kerr, Jordan, and Lake Johnson. Live music events like Thursdays at North Hills and Fridays at Seaboard Station fill the summer. Cool concerts come to the Lincoln Theater, the Raleigh Amphitheater, and Time Warner Pavillon all the time. Events like First Friday, Cuegrass, and the St. Patty’s Day Parade are a nearly everyday occurrence. LivingSocial has an awesome selection of local deals here. Hardware store employees bring treats for your dogs. People spend summer nights grilling and playing corn-hole in their yards. It’s perfectly acceptable to go out at night in Rainbow flip flops. The rent is absurdly affordable. Trader Joe’s has established stores in the area. Triangle Sports Club has fun intramural leagues for young professionals. Meetup groups are active and many.
It’s the best of both worlds- a big city with a small town feel. Cultural events are incredibly accessible, but there is still a warm “down home” feeling when you walk down the street. I’m proud to call myself a [future] Raleigh resident.