Durham is a great place to raise a family. The cost of living is slightly below the national average, the city is diverse and welcoming, and your kids will have plenty of parks, forests and greenspaces to explore, along with great museums, music, festivals and other cultural events to enjoy. 

As a parent, you’ll obviously want to choose a safe neighborhood with highly-ranked schools, easy access to the places that matter to you and a vibe that fits your family’s idea of a perfect home. Whatever factors fit your needs, you’ll have no problem finding the right place, because Durham has it all, from a busy, walkable downtown area to quiet, leafy suburbs with big yards and public areas where your kids can burn off energy and hang out with their new friends. And even if you’re out in the ‘burbs, city life and all it has to offer isn’t far away.

Best places for your family home in Durham, NC

Choosing where to live in Durham is easy, but moving anywhere can be a hassle. Reduce the stress by reaching out to Bellhop. Our Durham movers can help you facilitate a relocation from anywhere in the U.S. to Durham or anywhere else in the country. Our process and friendly people make moving so much easier  unpleasantness. 

Our Durham City Guide has a lot more details on Durham, check it out for the full picture of life in this wonderful city. Here, we’re focusing on neighborhoods that are particularly well-suited for families. 

Duke Park 

This is one of Durham’s oldest neighborhoods, and many of the residents have lived in the area for a decade or two. But don’t worry about feeling like an outsider, it’s a welcoming neighborhood and there are plenty of opportunities for you and your kids to meet people and become part of the community. 

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What’s happening in Duke Park?

The park, with its playground, walking trails, picnic area and dog run, is the heart of the neighborhood and host to casual togethers and annual events. You can look forward to the ever-popular Beaver Queen Pageant, where you can “celebrate your inner beaver” by dressing up in themed-costumes and gnawing your way through goodies from local food trucks. The winter holidays are brightened up with luminarias (flickering candles set in white, sand-filled bags), that surround the park and line its pathways. And there’s a 4th of July Kids Parade and Picnic. The neighborhood is also close to two popular greenspaces, Pearl Mill Preserve and Ellerbe Creek. the Duke Homestead State Historic Site, and Duke Forest. (yes, there are lots of “Dukes” in Durham!)

Homes in Duke Park

The neighborhood is known for its beautiful, historic homes. You’ll find bungalow/craftsman, late Victorian, and late 19th and 20th century revival homes here. Prices range from $299K – $475K. 

Schools in Duke Park

An overview of sites such as GreatSchools, along with parent reviews, shows high scores for middle and high schools in the area, and high-moderate scores for elementary schools. 

Downtown Durham

OK, so this might not be the first place a realtor would recommend for a family, but it could be perfect for you if you prefer a more urban setting to a quiet life in the suburbs. It’s Durham’s liveliest neighborhood, with great restaurants, shopping, craft breweries, cultural events and sports (heads up, baseball fans: you’d be really close to the Durham Bulls Stadium). It’s also one of the city’s few walkable neighborhoods. It’s a fairly easy commute to the Research Triangle Park.

What’s happening in Downtown Durham?

Pretty much everything. There’s live music, art exhibits (in galleries, museums and on the street), local theater and Broadway plays, restaurants featuring traditional and new southern food, as well as world cuisines, film and dance festivals … the list goes on and on. The American Tobacco Campus has family events and outdoor concerts. Take the kids for a stroll through Durham Central Park and the Farmer’s Market. Duke University, Durham Performing Arts Center, and Durham Bulls Athletic Park are all in the area. For date night, wander over to the 21c art museum/hotel, check out the current exhibit, and indulge in cocktails/dinner/perhaps a night’s stay. 

Homes in Downtown Durham

 Housing here is a mix of luxury and budget apartments, condos and smaller homes. It’s fairly easy to find a place in this neighborhood, unlike some of the popular suburbs. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment runs from $1650-2200 and up. Condo purchase prices range from $250,000 and top out at around a million for the fanciest of fancy places.

Schools in Downtown Durham

Durham School of the Arts is a magnet school that is outstanding for creative kids, grades 6-12, but may be moving from its current downtown location in several years. Entry to the school is determined by a lottery system. Other public and private schools in the area have moderate to high rankings.  

Old West Durham 

Want to be close to downtown, but in a quieter setting? Old West Durham is a suburb with tree-lined streets and real character. It’s west of downtown and borders the Ninth Street Business District, right between Duke University’s East and West Campuses. The neighborhood prides itself on being a place of “Diversity – Harmony – Community” – it’s written on the Welcome to Old West Durham sign, and you’ll experience it in your daily life here. 

What’s happening in Old West Durham?

You have access to all the fun of Downtown, with the addition of close proximity to Ninth Street, which is where some of Durham’s most interesting restaurants and shops are located. Many of the businesses are locally-owned,  and it’s a lively place to run errands, explore, and meet your new neighbors. (As a side note, Durham’s only Whole Foods is located just off Ninth Street too).

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Homes in Old West Durham

You can find some wonderful smaller homes here (1,200 or so square feet) and a few larger homes. Prices run from $300,000 to $750,000.

Schools in Old West Durham

Besides the Durham School of the Arts (see Downtown Durham) higher-rated schools in the district include Central Park School for Children, the Lakewood Montessori Middle School, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, City of Medicine Academy (#28 in metro), J.D. Clement Early College High School (#34 in metro) are among 5 A+/A/A- rated public high schools in the district.

Northgate Park

Beautiful Northgate Park is located immediately north of I85, between Duke Street and Roxboro Road. Most of the houses were bult in the 1940s and 50s, and have been well-maintained. Like so many of our family neighborhood choices, this is a green, leafy place with southern charm to spare. 

What’s happening in Northgate Park?

Your kids are going to love it here! The Museum of Life and Science is nearby, with its dinosaur trail, butterfly conservatory, treehouse playground and water fun – plus plenty of cutting-edge inactive science exhibits, of course. The park that gave the neighborhood its name has walking paths, bike trails, a dog park, tennis courts, a stream that was lovingly restored to health, as well as a “no mow zone” natural habitat. Plenty of opportunities for kids to run, play, explore and learn. The neighborhood is walkable, safe and diverse. 

Homes in Northgate Park

Most homes here are midsize and sit on quarter-acreage lots. The many well-established, mature trees and gardens enhance the appeal.

Schools in Northgate Park

Holt Elementary Language Academy (which offers a unique curriculum based on language and global studies) George L Carrington Middle School, and Riverside High School are in the district and are highly rated.


This is one of the area’s first planned communities, tailored for family living. Children under 18 years old make up roughly a quarter of Parkwood’s population. If you commute, you’ll appreciate the easy access to Research Triangle Park. In fact, Parkwood is a short drive from almost everywhere in the area, including downtown Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.

What’s happening in Parkwood?

Parkwood is especially suited for active, outdoorsy families. The Parkwood Sports Association offers an array of organized sports for kids and adults. The Parkwood Swim Club is open to the public for a yearly membership fee and includes a lap-swimming pool as well as an area for the littlest kids. There are parks and playgrounds and it’s a quick ride to kid-beloved places like museums like the Museum of Life and Science (see Northgate section above) and Jordan Lake’s trails, rock climbing, fishing, boating and water sports. The neighborhood is just a few miles from The Streets at Southpoint, a huge mall with restaurants, a mix of trendy and upscale stores, and a 17-screen cinema.

Homes in Parkwood

Homes here tend to be midsize, reasonably priced for the area, and have quarter-acre or smaller yards. Home prices range from $250,000 to 500,000. The typical home value is $395,000. You’ll also find apartments, townhouses and condos here. Parkwood is in demand, so be ready to act quickly when you find the right home. 

Schools in Parkwood

Parkwood Elementary ranks well with parents, and is right in the neighborhood. Junior and high schools in the area include Lowe’s Grove Middle and Hillside High.

A different shade of blue – Chapel Hill

We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you that Durham’s nearby neighbor, Chapel Hill, is renowned for their excellent school system. If you’re interested in living in what some have described as the southern version of Cambridge, Massachusetts – with perhaps an even better K-12 public school system – have a look at Chapel Hill. 

We hope this was helpful, and if you decide to move to Durham, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhop. As we said, we coordinate local and long-distance moving services in Durham, and we would love to help.

Lastly, if you’re interested in any nearby cities in North Carolina, Charlotte and Raleigh are a couple that should be high on your radar. Feel free to give us a call if you decide to make the move!

Tyler Brown