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Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options-house styles, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, the convenience of location-it all can be quite overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to (and by the way of introduction, we’re Bellhop—your friendly Raleigh movers). We’ve examined what it’s like living in each of these highlighted neighborhoods. And we’ve created in-depth guides with insider scoops on close-by, popular destinations. Soon you’ll be living like a local.
A Little About Raleigh and its Neighborhoods
Known as one corner of the research triangle, the city of Raleigh is in fact much more than a college rival and technology hub with the neighboring Durham and Chapel Hill. Raleigh’s high quality of life, strong job growth, and lower cost of living lure new residents to the area every day. The city’s many amazing restaurants, renowned breweries, and local cafes don’t discourage newcomers either.
Close to Duke and UNC, Raleigh brings in a high population of younger residents. These yuppies have helped the city grow in the entertainment sector: sports, monthly art walks, block parties, hip cafes, and rooftop bars. The city boasts over 1300 restaurants. It has become a brewery destination, features museums and green spaces, and is developing a growing art and music scene.
Raleigh’s walkable downtown offers plenty of amenities. But outside the city, residents find several destinations that aren’t too far off. Durham is just a 30-minute drive away from Raleigh. On either side of the city, you’ll find mountains and beaches that make for incredible weekend getaways.
Within city limits, Raleigh splits between several regions (ex: Northeast Raleigh and Southwest Raleigh). These regions are divided by the major highways in the city (40, 440, 540, 70, and 401). Within these city sub-sections, Raleigh has well over a hundred neighborhoods and suburbs, each with its own vibe, culture, and offerings.
Below, we’ve narrowed down five neighborhoods that we think show off this city’s most family-friendly offerings. Keep reading for the seven best neighborhoods for families in Raleigh.
Located north of Raleigh’s downtown, Five Points is packed with restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. Many residents of this popular neighborhood can enjoy views of the city’s skyscrapers from their windows.
The neighborhoods surrounding this intersection at Glenwood Avenue are charming and historic, developed around 1915. As you move further from the center of Five Points, this area of the city feels more and more suburban.
What’s Happening in Five Points
Five Points, as the name suggests, is the clustered center where several smaller neighborhoods converge. At this intersection, you’ll find a pocket of funky bars, quirky restaurants, local shops, and an indie movie theater.
Most of Five Points’ streets are quiet and tree-lined. But they give direct access to busier downtown areas closeby. For a feel of local life in Five Points, check out some of the popular hubs like Hayes Barton Cafe, The Point Restaurant and Bar, and Ambassador Entertainment. Lilly’s Pizza is also worth a mention – it’s widely considered one of the better pizza spots in Raleigh, with a delightfully punk-rock vibe.
Schools in Five Points
Schools in the area include Underwood Magnet Elementary School, Daniels Middle School, Broughton High School, and Raleigh Charter High School among others.
Homes in Five Points
Amidst its residential sections, Five Points’ streets feature 90-year-old homes, bungalows, cottages, and ranch-style houses, some of these with large porches and picturesque landscaping. The median sales price of homes in Five Points was $707,000 in January, 2023.
Named for its exceptional freshwater, Holly Springs caught the attention of craft breweries like Carolina Brewing Company and Bombshell Beer Company. Besides beer, residents of Holly Springs enjoy diverse restaurants, lakes, trails, gardens, museums, and greenways. This charming suburb hosts weekly farmers markets, a Christmas parade, local theater performances, an annual Community Arts Festival, and many other community events.
What’s Happening in Holly Springs
Take the whole family to the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex and let the kids free in the 37,000 square feet of this indoor and outdoor facility. Check out the beautiful Bass Lake Park for fishing, hiking, and wildlife-watching. For a sample of Holly Springs’s best cuisine, stop by The Mason Jar Tavern, Cristo’s Bistro, and China Uno.
Schools in Holly Springs
Schools in the area include Oakview Elementary School, Southern Wake Academy, and Middle Creek High School among others.
Homes in Holly Springs
The charming houses in Holly Springs range widely in price and size. You’ll easily be able to find plenty of newly constructed two-story homes and older, smaller houses with full-front porches. The median home sale price in Holly Springs was $575,000 in January, 2023.
Sitting east of Downtown, this historic district has features dating back to the 1800s. Oakwood is a popular spot among young professionals and families. The area is a bit more expensive, but those who can afford it get to experience living in a classy, large home on quiet and leafy streets.
Despite its proximity to the city, this neighborhood has an envied aesthetic that gave it its name. Old oak trees speckle the area and remind locals and visitors of the long-standing history of the town.
What’s Happening in Oakwood
Oakwood’s pedestrian-friendly streets lead easily straight into Downtown. Residents can walk to work or to restaurants, bars, and shops in the evenings and on weekends. Check out some of Oakwood’s popular eateries, PieBird and Sidestreet Restaurant, or neighborhood watering holes such as Person Street Bar. A stroll through the beautiful and tree-shaded Historic Oakwood Cemetery is also a great way to spend an afternoon.
Schools near Oakwood
Oakwood offers its local families several great schooling options, including Raleigh Charter High School and Wake STEM Early College High School among others.
Homes in Oakwood
A blend of housing options is available to newcomers, from old Victorian homes to 1920s bungalows to new constructions. Due to its excellent location and historic character, Oakwood’s housing is a bit more expensive than some other bargain areas a little farther off. Many young couples have moved to the outskirts of this neighborhood where they can afford a fixer-upper close-by. The median sales price in Oakwood was $655,000 in January, 2023.
Cary is growing fast. In the last five years, over 20,000 people relocated to this urban-vibing town, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the South.
Noted by many country-scanning sites as one of the best places to live, Cary offers culture, arts, sports, renowned restaurants, and great outdoor experiences. At just 18 minutes from downtown Raleigh, Cary is an incredible spot for commuters or suburb-livers looking for a little more action on the weekend.
What’s Happening in Cary
You won’t go hungry in Cary. The town has a wealth of great dining options like La Farm Bakery, Bosphorus, and Ashworth Drugs. Coffee shops are frequent with top spots including Crema Coffee & Bakery, Java Jive, and Gather. Looking for a post-work beer in Cary is easy too. Check out Bond Brothers Beer Company and Fortnight Brewing to start. Cary also has some of the best Indian food you’re likely to find in the triangle, with a thriving Indian-American community within its borders.
Join residents at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre for a nature-surrounded outdoor concert. Or hit the pavement with thousands of locals and visitors during one of Cary’s many cultural and arts festivals. Looking for more of a quiet activity? Take a stroll down the peaceful walking trails at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.
Schools in Cary
Schools in the area include Cary Elementary School, Cary Academy, and Middle Creek High School among others.
Homes in Cary
Homes in Cary are a blend of old and new. You’ll easily find a home that can accommodate a large family or a smaller spot that’s been newly renovated. The average home sale price in Cary was $585,000 in January, 2023.
One of Raleigh’s first planned suburbs, this historic neighborhood is home to plenty of young and established families. Located just outside of the city center, Boylan Heights’ residents enjoy beautiful views of Raleigh’s skyline from their quiet residential pocket.
The small community of Boylan Heights is tightly-knit and throws regular community-wide events like the annual Halloween party at the Boylan Bridge, the Big Boylan Bash in the summers, and the ArtWalk during winter.
What’s Happening in Boylan Heights
In addition to the neighborhood’s widely-known community events, Boylan Heights offers great local restaurants, shops, and several breweries. Check out some of the favorite spots like Trophy Brewing and Irregardless Cafe to see how residents in the area like to enjoy their evenings and weekends.
Other popular spots include Wye Hill,one of the best views in the city, and Boulted Bread, with some of the city’s best bread and pastries. And a nearby Raleigh Amtrak Station gives residents even more options and access to popular city destinations.
Schools in Boylan Heights
Schools in the area include Wiley Elementary, Daniels Middle School, and Broughton High School among others.
Homes in Boylan Heights
Boylan Heights features bungalow-style houses and historic homes set on large lots. The area has spots for small families looking to downsize and growing families looking to scale up. The Median listing price in October 2022 for Boylan Heights was $675,000.
Located about 14 miles west of downtown Raleigh, Morrisville is rich in culture and diversity. This is on full display throughout Morrisville’s international restaurants but especially during the East Meets West Festival each September. Residents of this town can also take quick getaways via the nearby RDU Airport.
What’s Happening in Morrisville
Morrisville is known throughout the area for its wide range of cultural cuisines. It would be a wasted visit to Morrisville without a sampling of their diverse dishes. Try some of the area’s tastiest offerings at Hyderabad House and Neomonde Mediterranean.
Morrisville also provides its residents with several excellent outdoor spaces. The 34-acre Crabtree Creek Nature Park is full of woods, wetlands, and walking trails. The 37-acre Cedar Fork District Park includes soccer, football, and frisbee golf fields.
Apart from their East Meets West Festival, Morrisville hosts plenty of community events. The town is also home to the largest and tallest rock-climbing gym in the Southeast with a 55-foot climb. And the Park West Village provides residents with plenty of shopping opportunities.
Schools in Morrisville
Schools in the area include Cedar Fork Elementary School and Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School among others.
Homes in Morrisville
Morrisville features plenty of beautiful family homes. Many of these sport a classy brick or clean wooden siding. But you’ll find plenty of different styles, sizes, and price points in the area. The median home price in January, 2023 was $608,000.
Apex breaks away from the inner city hustle, high-rises, and hipster hubs. Instead, this suburb offers its own downtown area, full of antique shops and corner restaurants with owners who know their regulars by name.
The small-town charm of Apex, however, doesn’t make this little city a slow-moving one. Locals and visitors move through the area’s quaint specialty stores, the city’s art scene is thriving, and several of Apex’s restaurants have been nationally acknowledged and nominated for awards.
What’s Happening in Apex
If you ask the locals where to visit in Apex, you won’t talk long before The Rusty Bucket comes up in conversation. This local favorite sells one-of-a-kind furnishings and country-style home decor and fits right in with the small-town feel of Apex.
Residents of Apex also enjoy visiting the Halle Cultural Arts Center which includes three galleries, studio classrooms, and a theater. Each first Friday of the month, locals and visitors hit the streets for the Apex Music Festival. During Christmas, Halloween, and the 4th of July, the city throws community-wide holiday parties. The annual Peak Fest draws crowds to the area each May.
For local eats and drinks, you’ll find a wealth of options in Apex. We all love pizza, but not all of us have tried a pizza that’s won awards. Anna’s Pizzeria will change that, and their Stuffed Meat pie made with ham, pepperoni, ricotta, mozzarella, and sausage meatballs deserves an award all on its own, in our opinion. Other great spots to visit include Daniel’s Restaurant, Salem Street Pub, and The Provincial.
Schools in Apex
Schools in the area include Scotts Ridge Elementary, Middle Creek High School, and Apex High School among others.
Homes in Apex
In Apex, you’ll find many large family homes with attached garages set back on long front lawns. There are plenty of options that can match your family’s size and budget, so feel free to shop around. The median home price in Apex was $578,000 in January, 2023.
There you have it: the 7 most family-friendly neighborhoods in Raleigh! We hope this was helpful, and if you decide to take the plunge, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhop. We coordinate local moves in Raleigh and offer long-distance moving services in Raleigh and would love to help. We can even help with last-minute Raleigh moves.
Other Raleigh Guides
Looking for more information on the greater Raleigh area? Read our other guides to live in the City of Oaks.