Southern charm and startup hustle meets laid-back, southern charm in Durham, North Carolina. Here, you don’t have to choose between small town life and urban amenities, because Durham has it all. Thanks to its position as one point in the Research Triangle (the other two are Raleigh and Chapel Hill), Durham is home to advanced scientific, medical and technological innovation. Its restaurant, live music and arts scene are flourishing, as is its diverse and inclusive culture.

Durham is a city of historic neighborhoods, with homes ranging from Craftsman and Victorian-style to 1920s bungalows and mid-twentieth century houses, along with repurposed buildings from the city’s past as a center of the tobacco trade. The neighborhoods in the highest demand tend to be the historic districts, with their winding roads lined with mature trees, anchored by parks and wilder greenspaces. But there are special places in the heart of the city, too. 

Below are the neighborhoods that are described as “best” by local realtors, the areas that we’d all love to call home. (You can also check out an article on the best family neighborhoods in Durham here). And, once you’ve found that perfect place, we can help make your move to Durham easier that you’d ever dreamed. We’re Bellhop, and our Durham movers (all our movers, across the nation, actually) make it their number one priority to take excellent care of our customers. 

We’re right here when you need us! And now, onto Durham’s best neighborhoods…

Durham City Bull
Durham City Bull

American Tobacco District 

The warehouses and factories that were once the center of Durham’s tobacco industry have been transformed into a lively district with condos and apartments, shopping, museums, and restaurants. Duke University’s medical campus is close by, as is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and downtown Durham. Near-future development plans call for more mixed-use space, which will include offices, shops, entertainment venues, and public spaces. A great place for professionals and active retirees.  Median price for a home is $477,274, rent is in the $2,000+ range.

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Living here also provides easy access to the American Tobacco Trail, which was transformed from a railroad track to a connected series of more than 22 miles of trails that span Durham and nearby Chatham and Wake counties. 

For your indoorsy entertainment, you have the Durham Performing Arts Center for touring Broadway shows and live music. You can also watch an independent film at the Carolina Theatre, catch live music at Motorco (both are in downtown Durham), and enjoy a wealth of cultural events at Duke University. 

Hungry? You have a wealth of options here, from NanaSteak if you’re in a carnivorous mood, to PRESS Coffee Crêpes Cocktails for sweet and savory tastes, Boricua Soul for BBQ with a great view, to Toast for when you need lovely Italian meaty things on crunchy bread.

And, if you want to launch a startup, or be part of one, this is a great neighborhood for you. The American Underground (AU), “The Startup Hub of the South,” is part of the American Tobacco Campus. You’ll find workspaces, resources, and a welcoming community of tech entrepreneurs to nerd out with.

Duke Forest

This neighborhood was built with a mission: attract the best professors to Duke University. That was back in 1929, now it’s a particularly beautiful area located about 10 minutes southwest of downtown Durham, near Duke’s West Campus. You’d also be near the Duke University Golf Club, a public course, and the gorgeous Al Buehler Trail, a 3-mile shady (and usually blissfully uncrowded) walking trail that loops around the golf course.

There is so much to love about Duke Forest, but perhaps its primary pull are its modernist, midcentury homes set on expansive, wooded lots. Median price for homes here is $840,000. 

Nearby restaurants include The Refectory Café, which serves up great food with vegetarian and vegan options, AAA Four Diamond recipient, The Fairview, which offers “regional neo-American” dishes, Taberna Tapas for small plates and an excellent selection of Spanish wine, and the Counting House for local-style food with a twist. 

The Duke Forest (the actual forest) is 7,000 acres owned and managed by Duke University, which serves as an open air teaching and research lab. Select portions of the forest are typically open to the public on weekends. 

Downtown Durham

Durham City Ballpark
Durham City Ballpark

This is Durham’s liveliest neighborhood, with 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.

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It’s one of the city’s few walkable neighborhoods, as well as a fairly easy commute to the Research Triangle Park. Durham Central Park and the Farmer’s Market is only a five-minute or so drive from downtown. Bring the kids to Mount Merrill, an interactive children’s play area at the eastern side of the park  Want dinner and art? Head to the 21c art museum/hotel, check out the current exhibit, enjoy cocktails and dinner – then head home or stay the night. Just want a delicious dinner – you have plenty to choose from, including Littler’s New American cuisine, modern Italian at Cucciolo Osteria, and BBQ from The Original Q Shack.

You’ll find a mix of luxury and budget apartments, condos and smaller homes here. It’s fairly easy to find a place in this neighborhood, unlike some of the most 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. Median price for a home is $400,000.

Forest Hills

One of Durham’s most sought-after neighborhoods, Forest Hills is where you’ll find some of Durham’s earliest homes. Many of the houses are on spacious lots set well back from the tree-lined curving streets that wind through the community. It’s a quiet respite, minutes away from everything Durham and the Research Triangle has to offer.

Forest Hills is a short drive from downtown Durham, Duke University, Research Triangle Park, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Duke University Golf Club. It’s also near the American Tobacco District and the American Tobacco Trail (See American Tobacco District section, above). Forest Hills Park sits nearly in the center of the neighborhood, and features water sprayers for summer fun, and space for soccer, tennis, picnics or just a lazy day lounging under the trees.

You’ll find many ways to delight your tastebuds in the neighborhood, including the Japanese fare at M Sushi, fish prepared southern-style at Saint James Seafood, dishes from across India at Lime & Lemon, and the pastries, bread and refreshing adult beverages at Guglhupf’s bakery, café and beer garden. 

Median price for a house here is $665,030. Homes in this area typically do not stay on the market long, so if you find something you love – grab it! 


The Eno River runs right through Hillsborough, a historic town near Durham. Established in 1754, this suburb of Durham boasts a charming downtown and its historic district has more than 100 buildings from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Hillsborough is a tourist destination for locals, and is also home to many writers and artists.

Hillsborough definitely has more of a country feel – you wouldn’t describe it as urban unless you come from an exceedingly rural place. That said, you’ll never be bored in Hillsborough. Downtown turns into an arts and entertainment party every month during Last Fridays celebrations. And you won’t want to miss Hillsborough Hog Day, an annual festival that celebrates local crafts, music and barbecue! Other festivals include the Handmade Parade, and the Tarwheels & Hillsborough Half Marathon road races. 

If American history is your jam, you’ll really love living here – there are revolutionary war reenactments and tours that will acquaint you with the pivotal events that took place in this town. 

Hungry? Head to the Wooden Nickel Pub for wings and/or burgers, Antonia’s for memorable Italian offerings, and Big Bob’s City Grill for comfort food, country-style. 

For fun in the fresh air, there’s the River Walk, a 1.8-mile urban walking path and greenway that runs along the Eno River and connects to Gold Park. Look for the Bee Hotel, a structure made with natural materials, that provides shelter for (you guessed it!) bees. There’s also a gazebo made of saplings that looks like it just happened organically, but was actually carefully crafted by 150+ volunteers. There’s plenty of space to run and play, too, for both humans and their canine companions. 

And if you crave city amenities, you’re just a 15-20 minute drive away from any of the three Triangle cities. Median house value in Hillsborough is $356,600, a steal for home in the heart of North Carolina history. 

Ready to make a move to Durham?

Bellhop is here to make your move far more pleasant that you ever thought it could possibly be. Whether you’re looking to move locally or long-distance (actually, we can help you move from and to any place in the nation). Get in touch, we’re always happy to answer your questions! 

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