Author Topic: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?  (Read 1455 times)

Slow2FIRE

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Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« on: October 24, 2017, 12:59:05 PM »
Hoping people with personal experience can relay which of these metro areas in North Carolina they like best:

Raleigh-Durham
Charlotte
Greensboro
Fayetteville

It is pretty easy to find 80+ page "wars" between Charlotte and Raleigh on citydata, but difficult to find the good information and more difficult to find information of interest to frugal people.

We are coming from Phoenix AZ.  Tired of the "dry heat" - 115 degrees is like sitting inside a convection oven, plenty dry and plenty well roasted inside and out.  I also miss having a touch of winter weather, lots of trees (really liked Seattle and Northern VA MUCH better than Phoenix), and less of the oppressive never ending sun with near zero clouds in the sky.

I need to put together a set of data on the cities (costs of living, libraries, bicycle paths, political leanings, martial arts studios, grocery store proximity to affordable neighborhoods etc), but in the meantime I'd love to hear subjective thoughts and impressions.

I have only personally visited Raleigh and I thought it was nice for the short 2 days I was there.  We have family in Fayetteville which is why it is on this list, otherwise I don't think we would consider it.

TIA

ixtap

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2017, 01:31:05 PM »
You think the wet heat is going to be more fun? You don't bake, but you can't move, either.

If you are doing NC for a change of weather, why not look up in the mountains? Asheville has a slightly higher cost of living than Charlotte, but it is a completely different atmosphere. Despite the overall cost of living brought on by well off retirees, Asheville has a number of plusses for frugal living, as well. For example, Asheville has been an important part of the tiny living movement.

ZMonet

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2017, 03:30:50 PM »
I wouldn't overlook Winston-Salem.  Low cost of living and I was recently in the downtown area and they have really revitalized it.  Good hospitals and good universities, Wake Forest among them, make for a fairly decent environment.

undercover

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2017, 04:40:46 PM »
You can be frugal anywhere in the world. Go with a combo of highest paying job offer/place you like the most. Position yourself between your work and ALDI (best grocer in NC) and you can't go wrong.

rothwem

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 07:34:01 AM »
I live in Raleigh, and I like it.  Of the cities you've listed, Raleigh is probably the most walkable, but its still not a particularly walkable when compared to DC, NYC etc.  Cost of living is also funny in Raleigh, rent and houses are dirt cheap if you're okay with living 20 minutes from town (especially on the east side, outside the beltline), but if you want to be walkable to downtown, expect to pay California-like prices.

I wouldn't rule out the smaller towns if your job doesn't depend on a specific location.  Saxapahaw, Carrboro, Hillsboro and Pittsboro are cool little towns that are a bit pricey compared to the other burbs like Knightdale and Zebulon, but they're infinitely more walkable and pleasant when compared to living in the North Raleigh or North/South Charlotte sprawl. 

historienne

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2017, 11:25:45 AM »
Charlotte will be more expensive than RDU or Greensboro, and also more conservative (although still quite liberal compared to more rural parts of the state).  There are walkable parts, but they command a significant premium.  The Charlotte library system is pretty good.  Bike accessibility varies a lot, but is not great overall.  Given your description of your preferences, I would look around RDU (second the rec for Carrboro) or mountains - look at Boone if Asheville gives you price shock.  Around Charlotte, you might look at Cornelius, Davidson, and Mooresville (east of I-77 in all cases).  All three have walkable downtowns, and the first two have centrally located grocery stores.  Davidson is pretty expensive these days, the other two still have more affordable pockets.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2017, 12:03:18 PM »
You can be frugal anywhere in the world. Go with a combo of highest paying job offer/place you like the most. Position yourself between your work and ALDI (best grocer in NC) and you can't go wrong.

This!  I'm frugal in the most expensive city in the US.  The nice thing about living in an expensive place is the salaries USUALLY are set to compensate (depending on what you do), so if you're frugal it works out great.  So compare salary expectations in each place for your field.  Second I'd look at walkability scores for areas you like.  Then you can do overall cost of living comparisons, which there are sites for.  They aren't accurate for the frugal, but they'll give you a general idea.

Also agree with Asheville, or anywhere else in the mountains if you want a change of weather, or along the coast (NC has both!)  I would prefer NC heat over AZ heat, but you're still going from hot as hell to hot as hell.

SwordGuy

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Re: Which NC Metro for Urban Frugal living?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2017, 06:20:33 PM »
We live in Fayetteville and happen to like it.   I've lived in Memphis, Atlanta, DC, and Hawaii in addition to various small towns, so I have a bit of experience with other areas.

After my wife and I started a small rental property business we discovered that there are a lot of nice neighborhoods in the city and most are quite affordable by big city standards.

The city is large enough to have a good number of quality amenities but small enough that traffic is not much of an issue.   A lot of the population have traveled to many different places in the world and quite a few of those married someone from their travels and brought them back to Fayetteville.  (And their family, too.)  This makes the city much more cosmopolitan than one would otherwise expect.   It also accounts for the large number of quality ethnic restaurants and groceries in the area.

It's hard to make a difference in your community if it's got millions of people in it.   Small towns often let you know that you (and your descendants for 3 generations!) are strangers in town.   One of the things that I **really** like about Fayetteville is that people here don't care where you're from.  If you show up, are nice, and want to participate, they are glad you're there and will welcome you.   It's pretty easy to get involved in the city or county government and have a real impact on what the local government (or other organizations) do.   

There are some great festivals, talented and friendly artists, good libraries and other amenities as well.  I read in the newspaper that the government is building a $30+ million dollar stadium so folks can watch grown men play with their balls in public if that's of interest.  You can probably guess I couldn't care less about that last topic but a lot of people do, so I thought I should mention it.

Next time you'll be in town, send me a PM.  I'll be glad to show you some good neighborhoods and some of the sights.   A lot of people who move here for the military spend so much time bad-mouthing the town they never actually learn anything about it...

Because of the rental property business we run on the side, we know good realtors and tradesmen if you want recommendations.

Best of luck!