Kumari

Chapel Hill, NC

Recommended Posts

I've been living in cities for the last 20 years and am kind of torn about the small size of Chapel Hill. How diverse is it in terms of race, ethnicity, and religion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how diverse the student body is at the university, but I can tell you that the town of Chapel Hill is very diverse, much more than you might expect. There's a pretty large black community, and there are a lot of Koreans and Indians living in the area because of the pharmaceutical jobs in nearby Research Triangle Park (although in my experience many of the Koreans tend to stick together more, especially because many who come to live in Chapel Hill only do so temporarily and as a result don't set down very deep roots). There certainly are some Mexicans living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, if existence of decent Mexican restaurants and stores is anything to go by - I can't say I ever knew any Mexicans or hispanic people in general while I was living there, though, so I don't know how large the population is. The neighborhoods right by the campus are less diverse on average - most of the student body seems to be white from what I can remember, and the town's older neighborhoods are situated there, with quite expensive houses and a generally white, Christian population. But that's only a small part of town. On any given day, walking down Franklin street, you will see lots of white guys wearing khakis and [generally Carolina blue] polo shirts. UNC has its own special brand of preppiness, but it's nothing like what you'll find in the Northeast and for me personally it's funny enough to add to the local charm. Chapel Hill is surprisingly large, and getting larger all the time. In fact, to call it a "town" is misleading in my opinion. When I went to public school there I'd guess that about 1/3 of the kids who rode my school bus were black. I don't really know about religious diversity, but I'd imagine that if you're not Christian you won't have any major problems - my family certainly did not. Another thing about Chapel Hill/Carrboro is that there are a lot of hippies and "freethinkers" there - it's unusually liberal for the South so if you're worried about moving to the South from the North, I can tell you that you'll be surprised by how "Northern" (i.e. not stereotypically bigoted) the local mindset is. The rest of North Carolina laughs at Chapel Hill for being a hippie commune, whereas people from Chapel Hill look around somewhat defensively, see all the conservatives among them, and then direct your attention to the so-called "People's Republic of Carrboro," the smaller town that's almost en enclave or neighborhood of its larger neighbor. In fact, the towns share the same water treatment, parks and recreation, school system, etc.

My advice: if you're poor, like live music and burritos, and don't like the preppy formality sometimes associated with Chapel Hill, get a place to live in Carrboro. It's practically the same town, and you'll need a car anyway no matter where you decide to live.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how diverse the student body is at the university, but I can tell you that the town of Chapel Hill is very diverse, much more than you might expect. There's a pretty large black community, and there are a lot of Koreans and Indians living in the area because of the pharmaceutical jobs in nearby Research Triangle Park (although in my experience many of the Koreans tend to stick together more, especially because many who come to live in Chapel Hill only do so temporarily and as a result don't set down very deep roots). There certainly are some Mexicans living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, if existence of decent Mexican restaurants and stores is anything to go by - I can't say I ever knew any Mexicans or hispanic people in general while I was living there, though, so I don't know how large the population is. The neighborhoods right by the campus are less diverse on average - most of the student body seems to be white from what I can remember, and the town's older neighborhoods are situated there, with quite expensive houses and a generally white, Christian population. But that's only a small part of town. On any given day, walking down Franklin street, you will see lots of white guys wearing khakis and [generally Carolina blue] polo shirts. UNC has its own special brand of preppiness, but it's nothing like what you'll find in the Northeast and for me personally it's funny enough to add to the local charm. Chapel Hill is surprisingly large, and getting larger all the time. In fact, to call it a "town" is misleading in my opinion. When I went to public school there I'd guess that about 1/3 of the kids who rode my school bus were black. I don't really know about religious diversity, but I'd imagine that if you're not Christian you won't have any major problems - my family certainly did not. Another thing about Chapel Hill/Carrboro is that there are a lot of hippies and "freethinkers" there - it's unusually liberal for the South so if you're worried about moving to the South from the North, I can tell you that you'll be surprised by how "Northern" (i.e. not stereotypically bigoted) the local mindset is. The rest of North Carolina laughs at Chapel Hill for being a hippie commune, whereas people from Chapel Hill look around somewhat defensively, see all the conservatives among them, and then direct your attention to the so-called "People's Republic of Carrboro," the smaller town that's almost en enclave or neighborhood of its larger neighbor. In fact, the towns share the same water treatment, parks and recreation, school system, etc.

My advice: if you're poor, like live music and burritos, and don't like the preppy formality sometimes associated with Chapel Hill, get a place to live in Carrboro. It's practically the same town, and you'll need a car anyway no matter where you decide to live.

THANKS for the detailed response. Appreciate your thoughts. I had heard that it was "hippie-esque" but was wondering if it was diverse, too. THANKS again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No problem. I should add that as far as local controversies are concerned, you're far less likely to encounter arguments about traditionally divisive political topics than arguments about which basketball team you support. Being red or blue often seems to come second to being light blue or dark blue (UNC or Duke). Also, if you're used to urban living, you'll be surprised to hear that there was apparently a gang war a couple years ago in the middle of one of the semi-annual art fairs on Franklin Street. I wasn't living there at the time so I don't really know what happened, and I don't mean to imply that Chapel Hill is a dangerous or violent place, but it's not quite as slow-paced as one might think! The art fairs, though, are really fun and I have great memories of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No problem. I should add that as far as local controversies are concerned, you're far less likely to encounter arguments about traditionally divisive political topics than arguments about which basketball team you support. Being red or blue often seems to come second to being light blue or dark blue (UNC or Duke). Also, if you're used to urban living, you'll be surprised to hear that there was apparently a gang war a couple years ago in the middle of one of the semi-annual art fairs on Franklin Street. I wasn't living there at the time so I don't really know what happened, and I don't mean to imply that Chapel Hill is a dangerous or violent place, but it's not quite as slow-paced as one might think! The art fairs, though, are really fun and I have great memories of them.

Gang fight? Wow. No...not worried at all. Just love the mix of people in a city & Boston attracts a large international community due to the universities here. Sounds like you really liked it. Thanks for taking the time out. Appreciate it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, UNC is one of the most diverse student bodies among schools of its tier. I have been told by some of my folks there who should know that the grad school has one the largest black and latino populations of any non-HBCU graduate school.

In my experience, I have never felt out of place on campus or within Carrboro. Granted, I'm not the kind of person who often feels out of place anywhere but, still, I've been out there socially and professionally and always feel comfortable. There is a sizable LGBTQ (did I get that right? I always mix up the T and Q! My gay husband would kill me.) that seems to be very active and vocal. I've attended drag shows, drag bingo and one interesting art installment involving strap-ons that would be at home in NY or San Fran.

Chapel Hill is just one of my favorite places. I love a diverse population, too, and I feel like it has that but in a very manageable size with the benefit of southern hospitality. It's a weird juxtaposition for sure -- southern gentility and raging black/queer/latino/punk/goth/whatever communities -- but somehow it works in Chapel Hill.

You'll find just about any kind of ethnic food you're into as well as a community of folks for every niche sub-population. I really cannot imagine a lifestyle or identification that would make you feel unwelcome in the area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chapel Hill and more so Carrboro are incredibly diverse. Not to mention the fact that Durham is 15 minutes away and is even more diverse...

There's a very strong african american and a very strong latino presence.

If it helps- I'm from NC, went to undergrad at CH, and now live in Los Angeles, one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the country. And, while I will miss SOME things about LA, I cannot WAIT to move back to the triangle area....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chapel Hill and more so Carrboro are incredibly diverse. Not to mention the fact that Durham is 15 minutes away and is even more diverse...

There's a very strong african american and a very strong latino presence.

If it helps- I'm from NC, went to undergrad at CH, and now live in Los Angeles, one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the country. And, while I will miss SOME things about LA, I cannot WAIT to move back to the triangle area....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Thank you for replying!!!! I appreciate your feedback so much. You have no idea. I know it's supposed to be nice & all but I'm sick about moving there...seems so isolated from other parts of the country where so much is happening in terms of research...like the northeast, etc. Are you serious about the diversity? Would you describe it as more of an "urban" or "small town" or "suburban" feel given the mix and landscape, etc? I am thrilled to hear that you are excited to move from LA back to RTP. But, I feel like it's going to be so quaint & I kind of like the mix of urban grit & high end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Thank you for replying!!!! I appreciate your feedback so much. You have no idea. I know it's supposed to be nice & all but I'm sick about moving there...seems so isolated from other parts of the country where so much is happening in terms of research...like the northeast, etc. Are you serious about the diversity? Would you describe it as more of an "urban" or "small town" or "suburban" feel given the mix and landscape, etc? I am thrilled to hear that you are excited to move from LA back to RTP. But, I feel like it's going to be so quaint & I kind of like the mix of urban grit & high end.

You do know that RTP stands for Research Triangle Park, right? There's plenty of science research being done in North Carolina and Carolina has some of the best humanities programs in the world. Carolina, as coyabean said, does have an extremely large black and Latino population in the grad school and the undergrad numbers mirror U.S. racial/ethnic statistics. Carolina is about 11% black and even 1% Native American. That's right in line with national representation and better than the majority of flagships. Comparitively, the major UC schools (Cal and UCLA) are pitiful when it comes to diversity. Don't get me started on them. Other public universities throughout the state of North Carolina are also exceptional in this area. For example most of the people I've known who've gone to Fayeteville State (an HBCU) have been white. The school's also more than 60% female and definitely left-leaning. Don't forget how members of the student body protested Tom Tancredo's anti-immigration speech in 2009 and kept him from finishing his remarks?

On top of all of that, Chapel Hill is an unbelievable place. I have yet to meet anyone who didn't love it. Even the people who attend school eight miles away find themselves there every weekend and they're generally from the Northeast. I don't know what your definition of high end is, but some of the finest dining in the South is in Chapel Hill. While a good number of undergraduates from all backgrounds are first generation college students, Chapel Hill doesn't get teased about being wine and cheesy for nothing. Quaint? No. Who can live year-round in quaint? Things can only be so cute for so long. Suburban? No. Chapel Hill isn't ground zero for strip malls and chain restaurants. Small Town? Maybe - at more than 50,000 people. It really is - simply put - a classic college town. It's changed a bit over the last 20 years and isn't nearly as Southern as I would like. There's a Whole Foods now and a Trader Joe's (and Ralph Lauren even opened a Polo store that failed miserably a few years back).

Have you visited or are you just thinking about applying? If you've visited and you just don't like the vibe, it's not the right place for you. And no one wants to be in class or hang out with someone who hates where they live. Regardless, Chapel Hill isn't located in the middle of a pig farm where townies are riding in the backs of trucks while waving the Confederate flag. I actually don't think I've ever heard someone who lives in Chapel Hill or Carrboro referred to as a townie.

Edited by choidy87

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Choidy kind of hit it but I'm shocked that someone would be sick about coming to UNC out of fear of there being no research going on in comparison with the "northeast, etc."

LOL

That's funny.

This is one of the most educated areas in the country; a great deal of those educated people have PhDs. Period. I doubt they're all working at Wal Mart. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Choidy kind of hit it but I'm shocked that someone would be sick about coming to UNC out of fear of there being no research going on in comparison with the "northeast, etc."

LOL

That's funny.

This is one of the most educated areas in the country; a great deal of those educated people have PhDs. Period. I doubt they're all working at Wal Mart. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Thanks again for more feedback. Like I said before...really appreciate it. Now, I totally get what you are saying about RTP, the strong academics in the area, and the high concentration of PhDs. I have always felt that Boston is really snobby in terms of academics. The # of good schools here is incredible, though. And, if you live here long enough & work at top notch places, the mindset rubs off a little and you take the access to all sorts of things for granted. I wouldn't have applied to UNC if I didn't think it had a good program...it's just a huge lifestyle change. And, since it was my bottom choice & I didn't get into my top choice...I have to wrap my head around it a bit more. Really like the diversity in the northeast so it's good to know that Chapel Hill/Durham is so diverse. While most people say good things about Chapel Hill overall, almost everyone pauses & no one up here wants to move down there....regardless of weather. And, yes...that's also northeast snobbery & pure ignorance (believing that the US revolves around the northeast only) of the area so thanks...thanks for highlighting the positives of the RTP area!!

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice: if you're poor, like live music and burritos, and don't like the preppy formality sometimes associated with Chapel Hill, get a place to live in Carrboro. It's practically the same town, and you'll need a car anyway no matter where you decide to live.

So it is impossible to live in Chapel Hill without a car, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about prices in Chapel Hill? Most of all I am interested in renting ones :)

Depending on your living requirements you can absolutely live in Chapel Hill/Carrboro for about $600-$750 rent/mth for a one, if not a two, bedroom. My BFF will be at Chapel Hill this year and she's moving her family into an award-winning school district in new-ish, modern units for less than $900/mth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depending on your living requirements you can absolutely live in Chapel Hill/Carrboro for about $600-$750 rent/mth for a one, if not a two, bedroom. My BFF will be at Chapel Hill this year and she's moving her family into an award-winning school district in new-ish, modern units for less than $900/mth.

Thanks!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
<br style="text-shadow: none;">So it is impossible to live in Chapel Hill without a car, right?<br style="text-shadow: none;">
<br style="text-shadow: none;"><br style="text-shadow: none;">I spent last year in Chapel Hill, and yes, living in the Raleigh/Durham area without a car is difficult. The bus system is unreliable, and the distances between one town and another are daunting. If you don't drive, you should do what I did, and start dating someone with a car! Kidding. But not really.

Kumari: I grew up in cities, and to be frank, I found Chapel Hill a bit isolated. Chapel Hill and Carrboro are lovely, livable towns in themselves, but I was used to the East Coast, where everything is within a few hours of everything else. Chapel Hill is several hours from DC, and nine or ten hours from New York. This was one of the reasons I decided to move to Princeton. That said, you really should give the area a chance--it's beautiful, cultured, and cosmopolitan, and it grows on you.<br style="text-shadow: none;">

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<br style="text-shadow: none;"><br style="text-shadow: none;">I spent last year in Chapel Hill, and yes, living in the Raleigh/Durham area without a car is difficult. The bus system is unreliable, and the distances between one town and another are daunting. If you don't drive, you should do what I did, and start dating someone with a car! Kidding. But not really.

Kumari: I grew up in cities, and to be frank, I found Chapel Hill a bit isolated. Chapel Hill and Carrboro are lovely, livable towns in themselves, but I was used to the East Coast, where everything is within a few hours of everything else. Chapel Hill is several hours from DC, and nine or ten hours from New York. This was one of the reasons I decided to move to Princeton. That said, you really should give the area a chance--it's beautiful, cultured, and cosmopolitan, and it grows on you.<br style="text-shadow: none;">

Hey...

Thanks so much for understanding. I just went down there and I felt the same way. Very beautiful pocket of culture, nature, etc....but, isolated when compared to the East Coast, which is where I live now. While I believe the RTP area has a lot to offer in a completely different way, I also thrive on the heartbeat and energy of the East Coast...just feel more alive. (Sorry to all of those that love the area.) At the same time, my dept is very good and I can see a lot of opportunity from that angle. Did you go to Chapel Hill to work or for school? Did you decide to leave because of the "isolation" alone or were there other factors? I'm still very mixed...if I could go back & forth between Chapel Hill & NYC area, I'd be completely happy but that's not quite reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey...

Thanks so much for understanding. I just went down there and I felt the same way. Very beautiful pocket of culture, nature, etc....but, isolated when compared to the East Coast, which is where I live now. While I believe the RTP area has a lot to offer in a completely different way, I also thrive on the heartbeat and energy of the East Coast...just feel more alive. (Sorry to all of those that love the area.) At the same time, my dept is very good and I can see a lot of opportunity from that angle. Did you go to Chapel Hill to work or for school? Did you decide to leave because of the "isolation" alone or were there other factors? I'm still very mixed...if I could go back & forth between Chapel Hill & NYC area, I'd be completely happy but that's not quite reality.

Hmm. I grew up in pretty rural area and ended up going to UNC. Possibly because of my childhood experiences, I think I like cities even more than a lot of people who grew up in large metropolitan areas. I've since lived in New York, DC, and Beijing with extended stays in places like Amman, Bombay, and Delhi. I completely understand that large metropolitan areas have their sort of energy that smaller places generally don't possess.

That said, as mentioned above (and in various media outlets), Chapel Hill does "college town" better than almost anywhere, but also offers a bit more as well with RTP in the area. There are lots of cultural, music events, etc. It's also quite diverse, both the student body and the population in general- I met my fiance (originally from India) there.- though again, it's not Queens.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of taste. I think that if any small-er place might satisfy your diversity/excitement requirements, Chapel Hill has a good shot.

I have to add that I'm a bit curious that the quoted poster above juxtaposed Princeton, of all places, with Chapel Hill. While I haven't spent years in the former, it's almost certainly less diverse than Chapel Hill is, particularly socioeconomically. Princeton also struck me as rather boring, barring the opportunity to weekend in New York, of course. Again, no disrespect meant to Princeton.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. I grew up in pretty rural area and ended up going to UNC. Possibly because of my childhood experiences, I think I like cities even more than a lot of people who grew up in large metropolitan areas. I've since lived in New York, DC, and Beijing with extended stays in places like Amman, Bombay, and Delhi. I completely understand that large metropolitan areas have their sort of energy that smaller places generally don't possess.

That said, as mentioned above (and in various media outlets), Chapel Hill does "college town" better than almost anywhere, but also offers a bit more as well with RTP in the area. There are lots of cultural, music events, etc. It's also quite diverse, both the student body and the population in general- I met my fiance (originally from India) there.- though again, it's not Queens.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of taste. I think that if any small-er place might satisfy your diversity/excitement requirements, Chapel Hill has a good shot.

I have to add that I'm a bit curious that the quoted poster above juxtaposed Princeton, of all places, with Chapel Hill. While I haven't spent years in the former, it's almost certainly less diverse than Chapel Hill is, particularly socioeconomically. Princeton also struck me as rather boring, barring the opportunity to weekend in New York, of course. Again, no disrespect meant to Princeton.

Thanks for your take on Chapel HIll. Kind of what I gathered from my visit. Am sure that it's a great place for what it is. I'm hoping to be able to come & go a bit so I don't lose the urban energy completely. As for Princeton, close to NYC but yes....def not that diverse socioeconomically or racial/ethnically....after a few days in quaint Princeton, I actually love meeting friends in Philly. So, I suppose it's just about what you like. I'll definitely have to make the most of the Chapel Hill area if I'm going to be there for several years. Thanks for responding. I'm glad there are others, who get where I'm coming from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

I'll be going to UNC this Fall and am in the process of looking for an apt. I hope to move in by June or July. I would love to live in downtown chapel hill but I am aware it is pretty expensive and probably out of my budget range. I am also interested in Carrboro. Can anyone recommend any apts in apt complexes either in Chapel Hill or Carrboro that are close to the bus line (j in particular) and do not exceed 700 a month? Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have you checked the chapel hill on city section? you can also see if there are any active threads about UNC on the meet and greet sub-forum. craigslist, apt-guide, on/off campus housing sites of your school can be other sources to look at.

ETA: saw that your post actually is in the city section. also try city-data.com. the forum in this website is very active for most cities. good luck!

Edited by bhikhaari

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Colonial Village at Highland Hills is right on the J route and a pretty nice complex. The only draw back is that it's really on the edge of Carrboro, so you will always be dependent on your car or the bus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now