10 Neighborhoods in Raleigh to Call Home (inside the beltline)

Thinking of moving to Raleigh? As a couple who have lived in 5 countries and traveled to over 50 countries, and who then chose to live in Raleigh and raise our kids here, we think you’re making an excellent choice!

Nash Square, downtown Raleigh
Nash Square, downtown Raleigh

We first moved to Raleigh from Australia in 2004 and after lots of international travel and moving back and forth, we have now permanently put down roots in Raleigh.

So if you want to know what are the best neighborhoods in Raleigh (inside the beltline) we’re here to help!

When I say inside the beltline (ITB) that means within Interstate 440 (I-440) that encircles downtown Raleigh with numerous exits to all parts of the city. 

Inside the beltline is home to downtown Raleigh and the most historic Raleigh neighborhoods with beautifully restored homes that date back centuries mixed with modern construction. 

Plus, inside the beltline you will find many of the best Raleigh restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, museums, parks, shopping, entertainment districts, the convention center, and the big festivals on Fayetteville Street.

House in Historic Oakwood, downtown Raleigh
House in Historic Oakwood, downtown Raleigh

What do we love about living in Raleigh?

So many things. In case you don’t know, Raleigh is known as the “City of Oaks” due to its many oak lined streets. Throw in all the pine trees and it really feels like you’re living in a forest (just fly into the airport and you will see from above!)

We love the many lakes, natural parklands, and the 180 miles of greenway system. 

There’s the welcoming Southern community, family-friendly lifestyle, the diversity, the college town vibes and facilities, the thriving restaurant and craft brewery scene, and underground craft cocktail bars.

The Morning Times - one of the best coffee shops in downtown Raleigh
Morning Times coffee shop in downtown Raleigh

Raleigh has become well known for its high-tech innovations, its entrepreneurial spirit, and smart and savvy locals who are helping to shape this thriving Southern capital city.

Although historic, Raleigh has youthful energy and is a vibrant place to live.

The city is home to what’s known as one of the greatest research parks in the world, Research Triangle Park (RTP) with top employers including: IBM, Cisco, GlaxoSmithCline, Nortel Networks, Sony Ericsson, and Lenovo to name a few.

There are world-class educational institutions including 11 principal colleges and universities in Raleigh, the main one being North Carolina State University (NCSU).

Raleigh is often mentioned in top 10 lists as one of the best cities in the USA for jobs and quality of life, and Forbes’ has ranked it number one for Best Places for Business and Careers

For us, Raleigh is not too big and not too small and the central location on the east coast (about halfway between New York and Florida) makes for a great hub for exploring the beaches or the mountains.

Hillsborough Street, downtown Raleigh
Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh

The other good news is that Raleigh real estate in the heart of the city is generally affordable compared to many other bigger US cities. And you can find anything from single-family homes in wooded neighborhoods by a lake, to townhomes or high-rise condos in the heart of downtown.

And when we want to get away, we can fly anywhere pretty easily and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is never too crazy like many other US airports. 

Typically, RDU operates 400 daily flights with 50+ non-stop destinations including to major cities like NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and LA.

Plus there’s direct flights to London and Paris!

Below are 10 of the best places to live in Raleigh, North Carolina to kick start your research.

Neighborhoods in Raleigh

Boylan Heights

Boylan Heights, Raleigh, NC

Boylan Heights is one of the Raleigh neighborhoods we could see ourselves living in. We walk and drive through this area a lot dreaming of owning one of the historic homes here within walking distance of downtown!

And Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing near the Boylan Bridge is one of our favorite places to eat and drink in downtown Raleigh.

Historic Boylan Heights was one of Raleigh’s first planned suburbs with development beginning in 1907, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district in 1985.

Here craftsman bungalows sit along with transitional Queen Anne/Colonial Revivals and Dutch Colonials, while mature trees dominate the streetscapes.

On the immediate southwest edge of the city center, the streets extend from the downtown grid but curve aesthetically to match the contours of the hilltop setting.

Boylan Heights, Raleigh, North carolina

You’re just a 15-minute walk from South Boyland Ave to Fayetteville Street, and a 10-minute walk to the popular Warehouse District. You’re just moments away from Raleigh’s best downtown restaurants, bars, and entertaining venues like Red Hat Amphitheater.

The hilly terrain lends itself to a picturesque and truly residential neighborhood overlooking downtown.

Whilst the neighborhood itself doesn’t have any restaurants or shops, that helps to create a peaceful atmosphere. There are a few entrepreneurial firms and artists based here though.

The most expensive houses in Queen Anne or Colonial Revival styles were built near Montfort Hall, the antebellum Boylan mansion at the top of the hill. More modest homes, chiefly in the bungalow style, were constructed further below.

The spacious lots on S. Boylan Avenue feature deep setbacks and inviting front porches, whilst the rest of the development is made up of modest bungalows on smaller lots and shallower setbacks.

This close-knit community is highly sought after by creatives as well as families.

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Historic Oakwood

Historic Oakwood, Raleigh, NC

Oakwood is a historic district that dates all the way back to the 1800’s that rose after the Civil War.

It’s home to magnificent oak trees and a combination of restored Grand Victorians built in the 1800s, to modest bungalows of the 1920s, and newly constructed homes giving you a neighborhood feel whilst being only 1 mile north east of downtown Raleigh.

In addition to their passion for preserving their historic homes, many residents are avid gardeners and their backyards are often hidden gems where homeowners have created beautiful gardens.

Historic Oakwood, Raleigh, NC

This is a popular area to live for professionals working in downtown Raleigh, and for families seeking community.

It’s one of the more expensive neighborhoods to live in because of its close proximity to the city center, and it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh for its historical value and community feel.

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Cameron Park

Cameron Park, Raleigh, NC

Bordered by Hillsborough Street and the Cameron Village Shopping Center is the historic neighborhood of Cameron Park.

This neighborhood occupies a key location near NC State University (north campus) and St Mary’s School.

Developed between 1910 and 1935, Cameron Park was one of three suburbs subdivided into lots as development began along Hillsborough Street with a streetcar line making the location appealing and convenient.

Cameron Park started life as Raleigh’s most expensive suburb but slid into decline by the 60s due to the departure of many of the original home inhabitants. 

It has since regained its status as one of Raleigh’s most attractive family neighborhoods as it pushed back on encroaching fraternity houses and apartment conversions, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as a national historic district.

This neighborhood has a variety of architectural types from Queen Anne and Colonial Revivals, to large bungalows and eclectic styles like Georgian Revival, Tudor Revival, and Mission Revival. 

Cameron Park, Raleigh, NC

Despite the variety of styles, the houses were uniformly large and upscale for the era. 

Three ravines cut through Cameron Park creating parkland interspersed with the residential blocks, and Edna Metz Wells Park draws families to the area.

The mature trees, nearby schools and parks, and convenient location to downtown Raleigh make this one of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh and a highly desirable place to live!

You’re a only 5 minute drive or 25 minute walk to the State Capitol Building along Hillsborough Street and all the best restaurants, bars, and cafes in downtown.

Plus, you’re walking distance from all the shops, cafes, and bars along Hillsborough St across from NC State, and moments away from Glenwood South and the Warehouse District.

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Cameron Village

Cameron Village, Raleigh

The Cameron Village neighborhood is a little less historic than Cameron Park, but a little more affordable. In fact, Cameron Village could be considered the best bargain in downtown Raleigh.

Located north of the shopping center of the same name, Cameron Village has ranch-style homes, apartments, condos, single family homes and student rentals – but student housing prices have risen beyond what most students can now afford.

But considering all those housing options, Cameron Village is dominated by condos, many of which were built in 1949 but many are very recent.

This neighborhood is very walk-able and the Cameron Village Shopping Center has over 100 unique and distinctive shops, cafés, restaurants and services.

Opened in 1949, the outdoor shopping center quickly became the premier shopping area in Raleigh and is considered the first shopping center to be built between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.

Cameron Village
Cameron Village Shopping Center

It has been a favorite neighborhood destination for shoppers and diners and provides a comfortable gathering space and retreat from the chaos of urban life. 

If you choose to live around the Cameron Village district, you’re convenient to downtown (6-minute drive) to Research Triangle Park (20-minute drive) and to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (18-minutes). 

This Raleigh neighborhood has nice starter homes on large lots giving the neighborhood a more suburban vibe, and is sought after by young professionals and families.

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Mordecai

Mordecai, Raleigh, NC

Located north east of downtown (a bit north of Oakwood) Mordecai is just a 5 minute drive or 25 minute walk to the State Capitol Building and is Raleigh’s oldest neighborhood dating back to the late 18th century.

The Mordecai House, which dates from 1785 is the oldest house in Raleigh still at its original location, giving this neighborhood its name. And Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, was born here.

Mordecai is a relatively small neighborhood offering quaint and charming homes (many of which have been updated on the inside with modern features and amenities), tree-lined streets, quiet roads, and a rich history.

There’s also a few newly constructed homes and condos available in the area. 

Mordecai, Raleigh, NC

Mordecai’s popularity has grown substantially in recent years as one of the best places to live in Raleigh due to its close proximity to the heart of Raleigh, peace and quiet, charm, and is popular with families and young professionals.

Close by is William Peace University, a highly rated elementary charter school, and the ever evolving Peace Street that offers local bakery-cafes, bars, and boutique stores.

It’s also a relatively easy commute to Raleigh-Durham Airport and Research Triangle Park allowing residents the convenience and tranquility aspects of life.

If you’re looking for a great historic neighborhood close to downtown Raleigh, consider Mordecai.

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Five Points

Five Points, Raleigh

Located just 2 miles north of downtown, the quirky Five Points area is named for where five historic neighborhoods converge at the five-point street intersection of Glenwood Avenue, Whitaker Mill Road, and Fairview Road.

The neighborhoods are: Hayes Barton, Bloomsbury, Georgetown, Vanguard Park, and Roanoke Park. All of the neighborhoods were platted in the 1910s through the early 1920s and each neighborhood has a distinct character

The area is characterized by tree lined streets, bungalows, Colonial Revival style homes, one to two story single family homes, estate homes, patio homes and townhomes.

Five Points, Raleigh

Rich in diversity, locals are drawn to the area because of the convenient access to downtown, pedestrian-friendly side-walked streets, pleasant ambiance, parks, and its combination of old and new.

There’s also the small town feel with the epicenter of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pharmacies, convenience stores and the Rialto Theater at the main intersection along Glenwood Avenue and Fairview Road. 

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Hayes Barton

Hayes Barton, Raleigh, NC

Considered one of the Five Points neighborhoods, Hayes Barton is one of the premier Raleigh neighborhoods and one of the most popular places to live in Raleigh inside the beltline. And with that comes a higher price point.

Built in the 1920’s in the post World War I wave of suburban development, Hayes Barton was the grandest of these new suburbs and the layout included some of the first greenways and open park areas in suburban neighborhoods.

Homes in Hayes Barton are a collection of eclectic styles and sizes including Georgian, Colonial, Tudor, Craftsman, Bungalow and contemporary designs with prices ranging from $300,000 to $5 million.

Hayes Barton, Raleigh, NC

Affluent Hayes Barton has a lot to offer: great location close to downtown Raleigh, the history of the neighborhood, various architectural styles, homes with mature trees and larger lots, and walking distance to the shops and restaurants at the hub of Five Points.

If you’re looking for a great place to live in downtown Raleigh where you can still have land and some peace and quiet, check out Hayes Barton!

Neighborhood snapshot:

Warehouse District

Warehouse District

The six-block Warehouse District has transformed over recent years from its former red-brick industrial buildings into a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, bars, boutique shopping, technology firms, and apartment buildings.

Located just 0.4 miles west of Fayetteville Street in downtown, this part of the city previously served as Raleigh’s railroad and warehouse distribution hub. 

Today it’s home to Citrix, Raleigh Union Station, Morgan Street Food Hall, the Contemporary Art Museum, Weaver Street Market, lofty condominiums, and The Dillon – an 18 story office tower with retail space and two six-story apartment buildings.

warehouse district raleigh nc 1 1

In the hip Warehouse District, the historic character has been revitalized with a modern twist bringing people back to live, work and play in an urban environment.

This easy-to-walk district is one of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh for young professionals and a hot spot for singles and artists.

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Glenwood South

Glenwood South

Sandwiched between the tranquil retreats of Boylan Heights and Five Points is Glenwood South, an area known as the entertainment district of Raleigh.

The main S. Glenwood Ave is lined with progressive bars, breweries, restaurants, nightclubs, boutique stores, art galleries and studios.

Here you’ll find a mixture of college students to young creative professionals and artists eating, drinking, creating, and living.

With 1,600+ new residential units recently delivered or under construction, the Glenwood South district is building to become one of downtown’s most distinctive neighborhoods. 

This area consists of the southern blocks of Glenwood Avenue west of downtown and south of Peace Street. 

Just 20 years ago this area was a warehouse district and industrial neighborhood, but renovations of historic buildings have revitalized this area into a restaurant, shopping, nightlife and office district.

Here you’ll find a blend of condominiums and single-family homes, with residents enjoying some of the best that downtown Raleigh has to offer without ever leaving home.

If you move here you’ll be living in a true mixed use neighborhood, just know there’s going to be an element of noise, particularly on the weekend evenings.

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University Park

University park, Raleigh

University Park is another of the old neighborhood areas in Raleigh NC and is a collaboration of many neighborhoods: Oberlin Village, Fairmont, Bagwell, Beaver Dam, Wilmont, Dixie Forest and Forest Hills.

Located in west central Raleigh, University Park’s name is connected to its location – it’s bordered to the south by Hillsborough Street and NC State University.

It’s north border is Wade Avenue, Oberlin Rd and Cameron Village is to the east, and Meredith College Meredith and State Fair Grounds to the west.

This community dates back to 1924 and has continued to develop over the years – some homes have been torn down and new homes have been built but the old neighborhood charm still exists.

Here you will find an urban neighborhood with homes connected by a network of green-ways, wildlife habitats, and public and private gardens.

It’s a community of interesting, diverse people with home prices ranging from $300,000 to over $1 Million.

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I hope this post helped you get a better feel for some of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh NC.

We’ll be adding to this post over time, and lookout for our other posts on neighborhoods outside of the beltline coming soon!

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