One of the biggest trends in real estate coming this year was driven directly by the Covid-19 pandemic: residents are flocking to smaller, suburban, and even rural communities. In the past two years, homebuyers started heading to the suburbs to trade off proximity to jobs for more luxurious homes with plenty of room to grow.
What they’re finding is they can buy a home that’s more affordable than what’s been available in Raleigh or Durham, North Carolina, and with options that allow them to have everything they want in a home.
As major employers across the country have shifted to hybrid and remote working scenarios, it’s allowed many buyers to upgrade to homes that offer amenities like home offices, flexible spaces, and full yards with outdoor living options. The biggest tradeoff is moving from a city like Raleigh into a smaller community.
Yet, suburbs and smaller communities outside of cities are great options on many levels. While services like public transportation, greenway trails, cultural opportunities, and big city sports are found throughout Raleigh-Durham, these rural communities pack a powerful punch, too. With their rich history, walkable streets, distinct shops, and restaurants — as well as great real estate options and proximity to the Triangle’s biggest amenities — it’s become obvious the quaint communities throughout the area aren’t to be overlooked.
The following six Triangle communities are the ones to watch as the real estate market continues to boom in 2022 and invites new residents into the area’s smaller communities.
- Mebane, which was first established in 1809, is growing in popularity thanks to the way of life it offers its residents. This city of 14,000 is centrally located between Durham and Greensboro, opening up opportunities throughout both the Triangle and the Piedmont areas. Mebane itself offers a main street that’s filled with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and antique shops. Its downtown business district holds regular events designed to revitalize, preserve, and enhance its history. The event city hosts numerous annual events for the entire family. Mebane provides its residents with an idyllic small-town experience without sacrificing the big city amenities, which are close by.
- Zebulon is just 25 minutes east of downtown Raleigh, and despite the fact it’s home to just 5,000 people, it’s filled with opportunities for just about any age. It’s home to the Minor League baseball team, the Carolina Mudcats, plus it offers a wide variety of cuisines: Southern-style dining, traditional steakhouses, and everything in-between. The town also has a distillery and event space, family-owned businesses like the long-standing Whitley Furniture and Debnam Ace Hardware, a farmer’s market, and more. The town’s leaders have also made a commitment to maintain its growth in a way that is strategic and manageable, which is a boon for its residents.
- Youngsville has experienced massive growth in recent years, nearly doubling in size in the past 20 years. Yet its population is only around 2,000 people. This town, found just north of Wake Forest, is a quick 20 minutes from downtown Raleigh, yet it offers the quaint charm of a small, close-knit town. An array of restaurants and watering holes line its main street, providing choices like pizza, southern cooking, and sandwiches for every day of the week. Youngsville also has popular historic locations for weddings and meetings thanks to its historic southern architecture, making it a destination for many happy memories.
- Rolesville, established in 1837 as a center for tobacco and farming, is Wake County’s second oldest township behind Raleigh. This town of 8,000 is less than 20 miles from Raleigh and its Main Street Vision Plan is designed to retain its small-town feel with a distinct town center. The plan is also dedicated to creating a walkable, bikeable downtown to keep its growth safe, and to being an equitable home and business destination for all. Rolesville has annual craft and barbecue festivals for a distinct small-town feel, as well as summer family movie nights and a free, outdoor concert series in the Mill Bridge Nature Park with food trucks to enjoy. The Rolesville nature park also connects to the Wake Forest Parks and Recreation trails for outdoors lovers to enjoy. Despite its size, it’s filled with much to do for the entire family.
- Hillsborough is just 12 miles to Chapel Hill and 14 miles to Durham, which makes it a popular destination for residents across the Triangle, and even across the country. This town of nearly 10,000 people has a rich history the town celebrates. It was home to the Occaneechi and Eno Indigenous tribes, and today, more than 100 sites spanning from its colonial period through the Civil War, document the deep history of this community. Hillsborough also draws in artists and writers, as well as fans of agritourism who can tour working farms. Regular events like the annual Hog Day and Last Friday celebrations, as well as the Occoneeche Mountain State Natural Area, bring in visitors throughout the year. It’s a community that always offers something to do.
- Pittsboro is a small town of just under 5,000 that’s south of Chapel Hill and a 40-minute drive to the Research Triangle Park. This community is a perfect location for anyone who loves the outdoors thanks to its proximity to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. Pittsboro also has a variety of unique restaurants: an old-fashioned soda shoppe, a Southern-style fish house, a nostalgic diner, and everything in-between. To connoisseurs of adult libations, Pittsboro features the Chatham Beverage District, which is home to Starrlight Mead, an award-winning mead and honey wine maker, as well as Fair Game Beverage Company Wine and Spirits, which was North Carolina’s 13th legal distillery.
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