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ITB vs OTB: Navigating the Raleigh beltlines

Inside the Beltline in downtown Raleigh, NC is a pedestrian mall, showing the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, History and State Capitol building

If you’re new to the Triangle, it’s likely you’ve seen the terms “Inside the Beltline” (ITB) and “Outside the Beltline” (OTB) and are trying to understand these terms and what they mean. The inner and outer beltlines of the Raleigh interstate system are not just quick ways to navigate the city. They have also created distinct experiences for the homeowners that live in these areas.

The inner beltline refers to the I-440 Interstate that circles Raleigh and its downtown. Meanwhile, the outer beltline is the I-540 Interstate that extends into the suburban communities that surround Raleigh—like Apex, Knightdale, and Morrisville—and connect to the Research Triangle Park, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Living ITB, or Inside the Beltline, means residents live inside of that I-440 interstate line, and close to the heart of Raleigh.

With the city of Raleigh in the middle of the inner beltline, that means the ITB area has a distinct vibe about it. It provides a downtown city energy where everything from museums to the state capitol building to high-end restaurants to proximity to NC State University give residents convenience to the hottest places in the city. The inner beltline also offers several mixed-use developments where residents can live within walking distance to fine dining, coffee shops, shopping, and more.

Because the inner beltline is also where the story of Raleigh began, historic homes make up much of the downtown area. There are six specific neighborhoods within the inner beltline, too, and each offers a distinct type of lifestyle for its residents.

In addition to downtown’s condominium and apartment buildings, Raleigh’s Hillsborough neighborhood and its subdivisions—Historic Oakwood, Boylan Heights, and Brooklyn Heights—offer historic colonial and bungalow homes in well-established locations. Mordecai is made up of historic homes within a short commute to William Peace University and the state government buildings. Five Points has turn-of-the-century homes mixed with townhomes and newer single family home locations. The Wade and Glenwood neighborhoods are similarly newer, walkable neighborhoods that are family-friendly and offer proximity to great schools and the city’s top amenities. Finally, Midtown, which is partially comprised of parts of Raleigh that extend beyond I-540 and include the exciting North Hills development, which will be a mixed-use innovation hub for anyone looking to work and play close to home.

While living Outside of the Beltline is an appealing option for many, there’s no denying the incredible lifestyle that exists close to the city. Whether you’re an ITB or OTB type of individual, the Triangle has something you’ll love.

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