The Best Places to live in Chapel Hill as a UNC Student
Up front I will disclose my bias and love for this amazing town. I grew up here, left after high school, searched the world over, and came to realize I could not live a full life without Chapel Hill as my home base. That out of the way, I would like to talk more specifically about the locations in town that I believe give way to the best living experience for academically inclined college-goers in this town. It should be obvious that every person’s interests and demands are different so I will categorize each location.
Downtown North-Side Area (Between N. Graham st. and Hillsborough St):
I have a love-hate relationship with this area. On one hand I think the social atmosphere is fantastic. On the other hand I think the social aspect is consuming. What I mean by that is by living in this part of town you are going to get a very high degree of social interaction. You are close to downtown (read: the bars) and some incredible restaurants. You are in the neighborhoods that throw the highest density of parties per capita. Many of the properties are killer old homes that were built in a time when taste was important. This is in many ways makes this the “ideal” or pop culture college experience location. In many other ways this is not all that ideal. I think parting is an important part of life but I must say it is very susceptible to the law of diminishing returns. The problem with this area is that “the party life” can and normally does consume you and your productive life whole. Aside from that this area is highly susceptible to non-violent crime (read: Stolen bikes, and vandalism). It’s just a consequence of the high profile location. The worst part…the rent prices are the highest in the town and possibly the state. Rooms can fetch more than $800 not including utilities.
SOMA (South of Mason Farm):
A personal favorite. This area has an unparalleled balance of Tar Heel pride, social interaction and productivity magic. This area is located behind Merritt’s Store. The residents are a mix of grads, undergrads and some young professionals. No one is more than a 10 minute walk to the Dean Dome and 20 minutes to the pit. As an aside if you live toward the back end of the North-side you have at least a 20 minute walk to the pit so I argue the distance to classes are similar between North-side and SOMA. The area has a bunch of cute mill houses with yards. The rent in this area is much more reasonable, given the proximity to campus, than other areas around town. You can expect to pay between $550 and $700 a bedroom. There is also not as much random pedestrian traffic which lowers the crime substantially. The downside to this area is that if you’re not willing to Uber or P2P after the bar you can expect a 30 minute walk through campus to get home. But who doesn’t Uber these days.
I know I know, it’s not in Chapel Hill but it’s kind of semantics at some point. Carrboro is a bus/bike ride from campus and the rents can be high but this place has one hell of an atmosphere. The bar, restaurants, and shops in Carrboro make it feel much more like a livable town than the middle of Franklin St. Not to say the middle of Franklin St. isn’t awesome, it is just geared toward the bar scene. Carrboro makes you feel part of something more than just the university. The intellectual climate is very high. In a good way. People are more open to new ideas and different ways of thinking. There is a lot of new-age hippie feel, but I don’t see that as a bad thing as long as it is genuine. One of my favorite things about Carrboro, other than the food, is that you can find yourself in an incredible conversation with two people you’ve never met before: one a 20 year old college student studying nuclear chemistry and the other a 60 year old retired hedge fund manager who likes to wax philosophical about the universe’s intrinsic laws of universal love and consequence. The rents range from $400-$800 a bedroom depending on the proximity to downtown and the freshness of the property. You are never more than a walk from coffee and crime is low. Solid place to live!
There are many great places to live in the area that I have left out but I am assuming that proximity to campus is a priority for anyone reading this. I hope this post helps you make an awesome life decision that sets you on a path toward self mastery and increased levels of cosmic joy.
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