web analytics

Cary, Chapel Hill Make Small Town List

Money Magazine has released its best small towns list, and two triangle towns are in the Top 40. Chapel Hill comes in at 40, and Cary ranks #23.

The results are interesting. Living in Chapel Hill is a distinct experience. All residents definitely feel the center of the town, the Franklin Street/Carr Mill axis. However Cary feels more like a series of subdivisions and strip shopping centers. Cary certainly feels different than Chapel Hill and North Raleigh, but does Cary really have a distinct vibe, or is it just a coincidental collection of new developments in Triangle, USA?


Make A Comment
  • Daria Said:

    I’ve always felt like Cary had a cohesive look about it. All the streets have well maintained landscaping, usually with pretty trees in the median and such. The buildings are usually brick with beige trim and the shopping centers all look similar. Living in Apex/Holly Springs now, I notice the streets aren’t so manicured, the natural trees and former forest area left more intact. But the newer shopping centers going up are all brick and looking more like Cary.

  • ct Said:

    Most of the towns on the list are suburbs of a large city. Eden Prairie at #1, Plymouth at #11, Woodbury at #13, Eagan at #15, and Apple Valley at #20 are all suburbs of Minneapolis/St Paul. A lot of these towns, like Cary, were founded as railroad or telegraph stations. They became suburbs later.

    I believe Cary has a reasonable claim to consistency. It may not be for everyone’s liking, but 130,000 people like it.

  • jason Said:

    i would think cary ranked higher due to location. it’s much more central than chapel hill. but they definately do not have the same vibe. i prefer chapel hills vibe, but not its price. cary, to me, isn’t as cohesive as it boring and bland. but the location can’t be beat and the neighborhoods are nice.

  • steelcity36 Said:

    Cary and Chapel Hill are complete opposites but both deserve recognition. Chapel seems to thrive on its young adult and older populations while Cary is a haven for people raising families. Chapel Hill has a cultural focus while Cary has a Family Focus. Chapel Hill has the smell of vomit and stale beer while Cary has bland architecture and chain restaurants. Despite the positives and negatives of both towns they are still great places to live and should be praised.

    That being said is Cary really a suburb? The business center of our region is RTP so realistically Cary and Durham are the closest housing areas to this business center. Remember we are one of a few regions that have a reverse commute so essentially Raleigh and Chapel Hill are suburbs of RTP. I guess Raleigh could be considered the “Buckhead” section of RTP where business and condo living are taking hold because of the explosive growth of RTP.

  • PRGuy Said:

    What is their definition of a small town? To me, Cary does not qualify based on the size of the population and geographic footprint. And despite Cary officially calling itself a “town” it’s more of a mid-sized city.

  • ct Said:

    To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what the definition of “suburb” is. There was a time when people only lived and shopped in suburbs; they worked in the big city nearby. But even in places that have no counterpart to RTP, the old definition of suburb has broken down.

    Among those suburbs of Minneapolis/St Paul that I mentioned, I’ll bet that the majority of suburban residents work in the same or another suburb — not in downtown Minneapolis or downtown St Paul. That’s certainly true in Atlanta, where the majority of people in the metro area don’t work inside the city limits (despite all the large office buildings).

    The suburban nexus these days is more about media, transportation, and entertainment than employment locations. From those perspectives, Cary still has ties to Raleigh.

    20 years ago, I suspect a higher percentage of Cary residents worked in RTP than is true today. The Triangle has grown so much that job commutes are very scattered.

  • Jennifer Said:

    I agree, Dana; Cary does feel like a series of subdivisions. When I think of awards for small towns I’m expecting them to be really charming. The Raleigh-Cary MSA is around 1 million. PR Guy had it right: What small town? :o)

  • RaleighRob Said:

    Cary may have a larger population than Chapel Hill, but Chapel Hill definitely has more of a city feeling than Cary. Like you said, a series of sprawling subdivisions. There’s no “there”, there. Chapel Hill actually has an urban component (although small)….sidewalks, buses, streets lined with pedestrians, density, etc.

  • Bob Said:

    Chapel Hill has an extremely small urban core — just one street — Franklin St.

    Actually, Cary has the larger downtown. Cary is a much larger town. It has BOTH a larger downtown and more residential development than Chapel Hill.

  • MikeB Said:

    I can understand why Chapel Hill is on the list… it clearly shows an extremely high level of living when even the lowly college students get free trips to South Beach, Bentleys, free rent, etc. 😉

  • Spatula Said:

    Bob: You can’t seriously suggest that the area around Market Street in Cary has more urban character than Franklin St, Rosemary St, and Main St Carrboro… It’s full of empty storefronts and antique shops. Sure there are a couple good restaurants but it’s a small street corner in a city of 100,000.

    The Cary Towne Center Mall is not a downtown, large as it may be…

  • Spatula Said:

    Chatham street… not Market street.

    sorry, I’m ragging on Cary here, not Charlotte.

  • tonyhost Said:

    Studies show that green plants are good
    for workplaces where people perform creative tasks but bad where the work is
    more monotone.

    friv 2

  • kutenhat Said:

    The results are interesting. Living in Chapel Hill is a unique experience. All residents definitely felt the town center, the axis Franklin Street / Carr Mill. But Cary feels like a series of subdivisions and strip malls. Thanks for great information

  • thuongxem Said:

    magazine in 2015 better


Comments RSS Feed TrackBack URL

Leave a comment