Advice from the Locals
Hey there Newbie!
Welcome to Raleigh – we truly hope you will love it here. (Because life’s too short to live in a place you hate tbh).
Since only 45% of Wake County residents are native-born at this point, many Raleighites have been in your shoes. We’ve been the new kid. Whether by choice or by circumstance, you are here now, and The Locals want to help you make the best of it!
(Full disclosure: The Locals are just a group of Oaknuts who’ve lived here a while, love the city and want to keep Raleigh Raleigh.)
So, with acorn-themed love in our hearts, here’s some advice that may help ease your transition from where you’re coming from to here:
- If you drink, know where and when to get your drink of choice. We get it – moving is stressful and an adult beverage may now be in order! You can purchase beer, wine and hard ciders/seltzers (but not liquor) at grocery stores, specialty shops and other retailers daily – but only after 10 am on Sundays. You can purchase liquor (but not beer or wine) at state-owned ABC stores which are not open on Sundays and the big holidays. (So, plan accordingly for your party.) Licensed restaurants and bars may sell or serve alcohol between 7 am and 2 am Monday-Saturday and after 10 am Sundays (so that’s when brunch begins!).
- Jump into the school thing right away if you have kids. Schooling is complicated here. We have more school variety than Baskin Robbins has ice creams: Public schools, private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, year-round schools, traditional calendar schools, religious schools, STEM schools, Montessori schools, homeschooling, etc. If you have kids, it’s never too early to start figuring out their school situation. Start at the Wake County Public School System site and Niche (rates schools) and/or join a Wake County parent group on Facebook for the real scoop.
- Be prepared for schools and some businesses to close with a dusting of snow. Welcome to the South! We don’t have a lot of snow-clearing equipment here and we have a lot of rural areas where roads aren’t easily cleared. If you’re from a snowy place, you will be shocked (shocked we tell you!) by how little snow or ice it takes to shut Wake County schools and businesses down. Believe The Locals on this one and plan accordingly.
- Go ahead and stock up. If a hurricane (or dusting of snow) is anywhere on the far horizon, go ahead and stock up on water, batteries, grocery essentials, etc. In fact, just stay stocked up during hurricane season, June through November, and during winter. If you wait until everyone is “certain” a hurricane or snow event is heading this way, it will be too late – you’ll be greeted by empty grocery shelves. (Pro tip: Download a weather app on your phone so you’ll get alerts when bad weather is on the way.) If you’ve never lived in an area where tropical storms and hurricanes happen, start your education with these City of Raleigh tips.
- Don’t panic when the road changes name mid-journey. As you explore the city, you may think you’re on one road and mysteriously end up on another. For example, say you’re driving from North Raleigh on Creedmoor Road, heading south toward the PNC Arena to watch the Hurricanes play hockey. Soon after you cross Glenwood Ave., you’ll now be driving on Edwards Mill Road even though you’ve been going straight the whole time. Many roads change names here midstream, so don’t let it throw you. Also, there’s no shame in going the wrong way on Interstate 440 aka The Beltline – we’ve all done it. Interstate 440 circles Downtown Raleigh – if you’re driving and downtown is to your right, you’re on the Inner Beltline. If downtown is on your left, you’re on the Outer Beltline.
- If you’ve arrived in summer, buy shorts and sunscreen and get on with it. Newcomers love to whine about the weather here. Bless your heart – you’re in the SOUTH. What did you think the weather was going to be here? It’s mostly hot…and very humid…with mosquitos…from May through September. Stay hydrated, buy the strongest hair gel, deodorant, sunscreen and mosquito repellent you can find and get on with exploring your new city! (Unlike in the Northeast and Northwest, we do air conditioning here – sometimes too well.) Also, stock up on allergy meds if you’re allergic to tree pollen. Raleigh is going to be a rough place for you during March/April when #The Pollening happens. Clouds of yellow pine tree pollen descend on the area to torment allergy sufferers. You’ll also get hit with ragweed in the fall.
- Don’t text in the car – and don’t honk please unless your life is in peril. A polite tap of the horn will get us moving if we’re asleep at the light. We would not, of course, be texting because texting or checking email or messaging while driving is ILLEGAL here and you can be ticketed. (You can talk on the phone while driving unless you’re under 18.) As for the honking, if you hated people honking at you where you lived before, then don’t bring that noise here. Particularly if the person you’re honking at happens to be in a very large pickup truck – you don’t want that level of trouble, trust The Locals. Also, our friends at Raleigh Magazine have let us know that the Raleigh Police Department will be cracking down on speeding – so consider yourself warned.
- Choose your “back in X we have better Y” references wisely. We want to be the best version of Raleigh we can be. We have no desire to be New York, Phoenix, Austin, Seattle, Kansas City, Boise or wherever. Yes, everything IS different here from whence you came. The way The Locals see it, if where you were before was so gosh darn great, you’d still be there now, right? Right?
- Try both types of ‘cue before you pick a side. We straight up LOVE our barbecue here and luckily there are many delicious restaurants in Raleigh that will clue you in on North Carolina’s East v. West barbecue debate. Eastern BBQ typically smokes the whole hog, using “every part but the squeal,” with a simple salt-pepper-vinegar-based sauce that lets the meat shine. Western BBQ typically uses the pork shoulder (known as the Boston Butt for some reason) with a red sauce featuring ketchup/tomato paste, vinegar, pepper and other spices. Do yourself a taste favor – don’t choose a side ‘til you’ve tried them both.
- Help The Locals keep Raleigh friendly. Yes, we chat – sometimes right in the middle of the street. We will make eye contact. We may ask questions you consider invasive because we want to get to know you. We try – and sometimes fail – to be welcoming. Raleigh is growing fast and frankly The Locals are terrified. We’ve watched what growth did to other cities and in many cases it wasn’t pretty. If we’re being honest, we know we’re losing the battle on keeping Raleigh affordable and traffic manageable. So that means we’re gonna fight even harder to keep Raleigh friendly, kind, creative, innovative and welcoming. We hope you’ll join us in the effort – even if the word “chat” makes you cringe.