The annual national population growth rate has been tepid in the last few years in the U.S. Many factors, which includes the pandemic, have affected this growth. However, this hasn’t dampened the growth of metropolitan cities across the country. With a rapid migration of population to the South and Southwest, the US is experiencing a population shift to urban areas of this region. This has sped up the growth of cities and their surrounding metropolitan regions here. A typical ‘metropolitan’ area would consist of an urbanized area with a population of 50,000 or more, with surrounding areas having a high level of social and economic integration with the core. Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill in North Carolina combine to form one such tri-city metropolitan region that is expanding rapidly and has been ranked as 4th of the fastest growing cities in the US list.
The Triangle: Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and was officially named after the English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh is most strategically located with more than half of the US population living within a day’s drive from the city. Raleigh has been nicknamed the ‘City of Oaks’ for the sheer number of majestic oak trees which line the streets. The city, together with Durham and Chapel Hill is also nicknamed ‘The Triangle’ as they form the Research Triangle Park planned in 1959. Raleigh and Durham also share an airport i.e., the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), with its two main terminals (1&2) operating more than 400 daily flights with 50+ non-stop destinations on an average.
The US Census of 2020 states that the national population has grown by 7.35% to 331,449,281 from 308,745,538 in ten years. The current population density is 92.3 people per square mile. When we compare these statistics to those for Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, we can see how rapidly the city is growing.
When we have a look at the corresponding figures for Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, we can see that the growth rate has been more than double of the national levels. The population of the metro in 2020 was at 1,362,997 having grown from the 2010 figure of 1,137,383. This is a growth of 19.84%. The population density is 643.4 people per square mile spread over 2118.4 square miles.
The average age of the population is also leaning towards people in the prime of their working age i.e., 36.9 years. The average persons per household are 2.6, the median house value is at $268,900 while the median household income is $78,706. There are 548,432 housing units with 93% occupancy and out of these 66% are ownership. It is clearly borne out by figures that Raleigh-Durham is positively well ahead of national averages in all areas.
The cost of living in Raleigh is 5% lower than the national average and 58.7% lower than NYC and housing is 85.2% lower than NYC. Realtor.com named Raleigh the most affordable alternative ‘’kindred city’’ to San Francisco. Traffic isn’t too bad either with average commute time being 26 minutes.
The Raleigh-Durham area is home to numerous higher education institutions including Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University, Meredith College, Shaw University, William Peace University,, Durham Technical Community College, and high-end research facilities like Research Triangle Park. According to the US Census in the Raleigh area, over 50% of persons aged 25+years have a Bachelor’s Degree and 20% have doctorates.
In addition to the multiple educational institutions providing employment to the residents, there are hospitality, healthcare and other associated businesses affiliated with these campuses. There are also employment opportunities from global companies like Apple, Cisco Systems, Fidelity Investments, IBM, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, Accenture, Novo Nordisk, Deloitte, and many more. Raleigh has been ranked 3rd on a list by Forbes for best places for business and careers.
Art and Culture:
Apart from proving a huge draw for people as a tech-hub, this region also provides great dining and entertainment, museums, parkland (like Umstead and Eno River State Parks), outdoor recreation and more. Raleigh is not a big tourist destination and is more of a good place to live. However, more and more people are visiting Raleigh for its outstanding culinary offers and endless breweries to discover. There are over 30 local Raleigh breweries known for their craft beer. Raleigh has 180 miles of Greenway trails to explore. The Capital Area Greenway System is made up of 28 individual trails and is one of the most popular things to do in Raleigh. Pullen Park and its 66 acres of land was the first Public Park in North Carolina and the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the US.
Raleigh is well known for its quality and quantity of free museums and has been called the ‘Smithsonian of the South”. Three major state museums call the city home.
Shaw University founded in 1865 by Henry Martin Tupper is the first historically Black Institution for higher education in the South and among the oldest in the Nation.
Raleigh is perhaps the only American city to have a flag to feature different designs on the obverse and the reverse. Both sides feature a similar red-white-red vertical triband that represents Sir Walter Raleigh, after whom the city was named.
The future of Raleigh-Durham looks exciting! All the ingredients that come together to catalyze the growth of a metro in the modern age are in place here. Raleigh-Durham was recently ranked number 3 on the list of top best places to live in the country, and evidently so. It remains top on our fastest growing cities in the US list. There is a great a scope for expansion and growth of businesses in the AEC industry here as corporates, realtors and the people converge here. Is your architecture business equipped to grow with the city’s growth? We can help you future-proof your business and make the most of upcoming opportunities. Contact us.