Enamored With Raleigh

I’ve lived in Raleigh for 2 weeks now and I’ve killed 2 spiders the size of my kid’s fist, gone through a huge jug of vinegar and two boxes of baking soda cleaning mildew and previous tenant grime, and cleaned poopy crib sheets in the tub because we hadn’t picked up our washer and dryer yet. I’m also still working out that whole self-identification crisis where I’ve left the full time workforce and I go back and forth often about how I feel about it. This has not been an easy time.
But on the other hand, on the days I remember to focus on the positive I don’t need to look long or hard (go ahead. I’ll wait until you’re done laughing.) for things. So without further ado, and mostly as a resource for me to access on ugly days, here are the things I love thus far about our place and living in Raleigh:
1. The fireplace. I’m going to seriously love it in late fall and winter when there’s an actual fire in it.

2. We have a huge deck. (seriously? You have a gutter mind.) There’s room for a grill and a giant patio set and a lounge set if we wanted, and the stairs lead down to a big fenced in backyard. There’s not much there now but rocks and sticks since it’s so shady, but if we stay another year I’ll put in some pretty ground cover. And a fire pit. So much fire!
Raleigh NC
3. We’re close to everything. The furthest we’ve had to drive to anything is 20 minutes so far. We’re thisclose to Glenwood Ave. and the Beltline so it’s easy to get anywhere downtown quickly or get further up north to have our pick of Targets and Walmarts and Food Lions – WOW there are a lot of Food Lions. It takes me 10 minutes to get to yoga. Less than 5 minutes to get to E’s school.

4. Harris Teeter. We’re still shopping at Trader Joe’s regularly, but Harris Teeter is our go-to for quick one-offs during the week. I used to shop there when I lived in Charlottesville and I’ve missed it so much. All those free samples, great prices, and the lovely wine selection… You know how much you love Wegman’s? I feel like that about Harris Teeter. And I still call it The Hairy Peter like we did in college.*

5. So much Mexican food. No, I never would have believed it about Raleigh if I hadn’t seen it myself, but this place has a ton of Mexican restaurants. Really good ones. Come visit and let me show you.

6. The people. The dealership owner where we bought our car told me about Raleigh, “People here just do what they’re supposed to.” Today at a bar where we ate lunch the waitress noticed E was really going after the tomatoes on my salad and brought him an extra plate of them. The checkout guy at Trader Joe’s gushed about how happy he was that we moved here and gave us some excellent life advice (fodder for an upcoming post.) A lady stopped me walking into Target the other day and told me I was wearing a cute dress. The people we’ve met are friendly but not in a weird, obtrusive way. It’s a wonderful way to live.

7. There is so much to do. So many Bostonians told me I’d miss how much stuff there was to do in Boston, but that’s not even close to true. Not only is everything easy to get to thanks to our location, but parking is plentiful and cheap and events are cheap or free. Bonus: there is always a beer tent. In fact:

8. Beer tents. We’ve been to a few events this summer already where there were beer tents or trucks. Not drinking events in particular, just gatherings with music or maybe food and beer. The thing is, maybe because it’s the South or maybe because everyone drives or both, no one’s a dick about it. Everyone drinks beer but no one’s drunk, staggering around and screaming (ahem, Fenway fans.)

9.The State Farmer’s Market. I love the Downtown Farmer’s Market (and that you can search on their site for what’s in season and who carries it – GENIUS) and the Midtown Farmer’s Market, but the State Farmer’s Market has joined my weekly grocery rotation in lieu of my weekly Russo’s trip in Boston. It’s not always easy to adjust the menu to what’s in season, but I like doing it and it kind of makes sense. Our produce is fresher and cheaper for it. I’m loving all these varieties of beans and sweet potatoes, but still have no idea what the hell to do with okra.

10. Parks parks everywhere. We’re 10 minutes from Umstead Park and a half mile from Crabtree Creek Trail on the Greenway system, both easy stops so E can enjoy a “walk inna woods,” his new obsession. There are a ton of city and state parks and green spaces, all easy to find, well maintained, and generally free. My new happy place, the North Carolina Museum of Art, boasts a 160 acre Museum Park with trails and art that we’ve already been to twice because it’s just plain awesome. Part of our reason for moving south was being able to enjoy the outdoors more often, and we’re stoked to have so many ways to do it.

It’s unfair to do a side by side comparison of Boston and Raleigh, and needless since Boston will always hold a dear and permanent place in my heart. But there’s something about Raleigh that feels like it fits who we’ve become and who we want to be in a really exciting way. None of this has been easy, but I know without a doubt that it was the right move.
*If you’re counting that’s four thinly veiled references to male genitals in this blog post so far. Pretty sure only Barstool Sports could top that.
photo from raleighnc.gov

By Jennifer Spencer

I'm a storyteller, food lover, book collector, and a Southerner at heart. I love connecting people.