Durham is perhaps best known as the northern tip of North Carolina’s prestigious “research triangle,” a tri-city area home to some of the nation’s most prestigious research universities. (The other two tips of the triangle are neighboring Chapel Hill and Raleigh.)

Durham, for its part, boasts Duke University and the historically Black college North Carolina Central University — both of which recently made Money’s list of best colleges. For most cities, that would be the whole story. But Durham is no one-trick pony.

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Left: Scenic photo of Durham; Right: Street fair
Discover Durham

For starters, Durham’s economy is one to envy. Jobs are expected to grow 6% in the coming years, soundly above the national average. The city’s unemployment rate is also notably lower than North Carolina’s as a whole.

The city is also a proud hub for Black entrepreneurs, with a long history of successful Black-owned enterprises. Mechanics and Farmers (M&F) Bank, which played a pivotal role in helping build Black wealth in the early 1900s when other banks refused service to Black locals, still operates today out of a stunning historic building on Parrish Street.

If you’re more interested in a different type of green — nature, that is — Durham’s got more than 1,600 acres of parklands, a 22-mile biking and walking trail, two city lakes, easy access to the multi-state East Coast Greenway and the gargantuan Duke Forest. (Full disclosure: North Carolina is one of a handful of states where the other other type of green is still illegal.)

Urbanites will feel at home, too. A sizable number of breweries have sprouted up downtown. Thanks to legendary staples such as The Chicken Hut and the Backyard BBQ Pit, Durham is also garnering a national reputation as a soul-food and barbecue paradise. At the American Tobacco Campus, a stunningly revitalized tobacco-factory complex, there’s no shortage of other restaurants, shops, markets and events to peruse.

Now here’s the best part: All of these perks come at a fraction of the price of Durham’s research-city sisters. While housing costs have gone up across the board in North Carolina, both rent and median home prices in Durham tend to be more affordable than Raleigh and Chapel Hill.