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Last updated October 20 at 7:58AM
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City Guide
Downtown: You and Your Lofty Ideals

The city center has undergone exciting revitalization in the past few decades. Old tobacco warehouses have been converted into high-end living and retail spaces that offer amenities for the modern dweller who likes things shiny and new. Housing consists mostly of condo and loft style rental units. Although pricey, a one bedroom loft apartment puts you in the center of a thriving scene which includes fine dining establishments, unique retail, and young professionals moving on up. Like most residential areas in downtown cities, finding a grocery store is usually a challenge. Durham is working hard to bring a high-quality store into the area. Enter The Durham Central Market, a co-op grocery store owned by community members (that means you) and investors. The project is currently in the development stage, but it’s likely that buying groceries downtown will be a reality in the future.

Charmed, I’m Sure

For those seeking the tree-lined streets of older, established neighborhoods, areas such as Watts-Hillandale, Trinity Park, and Old West Durham offer a mix of houses, duplexes and apartment living. Competitively priced for quiet, residential living in historic neighborhoods, you are within walking distance of the ninth street shopping district with its funky, independent shops and restaurants. When you’re in the mood to hug a tree or perhaps kiss a frog, green spaces and dog parks are abundant in the city. The Tobacco Trail, a popular route for hiking and biking, is easily accessed from these neighborhoods, and if the natural splendor steps away from your living space isn’t enough, the Coast and the Smoky Mountains are both just a few hours away. Because this area is so desirable, properties rent fast. Be prepared to move quickly when you find the seemingly perfect place.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

In Durham, there will be no shortage of doctors and quality medical care. They don’t call it the City of Medicine for kicks and giggles. Life happens, even moving-related injuries are known to occur. Why exactly are you moving that overstuffed sofa by yourself? Rest easy, the area around Duke University Hospital, particularly near Erwin Rd., offers a large concentration of apartment complexes and rental properties, with easy access to the city’s bus line, the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA). A popular area for professionals, students and that category known as “other,” there’s something in the way of housing for everyone.

Soccer Balls and Shopping Malls

The area near Southpoint shopping mall is best described as suburban. Young families, single professionals and grad students make up this area of planned communites, cul-de-sacs and apartment complexes, conveniently located to familiar big box retail stores and family-oriented amenities. Like most of the neighborhoods in Durham, the city center is accessible in a matter of minutes when you’re itching to kick up your heels.

Getting In and Around (and Turned Around)

Durham is a city known to have street names that change without warning. For instance, Duke University Road and West Chapel Hill Street are the same. It can get tricky, but not Bermuda Triangle tricky—you may get lost, but it won’t be forever. The city is relatively easy to navigate otherwise, with good public transportation and residents happy to help you find your way. Highway 147 cuts across the city diagonally with all major areas of interest easily accessed and traffic not too hairy within the city limits. Bike enthusiasts will be happy to know that the League of American Bicyclists recently named the city of Durham a Bicycle Friendly Community—although many residents agree that more paths and racks are found on Duke’s campus than elsewhere in town.

Beware, the Students

Now that you’ve got your wits about you, take note of some other helpful tips when apartment hunting in Durham. Both Duke University and North Carolina Central University bring thousands of students to the area each year, not to mention both experienced professionals and young graduates who have accepted job offers in the city’s prominent firms, hospitals and the all-mighty Research Triangle Park—7,000 acres of more than 170 research facilities in technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medicine, all affiliated with the major universities of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. Housing can be competitive, especially in the summer months. If you can, consider renting in the “off season” where you’ll be one of a few candidates and not one of twenty-five. If this isn’t possible, jump on the right place when you see it and consider bringing a letter of reference from your previous landlord to set you apart from the crowd.

A New Lease on Life

Good news when it comes to signing a lease—they come in a range of sizes to fit your needs. You won’t be asking if your butt looks big in your cozy little pad if you take advantage of the agreement that suits you best, so do your research & be flexible. Signing a lease for three, six, and nine months is a common alternative to the traditional year-long commitment. However, a three-month lease will average 200 to 300 dollars more a month in rent, whereas a six-month agreement will average 50 to 100 dollars more. While the cost in monthly expenses may be higher than you’d like, breaking a lease agreement can be the most costly of all.

Some high-end rental properties in Durham require tenants to have renter’s insurance. This may come as a surprise for many, so be sure to read over a lease carefully before you sign on the dotted line. Come to think of it, reading your lease and insuring your possessions are two of the leat expensive and smartest things you can do when moving to Durham. Even in the City of Medicine, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Rent Report

October 2017 Durham Rent Report

Welcome to the October 2017 Durham Rent Report. Durham rents declined over the past month. In this report, we'll evaluate trends in the Durham rental market, including comparisons to similar cities nationwide.

Durham rents declined slightly over the past month

Durham rents have declined 0.3% over the past month, but have increased significantly by 4.2% in comparison to the same time last year. Currently, median rents in Durham stand at $920 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,080 for a two-bedroom. Durham's year-over-year rent growth leads the state average of 3.9%, as well as the national average of 2.8%.

Durham rents more affordable than many large cities nationwide

As rents have increased significantly in Durham, a few large cities nationwide have seen rents grow more modestly, or in some cases, even decline. Durham is still more affordable than most large cities across the country.

  • Rents also increased moderately in other cities across the state, with North Carolina as a whole logging rent growth of 3.9% over the past year. For example, rents have grown by 3.5% in Charlotte and 2.9% in Raleigh.
  • Durham's median two-bedroom rent of $1,080 is below the national average of $1,160. Nationwide, rents have grown by 2.8% over the past year compared to the 4.2% increase in Durham.
  • While Durham's rents rose significantly over the past year, the city of New York saw a decrease of 0.1%.
  • Renters will find more reasonable prices in Durham than most large cities. For example, San Francisco has a median 2BR rent of $3,080, which is more than two-and-a-half times the price in Durham.

For more information check out our national report. You can also access our full data for cities and counties across the U.S. at this link.

Methodology - Recent Updates:

Data from private listing sites, including our own, tends to skew toward luxury apartments, which introduces sample bias when estimates are calculated directly from these listings. To address these limitations, we’ve recently made major updates to our methodology, which we believe have greatly improved the accuracy and reliability of our estimates.

Read more about our new methodology below, or see a more detailed post here.


Apartment List is committed to making our rent estimates the best and most accurate available. To do this, we start with reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau, then extrapolate them forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from our listing data. In doing so, we use a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, comparing only units that are available across both time periods to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.

Our approach corrects for the sample bias inherent in other private sources, producing results that are much closer to statistics published by the Census Bureau and HUD. Our methodology also allows us to construct a picture of rent growth over an extended period of time, with estimates that are updated each month.

Read more about our methodology here.

About Rent Reports:

Apartment List publishes monthly reports on rental trends for hundreds of cities across the U.S. We intend these reports to be a source of reliable information that help renters and policymakers make sound decisions, and we invest significant time and effort in gathering and analyzing rent data. Our work is covered regularly by journalists across the country.

We are continuously working to improve our methodology and data, with the goal of providing renters with the information that they need to make the best decisions.

Durham Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter confidence in the economy, homeownership, and cities
Here's how Durham ranks on:
C- Overall satisfaction
D Safety and crime rate
A- Jobs and career opportunities
C+ Recreational activities
B+ Affordability
C+ Quality of schools
B+ Weather
B+ Commute time
C State and local taxes
D Public transit
B- Pet-friendliness
Best Worst
Full data available when viewing on a non-mobile device.
Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released results for Durham from the second annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. The survey, which drew on responses from over 30,000 renters, provides insight into what states and cities must do to meet the needs of the 105 million American renters nationwide.

“Renters in Durham seem to be slightly dissatisfied with their city overall,” says Andrew Woo, Director of Data Science at Apartment List. “Renters gave a mix of above- and below-average scores.”

Key findings in Durham include the following:

  • Durham renters give their city a C- overall for satisfaction.
  • The highest-rated category for Durham was its local job and career opportunities, which received an A- score.
  • Renters in Durham also seemed generally satisfied with commute times (B+) and affordability and cost of living (B+).
  • Some of the larger concerns for Durham renters included the quality of local schools (C+), safety (D), and access to public transit (D).
  • Overall, Durham renters were not quite as satisfied as renters in nearby places like Raleigh (A) and Charlotte (A-).
  • The top rated cities nationwide for renter satisfaction included Arlington, VA; Lincoln, NE; Pasadena, CA; Boston, MA; and Madison, WI. The lowest rated cities included Newark, NJ; Bronx, NY; Bridgeport, CT; Baltimore, MD; and Salinas, CA.