Hillsborough, North Carolina
Median home value: $246,400
Average two-bedroom rental price: $1,049
Unemployment rate: 3.8% (nearby Durham, NC)
Public school score: A
Hillsborough, North Carolina, offers all the small town charm you might want in a southern town with all the economic opportunity you would want from a city—or three.
Just 12 miles away from Chapel Hill and Durham and 40 miles from the quickly growing state capital of Raleigh, Hillsborough offers a quiet residential alternative to the congestion of the Triangle cities, yet is still well within commuting distance to all three city centers, the Research Triangle Park, and universities like Duke, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.
North Carolina’s Triangle (comprising Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is known for its wealth of universities, highly educated workforce, world-class restaurants, and jobs in sectors like technology, medical research, government, and finance.
Hillsborough is home to a number of small art galleries that showcase the best of the region’s artists and culture. The town, which was founded in 1754, has been called an “open air museum” on account of its number of historic homes, many of which can be toured today.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy fishing, hiking, and kayaking on the Eno River, sports spectators can take in a game at the Triangle Area Polo Club, and wine lovers can visit Botanist & Barrel Winery and Tasting Room and taste wines and ciders made from locally grown blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, and apples.
And if you just need to get out of town, Hillsborough’s central location affords easy drives to both the North Carolina coast and the Blue Ridge Mountains.