Raleigh vs. Charlotte—Which One’s Really the Best?

All right, maybe we can’t say Raleigh is “better” than Charlotte—they’re just different. But there are definitely some reasons relocators choose one over the other. To help you out, we’ll take a look at some of the cities’ major differences and why Raleigh might be the better choice for you.


Raleigh vs. Charlotte: Major Differences

Business and Industry

A major reason for relocation is often career-related. You may know that Raleigh is home to the Research Triangle Park, a highly tech-based research campus that’s home to major international businesses like IBM, RTI International, Cisco, raleigh vs. charlotte employment differencesGlaxoSmithKline, and more. It sets the vibe of a strong research/tech/healthcare/education industry within the city—as does the area’s three major research universities—drawing large and established AND small start-up business alike.


Charlotte, on the other hand, has much more of a focus on the financial industry, with big corporate businesses such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and American Airlines making up major portions of the workforce. The downside is that financial industries don’t necessarily lend themselves well to start-up or small business, leaving fewer non-corporate options.

Nightlife & Entertainment

They’re both major cities with bustling downtown and major sports teams. But here again they differ greatly. In Charlotte, raleigh vs. charlotte big city entertainmentyou’ll find one downtown hub with everything in it—bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, entertainment venues, major sports arenas. Raleigh has a much smaller downtown scene, with its NHL stadium and several of its museums and entertainment venues actually outside of the downtown area. You’ll find less of a bustling downtown nightlife scene in Raleigh—but you will find plenty of alternative options in its surrounding areas, like Downtown Durham, Chapel Hill, or even Apex.


Another major difference is the pro sports. Raleigh has the NHL Hurricanes. Charlotte has the NFL Panthers, the NBA Hornets, and NASCAR. What Charlotte doesn’t have is Raleigh’s huge college sports presence—with NC State, UNC, and Duke all providing D1-level events.

Education Options

If you’re planning on sending your children to public schools in your new city, Raleigh again might be your top choice. Its Wake County Public Schools are not only the largest district in the state, but also one of its most highly-rated, with raleigh vs. charlotte placing the district at #5 Best School District in the state. Charlotte’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools trailed far behind at #30 overall.


Also, Raleigh has a much stronger presence of higher education, with 12 institutes in the city alone (including North Carolina State University). And that’s not even counting the two major universities in the neighboring cities of Durham and Chapel Hill (Duke and UNC). Charlotte has only 6 total.

Raleigh vs. Charlotte: What’s the Bottom Line?

They’re two different cities. Charlotte is one bustling big-city filled with big-city things like big business, a vibrant downtown scene, decent public transit, and schools that range from stellar to not-so-great. It’s a great choice for those looking for work in a financial industry or who love the big-city attractions, entertainment, and nightlife.


raleigh vs. charlotte debateRaleigh, on the other hand, is more than just Raleigh. It’s also Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Apex, Cary, Holly Springs… catch the drift? It’s more spread out, giving it a more laid-back “small-town” feel, and also plenty more options for housing and even entertainment. You can still get the big-city feel close to the downtown area—and get the different vibes from neighboring downtowns, too. But you’ll definitely experience a more homey suburban feeling in Raleigh.

Moving to Raleigh & Buying a Home Here?

If you’re relocating to Raleigh and buying a home, then it’s time to contact Team Ruby! We’re here to answer all your questions about life in the Triangle, clear up any home buying questions or concerns, and ensure you find the perfect home in just the right location.