When I travel people invariably ask me what it's like back in Raleigh. They may know a little about Charlotte. They may know a little about the Outer Banks. But the only thing they know about Raleigh is that we have college basketball. Some know about Research Triangle Park. But what they don't know is what it's like to live here in Raleigh and build a business.
I'm only beginning to scratch the surface but I'm realizing Raleigh is very different than what I thought it was in terms of population, culture, people, and opportunity.
Population of Raleigh
The population of Raleigh is about 430,000. Combined with Durham, Chapel Hill, and the surrounding metro area, the population soars to nearly 1.5 million. This is roughly the size of metropolitan Indianapolis. The population centers are quite spread out however. The distance between the primary cities of Raleigh and Durham is about 25 miles filled mostly with residential areas. The downtown areas, especially Raleigh's, are small, very walkable, and increasingly trendy.
Culture of Raleigh
Speaking of trendy: it's trendy like Portland is trendy, not like New York is trendy. Raleigh has a surprising number of cool, hip, fun restaurants serving a wide range of cuisine. And even the trendy diner has local beers on tap. Culturally it still has a very small city feel.
People of Raleigh
Raleigh residents come from all over. Many are native to the area but you'll find a sizable chunk having come from surrounding states as well as a large contingent from the New York City area. This gives it nice mix of cultures and ideas. And the people here are friendly. It's that small city feel I mentioned earlier. I think people are more apt to be nice to you if they think they'll run into you again. The people are also humble and generous. They want to see Raleigh do well and, by extension, they want to see you do well.
Opportunity in Raleigh
This brings me to the main reason for writing this post: Why Raleigh is a great place to start a business. Unlike what I've heard about other cities, in Raleigh people offer business advice and connect you to people who can directly help. I have been surprised at just how generous people are with their time and sincere guidance.
Overall, Raleigh has surprised me with just how wonderful a place it is to live, work, and play. It is one of the up-and-coming cities in the United States and I feel fortunate to be a part of its emergence. I feel fortunate to have founded my public speaking training company in Raleigh.