Cary (and Morrisville)

Population: about 162,000

Cary Profile/Morrisville Profile

Cary is famous for being a great place to live – to sum it up, it is within a few miles of a major business park (Research Triangle Park), has good to great schools, nice amenities and parks, and new, relatively inexpensive housing. What’s not to like?

Cary is still a pretty new suburb. Sprung up from the farmland that still surrounds it, Cary is a little city that was built in a hurry but with lots of standards and planning. There are actually 2 Carys – west Cary is newer and has some other bragging rights, while south Cary was built out in the 80s and so has the advantages of a more established community.

Almost everything in Cary looks shiny and new and uniformly pretty. The landscaping along the roads and in medians is extensive, lush and always immaculate; the houses and even strip malls are painted soothing, muted colors. Even the convenience stores and gas stations are attractive. And there is still lots of lush  greenery and trees along the parkways and in the older neighborhoods – though whole swaths of it do still disappear practically overnight to be replaced by new shopping centers and housing.

Drive around Cary and you will see neighborhood after neighborhood of attractive houses. That’s mostly what Cary is – a collection of nice subdivisions surrounded by nice stores and conveniences. Cary doesn’t have a “bad neighborhood” that you would be afraid to enter. 

Schools:  Cary (and Wake County in general) schools are good to excellent -- but crowded. While every house in Wake County gets one year round school choice and one traditional calendar school choice, many of the most popular schools are capped -- i.e., full.  But Cary -- as it has always been -- is on top of that, having built a new elementary school and a new high school in the last 2 years (2015 - 2017) to ease overcrowding.

Here’s what you will get in Cary:

Community amenities – many many communities in Cary boast a pool and tennis court, if not a golf course. Many of the bigger neighborhoods offer family social activities, swim teams, “parent’s night out” babysitting service and even summer camps for the kids. Some of these communities have actual country clubs – but many offer country club-like amenities and activities without the big fees.

A great house – If you are from a big city or populous state, you will be pleasantly shocked at what your money will buy here. There is an almost embarrassing wealth of stunning houses (15 years old or less) that can be had for $400,000 - $800,000 in Cary. Houses with granite counters, custom built-ins, wood floors, multiple fireplaces, crown molding, trey ceilings, and master baths and walk-in closets that will make your mouth water.

Great schools – see Schools

Trails/Parks – Trails, or “Greenways" as they’re called here. Lots of these paved trails connect neighborhood to neighborhood, making for great biking/rollerskating/running/walking, etc. And Bond Park is a wonderful park with a big lake and huge fields for sports. Cary was built using a ton of research on what people want in a neighborhood, and walking trails and green space came up high on the list – and the builders and developers listened.

Here’s what you will NOT get in Cary:

A private back yard – These are pretty rare. Notice I did not say there are no “big” back yards – they might be a nice size -- but the average house in Cary has a good view of the deck/back side/back yard of at least two neighboring houses … if not more.

A basement – These are not impossible to find, but they aren't standard, either.  Three reasons they aren't in every house:  1) The soil below-ground is clay. Clay holds water very nicely, which is not ideal for a basement home.  Most Cary houses are built on a slab or crawl space.  2) Builders do not get the same sale price per sq foot for basement space that they do for above ground space, and, 3) it takes longer to build a basement home. So for builders, why spend more time building space you can’t charge as much for, which is problematic anyway?  Whenever possible in cary, builders forgo building basement homes in favor of building second floor  "bonus rooms” – which is extra living space … above ground, which most would prefer anyway.

Any “city” or “downtown” feel – I am told (almost every year) that Cary is working very hard to revitalize its original downtown area, and in the seven or eight blocks of "historic downtown Cary" there is a nice Italian restaurant, a good deli and a great old fashioned drugstore called Ashworth’s. But I think it's safe to say that most people who live in Cary have never been there. Mostly Cary is about chain stores and restaurants. 


Read the Top 10 reasons to move to the Triangle area

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