Durham, NC vs. Raleigh, NC: Which Is Better for Businesses?

Published: 05-19-2022  Category: General CRE

Both the city of Durham and the city of Raleigh are exceptional North Carolina cities. Many businesses would love to have the opportunity to establish themselves in either one of these dynamic locations.

But with so many details to consider, which is a better bet for your business?

Both Durham and Raleigh have their own unique advantages for businesses, which isn’t surprising given that they’re just 20 miles apart.

Here’s how each city measures up if you’re trying to decide where to settle your business.

Population Comparisons

Raleigh has a population of 488,334. The population in Durham is only 292,301. This is a significant difference.

It means that Raleigh can offer businesses much more in terms of labor force, which gives businesses the ability to produce more goods and services.

Average Demographics

In Raleigh, the population demographics in 2022 were:

  • Median age is 33.1 years old.
  • 51.7% of the population is female.
  • 18.5% of the population is between the ages of 25 to 34.
  • 53.5% of the population identifies as White.
  • 28.3% of the population identifies as Black.
  • 11% of the population identifies as Hispanic.

In Durham, the population demographics in 2022 were:

  • Median age is 33.6 years old.
  • 53% of the population is female.
  • 19.1% of the population is between the ages of 25 to 34.
  • 38.8% of the population identifies as White.
  • 39.1% of the population identifies as Black.
  • 14% of the population identifies as Hispanic.

Raleigh is slightly less diverse than Durham. However, many of the other demographics are more or less the same between both cities.

Average Household Income

The average household income in Raleigh is $94,359.

The average household income in Durham is $82,573.

Commercial Real Estate Comparisons

Raleigh has a stronger economy than Durham: Raleigh is the 2nd largest city in the state, and experts say that there will be significant growth in this region.

This will certainly be good for business owners seeking to establish a thriving business in this location.

However, here are some other data points to consider.

Average Commercial Rents

The average cost of commercial rent in Durham is:

  • Class A Office Space: $29.80 per square foot.
  • Class B Office Space: $22.34 per square foot.
  • Class C Office Space: $21.64 per square foot.

The average cost of commercial rent in Raleigh is:

  • Class A Office Space: $31.59 per square foot.
  • Class B Office Space: $24.62 per square foot.
  • Class C Office Space: $19.92 per square foot.

It is slightly more affordable to lease commercial real estate in Durham than it is to lease commercial real estate in Raleigh.

However, the differences are fairly minor.

Commercial Vacancy Rates

The commercial vacancy rate in Durham is 4.23%.

The commercial vacancy rate in Raleigh is 9.63%.

CRE Market Outlook for 2022

The Raleigh-Durham commercial real estate market is projected to grow over the next few years, as more people move away from the northeast and into the Sunbelt.

Investing in commercial real estate in these areas now can lead to growth opportunities for commercial real estate investors.

Commercial Activity Comparisons

Raleigh and Durham have strong real estate markets. This is largely due to its location in the Research Triangle Park, which is a major hub for biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical research.

Additionally, North Carolina State University and Duke University both have significant presences in Raleigh because of the Research Triangle Park.

The presence of these universities will be a significant factor for businesses interested in establishing themselves near major schools.

Here are some other sectors of commercial real estate to consider.

Retail: In-Person Shopping Versus Online Shopping

The Research Triangle Park offers a mix of in-person and online shopping options. This mix is perfect for shoppers who want to buy from businesses close to their homes.

There are a number of large retail hubs in the region, which give shoppers sufficient selection to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Many people prefer to shop in person, but more and more of them are buying their goods online.

The two options are quickly converging and shoppers are looking for the best possible combination of both options.

North Carolinian residents have become more comfortable with shopping online, so it’s not uncommon for people to purchase items for use at home or to ship those items elsewhere.

Stores must be open and receptive to both types of customers if they want to thrive in today’s economy, especially in smaller urban areas like Durham.

Industrial: Warehouse Storage Activity

Industrial real estate is a huge part of both Durham and Raleigh’s economies. It provides jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Industrial space supports wholesale trade operations like warehouses and distribution centers that ship goods to stores, as well as firms that bring raw materials into the city for manufacturing or other production purposes.

Industrial space is an essential part of any thriving business area.

Office: Office Space Activity

Office space activity is also a big part of the local economy. It offers employment opportunities as well, from research and development to administrative support.

Many corporate headquarters are located in Raleigh and Durham, meaning that major companies are likely to keep growing in these urban areas.

Multifamily: Vacancy Rates & Leasing Activity

The multifamily real estate sector is performing well in Durham and Raleigh.

The vacancy rates are lower in Raleigh than they are in Durham, which means that apartments might be harder to find.

However, both markets are performing well when it comes to leases and other apartment activity, especially for university students.

Deciding Which Location Is Right for Your Business

The Research Triangle Park and the areas surrounding it offer a number of advantages to businesses.

It’s one of the most advanced regions in the world, which means that your company can easily find the staff with the best training or education to meet your needs.

Additionally, there are many grants available to encourage businesses to locate in this area.

Durham and Raleigh are both prime places for business: you just have to decide which city is right for you.

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