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Relocation FAQs

How does Durham's public school system compare to others?

Durham's white, African-American, Latino, and Asian public school students consistently score higher than state and national averages for the SAT. They also test at or above grade level in percentages comparable to similar students in adjacent counties. The bottom line is that all of the public school systems in the Research Triangle region compare quite favorably to systems nationwide, and families can focus their relocation decisions on the communities that lessen traffic and commute times and fulfill lifestyle preferences. Visit the Durham Public Schools website for more information.

What is the terrain like in Durham?

Durham is located at the eastern edge of North Carolina's Piedmont region, at the point where elevations drop off toward Raleigh and the Coastal Plain. Durham is characterized by 96,000 acres of hardwood and evergreen forests, including the Piedmont's only remaining old-growth forests, and 7,800 acres of cropland. Durham includes hills and dales, meandering rivers and streams, several lakes, 26 rare plant species, and several rare species of animals.

What cities or towns are located in Durham County?

Durham is a single-city county with the City of Durham as its seat. Durham-based Research Triangle Park is not a city but rather a special Durham County research and production tax district. Durham County also includes unincorporated areas or neighborhoods called Bahama, Rougemont, and Bethesda, which are referenced for tax and voting purposes.

Are taxes high in Durham?

Durham is home to several tax-advantaged organizations like Duke University and Research Triangle Park, but a third of the county is set aside in watershed, so this narrows the tax burden some. The tax rate in Durham is higher than in some communities, but this can be deceptive because the assessed valuation here is usually lower.

Current tax rates for Durham (per $100 of assessed value):
  • Ad Valorem County Property Tax: $1.3843
  • Fire District Tax Rates: $.0799-$.1729
  • City Property Tax Rate on Real and Personal Property: $.5912-.6612
  • County Property Tax Rate on Real and Personal Property: $.7931
Additionally, there is a:
  • 7.5% retail sales tax 
  • 2% tax on groceries
  • 13.5% tax on hotel rooms (7.5% sales tax, 6% lodging room occupancy and tourism development tax)
  • 16% car rental tax (25.61% at RDU International Airport)
  • NC state income tax of 5.75%.

What are the Durham slogans?

Durham is the Bull City, first coined in the 19th century when Bull Durham Tobacco was popular, but now linked mostly with the Triple-A Durham Bulls and the movie Bull Durham. Durham is also known officially as the City of Medicine, USA, because 1 in 4 people here are employed in healthcare. The City of Durham also makes use of the slogan "Good Things Are Happening in Durham." The slogan for Durham County is "A County with MERIT" (Medicine, Education, Research, Industry, and Technology).

What are Durham neighborhoods like?

Durham has everything from multimillion-dollar homes at golf courses and lakes to bungalows and cottages in historic neighborhoods. There are Downtown Durham lofts, planned communities, country homes, retirement villages, and working agricultural and horse farms. Durham may have the best home values in the Triangle region, and everything is close to the Triangle's largest employers.

What is crime like in Durham?

Durham's crime rate compares favorably with its regional and national peer groups.

How is Durham governed?

The City of Durham has a strong, council-manager form of government with a seven-member city council, which includes the mayor. The County of Durham is governed by a five-member board of county commissioners and operated by a county manager. Durham elects two state senators and four state representatives to the North Carolina General Assembly.

What is Durham's identity or image?

Scientific public-opinion polls show that 87% of Durham residents are pleased or very pleased with their community, compared to 5% who are not. Over 86% are proud or very proud of their community. Many Durham residents are activists and progressive by nature. New ideas in Durham get a full, public discussion, and, historically, Durham has been very tolerant. Physically, the community is made up of historic buildings adapted to new purposes, including a number of tobacco warehouses that have been turned into lofts, offices, and retail.

Are there any required pet laws or licenses?

Dog or cat owners who live in Durham County must list the animal with the Durham County tax administrator within 30 days of bringing the animal into the county. Most veterinarians can provide information about registering pets. All dogs must be on leashes when off their owner's property, and unattended outdoor tethering is illegal.

What do I need to know about getting a driver license and registering my car?

New residents must obtain a driver license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence. Proof of residency, age, identity, liability insurance, and a valid social security card are required. There are also written, road sign, and vision tests. For additional information, call (919) 715-7000 or visit www.ncdot.org/dmv/.

Vehicles must be registered with the NC DOT at the expiration of the time granted by reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and prior state of residence, usually 30 days or when gainful employment is accepted, whichever comes first. Title or lien release and valid registration from prior state required. For information, visit www.ncdot.org/dmv/vehicle_services/.

Out-of-state residents moving to North Carolina must obtain a North Carolina license or identification card prior to registering a vehicle.

North Carolina requires an annual vehicle safety and emissions inspection within 10 days of receiving a North Carolina license plate and then annually thereafter, due the same month as the vehicle's registration renewal. Licensed inspection stations are marked by signage throughout the community.

Are there any libraries in Durham?

There are ten libraries in Durham, including eight branches of the Durham County LibraryDuke University's Perkins Library, and the James E. Shepard Memorial Library at NC Central University.

Where is the post office in Durham?

USPS operates many full-service postal offices in Durham, as well as additional drop-off locations and approved postal providers. Visit the USPS website to find a convenient location.

How do I register to vote in Durham?

A voter registration application must be completed at least 25 days prior to an election. There are numerous sites where registration can be completed, including Durham County Libraries, the Employment Security Commission, the Board of Elections, Northgate Mall, and online.

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Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau
212 W Main St #101
Durham, NC 27701 USA
Phone: (919) 687-0288
Toll Free: (800) 446-8604