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The Triangle area (RTP) is a fairly large region consisting of three main cities, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and the towns and areas surrounding these cities. Each area has its own personality, and it will be helpful if you learn more about the different areas before deciding where to live. Here is a list of links to help you learn more about your future home:
Information about the state of North Carolina can be found at nc.gov.com.
There are 100 counties in the state of North Carolina. Each county also has its own website. The four counties listed below are part of the Triangle area:
- Chatham County
- Durham County (contains the city of Durham)
- Orange County (contains the city of Chapel Hill)
- Wake County (contains the city of Raleigh)
General information about The Research Triangle Park
A map of Research Triangle Park can be found at rtp.org
RTP was founded in 1959 and more than 40,000 people work there every day.
The Triangle area has been named as one of the best places to live and work by a number of publications including Employment Review, Forbes, Expansion Management, and CNN’s Money Magazine. In the past ten years, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Raleigh-Durham as one of the top ten best cities to live in the U.S.
Cost of living is relative; it depends where you are coming from, and is always fluctuating. For a general guide on the relative cost of living in the Triangle, go to homefair.com and U.S. News Real Estate.
Finding a Place to Live
Rental housing is relatively easy to find in this area. Below are some sites to help you search for apartments on the Internet:
- Search by zip code (postal code); NIEHS is 27709
- Search by zip code (postal code); NIEHS is 27709
If you don’t want to look for an apartment immediately, there are some short-term housing options that may meet your needs
- Candlewood Suites-RTP has a shuttle that will drive you to and from NIEHS, so if you don’t yet have a car, this will help you get to work in the beginning. Your suite comes with a kitchen, housekeeping, free cable TV, free high-speed Internet access, free local phone calls, a 24-hour fitness center, and a free video and CD library.
Other nearby options (these do not have a shuttle service to the NIEHS, so you will need a ride to work) include:
- Extended Stay America on Hwy. 54 or on South Miami Boulevard. Internet rates are around $50-60 per night plus tax for stays of less than one week, or $35-45 per night plus tax if you stay longer than one week.
- Also, the HomeTowne Studios Raleigh-Durham on Hwy. 55 (search Property/Location: Durham-Research Triangle Park). Internet rates are about $40 per night plus tax.
You can get an idea of what it would cost to buy a house by searching sites such as realtor.com, zillow.com, trulia.com, and redfin.com. Real-Buzz Global Real Estate provides home finding services in multiple languages.
Some general advice about buying a home can be found in the U.S. News and World Report which contains additional links to find real estate agents.
Additional information about moving to and living in the RTP area can be found by ordering a FREE guide at Relocation Guide magazine.
There’s no good way around it – the Triangle area is big, very suburban, and you will probably want a car to get around. You may be able to use the GoTriangle bus system to get around (maps and information). NIEHS is serviced by RTP Connect which subsidizes up to $10 per Uber or Lyft trip to get from the Regional Transit Center in RTP to NIEHS. If you are able to get around by bus, you may also be eligible to participate in the NIEHS Transhare program; NIEHS has a limited number of bus passes available to employees to encourage alternative forms of transportation to work. Additional information regarding transportation can be found here:
North Carolina bike route maps are downloadable from published and digital maps are available.
If you choose to drive, you will need a North Carolina driver’s license. The list of required documents, the fees for a license, and the downloadable pdf version of the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) “Driver’s Handbook” are at The North Carolina DMV website.
If you hold a license from another state or territory of the U.S., you should be able to get your NC license by taking the vision test, a quick test of traffic signs and paying a fee. The written and road test may be waived if a valid license from another state is presented; if your out-of-state license has been expired for more than two years, the written and road tests are required. If you have a license from another country, be aware that the law enforcement authorities in North Carolina do not honor an International Driver License, so it is not worth getting one before you come to the U.S. A valid license issued by a government agency from a home state or country is required to legally drive in this state, so you can use your license for up to 60 days after moving here. After 60 days, you must have a license issued by North Carolina.
You will also have 60 days to register a car previously registered in another state. For more information on registering vehicles, go to the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.
Buying a Car
If you want to buy a new car, you will find no shortage of car dealers in this area. Check yellowpages.com to find the dealers closest to you.
There’s a lot to do in North Carolina: the beach is a 2-hour drive from the Triangle, and the mountains and some skiing are about 4 hours away. The weather in winter, spring and fall is moderate, and rarely has snow. Summers can be hot and humid (think “sauna”), but the rest of the year makes up for it if you don’t like the heat!
For local things to do, check out the following:
The News and Observer is the biggest local newspaper and is found online.
The official North Carolina state website also has links to NC attractions.
Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill provide Web access to their visitors’ bureaus:
The Triangle is also close to several cities for weekend trips:
- Atlanta is a 5-hour drive or 90-minute flight from Raleigh/Durham.
- For the adventurous, the Raleigh-Durham International airport has nonstop flights to both London and Paris (about 7-8 hrs. flying time).
- New York is an 8-hour drive or 2-hour flight from Raleigh/Durham.
- Washington, D.C. is a 4-hour drive or 1-hour flight from Raleigh/Durham.
Raleigh-Durham International airport (RDU) is located about five miles from NIEHS, and is close to just about anywhere in the Triangle area. For directions, airlines that fly into RDU, and flight schedules, go to rdu.com.
Childcare, School and Educational Options
- Links to additional information can also be found at childcare and preschools webpage.
- Our childcare center is the First Environments Early Learning Center.
- The state of North Carolina also provides a searchable database of childcare facilities.
Kindergarten through 12th Grade:
- For school-aged children, you can search for schools and their annual test scores at NC School Report Cards or K-12 Public School Systems.
- Other programs and information for children provided by the state are at North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Community Colleges, Colleges and Universities:
- Links to NC community colleges can be found at nccommunitycolleges.edu.
- Links to NC universities can be found at northcarolina.edu.
- Links to the local colleges and universities can also be found at workinthetriangle.com/learn/college-univeristies and workinthetriangle.com/learn/community-colleges-technical-schools.
Taxes and Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Individual circumstances will differ, depending on whether you are moving from a position in the U.S. (you have worked or been a student in this country previously) or are moving to the U.S. from another country. Tax laws will affect our international scientists differently depending on their country of origin and existence of tax treaties. Below are some links that will help you find information specific to your situation.
NIH Division of International Services (DIS): The Division of International Services provides immigration-related services to the NIH for visiting foreign scientists and the NIH research community. NIH's DIS website contains a wealth of resources for visiting NIH scientists, such as those relating to taxes. (Source: NIH Division of International Services (DIS))
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): This is the governmental office responsible for collecting federal income taxes in the U.S. More specific information for International Taxpayers can be found online.
You may need a Social Security Number (SSN) and card while working in the US. The SSN is used by the IRS as an identification number. It is often required by banks to open an account, and by the Division of Motor Vehicles to determine your immigration status. For more information, go to the Social Security Administration homepage. Instructions for how to get a card can be found at Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens.
Please be aware that you will not be able to apply for the SSN and card until you have entered the US, and you must apply in person. It will take several weeks to receive your number. The closest Social Security office to NIEHS is at 3511 Shannon Road, Durham, NC. You can search for the office and a map at secure.ssa.gov (NIEHS’ zip code is 27709).
The alternative to the SSN is the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN or TIN). An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "9", formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN). It may be issued by the Social Security Administration or the IRS. For more information about the TIN, go to irs.gov.
Banking in the U.S.
Many employers (including the NIEHS) will require you to “direct deposit” or transfer your pay/salary electronically into a bank account. You will need to open a bank account in order to get paid. If you already have a SSN or TIN, this should be relatively easy; if you do not yet have a number, it may take some time.
The U.S. Patriot Act requires banks to have a system for identifying its customers, and to ensure that those customers are in the U.S. legally. Many banks have chosen to require the SSN or TIN in addition to another form of identification (usually your passport), but it can take several weeks to receive your SSN or TIN number. Make sure that your SSN or TIN application is complete, and that you have signed it before submitting it – this will eliminate unnecessary delays in receiving your number.
You can find more information about the U.S. banking system online.
A general website designed for foreign-born individuals entering the U.S. is foreignborn.com. The website covers the basics on “Sending Money Abroad”, “Bank Accounts”, “Credit Cards”, “Health Insurance”, “Medical Care”, “Social Security”, and more.
Fellows are also eligible to join the NIH Federal Credit Union (NIHFCU) for their banking needs. The NIHFCU offers a Fellows Advantage program to help fellows, including those without existing credit, succeed financially.
The U.S. celebrates a number of federal holidays, during which federal agencies (including NIEHS), post offices, and banks are closed. These holidays are:
- January 1 (New Year’s Day)
- third Monday in January (Martin Luther King’s Birthday)
- third Monday in February (President’s Day)
- last Monday in May (Memorial Day)
- June 19 (Juneteenth)
- July 4 (Independence Day)
- first Monday in September (Labor Day)
- second Monday in October (Columbus Day)
- November 11 (Veterans’ Day)
- last Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day)
- December 25 (Christmas Day)
Other Helpful Information
The Triangle is home to a number of foreign nationals. Explore local international communities.
Looking for a source of ethnic foods or restaurants? Try searching on Triangle CitySearch under the “Restaurants” section. IndyWeek also has a searchable list of local restaurants.
Our local community colleges (2-year schools) offer English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for all skill levels – many of these classes are free, or offered for a small fee. Please see Durham Technical Community College for information about the ESL Course.
Wake Technical Community College’s ESL listing resources describes more advanced options for those who do not need the basic ESL classes can be found beyond the basics.
Both colleges offer courses at many locations around the counties, during the day and in the evenings.