I am so proud of you for taking the leap and choosing to take two years away from your job, your time abroad and/or your family to pursue an MBA.
I was living abroad in China when I received my acceptance to UNC Kenan-Flagler. I had never been to the School and wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit prior to beginning my studies, and questions about housing location, safety, cost and convenience swirled around my head at night.
I opted to live in UNC’s on-campus graduate student housing, Baity Hill, to ease my concerns about moving to a new area. After living in there for one year, I had learned enough about Chapel Hill (and beyond) to make an informed decision about where I wanted to live for my second year of school.
There are so many different facets to think about when choosing a program, and I hope my insights can help lessen your worries on where to live and where to play in the Chapel Hill area.
Closest to the Business School: Baity Hill and Mason Farm Residential community
Baity Hill and Mason Farm are located on Mason Farm Road, right behind the Business School. I walked to class every day in under 10 minutes. I loved this option for a host of reasons. One, the community is unbeatable! I loved spending time with the international individuals and families who attracted to on-campus housing. My neighbors were from all over the world and were always so hospitable. Second, this living community provides great bang for buck. A two-bedroom apartment is about $600 a month, and you can choose to live with a b-school classmate or a student from a different Carolina program. The apartments are updated and spacious. Lastly, the convenience to the Business School is awesome. You can leave to come home for lunch or to nap. A con of this area is it is not very easy to get to a grocery store or restaurant, especially if you don’t have a car.
Most Fun: Downtown Carrboro and Northside neighborhoods
Both of these neighborhoods offer convenient access to coffee shops, restaurants, fitness studios, bars and taco trucks. I chose to move to downtown Carrboro after my amazing year in Baity Hill because I wanted to live in a more walkable area. Apartments in these areas tend to cost more, but if you are able to find a larger home and split the rent with a group of students, you might be able to score a monthly rate below $600. Carrboro is well-known for its farm-to-table advocacy, as promoted by their awesome Farmer’s Market and local restaurants. Northside is known for its access to the Franklin Street Bar and music scene close to the UNC campus. Buses run reliably through both areas and biking/walking is encouraged. For reference, biking from Carrboro to UNC Kenan-Flagler takes me about 20 minutes, and about 15 minutes from Northside.
Most Camaraderie: The Morgan and the Morgan Reserve apartments
Lots of UNC Kenan-Flagler classmates tend to live at the Morgan, as it offers great amenities, like a large pool, community center, outdoor pavilion and newly renovated apartments. Lots of MBA events happen here, so choosing to live here grabs you a front-row seat at MBA pool parties, BBQs, tailgates and student-lead club events. Student carpool game is strong at the Morgan, so if you don’t have a car and don’t want to wait for the bus, a ride will (nearly) always be available. Even though the Morgan is located closer to the Meadowmont shopping area and the highway (and therefore the RDU airport), a con of the Morgan is that it is located a few miles away from the Business School and the downtown Franklin/Carrboro areas.
Most Posh: The Berkshire on West Franklin, Carolina Square, and the Lofts at Environ Way
Both of these apartments are nice. They are crisp, clean and great if you have some extra coin to spend. The Berkshire is located next to Whole Foods, CorePower Yoga, Barre, O2 gym and fast-casual restaurants. Carolina Square is near a small Target, Purvelo Cycle Studio and endless shops on Franklin Street. Environ Way is located near Fresh Market, a boxing studio and the Coco Bean Coffee Shop. Buses frequent all of these locations, but due to busy roads I do not recommend biking or walking to school from Environ Lofts or the Berkshire. Carolina Square is located close to UNC’s main campus, and therefore has lots of walking and bike paths that lead to the Business School.
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Perennial: Small, cozy and Instagram-worthy, Perennial is a great spot for an early morning pour over or an afternoon muddled mint latte. During popping study times, however, Perennial gets packed fast as they have limited seating.
Open Eye Café: Home of the Carrboro Coffee Roasters, this place is large with ample freshly roasted coffee selections. Many studiers pack in here as there are lots of seating and outlets.
Grey Squirrel: This is a cool place to grab a hot coffee with a friend or after a workout. The vibe is minimalist chic, and outlets are numerable. They roast their own beans so you know you are getting a good product. Be sure to order their maple latte with oat milk!
Café Driade: This café can be hard to find, but when you find it you will love it! There is a trail that backs up to this café so it is perfect for a morning hike and a tea. They also have live music and offer support groups for victims of sexual abuse on different days of the week.
TRU: This build-your-own sandwich shop off of Franklin Street is known for its patio space and Margarita Wednesdays. Come here to relax with classmates after a long day of B-school things!
Merritt’s Grill: Famous for its bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches, get a single with avocado and slab sriracha on that sucker. You can actually walk here from the Business school via Purefoy Road.
Cava: This place is like a Mediterranean Chipotle that is stealing the hearts of UNC Kenan-Flagler students.
Neal’s Deli Carrboro: Take a bus down here or ride your bike for a grilled apple-and-sausage biscuit or a pastrami sandwich. The owner runs the Carrboro Farmer’s Market so you know you are getting local and fresh ingredients.
Carrboro Farmer’s Market: Local food vendors sell fresh hot dogs to cider to doughnuts to espresso. Come here early on Saturday morning and go to Sari Sari Sweets for a coffee and sundried tomato and goat cheese rolls. SO tasty! In the spring and summer months, bring $10 to buy a beautiful seasonal bouquet for your dining table.
Acme: This is a great choice for showing your date or your parents the best of the area. Its upscale Southern entrees can run upwards of $30, but on Tuesdays UNC students get $12 entrees with a flash of their IDs!
Bob’s: The go-to dive bar for MBA students, it can fit a lot of people and has an enticing outdoor patio space. For those who prefer cocktails and class, read on.
The Belltree Speakeasy: This quiet, almost-secretive cocktail lounge is where you meet classmates who prefer to not drink pitchers at Bob’s. Belltree has seasonal cocktails prepared by men in suspenders who are passionate about flavor. It is located off of the side of a carwash and can be difficult to find, but once you find it you will always go back for more!
Crunkleton: Similar to the Belltree in cocktail offerings, it is larger and can attract a crowd depending on the night or MBA event. Great for meeting a couple of friends for an Old Fashioned. Be sure to look at the Whiskey/Scotch collection dating back 50+ years!
The Back Bar at Lantern Restaurant: This is my favorite spot to take people. It’s is located down the alley located to the left of Lantern. You feel like you are walking to the wrong place, but if you commit long enough you will see a cute little outdoor space and a black door. Enter the door and be transported to a romantically lit cocktail lounge. Cocktails are seasonal and have an Asian twist.
Weaver Street Market: Need a beer? Fresh curry for dinner? A coffee and some groceries? Weaver Street has it all plus a newly renovated outdoor patio that’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying a moment with friends. They also have live music on Sunday mornings for guests to enjoy.
Chapel Hill Public Library: Perfect for studying, it has tons of tables, free wi-fi and beautiful natural lighting. There is a small coffee shop when you walk in so you will find craft coffee to fuel your studies!
Oasys Café at the Carr Mill Mall: If you like learning more about the drums of Kirtan, alien encounters or sustainable living, the Oasys café is for you! I love going to this shop to read a book or attend an evening workshops. This café is pretty small and very quirky. When you order the hummus and cracker snack, they hand you an entire container of hummus and an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers (and I respect that!!).
UNC’s Main Campus: Believe it or not, many MBA students will never explore the beautiful and historic main campus next door. Take a break from the chaos of your studies and go walk or bike around the greenspaces of the Quad or watch the chipmunks in Coker Arboretum.
Carolina North Forest: A huge network of trails and bike paths exists just a few miles north of the business school. Grab a friend and go on a hike or run together on one of your Friday breaks. Given this place is super close, an Uber ride won’t cost you much either if you happen to be car-less like me!
By Carolyn Kreuzkamp (MBA ’20)