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Daily Life

In addition to the recommendations below, Duke’s International House has a variety of “Living Essentials” resources, including guides for daily shopping, groceries, banking, and more.

IHouse and the Office of Postdoctoral Services provide a number of other services related to daily life for international students and postdocs. This includes the Duke Postdoc Buddy Program, through which OPS and DUPA match incoming postdocs with more established colleagues to facilitate connections in the postdoc community and to assist with adjustment to life in Durham.

Graduate & Professional Student Government (GPSG) also hosts a Community Pantry with non-perishable food items, hygiene products, and other daily essentials free of charge for students who need them.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • ConnectCommunityDuke’s volunteer databases, including a number of opportunities throughout Durham
  • Volunteer in Bull City: 25 Places to Start: Compiled by Will Kosher at Best of the Bull, this article lists a few of the volunteer-based organizations that Duke students can get involved with

Child Care Resources

Both the Graduate School and Office of Postdoctoral Services offer resources for students/postdocs with children

Daily Life Recommendations

Hair Stylists / Barbers


Dry Cleaners



What Current Professionals Like About Durham

Overall, current Duke professionals enjoy Durham’s atmosphere, food & arts scene, central location, weather, and outdoor opportunities. Below are some direct insights from current students:

“I like Durham. It’s a small city that doesn’t feel too sprawled out, but it still seems to have lots to do.”

“There is a really vibrant local economy here with independent artists, bakeries, restaurants, and craft stores.”

“The pace of life is calm but there’s plenty to keep you busy…There’s a very strong local identity.”

“[Durham] is a growing city with a large young population and plenty of employment opportunities.”

“I love the people, the food, the beer, and the music that comes through. It’s also a great place to walk, run, and ride my bike.”

“The weather is great, the people are friendly, the cost of living is reasonable, and most people seem genuinely happy to be living here.”

“Being located halfway between the beach and the mountains make both quite accessible for weekend trips.”

Things to Keep in Mind About Durham

It is important to note that Durham, like any community or major city, also has its challenges. Current professionals highlight transportation difficulties, rising costs of living, and some safety issues are important things to keep in mind. Below is some advice from current students:

“It is possible to live [in Durham] without a car, but life with a car is much easier.”

“[Durham] is a really spread out city, and the layout is not intuitive…it takes a while to get the hang of everything.”

Business hours are often short, with many restaurants/bars opening late in the morning and closing early at night.

There is a general “lack of reliable public transportation and efficient biking/walking paths.” This is especially true outside of downtown.

“Durham summers can be brutal,” primarily due to the humidity.

As more and more companies and people move into the area, the cost of living and housing prices continue to increase.

There has been an increase in crime and safety issues in parts of the city, including in residential areas close to Duke’s campus.