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15 Things to Know Before Moving to Clayton, NC

A street in Clayton, NC at sunset. Written by Aislyn Hobbs

Clayton, one of the best locations to live in North Carolina, is ranked as Johnston County’s best location. Since it is so close to Raleigh, residents of Clayton enjoy a quiet suburban atmosphere while still being within driving distance of all the action in the state capital. 

Clayton is a great place for individuals of all ages because of the growing population, plentiful job possibilities, and appealing quality of life. Let’s check out fifteen things to know before moving to Clayton, NC!

1. An amazing quality of life 

One of the many excellent things about Clayton is the high quality of life and friendly locals. In this quaint town, life is slow and easy, just the way people like it, with strawberries, cotton, and tobacco crops dominating the terrain. In the next decade, Clayton is expected to be one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing communities. 

Those who relocate to Clayton appreciate the city’s slower pace of life in exchange for its quiet appeal and inviting feeling of community.

2. It’s in a very convenient location

Clayton has an ideal central position, being only 25 minutes from Downtown Raleigh and 35 minutes from the remainder of Research Triangle Park. Living in Clayton is a great option for those who are after a short commute and easy access to major thoroughfares like I-40, I-95, I-540, and US-70. You can enjoy the best of both worlds in Clayton, a city with a small-town feel and easy access to the big city. 

Additionally, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is only a 40-minute drive away, making holiday and weekend travel easy and convenient. Also, the larger cities of Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, are within an hour’s drive from Clayton.

3. The public schools are top-notch

Those with school-aged children or pursuing further education options will find nothing but the best available in Clayton. You’ll be delighted to know that education is highly valued in Johnston County, which is known for its above-average public schools.

Riverwood Elementary School, Johnston Charter Academy, and Cleveland High School, all part of the Johnston County School District and following a standard academic year schedule, are three of the best public schools in the area. Also, among the numerous excellent private schools in the Clayton area, Southside Christian School and Cooper Academy stand out.

4. There are many higher institutions nearby

One advantage of living in Clayton is that residents pay only the in-state tuition at any university in North Carolina. You have your pick of three excellent universities within commuting distance of Raleigh: North Carolina State University, Meredith College, and William Peace University. 

All of the state’s major universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, Appalachian State University, Western Carolina University, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-East Carolina University, and UNC-Wilmington, can be reached within a five-hour drive.

5. Eat at Mannings Restaurant or The Clayton Steakhouse

Clayton’s menu features a fusion of American and international dishes in addition to Southern classics like fried chicken and barbeque. New to Clayton’s Main Street, Mannings Restaurant serves up all your favorite southern dishes. The perfect spot to take the kids, this restaurant combines traditional American fare with Southern warmth. 

The Clayton Steakhouse is the place to go for a great steak and a cold one. Enjoy the greatest ribeye your money can buy for lunch and dinner here. Festejos Mexican Restaurant Bar and Grill is perfect if you’re hungry for tacos and guacamole. 

6. Work in nearby RTP or major companies like Novo Nordisk

Clayton takes great pride in being a forerunner in the fields of industry, economic growth, and education. The thriving downtown business sector is home to a dynamic and adaptable business community. In addition, companies of all sizes are moving to Clayton, and this is good news for the local economy. 

Companies like Caterpillar and pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk have set up shop in the region because of the low operating expenses and highly educated workforce. Thousands of new jobs have been created as a result of the relocation of the biotechnology company Grifols to Clayton. 

Because of its proximity to the Research Triangle Park (RTP), Clayton is able to tap into the resources of hundreds of enterprises and thought leaders in the fields of research, innovation, and technology. RTP is the largest planned research facility in the United States at over 7,000 acres in size and is home to over 300 companies and thousands of employees. 

7. There’s little or no snow 

One of the attractions of Clayton is its pleasant climate. Most of North Carolina experiences a humid subtropical climate, which implies scorching summers and chilly rainy winters. However, because Clayton has all four seasons, including moderate winters, spring arrives early. From May to September, during the hottest part of the year, the average daily high is around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. From November until February, Clayton has its cold season, with daily highs of 52 degrees and lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Clayton receives some rain annually—most of it in September—but hardly any snow. Those from the northern states who are tired of the constant cold and snow will find Clayton to be the perfect place to settle down. Clayton receives, on average, two inches of snow every year, with the highest probability of snowfall between December and March. 

8. Take a trip to nearby mountains and beaches

Living in Clayton is like having the best of both worlds, whether you prefer basking in the sun on the beach or venturing into the mountains. If you’re looking for some sun and surf, Clayton is only a two-hour drive from Wilmington, North Carolina, and a three-and-a-half-hour drive from The Outer Banks. Take a weekend trip to The Outer Banks to relax on the beaches, eat at some of the best restaurants in the country, and tour some of the oldest lighthouses in the country.

The Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains are easily accessible from Clayton, thanks to the four-hour journey to Asheville, North Carolina. Discover your new favorite hiking trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or check out one of Pisgah National Forest’s many waterfalls, like Looking Glass Falls or Sliding Rock. 

9. The cost of living is 5% less than the national average

The low cost of living in Clayton, which is 5% lower than the U.S. average, is a major draw for many people, including families and young professionals.

A single Clayton resident can expect to spend $39.592 per year on basic needs like rent, groceries, child care, transportation, medical care, insurance, and taxes. The city’s median house value of $366,193 is also lower than the U.S. median.

10. Enjoy some craft brewery at Deep River Brewing Company or Double Malt and Hops Beer

Do you consider yourself a beer connoisseur? Then Clayton is where you want to be, as it is home to many great brewers with a wide variety of new and seasonal beers. Going to your local brewery is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening because of the pet-friendly patios, tastefully decorated tap rooms, and regular tours of the facilities.

Located in the heart of Clayton, Deep River Brewing Company produces American-style beer made with locally sourced ingredients. Double Malt and Hops Beer is a family-run craft brewery with a taproom and beer garden accessible seven days a week for tours and tastings. The Brewing Company of JoCo is located not far away in Garner, producing excellent craft beer, such as a hazy IPA and a smooth-tasting Amber.

11. Take in the outdoors at Clayton Community Park or All-Star Park

Since Clayton is surrounded by parks, natural areas, and walking paths, it is an ideal location for those who enjoy being outdoors and connecting with nature. Since Clayton is a more rural city near Raleigh, getting to know the area requires some time spent in the great outdoors.

Several sports fields and courts, a pond, trails for strolling, a community center, and plenty of greenery can all be found in Clayton Community Park. At Community Park in East Clayton, there are walking paths, sports fields, a playground, and even a disc golf course in this brand-new park. All-Star Park is a gated community park with family-friendly features like a basketball court, picnic pavilion, and playground equipment.

12. Have fun with the family at The Clayton Center or Clemmons Educational State Forest

There are many fun activities in Clayton that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Knowing what’s around that’s appropriate for kids of all ages and open all year can help you plan a fun and stress-free family outing, especially if you have a large group or a lot of kids.

A state forest with calm forested areas and walking pathways, Clemmons Educational State Forest spans 825 acres between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. Main Street Community Garden is a public garden available all through the year and serves as a learning center for sustainable growing techniques.

The Clayton Center is the city’s hub for the performing arts and a fantastic venue for concerts and other shows.

13. There’s a lot of construction going on

You’ll have to get used to driving about and navigating around lots of unfamiliar buildings since the popularity of Clayton has skyrocketed. Construction activity in Clayton has increased significantly, so whether you reside in a neighborhood now undergoing construction or not, you should always be prepared to pass through a construction zone. 

When cities expand and new neighborhoods are developed, many residents would rather not have to cope with the continual noise of hammering and sawing. If you’re having trouble with construction noise, this city might not be for you. 

14. There are very few luxury homes

Most of the houses in Clayton are affordable starter homes, or the “moving up” home when the first one is too small and you’re ready to upgrade. You won’t find many mansions here, and not many people want a third, fourth, or fifth house. 

In Clayton, you won’t find mansions with five-bedroom floor plans, swimming pools, and swans for $2 million. However, as the population grows and more economically empowered households relocate to the city, developers will start building such establishments. 

15. Southern hospitality is still going strong

The Southern hospitality in Clayton is still strong. With the area’s rapid expansion, the triangle has lost much of its southern warmth and allure. However, this town has managed to keep it because it has not expanded as rapidly as other cities like Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or even Wake Forest. 

 Folks in other areas of the triangle are always in a rush, but there’s a slower pace of life here. So you can expect a lot more of the warm welcome typical of the South, which is a major draw for visitors.

In Conclusion

Clayton can best be described as a “small town, unique personality”, with its low cost of living, thriving economy, prime location, tons of fun things to do, high-standard schools, and amazing food scene. 

However, if you’re looking to live in a luxurious town or you don’t fancy a lot of construction noise, Clayton may not be for you.  

Learn More About Living in Clayton, NC

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