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Guidebook / Living in Raleigh

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Housing

On-campus housing at Meredith is available for new undergraduate students. 

New graduate students, as well as interested junior/senior undergrads, should look for housing off campus. In general, the average rent for one person in Raleigh can range from approximately $500 up to $1,500 a month, depending on the circumstances (whether sharing with roommates or not, seeking a furnished place or not, etc.). Students living off campus should prepare to pay the first month’s rent, plus a security deposit (often equal to a month’s rent), when signing a lease (contract) for a place off campus.

There are many housing options within walking distance or a short bus ride to Meredith College. Linked here is a list of a few apartment complexes and search tools that Meredith students have recommended.

Transportation

Public transportation bus systems run daily and are currently free to ride (ticket fare will be reevaluated summer of 2024). GoRaleigh is the local bus system, and you can use their website to plan out trips, access real-time bus tracking, and more. 

Another convenient bus system that services Meredith College and is free to ride is NC State University’s Wolfline. Route 60 (Carter-Finley) is the bus that passes Meredith and typically runs every 30 minutes. Be aware that the Wolfline buses do follow a school schedule, so limited to no service may be available during school breaks and weekends.

The two apps students most frequently use to assist with navigating the local buses are GoogleMaps and TransLoc. One benefit of TransLoc is the ability to track real-time where a bus is or how long it will be before the bus arrives at one’s stop. For city buses (not Wolfline), it is also possible to text “golive (bus route number) + (bus stop number)” to x41411, and you should receive a text message back with the estimated time of arrival for that bus at that stop.

Students also may use rideshare apps such as Uber or Lyft to get around Raleigh. The cost for rideshare tends to be based on the time of day and the distance traveled. If you are planning on utilizing rideshare services, make sure you have data on your phone. 

International students are able to drive with a driver’s license issued by their home country (or another U.S. state) in North Carolina. Note that North Carolina does not recognize International Drivers’ Licenses (IDL), though an IDL can be used in conjunction with a home country license. That said, international students are eligible to apply for a NC driver’s license, and doing so can be especially beneficial if you are buying a car, would like another government-issued ID for local use, etc. Additional information about applying for a NC driver’s license or State ID.

Banking

There are a variety of banking options available in Raleigh. The bank that is often recommended to new international students based on its convenience is Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo maintains an ATM on campus, has several bank sites located near campus, and is generally familiar with helping new international students set up accounts. OIP arranges a visit to Wells Fargo during International Student Orientation. 

When opening a bank account, students typically need to bring the following with them to the bank in person:

  • Cash to deposit (at least $25)
  • Passport 
  • Visa 
  • I-20 
  • I-94
  • You will also be required to have a valid email address and create a username, password, and card pin. It may help if you prepare these beforehand. 

Most major banks do not require a social security number (SSN) in order to open a bank account in the U.S., and this applies at Wells Fargo. But since not all banks have the same requirements, make sure to research your bank of choice’s requirements to be sure you have everything needed before your visit to open your account.

Cell Phones

There are a number of different options and approaches that international students take in regards to cell service in the U.S. Meredith does provide wifi, as do many local stores and establishments, so some students choose to rely only on wifi with their cell phones from home. 

Many students also choose to purchase a phone, SIM card, and/or cell service to use in the U.S. Ultimately, you can choose what is the best and most convenient means for you to stay connected and be able to use your mobile device(s) effectively. If you decide to purchase a phone, SIM card, or service plan in the U.S., here is a list of cell phone options that have been previously recommended by international students.

Food

Both Meredith and Raleigh offer a variety of options for dining as well as groceries. On-campus, students can enjoy Belk Dining Hall (BDH) as well as the BeeHive Cafe for daily prepared meals. Another great option to utilize on-campus is the Martin Market and Daisy Trade, which both act as a free resource for students to pick up fresh food and pantry ingredients, as well as easy prep meals. 

Off-campus, students can also access a number of options for eating out and grocery shopping. Within walking distance or one bus ride from campus, students can get groceries at Whole Foods, Target, or Food Lion. Students also recommend the following restaurants for a quick meal close to campus: Gym Taco, Jasmin, Al Baraka, or Beansprout

Lastly, students may be able to get close to a taste of home from one of the broader Raleigh area’s international grocery stores.

Things to Do

Raleigh, and the surrounding area, is a great place to live, study, and visit! Besides being North Carolina’s state capitol, Raleigh features great food, a vibrant downtown, and miles and miles of wooded trails and parks. What follows are just a few things for you to do, see, and get involved in while you are here.

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