I would second the recommendation for living in the Southpoint Mall area of Durham (near I-40 and Fayetteville Rd.), especially if you're renting. It's mostly new construction, safe, and close to everything. I lived near there for a year or so, and only moved to Cary for the schools. The drive up the Durham Freeway to Duke is easy.
---------- Post added May 2nd, 2012 at 11:37 AM ----------
Oh, and if you can't find anything right at Southpoint, I'd recommend looking along Highway 55 between there and Cary, or along Highway 54 between there and RTP. Try not to live right in RTP, though. It's a ghost town at night. I made the mistake of living in RTP once. Borrrring.