I recently got a job offer in Charlotte NC. I have only driven through the area and it does look nice but I would like to know what its really like in the area. It would be a huge move for my family as I would have to uproot my young kids.
http://spotcrime.com/nc/charlotte "Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina. Nicknamed the Queen City, the metropolis is no stranger to high crime rates. Every day the news covers burglaries and home invasions taking place in the city and the surrounding suburbs"
I grew up in Asheville, and lived in WNC until I was 26.
I never cared for Charlotte; I remember it being far more politically conservative there, and not as welcoming of diversity as the western end of the state.
That might have changed a lot now; NC is a state that is changing rapidly, and I have been away for 4 years.
Just a word of advice: If someone in your family has serious health problems, you are likely to have a lower quality of life in large portions of the US. Health care is very expensive, and hard to come by --unless you have an INCREDIBLY comprehensive health care package offered by your new job. Especially in the Southern US, companies will find ways to get around offering employees insurance benefits. Most of the time, you will only be put on the books for 34 hours, because at 35 hours you become full-time.
Many of my close friends who've stayed in NC have amassed crazy amounts of debt over the years in healthcare bills, simply because they cannot find work that will provide coverage, and if they do, the coverage is simply too expensive to afford on a monthly basis.
One of my best friends is about $30,000 in debt right now, due to an inherited heart defect she only found out about a couple of years ago. Her husband works 3 jobs (none of them provide full-time hours), and they have no insurance.
Both my daughters moved there several years ago, one lived in an apartment complex within the city itself and the other bought a house in a nearby suburb.
Both hated it and returned to New York in less than two years.
I'm sure that a part of their problem was that they expected the people to be as inclusionary and liberal as New York (which very few communities are) and that they expected living expenses to be much lower (overall, they weren't,)
My impression, as someone born in a small southern town and raised in a mix of small towns and major cities in different areas, is that Charlotte has benefitted by the infusion of jobs and money that a half-century earlier started to move from New York and other major metropolitan areas. In the process it became a big city without growing into one. Consequently, in many ways it is a combination of the worst features of both a big city and a small town.
The pace is slower than in comparable northern cities and so is acceptance. What many northerners see as being double faced the southerner sees as taking time for full acceptance. There is an innate distrust of anything unfamiliar so while the newcomer is welcomed with great hospitality (Southern Hospitality is one of the main selling points, you know.) it takes a while, sometimes quite a while, to be fully accepted. Conformity is highly prized in many quarters, so until you prove that you're not coming there with any uppity ideas, you may think you've been accepted when you're really only barely tolerated.
This is not to say that everybody there is overly prejudiced or intolerant. These tendancies are more a function of education and economic status, just as they are in the north. And just as in the north, the folks who have had more experience with multiple cultures are more comfortable with diversity. We all tend to fear that which we don't know.
Like most growing communities, one of the things hyped by the Chamber of Commerce is the lower cost of living when compared with larger northern cities. In many ways that's true, but you will need to take that with a grain of salt. Your heating bill will be less but your air conditioning bill will be more. Public transportation can sometimes be whimsical and the area's layout can be confusing so where you work can be a much more important consideration in where you live than is true in other places. This can make a difference in how well you will fit into the community and in your day to day expenses as well. Where I live in New York almost everything I need on a daily basis is within two city blocks. I rarely need to travel more 20 minutes by subway to get anywhere. I found nothing, literally nothing I needed other than gas station convenience stores within that close a distance of either daughter's home in Charlotte. And as a Canadian, you'll experience a major cultural shock the first time you need medical care.
And yet Charlotte can be utterly charming and gracious. My guess would be that once you've been there a couple of years, if you'll make it a point to accomodate yourself to the community's patterns, and if you take the time to get to know the area before making any permanent housing decisions, you'll find it to be kind of like a favorite old wool sweater. . . comfortable and warm, but at times a little bit scratchy, so it might be wise to wear something soft and protective between you and it until you're really used to it.
Rays Fine Art wrote: Like most growing communities, one of the things hyped by the Chamber of Commerce is the lower cost of living when compared with larger northern cities.
I've actually found it much more affordable to live in suburban New England, than to live in the urban/suburban Southeast. My quality of life has been much higher here overall, simply because the jobs PAY a lot more.
When I lived in North Carolina, apartment rentals did not cost that much less than they do in Massachusetts. You make HALF as much at NC jobs, than you earn for those same jobs in other parts of the US. At that same time, a nice, one bedroom there would still cost $800/month, with no utilities included -- about the same as here.
Here, I get a one bedroom, in a nice condo with a yard, and all utilities included, only 35 minutes outside of Boston for $875 per month. That's about what I would have paid for the same thing back home, except there you are lucky to find a "professional" office paying $10/hour. Starbucks employees in New England make $10/hour. You work less here, and you have more.
The last few years I lived in Asheville, NC, I lived in VERY difficult housing situations. Price of living went up so quickly. The house I could actually afford to live in, from 2006-2008 (working full-time) was in the ghetto. We got a living room window accidentally shot out in a drive-by; if I came home late at night and had to park on the street below the house, people would approach and try to sell me crack. I shit you not. From there, I found a reasonably affordable living situation, in, a much nicer neighborhood, but we had to share (I was married at the time) a smallish, 3 bedroom/1 bath house with one other couple, and a single guy. So, in order to live in a safer area, we had 5 people crammed into 3 bedrooms. One kitchen, one bath.
One year after I left NC and moved to Massachusetts, I had my own apartment, alone, which I had no problem paying for, and was making 3 times the amount of income I was making in NC, working less hours. Quality of life improved so rapidly, it was mind-blowing. After 3 years in MA, I could afford to go back to school, and pursue different career options. That would have NEVER happened had I continued living in the Southeast.
I was born/lived on the Va/NC border, parents moved us up to Long Island, then I moved to Florida for a while but came back to NY and gave up living in the south for a while... The jobs down there definitely don't pay what they do up here, but for someone stuck on Long Island, our cost of living is insane!
Shiva, my in-laws live 35 min south of Boston and my MIL complains all the time about their taxes, mine are 3 times theirs and they have a larger home and property than I do, I continually tell her to stop complaining. Massachusetts (not that I want to live there) is definitely up there on pay vs cost of living... Most jobs seem to pay well and the cost of living is on the lower end. My wife keeps saying she wants to move back but I want to get the hell away from the cold.
Where places like NC shines for us who own overinflated homes in the North East is that we can take our equity and buy a home cash there. The rate of pay is definitely lower but when you cut the mortgage or rent out your pay does go a lot farther and you can buy more with what you have.
Thank you all for your input. Even though I am being offered a very good wage I also have to think about my kids in the future.
Once again being a tourist is very different than living there. I am hoping to relocate to some place warm but we need to make a educated decision as I would be leaving a well paying job and could not go back.
Maybe we should keep Charlotte area as a tourist spot