Charlotte is a region that's equal parts old-fashioned southern charm and high-energy cosmopolitan bustle. You'll still hear "y'all" dropped into casual conversation, but Charlotte is a metro area on the rise, and has its own culture, culinary sophistication and unique feel that's making it a more enticing place for people from all over the world to settle down. This melting pot effect makes Charlotte an easy area to break into. You're not from here? Well neither are most people you'll meet.
Charlotte has become a place filled with new restaurants to try and events that attract people from all over. It's a standalone destination area now, no longer living in the shadow of Atlanta or Charleston, South Carolina. Though Charlotte has evolved significantly in the past decade, the transformation is only continuing, as evidenced by the numerous construction cranes across the skyline.
You'll frequently hear the word "manageable" used to describe Charlotte. Its climate is more manageable than Florida's and its housing prices and living expenses are more manageable than New York City. You can take your family out to eat without spending a fortune, and on the weekends, free events are easy to find.
I would like to refer you to NCBOUND's threat on here - over 200 posts with lots of info on the area. Charlotte is a substantial metro area with over a million people in its environs. It has all the amenities and challenges of such. The traffic is formidable. The schools are historically poor. The crime rate is significant. Having said that - there are some lovely neighborhoods, some good people, fine restaurants and excellent shopping. And, of course, it is the #2 financial center in the U.S. ( behind New York). Again, read the the good posts on here and you'll get lots of good insight. Best wishes.
Norcan,much depends on your measure of comparison.Traffic formidable?Trust me if you are from ny or Boston you will find the traffic just fine.All in all Charlotte is a wonderfull place where you can find good schools,great restaurants etc.Yes,like any other area we have pockets of crime and poor schools.There is a reason why so many are moving here and when you visit you will see why.
Nancy Maria Arellano
I moved to Charlotte almost 10 yrs ago from Raleigh..and it has grown dramatically in 10 yrs! Everything is growing here in NC and getting more expensive. I like Mecklenburg county alot…it has everything to offer , especially for younger folks. I'm now thinking of moving to SC which is laid back the way NC use to be. We have busses, Amtrak Train,which they are gonna move on the other side of the city and make bigger, Blue line train, which will eventually go around Mecklenburg county, Charlotte/ Douglas International Airport which is expanding! Downtown has restaurants galore and Pubs.Come visit and see for yourself.
Charlotte's a big city. We're the 22nd biggest in the US. The Charlotte experience is going to vary depending on which cardinal point you live in, where you work, and other demographic factors.
I live pretty much in South Charlotte--
I wake in my neighborhood of mixed use to walkers, green lawns, and people going to work. A mixed aged neighborhood as well might see baby's to healthy boomers out. They wave. I know some, but not all. We do however watch out for each other. It's a good neighborhood. Many neighborhoods are like this, some are not, YMMV.
If it's a workout day I drop by 4 year old off at preschool, the Charlotte J, which has a great program for kids. Then go workout at the J. They've got a great facility for gym-rats even though most of the people there are seniors.
Traffic at 9a is negligible, but between 7 & 9 can take you about an hour to :45m to get into the city. At the best of times you should be able to get anywhere in a quarter-to-half of the city within :25m. This will vary, vastly, depending on where you live and how much you go with, or against, traffic. Oh and of course red-light-roulette.
I work in multiple parts of town, and out of my home. I'm often a pinball in Charlotte. The people are on the upper side of friendly, mostly self facing, sometimes entitled but it's a warm city on average.
Drivers tend to be farther on the insane, blinker-less, fast-slow-slow-fast-lane kind. Our road projects are usually behind schedule but get there--only to be late in planning and thus behind again.
Having a child also keeps me attuned to some things. We have lots of parks, libraries, and more than a few museums. Water ways at a short distance, green ways laced throughout, outdoor activities galore. Indoor activities are growing. Schools in my area are seemingly well funded and good marks. Kindergarten is coming soon and we've had to learn a lot. Private schools are also ample and well regarded.
You can eat your heart out in Charlotte. Different corridors of Charlotte bring different cultural fares. I don't think I've missed any ethnic dining experiences and I'm a total foodie at heart. BBQ of course rages across the area. Those looking for near-religious BBQ experiences usually drive you out of the city--eg to escape the more modern approach. Your milage and taste will vary. Coffee in the QC is growing up. I can now count almost on 2 hands where to send people to get a good cuppa. Patisseries and bakeries come and go. I've got a chocolate family, and there are few peers with us. So some more development in our overall palette but getting there. Breweries are exploding, local food from multiple different regional markets, and while there are few if any farmers in Mecklenburg county, the surrounding counties send their bounties in weekly. For mainly higher end faire we've got quite a few quality farm-to-table establishments.
All in all and without continuing down a macro/micro schism the Southern quadrant of the city wears well on me and my family. The northern side is almost a foreign land to us so you'll need someone to chime in on that front. ;) Hope that helps some.
I've lived here for almost all my life and it's really nice! The city is very diverse and affordable, with a lot of cool stuff to do! The Imaginon Children's Library is an amazing place for children, especially. Food is always top notch here as well; The Midwood BBQ, especially, stands out. Vietnamese food is also pretty good around here; a little outside of the city itself is an AMAZING Vietnamese place called Doan's, on South Boulevard. Their pho is so good. In Charlotte, however, there is one shooting every night in the city. That's the worst thing about it, though. Overall, I really recommend it here!
I like everything Charlotte has to offer! There are wonderful restaurants, breweries, shopping, shows, and opportunities! The traffic is tolerable and housing market is doing well. The only downfall of Charlotte to me, which is nothing city/people related, is it not have a body of water nearby. The closest is Lake Norman which is about an hour north. However, it is very convenient having an airport and major interstates.
As another reviewer posted earlier...
This city DOES remind me of a "young" Dallas... what with the Uptown, NoDa, Dilworth neighborhoods and the VERY impressive Light Rail. This city impresses me with it's walkability and urbanity as well as being fairly "clean" much like Minneapolis, MN actually. This is suprising b/c most cities of those sizes(and bigger) are not as aesthetically "pretty" and CLEAN too, which is a big draw for some! (it is for me)
More of a "southern" feel and less of that wannabe feel you might get in the Southwest.
PLUS, it's the banking (or 2nd behind NYC) capital of the US.
This city will be the NEXT Dallas.. Or what Dallas was in it's PEAK YEARS (minus the fact that NC has a state tax lol)
The Uptown Charlotte area is INCREDIBLE and really actually has/did "impress me". I own a condo off McKinney in Uptown Dallas and, even with that, the Uptown Charlotte REALLY impressed me
It's Dallas withOUT the pretentiousness and WITH the "Southern charm"
We will see.
Charlotte's a great town.
I've been here a couple of months on a long term project (and will head out next Spring, most likely... although I'm digging this town, A LOT).
For perspective... In chronological order before this, I've lived in Austin, Dallas, and Richmond, VA.
Charlotte is about a third the size of Dallas (Dallas itself, not the entire DFW Metroplex ... Charlotte is right at a tenth the DFW Metroplex's size). BUT it has a good feel, good energy. Lots to do outdoors, large enough that music comes through, professional sports, easy enough to travel in and out of, and it's large enough to have enough good restaurants that you won't always be eating at the same place every week. There's a budding brewery scene, actually lots of breweries, but they're not quite as mature as Colorado's/ Washington's/ Oregon's... or even Texas breweries but there's plenty of good beer... demographic-wise, it fits me and my wife better than Richmond, too early to mid 30's STEM fields (more young-ish professionals in Charlotte than in Richmond by far).
The job market is better in Charlotte than Richmond, especially in regards to the tech industry. I'm not sure what your specialization is ...
You'll find the people friendly enough and will certainly be willing to meet strangers, and they're not "always on, always selling" like you may have found in DC. But, you'll also have people ask you where you go to church. That may or may not be weird to you depending on where you're from. And folks in Charlotte are from the South... not quite the Bible Belt but it's certainly more Conservative (outside of the metro-area) than DC will be. That being said, there's also a pretty wide split demographically/ racially here. Just be aware.
There are Charlotte natives but there are also plenty of new-comers... you won't be alone in that.
I hope this helps.
I'm in my early 30s, no kids, moved here from California for some of the reasons you mentioned (including cost of living and traffic). Compared to DC and California, yes, you'll have a better cost of living and way less traffic.
I love living here. The city is small enough to not be overwhelming but big enough to keep you entertained. It's also a good location for weekend trips (proximity to Savannah, Charleston, etc.).
The pace does seem a bit slower here than my old life in CA was.
If you have other specific questions, I'm happy to help!
You might find the legal market a bit saturated, but maybe less so than DC. Lots of outdoors stuff and parks in the city, disc golf is a huge scene here so there are about 30 courses in the greater Charlotte area. Not too far from the beach, not too far from the mountains. Traffic can still kinda suck but not like 495 bad.
Our state legislature is a bit fucked in the head, so some laws might not make sense but oh well.
I'd say Charlotte checks most of your boxes. One of my favorite things about Charlotte is its close proximity to fun outdoor activities (my personal favorite is the US National White Water Center, but there are plenty of other free options as well). I'm born and raised here, but I lived in Boston and Colorado Springs for some time too.
My wife and I are both 30 and just moved from Raleigh last year because she got a Big Law job. Legal market is strong here. Charlotte is alot of fun, more so if you have a bit of money. Brewery scene is strong, lots of events most weekend. Pretty good variety of neighborhoods/styles of living available. You mentioned outdoor activity, we are very close to the mountains, we make day trips to Asheville and Boone often. Beach can't really be done in a day trip but weekends are easy. If you come down to check out the town, spend a few hours at the USNWC. If you are into mountain biking, we have 150+ miles of single track within just a few miles of uptown.