Charlotte NC. What happens when a long-time New Yorker permanently moves to the south? The answer is pretty simple: they experience a culture shock.
And that is what happened to me when I relocated to Charlotte NC five years ago. The south is nothing like the north, and everything here is very, very different.
For starters, one must have a car to get around the city. There is no public transportation in Charlotte NC. Sure there is a Lynx train inside the city center, but the train’s route is minimal. And not everyone wants to live downtown, also called the “uptown” area.
In New York City, sometimes, to avoid horrendous traffic, I often skipped driving and took a subway. It saved me time, anxiety and I didn’t have to look for parking. Carless living is not optional in Charlotte unless you’re willing to spend money on rideshares.
Charlotte is a vast and spread-out town. The city center is the most congested area with its banking and government buildings and chain hotels taking prevalence. You can find various cities and neighborhoods outside of the city center, such as Meyers Park, Dillworth, Noda or up north, Huntersville, Davidson, or Cornelius. All of these towns are unique in their character.
For example, Noda is eclectic and hippy with an artsy vibe and many historic homes scattered throughout the new or restored architecture. Davidson is a college town with large houses around the area and cute downtown with family-oriented shops and eateries. On the other hand, Cornelius is a more affluent town with Peninsula lake views, upscale homes, and refined modern architecture.
If you are looking to get dressed up and visit the ballet, you pretty much have to fly back to New York City. People here are mostly happy with being casual, and nobody even knows that there is a ballet theater in the city center. Most events are focused on live band concerts in the summer, with many new and upcoming breweries participating. There is plenty of golfing and boating around the Lake Norman area and much retail shopping in nearby malls. If you love shopping, you will not be bored here.
With many national parks and mountains nearby, there are plenty of outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching. You can also take a scenic drive to Blueridge Mountains or Boone to check out the mountain country life. Beaches are much farther from Charlotte NC than the mountains. That’s why most people prefer day trips to the national parks instead.
If you are in a mood to check out North Carolina’s beaches, be prepared to drive about four to five hours. I always recommend staying overnight for a trip this long. Otherwise, you spend your entire day driving. Once you reach the beaches, it’s so worth it because the North Carolina beaches are beautiful and very clean. I also recommend checking out nearby SC beaches and the city of Charleston. Nonetheless, whatever you plan on doing around Charlotte NC, you must have a car.
The best way to experience the joy of living in Charlotte NC is to find a neighborhood you like and get involved in your local community. Whether or not you will like living in Charlotte depends on your job satisfaction, weather, family, and community attainment. Charlotte is not a city that caters to party-goers. It’s not a city that is full of easily accessible adventures such as Manhattan. You have to find different activities on your own. However, I promise you that once you do – the possibilities are endless.
Photography: Caramel Chic LLC