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Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Old Mar 23rd 2009, 10:07 am
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Default Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Hi All,

I'm from London and am moving to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2010 (moving to be there with my wife).

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has moved to Charlotte within the past 5 years and their experiences of living there - particularly anyone from London/UK/Europe.

I've been to Charlotte three times, each for short 1 week trips - so I have got an initial 'feel for the city.

I realise things are pretty destabilised in the US at the moment, and I know that Charlotte is suffering with plenty of job losses in the banking sector... but I work in multimedia/web project management, so I'm hoping there will be something available in this line of work by the time I get there next year...

But I'd love to hear anyone's experiences/advice on -

- Good places to live near the city of Charlotte.

- Jobs/employment.

- Salaries.

- Cost of living (groceries, housing, bills, etc)

- Lifestyle and culture.

- Quality of life (in comparison to UK/Europe).

- Do you think the move has improved your life?

- Any problems?


Any of your advice/feedback is much appreciated !!!

Feel free to email me via the site too, as would love to hear from any british expats living in the USA too!!

Cheers all, have a good un.

Victor
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Old Mar 23rd 2009, 11:21 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Hey, I live in the Charlotte area.

A good website to check out is City Data ... has a lot of stat information about the area, there's also a discussion area that is good for people moving to the area to ask questions. (This website covers anywhere in the usa also)

- Good places to live near the city of Charlotte.

Depends where's you're gonna work and how far you want to commute. There are hundreds of new housing developments around here. My recommendation would be to rent for a year to get a proper feel for the area, its the best thing we ever did before buying.

However saying that, houses are dirt cheap at the moment and you can get a lot of brand new construction for your money. Do your research on sub divisions though because some of them are total drama zones.

Lake Norman (North Charlotte) and South Charlotte is where the money is, lots of massive houses, really nice malls etc in South Charlotte. North is where the lake is, lots of massive houses around it and big boats.
East/West Charlotte is rough. Lots of crime/shootings/drugs etc.
Huntersville is a nice place and Mooresville also .. both are a little ways up I77, but with in a 20 minute drive of Charlotte. Depending when you leave, rush hour in to (AM traffic) and out of (PM traffic) can be a bit grim.

- Jobs/employment.

There was a lot of bank jobs until recently, but like anywhere there have been a lot of lay offs. Techy jobs are all over the shop too. There are also many many care jobs with the elderly and developmentally disabled.

- Salaries.

If you sit and compare what your wages are here compared what they'd be to England through currency conversion you'll be come depressed quickly lol. Wages here aren't too bad, just depends what your profession is.

- Cost of living (groceries, housing, bills, etc)

I'll never get used to the cost of groceries in the USA, so flipping expensive. Harris Teeter always gives us a big bill, there are how ever lots of Bottom Dollar foods, Aldis, Food lions, Blooms where things are cheaper. They are *really* big on collecting coupons and saving as much as poss here.

There's also a number of stores around here where you can get English stuff, World Market, Food Lion does some stuff. And of course there's Big Bens pub in Charlotte that does Fantastic English food.

Phone/Cable .. expensive in my eyes, but I think that's more a USA thing than a Strictly Charlotte thing. Petrol is sitting at about 1.80 a gallon at the moment.

- Lifestyle and culture.

To be honest, Charlotte it's self is just a student town filled with pubs and clubs, there's not an awful lot to do in Charlotte its self apart from eat and get drunk. If you want fun things to do with Families/kids, zoos, mountains, ect you need to drive an hour or so outside Charlotte. But in a way its nice that Charlotte isn't really a tourist town.

If you like boating, then there's Lake Norman, you can rent a pontoon for about 100 bucks a day. There's also lots of walking trails around the lake.

Churches are also everywhere being in the bible belt. Also home to the Panthers and Nascar.

- Quality of life (in comparison to UK/Europe).

You defiantly get a lot more house and land for your money here which helps, but like anywhere it has its pros and cons that pretty much make it even. People are friendly (but can't drive a lick and have never been taught indicators lol) I LOVE the weather here when it's warm

Public transport SUCKS here. It will be a big shock after being able to get all places with out a car at home. If you don't have a car you're basically stuck. They have the CATS bus system that runs quite well inside Charlotte and the tram system, but that's all pretty much down town.

- Do you think the move has improved your life?

Again, I'd say its an even trade with its pros and cons.

- Any problems?

Not really, just normal home sickness etc etc.

Good luck!
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Old Mar 23rd 2009, 11:40 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Originally Posted by Okuda View Post
Hey, I live in the Charlotte area.

A good website to check out is City Data ... has a lot of stat information about the area, there's also a discussion area that is good for people moving to the area to ask questions. (This website covers anywhere in the usa also)

- Good places to live near the city of Charlotte.

Depends where's you're gonna work and how far you want to commute. There are hundreds of new housing developments around here. My recommendation would be to rent for a year to get a proper feel for the area, its the best thing we ever did before buying.

However saying that, houses are dirt cheap at the moment and you can get a lot of brand new construction for your money. Do your research on sub divisions though because some of them are total drama zones.

Lake Norman (North Charlotte) and South Charlotte is where the money is, lots of massive houses, really nice malls etc in South Charlotte. North is where the lake is, lots of massive houses around it and big boats.
East/West Charlotte is rough. Lots of crime/shootings/drugs etc.
Huntersville is a nice place and Mooresville also .. both are a little ways up I77, but with in a 20 minute drive of Charlotte. Depending when you leave, rush hour in to (AM traffic) and out of (PM traffic) can be a bit grim.

- Jobs/employment.

There was a lot of bank jobs until recently, but like anywhere there have been a lot of lay offs. Techy jobs are all over the shop too. There are also many many care jobs with the elderly and developmentally disabled.

- Salaries.

If you sit and compare what your wages are here compared what they'd be to England through currency conversion you'll be come depressed quickly lol. Wages here aren't too bad, just depends what your profession is.

- Cost of living (groceries, housing, bills, etc)

I'll never get used to the cost of groceries in the USA, so flipping expensive. Harris Teeter always gives us a big bill, there are how ever lots of Bottom Dollar foods, Aldis, Food lions, Blooms where things are cheaper. They are *really* big on collecting coupons and saving as much as poss here.

There's also a number of stores around here where you can get English stuff, World Market, Food Lion does some stuff. And of course there's Big Bens pub in Charlotte that does Fantastic English food.

Phone/Cable .. expensive in my eyes, but I think that's more a USA thing than a Strictly Charlotte thing. Petrol is sitting at about 1.80 a gallon at the moment.

- Lifestyle and culture.

To be honest, Charlotte it's self is just a student town filled with pubs and clubs, there's not an awful lot to do in Charlotte its self apart from eat and get drunk. If you want fun things to do with Families/kids, zoos, mountains, ect you need to drive an hour or so outside Charlotte. But in a way its nice that Charlotte isn't really a tourist town.

If you like boating, then there's Lake Norman, you can rent a pontoon for about 100 bucks a day. There's also lots of walking trails around the lake.

Churches are also everywhere being in the bible belt. Also home to the Panthers and Nascar.

- Quality of life (in comparison to UK/Europe).

You defiantly get a lot more house and land for your money here which helps, but like anywhere it has its pros and cons that pretty much make it even. People are friendly (but can't drive a lick and have never been taught indicators lol) I LOVE the weather here when it's warm

Public transport SUCKS here. It will be a big shock after being able to get all places with out a car at home. If you don't have a car you're basically stuck. They have the CATS bus system that runs quite well inside Charlotte and the tram system, but that's all pretty much down town.

- Do you think the move has improved your life?

Again, I'd say its an even trade with its pros and cons.

- Any problems?

Not really, just normal home sickness etc etc.

Good luck!


Fantastic advice - thanks so much friend!

You've echoed a lot of sentiments I have already, but also opened my eyes to a few other things too... am surprised by food/grocery costs being high, as when I was there last I thought it was pretty cheaper - but then, I was doing all of my shopping at WAL-MART... Harris Teeter was for the nice bakery stuff only.

And thanks for the pointers on the good English pubs/stores, etc, and the advice on the areas. I really like the SOUTH PARK area, but it is expensive so getting a place round there will be tough. I hear MINT HILL is nice, but being a Londoner, I'll definitely have to get used to driving much more!

By the way, what license do you drive on - UK or USA?

More advice much appreciated from anyone else too!!
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Old Mar 23rd 2009, 12:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

I have both
To get a NC drivers license you need to have your SS number tho. Once you get your visa, you just need to go to the SS office on Albemarle road and apply for it.
The drivers test is pretty simple, common sense really. A set of questions, I think it was 25, name some road signs to the tester and then they take you out on the road. The instructor told me "Just show me you can drive on the right side of the road" .. 3 minutes out on the road, an emergency stop, here's your license lol.
Be aware tho, because you're a new driver over here, the insurance companies will treat you like a 17 year old. I'd been driving in England for 10 years but that counted for nothing to them.
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Old Mar 23rd 2009, 2:17 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Sounds fairly straightforward, as long as i don't hit anyone on the roads too right!

I'm glad you're doing good in Charlotte, it is comforting to know someone from the UK has settled fine... it's a million miles away from London, and a bit of the shock to the system when you first arrive! But you do adjust, and I have been told its just a matter of time and patience, and just accepting that you are now having to live in a different country at a slower pace.

I will miss the easily accessible London restaurants and culture though... and apart from P.F.Changs, I still haven't discovered a place which does any good Dim Sum in Charlotte!
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 12:46 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Hi Victor - my reply is not going to be anything like as comprehensive Okuda's (which was a great post, by the way).

I've lived in Charlotte for 7 years. I moved here from Kent to marry my wife when I was 23. We originally rented an apartment in Ballantyne, then bought a house in the Steele Creek area. On the whole, I really enjoy living here...and any problems I do have stem from homesickness/expat guilt rather than anything to do with Charlotte. I agree with Okuda in that there is not a lot of touristy things to do here, which can be a problem if you have people visiting. The surprising thing is how many British people there are here. My company isn't huge and there are five or six British people there. It was quite a surprise to walk in on my first day and see somebody walking around in a Sunderland football shirt!!

It is very different from England. The weather can be a nightmare in the summer. The people are friendly, but sometimes express pretty frightening views as if they are common place. Being English you do tend to stand-out, but mostly in a positive way. I don't think I'd live anywhere else in the US.

George
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 11:42 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Originally Posted by D4YTR1PPER View Post
Hi Victor - my reply is not going to be anything like as comprehensive Okuda's (which was a great post, by the way).

I've lived in Charlotte for 7 years. I moved here from Kent to marry my wife when I was 23. We originally rented an apartment in Ballantyne, then bought a house in the Steele Creek area. On the whole, I really enjoy living here...and any problems I do have stem from homesickness/expat guilt rather than anything to do with Charlotte. I agree with Okuda in that there is not a lot of touristy things to do here, which can be a problem if you have people visiting. The surprising thing is how many British people there are here. My company isn't huge and there are five or six British people there. It was quite a surprise to walk in on my first day and see somebody walking around in a Sunderland football shirt!!

It is very different from England. The weather can be a nightmare in the summer. The people are friendly, but sometimes express pretty frightening views as if they are common place. Being English you do tend to stand-out, but mostly in a positive way. I don't think I'd live anywhere else in the US.

George

Thanks for the advice and pointers George, and very glad all is going well for you too. And agreed - Okuda's post is excellent !

I like that there are English people around in Charlotte too, and the pace of life seems much easier too. Charlotte is in the South so I expect some pretty challenging views, but then you could say parts of England are like that too...

Actually, I came into work today in London, and you would not believe how crowded it is and dirty, and the streets teeming with people like ants, with indifferent impatient people. I hate to say, but as a born and bred Londoner who loves his city, I actually don't like living here anymore... at least in Charlotte, you feel a sense of community and pleasantness which long left the SE of England in the 80's....

All the best!
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

I worked at for the Tate Gallery when I was living in London, used to get a train into Charing Cross then walk to Millbank. It was great on warm summer mornings, but a nightmare the rest of the time. My commute took about two and half hours each way, now I have a twenty minute drive (and can still listen to Radio 1 on Sirius).

Without getting too deep - to some degree the city that you live in is what you make of it. If you want to meet other British people there are a few British pubs, and a couple of societies on Facebook. Just make sure you think the decision through and keep a positive attitude...
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 1:21 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

I'm a former Londoner and live in Durham, North Carolina in the Triangle area of the state. I've been to Charlotte several times (mostly to the USCIS office there).

I'm not going to give you my impressions of Charlotte but I will describe life in NC.

The number one difference for me as an ex-Londoner about life in NC is that you will have to get accustomed to driving everywhere. You might not even find there's enough pavement to get you even a short distance from A to B. I advise you not to walk on the street anywhere but places where there actual pavements for pedestrians. I've learned from experience.

Both Charlotte and Durham (and the other cities that make up the Triangle) are pretty cosmopolitan cities compared to the rest of the state. They draw people from elsewhere in the country and also the rest of the world due to the employers and industries located in the respective cities. As a result, the grocery stores and restaurant reflect diverse tastes. Southerners are more outwardly friendly to non-Southerners and if you have a British accent, this can be an icebreaker when making small talk or conversation.

The weather NC is notable in that we have four distinct seasons. Unlike London, the summer in NC is quite humid and temperatures rise regularly above 38C. Those are the days when you use your AC in your car and wear sunscreen. A word about spring. Many, many people I know in NC have allergies and spring is the worst season for them. The pollen in the air coats everything in a yellow layer. Fortunately, I don't have any allergies.

I might add I've been living in NC/the USA since 2002 and I've settled here nicely. You alone are responsible for making a success of life in your new environment. In the early days, you will be homesick and miss aspects of life back in London. For me, it's the food and family and friends. I also miss having extensive public transport but I deal with the realities of driving daily.
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 1:36 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Thanks for the solid advice - and I agree, settling in anywhere new is as much about YOUR OWN mind-set than the place you're going. Some people resist change, when the best thing to do is embrace it.

So, any tips on good neighbourhoods/places to check out and see if I like them?

So far I've been to Gastonia, Mint Hill, South Park, and parts of Cleveland County. I've found them all to be nice places... but as a thirty-something professional, a close proximity to the city centre would be something I'd ideally want (as opposed to a 1 hour drive to and from Charlotte).

Just interested in your thoughts...

Thanks all.
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Old Mar 24th 2009, 7:17 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

There are a couple of neighbourhoods closer to Uptown - NoDa is bohemian, and Dillworth is expensive. There are also apartment buildings right near Uptown where you could walk to the bars and clubs. If you want a decent neighbourhood with a lawn, you are going to have to drive in.

There is a new light rail system in the south of the city, but at the moment it only runs along the South Blvd corridor, which isn't the nicest place to live. They are building some nice looking apartments on the rail line closer to Uptown, I'm not sure what they are called but they are in the South End area. South Park and Ballantyne are nice - lots of town homes, bars and shops. But they are a 20 minute drive in to Uptown on a good day.

I'd say drive around and see what interests you. I agree with Okuda that renting for a while to truly size up the neighbourhood might be a good idea.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 11:44 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Originally Posted by D4YTR1PPER View Post
Hi Victor - my reply is not going to be anything like as comprehensive Okuda's (which was a great post, by the way).

I've lived in Charlotte for 7 years. I moved here from Kent to marry my wife when I was 23.
I'm from Kent too Going back next week for a visit.
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Old Mar 25th 2009, 11:49 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Originally Posted by NC Penguin View Post
A word about spring. Many, many people I know in NC have allergies and spring is the worst season for them. The pollen in the air coats everything in a yellow layer. Fortunately, I don't have any allergies.
Aye my first spring here that totally killed me. I never suffered from hayfever before I came to NC.
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Old Mar 26th 2009, 1:46 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Whereabouts in Kent? I'm from Folkestone originally, but lived near Maidstone for a while as well. I was back last month, and am going again in May. Trying to get as many trips in as possible before we have kids.

Agreed about the allergies, I've been sneezing like crazy all week. I mowed the weeds that make up my lawn yesterday and it just about killed me...
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Old Mar 26th 2009, 2:07 am
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Default Re: Moving to Charlotte, NC...?

Just down the road in Canterbury Aye this will be the last trip till after the sprog is born.
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