Living in Charlotte or Raleigh??

Old Jun 14th, 1999, 11:22 AM
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Living in Charlotte or Raleigh??

Hello. I'm really interested in moving south to NC (from busy NJ) and would soo grateful to anyone willing to share what it's like living in Charlotte or Raleigh, pros/cons, cost of living, the people, jobs, either city better/worse? Any insight would be soo appreciated. Thank you!
Old Jun 14th, 1999, 12:08 PM
Brian in Atlanta
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I grew up and went to high school in Charlotte and went to college in Raleigh and will do my best to answer your questions, but remember, these are just my personnal impressions.

Charlotte is a larger city with an impressive downtown skyline and has grown incredibly rich in the last few years, mainly due to the influence of 2 corporate headquarters: First Union and Bank of America (previously NationsBank). The money flowing through that city is unbelievable. I can go back to my old neighborhood of modest ranch homes on nice size lots, and across the street they are building HUGE 3-4 story homes on smaller lots. This is happening everywhere throughout the city.

Along with this new wealth come famous name restaurants and stores. So if you're looking to dine at Prime after a bit of shopping at Saks, this is the only city in NC you can do it. Still, with all it's money, it's still going to be playing catch-up to Atlanta as a true "big city".

Traffic is horrendous in Charlotte. The growth of the city over the last 20 years has severly outpaced road construction. Public transport is almost nonexistent.

Charlotte is in a wonderful geographical position - 2.5 hours from the NC mountains and 3.5 hours to the beach.

USAir controls the airport. There is little competition so it's tough to get a cheap or even reasonable ticket out of town.

As the city grows, it is experiencing an increase in gang activity and crime. My mother works as a counseler at one of the city's high schools and is trying to retire early due to the rash of shooting on and around campus.

Raleigh is a smaller, and less "on the go" city. The Triangle consists of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The area between the 3 cities has become a "village" of high-tech industry called "Research Triangle Park". There are more PHDs per capita in RTP than anywhere else in the world.

The Triangle area's culture is largely influenced by the numerous major and minor colleges and universities.

While the economy in the Triangle may not be as booming as it is in Charlote, it is still very strong and housing costs (esp close in in Raleigh - i.e. "inside the beltline") are moving up swiftly.

Durham is not a desirable place to live. Chapel Hill is a very nice, quaint place to live though it exists largely for UNC. Cary - just outside of Raleigh - is very nice, but expensive.

Traffic is not as bad as it is in Charlotte as the area has gotten a disproportionate percentage of state highway funds (Raleigh is the capital), but it can still be trying depending where your commute is.

The airport has less service than Charlotte's, but there is more competition, including recent arrival Southwest Airlines.

Raleigh is further from the mountains, but closer to the beach (Wilmington is 2 hours by direct interstate).

In sum, my impression is that Charlotte is full of new money trying desperately to prove itself a major city by spending it on huge homes and expensive cars while Raleigh is more comfortable with itself and its schools and its relaxed way of life.

P.S. Money magazine recently (within the last 2 years) Raleigh/Durham as the best place in the country to live. That certainly helped raise home prices.
Old Jun 14th, 1999, 01:39 PM
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I hope things have changed a great deal from the days when we lived in Raleigh.
If you weren't born south of the Mason-Dixon line, you were branded a Yankee (or more likely a Damyankee) for life, excluded from many social circles, and treated as somehow inferior.
Old Jun 14th, 1999, 01:45 PM
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Christy, how welcoming do you want the locals to be? It seems to me that's a problem in a lot of places, many of them not Southern. Actually, Yankees spring to mind....
What parts of the country distinguish least between the "come heres" and the "from heres"?
Old Jun 15th, 1999, 07:53 AM
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I have lived in both Charlotte and Chapel Hill (in addition to Michigan and Washington DC) and agree with everything that "Brian in Atlanta" said. My mother still lives in Charlotte and I go back often. The common thing said about Charlotte is "it's a great place to live but I wouldn't want to visit there." It's a great place to raise a family but as a single person in my late twenties I found it somewhat lacking in terms of things to do. But one great thing about Charlotte is that almost everyone is a transplant from somewhere else so there is none of that "anti-Yankee" feeling you might find in other areas of the south (including Raleigh). Charlotte has good restaurants, shopping, housing, and great access to the beach and the mountains. The people are great -- very friendly and welcoming, more so than any other place I've lived.
Old Jun 15th, 1999, 10:49 AM
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Thank you, especially to Brian & Lisa for your insights...again, my boyfriend and I are hoping to move south to escape the craziness of NJ, we're both in our late 20s and thought NC sounds like a nice change of pace. If anyone has any other or otherwise (on the East coast) I'd love to hear from you!! Thanks.
Old Jun 17th, 1999, 07:12 AM
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I am a native of the area and moved back three years ago after being in Madison, WI for over 7 years. I am not very familiar with Charlotte, but I can share my own impressions of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, partly based on impressions of how much the area changed over the last decade. I have lived in Chapel Hill for several years on two occasions and currently have a house on the edge of Durham.

The Raleigh traffic is bad and getting worse, and the highway between Raleigh and Durham can be pretty bad. It was not constructed to meet the growth that this area has experienced. However, since you are from NJ, the traffic may not seem that bad to you. The highway system in North Carolina is generally excellent, but I feel that the growth has put a strain on them. I personally find Raleigh a pretty boring city compared to Madison, WI, which is a similarly sized place. Recreation here is great, with the beaches and the mountains within 3-4 hours. The people are friendly, but not that much friendlier than the people were in the Midwest. The population has changed tremendously and now includes a substantial transplant population from up North and many foreign immigrants. Personally, I found this to be a great improvement. If you like hockey, the Carolina Hurricanes will relocate to their new arena in Raleigh next season. If you like pro football or basketball, then Charlotte is the place. In the Triangle (Ral-Durh-CH) college sports, especially basketball, are huge - nowhere like it anywhere else. The Durham Bulls (of Bull Durham fame) are now a AAA minor league baseball team and have a fantastic stadium. There is a AA team outside of Raleigh. The cost of living has risen rapidly. I payed about $300-400 for an apartment around Chapel Hill, and when I moved back they were close to $800. Durham has the highest taxes of the three main Triangle cities. The population is growing at a rapid rate also. The town of Cary for instance, an affluent community near Raleigh, more than doubled in size in the time that I was away. The job market is excellent but very competitive for good jobs. Hi-tech jobs are big, with IBM and others located in the Research Triangle Park. Banking is big in Charlotte. There are numerous good restaurants, but I find the selection a little limited. There are many lakes around here if you like that sort of thing. There are a few good museums but nothing great so far. The political climate is still pretty conservative but is changing with the influx of "outsiders" and new generations. If you like to travel, the airports in Raleigh and Charlotte are fairly major ones. Raleigh seemed to drop off a little when American dropped its hub there, but the recent addition of Southwest has dropped fairs tremendously - now you can fly roundtrip to New York for $145. People are driving from as much as four hours away for the low fares. The crime rates in the area aren't bad, but Durham has a much higher one than other areas. Unless you live downtown though, you don't have to worry much about anything other than theft, which can definitely be a problem. The universities here are superb, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University being two of the best in the world (and they are only 7 miles apart)-they also have top-notch medical facilities. NC State has good technical programs. The public school system is very good, but the state has been pretty aggressive at trying to make it better, and it is improving quite a bit. Things are spread out here, and downtowns (especially in Raleigh) can be pretty pathetic as far as social and business opportunities go. Raleigh and Chapel Hill do get most major concert tours. There is decent theater in Raleigh and at the Universities. I personally feel that of the three main Triangle cities, the only really attractive one from an aesthetics standpoint is Chapel Hill, which is a place unlike any other in the state (gorgeous college campus, vibrant but quaint downtown, a few very good restaurants, and a very liberal attitude) - expensive to have a house there though. As far as shopping goes, strip malls and indoor malls are everywhere. They are about to build a couple of huge new ones. The one in Durham will have the areas only Nordstroms (I just wish it wasn't going to be so close to my house). I don't know what else to tell you at this point. I know that lots of former NY-NJ residents have moved here and enjoy it.

Depending on what you like, the area has a lot to offer, and I find life here to be generally pleasant.
Old Jun 18th, 1999, 05:54 AM
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Sorry, I deleted a line and took out a word. I meant "the public school system in North Carolina is not very good."
Old Aug 3rd, 1999, 12:23 PM
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I can't say I know too much about Raleigh other than when visiting relatives, the downtown was run down and non-existent. Suburbia seemed nice.

I recently moved to Charlotte and it seems to have a lot to offer. It is a young yuppie professional town but has it's fair share of old money. Charlotte has a nice mix of the old homes and new suburbia depending on your preference. The job market is good and commuting isn't nearly as bad as the replies have said, unless you live at the lake. Downtown is up and coming and there is a lot to offer culturally. Charlotte is 2 hours from the mts and 3 hours from the beach. Charlotte, as most cities, is very clique-ish. If you didn't go to a NC school or grow up here it is tough to meet people. If you are job hunting - let me know what you are looking for. Networking is everything. Hope this helps - best of luck.
Old Aug 3rd, 1999, 02:17 PM
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Some places in NC are good some are not so good. However, I used to live in NJ, and God Bless anyone who has had to live there. I'd rather go to jail than go back there. Good Luck to you. Ever thought of Richmond, Va. Charlotte is pretty nice, growing quickly. I now live in Atlanta- hate it. The city is beautiful, always things to do, but it is about 98 degrees and all the men here are gay. I heard that Atlanta is the number one city of detriment to single women. Most of my friends here are themselves or love northern people. Not all southerners are rednecks but anyway you look at it leaving Jersey is definately a step up.
Old Aug 3rd, 1999, 04:43 PM
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The area around Southpark Mall and UNC Charlotte in Charlotte are great. Cary and a few areas around Raleigh are very nice. You could not go wrong with either area! Good luck.
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 10:03 AM
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I know this post is about 3 years post factum, but if you move to Cary (outside Raleigh) from north of the Mason-Dixon, beware heckling from Gomer Pyle and Barney Fiff, as CARY acutally stands for CONCENTRATED AREA for RECLOATED YANKEES. I couldn't resist that one.

I grew up in Cary though, and although it has changed a great deal in 15 years, if you can afford it, people there now generally don't care where you're from.

- Brian
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 11:05 AM
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I thought "Cary" stood for "Containment Area for Relocated Yankees."

Anyway, I lived in Cary from the mid-'80s to the late '90s. Raleigh/Cary was a nice place to live, although it was a little too hot and humid for my tastes.
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 12:26 PM
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I don't know why everyone hates NJ? NJ has beautiful beaches, great, quaint towns. I don't know what's so great anywhere else? I was in Charlotte 2 weeks ago on business. Snorfest! I stayed over the weekend, and there was nobody, I mean nobody out on the streets at all. I was in downtown Charlotte for much of my visit. I wasn't impressed, very boring. Thank god, the restaurants we picked were half way decent.
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 04:06 PM
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I grew up in Charlotte. It is great if you are under 18 or over 35 (with kids), but there's not much to do if you are in your 20's. There are no major universities in the area, which gives the area a conservative and anti-intellectual feel. However, you're a parent who is looking for a place with clean air, clean water, and friendly church-going people, you will probably like it. I've been to the Triangle a few times. Chapel Hill is a picturesque college town, with enough to keep you amused for a day or two. Durham has beautiful neighborhoods around Duke University, and a mixture of affordable housing and bad schools (from what I've heard). Raleigh is a cut-rate capital city with affluent suburbs.
Old Jun 23rd, 2002, 10:54 AM
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I grew up in NY(Westchester County) and lived in Weehawken, NJ the last two years with my husband. We just recently moved to Charlotte(Nov of'01)looking for a better lifestyle, get away from the traffic etc..We are having a very hard time adjusting. We have yet to meet anyone to hang out with. Shopping is terrible! Traffic is terrible! Drivers are the worst I've ever seen! However, I have yet to meet anyone who is from Charlotte! People are nice, but so are the New Yorkers! The good things are, we both get paid better here and the rent is unbelievably cheap...but rising. We will give it another year to see! Good luck with your decision.
P.S. We are in our early 30's.
Old Jun 23rd, 2002, 06:08 PM
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Well, it wouldn't be a complete post about Charlotte if I didn't chime in with my Welcome Wagon Lady spiel. Sorry, Kris, that you are unhappy here.
May I offer some advice?

If you're renting, find someplace closer in town so traffic won't be such a problem for you. Rent a condo in an established, tree-lined area where you can walk and bike to neighborhood shops and restaurants. To find new friends, get involved. There are tons of organizations and clubs. Volunteering is also very big in Charlotte.

Go to Pops in the Park and strike up a conversation with the group around you. You may just meet your new best friends.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 05:07 AM
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My daughter lived in Charlotte for a period of 6 months. She was completing her residency. Her comments were it was a lovely city, people were friendly, but way to quiet for her. She now lives around D.C. Of course she likes the hustle and bustle. She is early 20's.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 05:33 AM
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Both areas are good places to live, and both have grown tremendously in the past 10-15 years. I actually think the Triangle area (Ral-Dur-CH) is more culturally dynamic than Charlotte. There are so many people from all over the world in the Triangle -- brought there mostly by the three major universities -- that there's always something fun going on, and I think there are a better variety of ethnic restaurants in the Triangle. Charlotte is, in my view, a lot more homogenous.

Traffic is terrible in both places.

As for the poster who said that Durham isn't a desirable place to live, that definitely used to be the case, but it's improved a lot in the past 5-10 years. There's a lot of new development, especially in the Southpoint area and the Brier Creek area (along Durham/Wake Co. line, near the airport), and these neighborhoods are just as nice as anything in Cary or North Raleigh at a much more affordable price. (That said, the person who said that property taxes in Durham are higher is correct).

If you travel frequently, airfares out of RDU are much more competitive. USAirways controls CLT, which means that airfares are exorbitant.

I know a lot of people who have lived in both Charlotte and the Triangle, and people are pretty split on which one they like better. I think a lot of the people who are badmouthing the Triangle haven't been there in 6 or 7 years. Both cities have grown a lot in that time period, but I think the Triangle has become more cosmopolitan and dynamic whereas Charlotte has just gotten bigger (more of the same).
Old Jul 5th, 2002, 10:48 AM
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Think twice about N.C. Remember they elected Jesse Helms over and over !! And Charlotte closed a broadway play because they said it was "pornography"!!

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