When you think of living in a budding metropolis, places like Chicago and New York City probably come to mind. However, the U.S. is full of other urban centers that teem with life, energy and skyscrapers, at a lower cost, might I add.
Charlotte, North Carolina, is one such place that may be overlooked but has all you want from city living. And if you're moving to Charlotte NC, there are a few things you should know.
While you can head out on Friday night to see live music and drink at the local watering hole, Charlotte is a little more relaxed than other cities. If New York City is the city that never sleeps, Charlotte is the city that always sleeps. The streets are quiet at night, despite the fact that young professionals are out and about.
At first, the calm atmosphere might surprise you, but after a good night's sleep followed by a delicious brunch, you'll be glad for it.
Seriously, the true-blue American cuisine is king in Charlotte, and North Carolina in general, for that matter. Once you live in the city, you'll attend barbecue festivals, eat at barbecue restaurants, and cook barbecue food when you tailgate. Oh, and there will be tailgating.
So if you don't love smoked ribs, pulled pork and just about any other slow-cooked meat, now's the time to change your tune.
North Carolina as a whole is dominated by basketball. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke University Blue Devils have a rivalry that's as serious as the tension between Chicago baseball teams and the New York Yankees. Yes, it's big.
As such, you can walk into any bar during the season and strike up a long conversation with a stranger about basketball. Know your teams and you'll make friends easily.
While Charlotte may be a quieter city than most, the highways and residential streets are suddenly covered in a torrential downpour of cars during rush hour. Stay away from the I-77, I-85 and I-485 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., or you'll double your driving time.
Instead, try to schedule your moving time in the afternoon when residents are already at work.
NASCAR is also important to Charlotte natives, and the area is crowded during both the driving season and the basketball season. During big races or games, try not to move into the city– all the extra cars on the road will hinder your moving time.
Charlotte Race Week is in mid-October. Moving to Charlotte, N.C., at that time of year is just a bad idea. Of course, if you're moving for work, you might not have a choice. Just brace yourself for the crowds and plan extra driving time into your schedule.
As you may have noticed, timing is everything when moving to Charlotte, N.C. In fact, the city's Department of Transportation must issue a permit for your moving truck, and you're only allowed to move during certain times of the day in some areas.
For the most part, this shouldn't be a big deal. Permits are free and most residential neighborhoods don't have rules regarding moving times. Just be aware of where your new apartment is and get all the information you can from the Department of Transportation.
Charlotte has the Lynx Light Rail, a monorail train system, and bus transportation. Learn the schedule and stops for both methods of transit, as it will save you from having to drive. Many residents don't actually use the Lynx, despite its convenience– remember what I said about rush hour?
After you've moved into your Charlotte apartment, explore your new city via the train and bus system to help you get a handle on it.
Charlotte may not be the biggest city, but it has a culture all of its own. Soon, you'll learn to love the area.