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April 28, 2010 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Can we be happy in Charlotte, NC?

I have an opportunity to transfer to Charlotte, NC in the near future. My wife and I would be first time home buyers, our household income is around 65K.

We have no children, and would be looking for a nice, safe place to live. We want to be left alone but close to parks, interesting restaurants, and other amenities.

We would like an area close to a college if possible. Work would be east of Mt Holly inside 485, I've heard traffic can be bad but I will commute.

Are there any places to absolutely avoid?
Are there any places to absolutely see?
What are some good links to get started looking for homes?
What else should I be asking?
posted by toadliquor to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by headnsouth at 5:05 PM on April 28, 2010

I'm a student located about half an hour north of Charlotte. I don't spend that much time in Charlotte, but when I do, it's usually to hang out in NoDa. That's the artsy area for gallery crawls, neat cafes, concerts, etc. I'm not sure how safe it is to live near there, but it's pretty hip for evenings out.
posted by fantine at 5:50 PM on April 28, 2010

Well, I'm not exactly sure I can answer your question, but I will be willing to meet you during a Charlotte meetup! I say that because my wife and I will also be moving to Charlotte this Summer. Our household income puts us in a similar situation as you. We actually just put an offer in on a house in Darby Acres, which is fairly close in to the inside of the city. We did most of our initial searching on

I will be working at UNCC, and had a 3-day visit to the city and campus as part of my interview. I thought the city was great! I've lived in Louisville, Lexington, Detroit/Ann Arbor, Dublin (Ireland), Eastern Kentucky and now am headed to Charlotte. Charlotte seemed to have more culture than any of those places except Dublin (which is a national capital after all) and plenty of energy and things to do. Really, Charlotte's visual art culture compares reasonably favorably even to Dublin. Most everyone I met was welcoming and friendly. I found it to be pretty drivable, but again, I partly compare cities to Detroit where everyone seems to think they are in a race car.

I will say that the area immediately surrounding UNCC's campus seemed pretty quiet, as it is about 10 miles north of the downtown area. We deliberately looked for a house in East Charlotte so that we could find an affordable place that was more intrinsically part of the city life.

Good luck! You can MefiMail if you like. I think my regular EMail is in my profile as well.
posted by Slothrop at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2010

I am a UNCC student and Charlotte resident all my life, personally; I like it here. There are some seedy areas, but with a city as large as Charlotte that is to be expected. I can't really recommend you an area for a house, I know nothing about the housing prices around here. The area directly around UNCC is not wonderful, but go 2 - 4 miles in almost any direction and its fine. A lot of employees here actually live in one of the smaller cities and commute to Charlotte, If you want lager plots of land and less people that's your way to go.

The best thing to do would be to just drive around the city and get a feel for what you like, almost anywhere in Charlotte has quick access to a highway or freeway so you can get to your job and back in not too much trouble no matter were you decide to buy your house.

I have never looked for a place to live in Charlotte so I can't help much in that regard, but please MeFi mail me any questions you have about the city or specific parts of the city and I will give you the best advice I can.
posted by token-ring at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2010

I lived in Charlotte for a few years and my main complaint was that it was super sprawly and very car-centric. If you don't like driving then I would recommend living close to your work, because otherwise you will spend a lot of time in your car.

You probably want to be someone near downtown or NODA, but it's been a few years since I lived there and I'm not sure what safety is like anymore so I'm not sure about neighborhoods. I've heard the area around downtown where they built the light rail has turned into a nice area recently.
posted by bradbane at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2010

My absolute favorite neighborhood in Charlotte is Myers Park, where Queens University is located. I lived outside the city, so I know nothing about the real estate, cost-of-living or reay any actual facts, but there were a ton of cute restaurants, an art house theatre, and the best thing? The area is gorgeous and very walkable.
posted by bluestocking at 7:17 PM on April 28, 2010

Mrs. Slothrop here. I just got back from the aformentioned house hunting trip, and have a pretty good idea of cool areas and prices in those areas. If you are at all a hipster, you'll be interested in Noda, Country Club Heights, Midwood and Medford. Prices in these areas range from 200,000 to 700,000 - the newer the redo, the higher the price. In a lot of these neighborhoods you are paying for location. Think small house, big mortgage. As Slothrop pointed out, is handy. Pick Area 2 and then scroll through the neighborhood list to get an idea of what's available. Darby Acres, the neighborhood where we will be living, is about a mile from Midwood, and FAR more reasonable - it's a mixed income/ethnicity/age neigborhood, but one where everyone says hello to you when you walk down the street. We had an amazing Buyers Agent help us with the search - Bob Rossier of Rossier Realty. He has lived in Charlotte for over 30 years and knows it very, very well.

Elizabeth, Belmont and Villa Heights are the neighborhoods closest to Uptown - they are all VERY transitional, so if you are not looking for a huge variety of economic standing in your neighbors, don't consider them.

As bluestocking noted, Myers Park is lovely. Houses are also easily 450000+. Most of the area South and East of Uptown is fairly affluent (there's an Aston Martin dealership in South Park). The areas surrounding it can be affordable, but you will be looking at houses built in the 80's - not much character. Further out, you can find very inexpensive new homes. But you may be the only person on your block.

I found everything in Charlotte to be about 15 minutes from everything else. Great grocery stores, amazing restaurants (I don't have time for links, but look up Earth Fare, Harris Teeter, Good Food, Crepe Cellar) and world class museums (Mint Museum of Art & Design). The South Park Mall offers great shopping (Sur la Table!) - apparently there are other malls, but I didn't go to any of them.

I'd be happy to share more info - my email is in my profile. Good luck!
posted by dirtmonster at 5:54 AM on April 29, 2010

My wife and I just returned from Charlotte to check it out as a possible place to live and we were very impressed. My take from my trip and after reading the City-Data forums is that Charlotte is a great place to live, not a great place to visit. With that said, we really liked the Southpark and Ballantyne areas. But we also liked a lot of the neighborhoods closer to Uptown which may be more in your price range. Now that I see there are some Mefi's that live in Charlotte, it makes it even more appealing to relocate there.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:50 AM on April 29, 2010

Living on the east side, cute neighborhoods notwithstanding, would make your commute a challenge since Mt. Holly is in Gaston County, to the west.

You might want to look in Mt. Holly itself and Belmont in particular. Both towns are going through a modest renewal (Gaston County has been reluctant to give up its working-class milltown roots and only recently realized that the mills aren't coming back, so they'd better embrace the concept of bedroom community) full of very sweet bungalows and a few mill/loft rehabs. Real estate is incredibly affordable. The social life is likely not as active as the Plaza-Midwood scene, so there's a big grain of salt. Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Belmont, plays a big role in the cultural life of the county, as does the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. There's also the Schiele Museum of Natural History. I'm sure all these places have active volunteer networks and would probably welcome the addition of a couple of young professionals.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:55 AM on May 1, 2010

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