Charlotte is the most populous city in the state of North Carolina. It serves as the county seat of Mecklenburg County with over 859,000 people living there. That makes it the 17th largest city in the United States with regards to population, while the entire metro area is the 22nd-largest with a total population of almost 2.5 million. Up until 2014, it was also ranked as the country’s fastest-growing metro area. In its region, only Jacksonville, FL is larger.
There are many advantages to consider when living in the Charlotte area. The city is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America, the east coast operations of Wells Fargo, and several other financial institutions have a significant presence as well. Since 1995, it has been the second-largest banking center in the country.
You will find several notable attractions are available when you start living in Charlotte as well. The NFL, NBA, AHL, USL, and Major League Lacrosse all have active teams in the city. There are also two NASCAR Cup series races held here, along with productions from the Charlotte Ballet, a local children’s theater, and the Carowinds amusement park.
If you are thinking about making a move, then these are the pros and cons to consider when you start looking at Charlotte, North Carolina.
List of the Pros of Living in Charlotte, NC
1. The cost of living in Charlotte is lower than in other cities along the East Coast.
Although the surgeon population for the Charlotte area is beginning to minimize this advantage, the cost of living here is still lower than it is across the United States, and especially along the eastern seaboard. Despite recent increases in housing costs and rent, it still is 5% cheaper to live in this metro area than the national average. Individual breakdowns on healthcare, groceries, and fuel will ultimately determine if you can save even more or struggle to break even.
2. The job market in Charlotte is hot right now.
For the 10-year period that ended in 2016, the number of jobs available in the technology industry increased by over 60% in the Charlotte area. From 2014 to 2016 alone, there was 18% job growth in the sector. The city is also the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City, which means there are plenty of employment opportunities in this industry for professionals who are looking for a fresh start.
You will also find potential employment opportunities in the healthcare industry, air travel, or education. The average salary is about $54,000 per year in the area, with the unemployment rate averaging less than 5% – on par with the overall U.S. average.
3. You will have access to plenty of educational opportunities in Charlotte.
There are several colleges and universities which are present in the Charlotte area. Queens University of Charlotte, York Technical College, Johnson and Wales, Johnson C. Smith University, the Charlotte School of Law, Winthrop University, and UNC-Charlotte all offer opportunities for you to expand your education and earn a degree. There are also several community colleges in the region that can help you to earn a certificate or get a head start on your bachelor’s degree.
4. There are several public transportation options from which to choose.
Charlotte offers you several different ways to get around if you move here without a vehicle. The Charlotte Area Transportation Service, or CATS for short, will provide you with several bus routes throughout the city, and it offers an airport shuttle too. There is also a high-speed rail system in the city which is called Lynx Light Rail.
Bicycles are available to rent as well, which you can do daily or purchase an annual pass. B-Cycle runs this opportunity, which is one of the most significant urban bike-sharing systems in the region.
5. You have plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors in Charlotte.
Location is one of the primary advantages that you will receive if you decide to start living in Charlotte. The city is only a few hours from the mountains or the beach, which means you can take a relaxing weekend whenever you want. There are also a few outdoor sites that are fairly close to the city that can make for the perfect day trip.
The US National Whitewater Center is just west of the airport, and it was originally built as part of the Olympic training center for the region. There are 1,300 acres on the Catawba River available for outdoor thrills at any whitewater skill level. You can follow 30 miles of mountain bike trails, additional walking spots, and even relax with the summer concert series. Seasonal passes are available.
Going to Lake Norman is another fun outdoor experience. It is about an hour north of the city and allows you to take your boat, kayak, or other marine craft to have a fun day on this 34-mile body of water.
6. The residents of the city love the community.
When you start living in Charlotte, then it won’t take long to realize just how passionate people are about making the city an excellent place to live. Most households are willing to work hard to keep things the way that they are. Many of the best neighborhoods around the downtown area so that comfort, creativity, and convenience come together in a meaningful way. Even the coffee shops in town get in on this advantage by offering at least one menu item that is truly unique.
7. You will get to experience all four seasons when you start living in Charlotte.
Charlotte gets to experience all four seasons each year. One of the most popular times to visit the city is during the fall when the foliage begins to change colors. Compared to the states which are further north, winters are relatively mild here, although snow is possible in January and February. You can also travel into the mountains to find the white stuff if you like to experience it.
If you prefer to go to the beach, then the summers in the city are going to be a fun experience. It can get a little hot and sticky in Charlotte during July and August, but that is the perfect time to go visit Lake Norman to cool down.
8. The nightlife is thriving in Charlotte throughout the year.
The nightlife scene in the city of Charlotte offers a significant variety of restaurants, clubs, bars, pubs, concert venues, and many other forms of entertainment. You can often hear live music playing when you walk down some of the city’s streets. Because each venue offers a unique personality, it is not unusual to spend one weekend evening hopping from site-to-site as a way to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the region.
Even though there could be a lot of energy experienced during an evening out on the town, you will discover that Charlotte has a remarkably laid-back approach to life. No one is in a hurry to get anywhere fast. While there are plenty of things to do when you start living here, it is also a fairly quiet urban environment.
9. If you love to go golfing, then Charlotte is the perfect place to be.
There are several world-class golf courses to enjoy when you start living in Charlotte. Several tournaments and championships are held in the city throughout the year, giving you plenty of exposure to the different professional tours. The sport is so popular that even most of the children who live here will take up golfing at some point before they turn 18.
Sundays in the city often involve spending the morning at church, golfing in the afternoon, a second visit for the evening service, and then dinner with the family while preparing for the week ahead. It is a place where traditional values have value if that is an important part of life, even if the city has a somewhat liberal stance on politics.
10. Charlotte is a green city with plenty of parks to enjoy.
Freedom Park is one of the best places to go when you have some free time with your family. There is plenty of parking available there, places to have a picnic, volleyball courts, trails that are perfect for walking your dog, and a nice lake where the ducks and geese like to gather. There are plenty of green spaces throughout the city of Charlotte that can help you to enjoy the outdoors whenever you have a few free moments. It is definitely one of the greenest metropolis areas that you can find along the eastern seaboard.
11. You will still have plenty of travel opportunities when living in Charlotte.
The central location of Charlotte in North Carolina is one of its most significant advantages. You are only a couple of hours from whatever relaxing experience you want to have when living here. The local airport offers connections to most of the large cities in the United States, and there are a few international flights that can help you take an extended vacation as well. It is much easier to move about here than in cities of a comparable size, so when you add in the various entertainment options that are available it is easy to come and go as you please.
12. There are plenty of cultural opportunities to explore in Charlotte.
Although Charlotte is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a zoo, there are several museums, monuments, and other cultural opportunities to enjoy when living here. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is one of the best of its genre in the region, while the Carolinas Aviation Museum takes you on a tour of airplane technologies using a local perspective. There is a nature museum to find in Freedom Park, while the NASCAR Hall of Fame creates experiences which frequently change throughout the year.
You will discover that there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself with living in Charlotte. It is up to you to get out of the house to see what you can find.
List of the Cons of Living in Charlotte, NC
1. Traffic congestion can be problematic in the downtown area and key access points.
Rush hour will provide you with the same challenges in Charlotte as you will experience and most larger cities. Although the experience is nowhere near what you would find in Chicago or Seattle, there can still be some problems getting from work to home each day. The average time the commuters spend on the road is 26 minutes. After you start living here, it is an excellent idea to test-drive your commute so that you know how long you’ll need to be in the vehicle.
2. Religion is a way of life when you start living in Charlotte.
If you are not a religious person, then moving to Charlotte can be a shock to the system sometimes. Elevation Church has nine different satellite congregations throughout the city, along with another nine in the various communities throughout the state. It is consistently ranked as one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the United States, and there are questions about its overall lack of financial transparency.
The Billy Graham Library is located in the city as well. If you don’t mind a little spirituality in your life, then this may not be a disadvantage. Otherwise, you are going to want to get used to seeing the Bible everywhere you go.
3. There are times when it feels like no one lives in Charlotte.
Unless one of the significant annual events is happening in the city, Charlotte can sometimes feel like there is no one living there. Part of this fact is due to the fact that the population is laid-back and chill, but there is also an anti-social nature to it as well. People tend to stick to themselves and their small groups of friends here. Trying to get into that company can be challenging, especially if you are coming from a region outside of the southeast. If you’re used to having a weekly get-together and lots of friends hanging around for a chat, then the alone time you get here can sometimes make you feel comfortable.
4. You will want to keep a lot of mosquito repellent handy.
Because Charlotte is a city which experiences a somewhat temperate climate, mosquitoes can be a problem when you live here all year long. The insects love to come out during the hot, sticky months of summer and that can be a problem since there isn’t much of a breeze to provide relief. You will want to avoid being outside during the hours of dawn or dusk because your body will become an immediate food source for them. If you think it is bad where you live with this disadvantage, then you haven’t seen anything until you spend a week here at peak season.
5. The soil in and around Charlotte makes it challenging to grow a garden.
Charlotte is famous for its red clay soil that can be challenging from a nutrient perspective to get plants to grow. Some residents have stated on online forums that their lawns have stopped growing when there is a need to remove soil because the quality there is so bad. If you want to have a garden in your backyard, then it is necessary to supplement it with commercial topsoil to ensure you can get a result. When you combine the threat of a hurricane with this issue, then there is the possibility of losing a lot of trees when the winds blow through.
6. Charlotte has a history of managing hurricanes and their aftermath.
If you decide to start living in Charlotte, then you will be putting yourself into the path of a potential hurricane. The history of the storms that have affected North Carolina is extensive, with the season running from the beginning of June until the end of November. Even though the city sits about 200 miles from Myrtle Beach, it is a hurricane hotspot that often takes the brunt of the storm’s impact.
There is a secondary issue with this disadvantage as well since Charlotte serves as the evacuation point for coastal residence in North Carolina and South Carolina. If a hurricane is strong enough, you might find yourself managing tens of thousands of temporary refugees. Since 1851, almost 50 storms have blown through.
7. Overgrowth is reducing the amount of green space which is available.
Because there are so many people who are starting to live in Charlotte, the number of parks and green space that is available in and around the city is starting to shrink. This issue is also affecting the traffic around these recreational areas, especially with the use of toll lanes on the local highways that impacts how drivers move about the city. The infrastructure is struggling to keep up with everyone who wants to be here, which means you may see a decline in all of the advantages listed above.
8. Many people spend their entire lives here, so they don’t experience other cultures.
If you love to experience old-fashioned Southern hospitality, then Charlotte will offer that experience in significant amounts. You will find friendly faces almost everywhere you go in the city. If you come from a cultural or ethnic minority, then the experience is a little different because it is not unusual for a local resident to ask someone who “doesn’t belong” where they are from – even if that person is a life-long Charlotte resident. There is plenty of diversity with the transplants coming to the city, but it comes at the price of this disadvantage.
9. If you don’t work in finance or tech, your job opportunities could be slim.
Charlotte is the place to be if your career is in the banking or technology sectors. If you work outside of these industries, then trying to find an open position can be quite a challenge. You will want to start applying for positions before you begin the process of moving to ensure that there is employment available when you arrive. If you cash in your chips early and move first, then you might find that paying the bills could be a struggle in those first weeks and months with your new home.
Conclusion of the Pros and Cons of Moving to Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is a city which takes pride in its culture. Whether you are touring there are numerous museums, taking advantage of the performing arts performances, or lingering during the city’s festivals, you will find that the open arms of this community are always warm and welcoming. If you are not used to that level of hospitality, then the initial experience of interacting with local residents could be somewhat intimidating.
The reason why people are moving to the city is simple: it offers advantages. Although there are some households who will want to take a closer look at this opportunity, Charlotte offers a lower cost of living and plenty of opportunities to go exploring.
The pros and cons of moving to Charlotte, NC, are all about balance. If you can carve out a place in this city where you feel comfortable, then the laid-back atmosphere will feel like a blessing. When you prefer to always be on the go, then you might get some strange looks because of your hecticness.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.