Is Living in Charlotte Right for You? | 🏡 ULTIMATE Moving to Charlotte Guide

Are you considering moving to Charlotte, North Carolina? This gorgeous city in Mecklenburg County is located just east of the Catawba River and southeast of Lake Norman 83 miles from Greensboro, NC, and 130 miles to Raleigh, NC.

Charlotte is known for racing as the epicenter of NASCAR as well as its universities, finance-based economy, and family-friendly attractions. While living in Charlotte, you’ll enjoy a great quality of life, friendly residents, and never-ending activities, especially if you love the outdoors! This sports and banking city, nicknamed the Queen City, has a fairly low cost of living with both an exciting urban core and quiet, residential neighborhoods perfect for families.

Whether you’re a foodie in love with Southern cuisine, an outdoor enthusiast up for kayaking, hiking, and whitewater rafting, or a young professional in search of an affordable but hip place to live, you’re bound to fall in love with Charlotte.

First settled by European immigrants in 1755, the Charlotte nickname of Queen City was earned when the city was named in honor of German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. During the Revolutionary War, the city was nicknamed “The Hornet’s Nest,” a term used by a British commander after residents drove him out after the city was occupied.

By the 1850s, railroads connected Charlotte to surrounding cities like Charleston and Raleigh. Becoming a railroad crossroads helped Charlotte grow but also made it a hot spot during the Civil War. At the end of the war, African Americans comprised 40% of the city’s population and city leaders began plans for a New South based on urbanization, not slavery and farming. Once a farm community and textile center, Charlotte became a center of the Civil Rights Movement with a mayor who began forcing integration before the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Today, Charlotte is a vibrant and multi-cultural city thanks to its century-long emphasis on reinvention and progression. It’s seen many famous residents including NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and singer/personality Tammy Faye Messner.

Charlotte, NC Population & Demographics

The population of Charlotte is 885,000 which makes it the largest city in North Carolina and the second-largest in the Southeast after Jacksonville, FL. The metro population is 2.64 million with 888,000 of those residents (more than the entire population of the city!) moving to the region between 2004 and 2014 alone.

Charlotte is a diverse city with a racial and ethnic composition that is:

  • 45.1% White
  • 35.0% Black or African American
  • 13.1% Hispanic
  • 5.0% Asian
  • 0.5% American Indian

Charlotte has been historically Protestant and it’s the historic seat of the Southern Presbyterianism denomination. However, recently changing demographics have brought new religions into the city. Today, Charlotte has a large Jewish population with Shalom Park serving as the hub for the Jewish community.

 

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Common ancestry groups in the city include Scots-Irish, English, Scottish, and British. The Hispanic population of North Carolina has grown tremendously for the last 30 years. In Charlotte, the Eastland neighborhood has a Mexican American ethnic majority. Immigrants from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and India have helped fuel the city’s growth. The state also has the country’s largest population of Montagnards, refugees who originated from Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Many settled in Charlotte.

African Americans make up 25% of the state’s population but a larger share in Charlotte. Prior to 1820, the state had fewer plantations than surrounding areas and more “yeoman” farmers with few or no slaves. Following the Revolutionary War, many free African Americans migrated to the region and descended from African Americans who were free in Virginia during its colonial period.

Charlotte has a median household income of $63,500, about 10% higher than the median for North Carolina. The city is about 52% female and 48% male with a median age of 34, far younger than the median of 39 in North Carolina.

How to Get Around Charlotte – Highways, Public Transit, Airports & More

Ready to find out about Charlotte transportation? Getting around Charlotte is easy thanks to a robust public transportation system and a central location served by many highways.

Charlotte is a main transportation hub in the Southeast and served by I-85 and I-77 which intersect downtown. The I-485 beltway serves the suburbs and the I-277 loop freeway encircles the downtown area.

Planning to use public transit? The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates mass transit in the city with light rail, streetcar, and bus services. The LYNX Rapid Transit Services is the rail arm.

  • The Blue Line runs north to south through University City, South End, Center City, and NoDa.
  • The CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar, still under construction, connects Beatties Ford, Uptown, and Elizabeth.
  • The LYNX Silver Line is a light rail line being developed to connect southeastern suburbs and downtown to the airport.

Most CATS riders use the bus service which has a main hub in Uptown at the Charlotte Transportation Center.

The city is served by the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), the 6th busiest airport in the world and a hub for American Airlines.

Charlotte Climate – What Is the Weather Like in Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate. While living in Charlotte, NC, you’ll enjoy four distinct seasons. Cool winters have a daily median temperature of 40°F in January while summers are hot and humid with a daily mean temperature of 78.5°F in July.

Charlotte gets a lot of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico which brings a lot of rain throughout the year. You’ll get an average of 42” of rain per year and just 2” of snow during the winter.

 

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The best time to visit Charlotte is between March and May or September through November. You’ll enjoy fewer crowds and the most pleasant weather without the stifling humidity and heat of summer.

Best Neighborhoods in Charlotte

Looking for the best places to live in Charlotte? Whether you want a safe, quiet neighborhood perfect for raising kids or you want to be close to the action and nightlife, Charlotte has you covered. Here are a few of the top neighborhoods in Charlotte for young professionals, families & more.

Uptown – Best Neighborhood in Charlotte for Young Professionals

Uptown is Charlotte’s downtown urban center and home to amazing cultural attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. Living in the central business district means you can skip the annoying long commute to work and walk or bike instead. Explore museums, sports, bars, and eateries all within walking distance plus frequent community events just outside your door. Uptown is home to a growing number of luxury high-rises but rent remains affordable compared to most cities.

NoDa – Fun Neighborhood in Charlotte for Millennials

North Davidson or NoDa is Charlotte’s arts and entertainment center! Located near Uptown, NoDa is home to tons of quirky boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, dive bars, and live music venues. Something fun is always around the corner in NoDa, the perfect place to live for millennials and young singles.

 

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Belmont – Affordable Charlotte Neighborhood

Popular with young families and commuters, the historic community of Belmont is adjacent to Uptown and minutes from the I-277 loop. You’ll find bungalows with front porches along quiet streets and a walkable layout. Belmont remains one of the most affordable places to live in Charlotte near downtown, but it won’t be for long! It’s undergoing revitalization with new condos and homes going up.

Dilworth – Best Charlotte Neighborhood for Families

The charming neighborhood of Dilworth was one of Charlotte’s first streetcar suburbs. Today, it’s known for its tree-lined streets, laid-back atmosphere, and great shopping and dining destinations. Families appreciate the walking trails, lake, and parks in the neighborhood plus the Discovery Place Nature museum with a planetarium and animals.

What Is the Cost of Living in Charlotte, NC?

Is Charlotte expensive? Despite being one of the fastest-growing cities with a thriving economy, living in Charlotte is more affordable than you may think!

The Charlotte cost of living index is 97.9. This means it’s a bit more affordable than the national average. Utilities and transportation are about 10% below the national average and housing is 12% below the national average!

Charlotte Typical Living Expenses

Here’s what you’ll pay for common living expenses in the city.

  • Steak (one-pound ribeye): $10.79
  • Milk (half-gallon, whole): $2.08
  • Eggs (dozen, grade A): $1.29
  • Movie ticket: $11.11
  • Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: $64
  • Fitness club monthly membership: $43.30
  • Average cell phone bill: $175
  • Average monthly utility bill: $158.72
  • Monthly pass for CATS public transit (bus and light rail): $88 or $44 for seniors and disabled riders

According to Numbeo, a family of four would have $3,396 in average monthly expenses living in Charlotte excluding rent.

Charlotte Crime – Is Charlotte a Safe City?

Ahead of moving to Charlotte, you’re probably interested in whether Charlotte is a safe place to live. The crime rate in Charlotte is 87% above the national average. The Charlotte crime rate is 4,665 total crimes per 100,000 people. This includes 739 violent crimes/100k people and 3,926 property crimes/100k people. These stats come from FBI crime data (2019).

By comparison, the national crime rate is 2,489 total crimes/100k people and 379 violent crimes/100k people.

Of course, crime rates depend greatly on where you live! There are many safe places to live in Charlotte like Hembstead, Providence Plantation, Sardis Forest, and Wessex Square, all of which have crime up to 75% below the national average.

Fun Things to Do in Charlotte

You’ll have trouble finding time to hit all of Charlotte’s attractions and amenities, even as a full-time resident! The city is home to several amusement parks and water parks, botanical gardens, interactive museums, and one-of-a-kind recreation facilities. You’ll also find tons of parks with entertainment and events and endless things to do in Charlotte during the summer on the river and lakes.

Top Charlotte Attractions

Carowinds, one of the top activities in Charlotte, is a 407-acre amusement park with over 2 million visitors every year.
  • Carowinds, a massive amusement park with roller coasters and a water park called Carolina Harbor.
  • Bank of America Stadium is home to Charlotte FC and the Carolina Panthers. Catch a football game at this 75,000-seat stadium!
  • U.S. National Whitewater Center is an athletic training and outdoor recreation facility with whitewater rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, ice skating, and more along the Catawba River.
  • Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium is a fun family-friendly attraction in Charlotte with interactive touch pools and an ocean tunnel.

Charlotte Museums

Charlotte Parks & Outdoors

A stone bridge over the lake at Freedom Park.
  • Freedom Park is a popular hub for fishing, hiking, and sports. The lakeside bandshell hosts frequent events throughout the year.
  • McAlpine Creek Park is a large county park with hiking trails, lake fishing, soccer fields, and a large dog park.
  • Romare Bearden Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Charlotte with fitness and cultural programs and live music.

Shopping in Charlotte

  • Charlotte Premium Outlets is home to over 100 name brand and designer outlet stores.
  • SouthPark is an upscale shopping center in the SouthPark neighborhood south of Uptown.

Map of Charlotte Attractions

Best Places to Eat in Charlotte

What food is Charlotte, NC known for? BBQ, fried chicken, fried pickles, and pimento cheese, also known as the Queen City’s Caviar. Ready to experience Charlotte’s famous Southern cuisine? Here are the best restaurants in Charlotte you’ll love.

Charlotte, NC Real Estate – Average Rent & Home Prices

Charlotte has been ranked as the best real estate market in the Southeast and the 3rd best in the U.S. for growth in 2021. The National Association of Realtors predicts combined growth of 19% in home prices and sales. That’s no surprise considering the city is also one of the fastest growing in the U.S. What can you expect from the housing market after moving to Charlotte?

If you’re planning to buy, the average home price in Charlotte, NC is $308,000 or $170/square foot. That’s up 18% between spring 2020 and 2021! The median days on market is just 37.

Your money buys you a lot of home in the city! Depending on the neighborhood, you can find 5-bedroom homes over 4,000 square feet for under $400k. Interested in maintenance-free condo living? You’ll find 2-bedroom condo prices ranging from the mid-$100s to over $1 million!

You can see Charlotte, NC homes for sale here to get an idea of what your budget gets you in the city.

If you’re thinking about renting while living in Charlotte? You’ll find it very affordable! The average rent in Charlotte, NC is $1,293 for a 942-square foot apartment according to RentCafe. Of course, it all comes down to the neighborhood. In Eastover, you’ll pay almost $2,000 for rent while the popular downtown/Uptown neighborhood has an average rent of $1,700. One of the most luxurious apartments in the downtown area is The Vue Charlotte where the comparatively high rent comes with luxury amenities and unparalleled city views.

 

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Charlotte Schools – Public Schools & Higher Education

Moving to Charlotte with kids? Good news: Charlotte has excellent public schools! While living in Charlotte, NC, you’ll be served by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, America’s 17th largest school district. The district has won the NAEP Awards with its 4th grade students at the top in math among 18 major urban school districts. The district has 37 high schools including Cato Middle College High, ranked 6th in North Carolina and #217 nationally with an AP participation rate of 82%.

 

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The city is also home to several excellent colleges and universities. The largest is UNC Charlotte in University City, a major public research university. Other notable colleges include Central Piedmont Community College with over 70,000 students and Johnson C. Smith University, a private historically black university.

Jobs in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is America’s third fastest-growing major city and it’s a Gamma+ global city with a thriving economy. Finance is a foundation of Charlotte’s economy and it’s America’s second-largest banking center after New York City. The metro area has seven Fortune 500 companies. Other major industries in Charlotte include trucking and freight transportation, energy, and racing.

How much do you need to earn to live in Charlotte? The average salary in Charlotte, NC is $68,000 with an average hourly rate of $17.96 according to Payscale.

Major employers in Charlotte include:

  • Atrium Health (careers)
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Bank of America (careers)
  • Duke Energy
  • City of Charlotte (careers)
  • Mecklenburg County Government (careers)
  • Carowinds
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The following are the best places to work in Charlotte according to Glassdoor based on employee feedback:

  • Microsoft (careers)
  • RingCentral, a telecommunications service provider (careers)
  • Apple
  • Power Home Remodeling
  • Equitable Advisors
  • Travelers Insurance (careers)

Sports in Charlotte

Is Charlotte a good city for sports? Absolutely! Charlotte has three major pro sports franchises:

You’ll also find baseball and ice hockey teams at the AAA pro level and the Charlotte 49ers representing the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Living in Charlotte Pros & Cons

  • Pro: Low cost of living compared to most major cities
  • Pro: Amazing outdoor recreation and family-friendly attractions
  • Pro: Excellent public school system
  • Con: Lots of rain and humid, hot summers
  • Con: Fairly high crime rate

Are you ready to make Charlotte your new home? Call the friendly movers at Make A Move today at 704-378-8588 for a free moving estimate. We’ll help you settle into your new home without the hassle so you can look forward to everything that awaits you after moving to Charlotte, NC!

 

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