Looking for Apartments in Charlotte NC

The Charlotte apartment hunt: It’s harder than it looks.

If you want an impossible task, decide on an apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina without ever visiting one.

Yeah. That’s a little intimidating.


Because I’m a super nerd, I created a giant spreadsheet of possible apartments that fit our criteria. My personality is also one that has to see ALL my options, and then choose from there. (Yeah, one of those annoying Baskin-Robbins customers who tastes all flavors before choosing.) I need to explore all my options before committing to something.

Prices when looking for apartments in Charlotte, NC

For a 2-bedroom house in my hometown in Utah, one can expect to pay around $800. That gets you a pretty decent place, with a little plot of land to yourself. For a nicer 2-bedroom apartment in Charlotte, expect to pay about $1,050+ a month (not including all the bogus mandatory cable, valet garbage, etc. fees).

Safety when looking for apartments in Charlotte, NC

Make a big X on a map of Charlotte, with uptown smack dab in the middle. Generally speaking, the best areas to live are on the top and bottom (north and south) of the X, and the places west and east of Charlotte are less than desirable. I’m not sure how you decide which parts of uptown are safe…

I’m sure I'll catch a lot of flak for this, because I'm sure there are a lot of great, safe neighborhoods to live in on the east and west sides. I'm just reporting what some friends have told me is a good rule of thumb for outsiders not familiar with the area.

Nicer areas in the North:
  • Huntersville (avoid low income housing areas east of I-77)
  • Northlake
  • Cornelius
  • Concord

Nicer areas in the South:
  • Ballantyne
  • SouthPark
  • Fort Mill (across the border in South Carolina)

Check out this map for the livability scores in Charlotte and nearby neighborhoods.

Now, as I cross-referenced the more desirable places (North and South) with the apartments with the highest ratings, the price range was about $1,050+ a month.

I've heard the reason rent is so high is because the house prices there are so cheap, that the only people who rent are those with bad credit, or those staying only temporarily, so apartment complexes can jack up the price.

Options for apartments in Charlotte, NC

I know a lot of people care about the clubhouse, pool, and gym. I don’t really. Generally they’re all the same. The most important thing with apartment amenities I recommend is: look at the reviews for the apartment you're interested.

If the amenities suck (broken gym equipment, dog poop piling up in the bark park), the tenants will complain about it in reviews. Don’t trust the people who take you on the tour to divulge their community’s dirty little secrets.

Here are more apartment options to think about when making your Charlotte apartment decision:

Pet-friendly options 
Not one of the 30 apartments I called (Yes, I really did call 30 places) doesn’t allow pets. Apparently, every apartment complex is pet friendly in and near Charlotte. For a fee, of course.

The average pet deposit (no refundable of course) is $300 per pet, and most complexes charge a $10-15 pet rent each month. Some complexes even have dog treats in their office!

Boat parking options
This one surprised me. Apparently only a few communities, (typically those close to the lake) have specified boat, jet ski, or RV parking, or allow you to park your recreational vehicle at the back of the parking lot. This can save you a $100+ monthly storage unit fee. (Obviously it depends on the community.)

Leasing options
That price you see on Zillow or Apartments.com? Yeah. That’s generally for a standard 12-13 month lease. The less time you’re planning on being in the apartment, the more the price jacks up.

So, technically, you can get a lease term for a minimum of 4 months if you want...for a hefty price. If you're looking for a shorter lease term, be prepared to pay more. A few of the apartment communities we looked at had a minimum of a 10-month lease.

Laundry options 
Practically all the apartments come with hookups. About 5% have the washers and dryers included, and almost all have an onsite laundry.

Think about the traffic and commute 

Research says that Charlotte has some of the worst traffic of any big city. The traffic was something I didn’t really think about as part of my apartment search…until after I visited.

  • I-77 is by far the worst highway in the area, especially during rush hour. Every local knows this. The commute from Charlotte to Huntersville and other northern cities is even worse during the evening rush hour, because I-77 bottlenecks from 3 to 2 lanes. The traffic on I-77 going south can be heavy for a few miles while still near Charlotte, but the closer you get to the South Carolina border, the wider the interstate becomes.
  • I-485 is the 67-mile freeway that circles Charlotte. Luckily, the circle was just completed, so that has cut down on traffic in the Northeastern quadrant of the city. I-485 can get a little clogged during rush hour, or during traffic incidents, but on the whole, actually stays pretty clear.

What do people complain most about apartments in Charlotte, NC?

Don’t forget to rely on reviews to help you make your decision! Reading through bazillions of reviews for dozens of complexes absolutely ruled out some apartments I was previously considering.

In general, here are the top 7 complaints people have about apartments in Charlotte (in no particular order):
  1. Management never answers their phone
  2. Front office staff is rude
  3. Unsavory neighbors
  4. Dog poop everywhere
  5. Maintenance problems/apartments are falling apart/cockroaches
  6. Parking issues
  7. Noise/paper-thin walls
Reviews are your friends. Current and former tenants know more about actual livability than the apartment website could (or would) ever tell you.

Your apartment decision

Ultimately, your apartment choice comes down to you and your unique priorities. No community is perfect, so what are you willing to compromise on? Is a short commute to uptown important to you? Well, living in Cornelius probably isn’t the best option. Do you want a short commute and live near a lake? Well, think about the southwest area.

You get the idea.

So, did I miss anything? Do you have any questions or recommendations on where to live?
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