Charlotte, NC 10 First Impressions

What do outsiders think of Queen City?

Living in Charlotte NC
Until this week, I was a Charlotte virgin. (Technically, I guess I’m also a Southern virgin…) My hubs and I visited Charlotte for the first time to find an apartment this week!

Since my maiden eyes have never beheld the awesomeness of Charlotte, everything was new to me. These are my first impressions.

1. It’s a jungle out there

Compared to anything in the West, Charlotte is a jungle. You’re driving along (giant trees shading either side of the road) and all of a sudden a gap in the trees appears and there’s a Lowes! Wait.…where did that come from?!Charlotte Freeway

I know the neighborhoods around Charlotte are full of shops…I just don’t know where they are, because everything is camouflaged by trees! It almost gives it a homey small town feel...without being a small town.

Point is, Charlotte is GREEN!

2. Uptown: clean and classy

Uptown Charlotte NC
We took the Lynx to the Uptown Epicenter at about 8:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, and walked around to check out the new digs. The first thing I noticed? The lack of poo-smell. (I know you know that pungent big-city-sewer-odor I’m talking about.)

The second thing I noticed was that literally everyone (except us) was in a suit, nice dress, or slacks and a button up. Classy. I felt a little underdressed in my airplane-friendly yoga pants. Pretty much every restaurant we passed on our night walk seemed ritzy and on some doors was posted: appropriate attire required.

The third thing I realized is that I felt extremely safe. Typically in big cities, I’m a little wary of the doorway leerers, the bench sleepers, and the people who follow a little too closely. In uptown, I felt NONE of this normal city apprehension.

3. Confusing freeway

Charlotte I485Southbound and Northbound don’t really make sense in Charlotte. Because I-485 makes a giant circle around the city center, outsiders like me can’t think of going north, south, east, or west on the freeway.

Understanding I-485 freeway direction is simple. All you have to do is look at it like a giant clock.

If you’re on the inner circle of the freeway, rotating clockwise, you’re on I-485 Inner, and you’re closest to uptown. If you’re on the outer circle rotating counterclockwise, you’re on I-485 Outer.

This is going to take some getting used to. Don’t even get me started on east/west….

4. Country music

Every single place you go (gas station, BBQ pit, retail, you name it) has country music on the speakers!  Now, I have nothing against country music, but it always seems a little out of place unless you’re driving down a dusty dirt road in a pickup truck with a dog on the bench next to you. Not too many dusty dirt roads in Charlotte…

5. Blinkers? Who needs ‘em!

I don’t know why, if it’s a southern thing, or if it’s all the “yanks” from the East Coast moving to Charlotte, or if my home-state of Utah is just super safe, but about 10% of people just don’t use blinkers when they change lanes.

6. Water? You got it.

If you like water, Charlotte is a great option for you. There are three main lakes, all to the West of Charlotte: Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake, and Lake Wylie (the latter is mostly in South Carolina).
Lake NormanLake Wylie
  • Norman: Considered the cleanest lake of them all, it’s home to restaurants on the water, yacht racers, and drunk weekend warriors.
  • Mountain Island: Fed by Norman, this ‘secret’ lake is home sweet home to all the local fishermen. If you love fishing, this is the place for you.
  • Wylie: When compared to Norman, this lake is pretty dirty, though I hear it’s great for water skiing and wakeboarding since it’s pretty deserted and glassy during the week.

7. Food, glorious food

There are so many good food chains out here! Bojangles, Zaxbys, and Cook Out (get the seasonal watermelon shake!) name a few. Oh, and the BBQ out here? Amazing.

When you get here, try Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soda (no, it’s not wine) and Sundrop (a citrus-flavored soda kinda like Mountain Dew).

8. Humidity…it’s there, but not too bad

Why, when I mention North Carolina, does everyone tell me I’m going to hate the humidity? Of course I’m going to hate it! Everyone does!

Since I visited at the beginning of August, I was expecting Charlotte to be miserable. But…it actually wasn’t too bad. And that’s coming from a native Utahn, used to 48% humidity. I wouldn’t spend an entire day outside, but as long as you have a/c, you should be fine. Don’t forget that you only have to deal with bad humidity for a few months.

9. Friendly people (Yes, southern hospitality really exists)

I’ve heard of the southern hospitality in North Carolina, but wasn’t really expecting it. People in North Carolina feel friendly, even random strangers! I mean, they weren’t going out of their way to be ridiculously nice, but everyone seemed courteous and friendly.

Probably the best example of southern hospitality on our short trip was a man who stopped us after our apartment complex tour because he saw the apartment brochure in our hands. “If I was in your situation, I would want someone to tell me exactly what I need to know about this place!” He proceeded to give us his honest opinion about the apartment community, and asked us to come over for dinner if we ended up living there!

10. Southern accents rock.

Not many people have ‘deep South’ accents in Charlotte, but nearly everyone says y’all. I’ve always been drawn to Southern drawl, and hope to perfect it with the help of my new Charlottean neighbors.

Even without trying I’ll probably visit home and notice a bit of an acquired accent. And I’m perfectly ok with that. (Especially since 45% of men think that a Southern accent is the most attractive!)

When you came to live here, or when you visited Charlotte, what were your first impressions?
Next Post »