Named for the German princess, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who went on to become the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland in 1761, Charlotte, North Carolina is the largest city in the Tarheel State. With a rapidly growing job market focused on technology and an established reputation as one of the financial capitals of the country, it’s no wonder Charlotte has become one of the 20th most populous cities in the United States.
Nestled in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, Charlotte has no shortage of cool things to do. It’s the proud home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, not to mention professional hockey, soccer and lacrosse teams. And don’t forget about two NASCAR Cup Series races. Add an amusement park, several museums and a never-ending list of great restaurants and bars, and you’ve got the recipe for an incredible place to live for young professionals and families alike. Pack your bags and set your sights on the Queen City!
Living in Charlotte, NC: What to Know Before Moving to Charlotte
With 860,000 residents, Charlotte is not a small southern city by any stretch. It’s attracting people from all walks of life – college students, new graduates, executives, and even retirees. In fact, Charlotte made Forbes’ 2019 list of Best Places to Retire.
Big companies’ needs for highly skilled technical jobs are driving incredible employment growth in the city. Paired with ample cultural attractions, world-class sports teams, and a reasonable cost of living, Charlotte may be the perfect place for you to call home. Here’s what you need to know before taking up residence in the Queen City.
Pros and Cons of Living in Charlotte
- Great schools: Wonderful public-school options for K-12, including the innovative Middle College High School program.
- Weather: Enjoy summer shorts and winter sweater seasons in this moderate climate.
- Job growth: The area added 117,694 jobs in the last five years.
- Affordable housing: Home values in Charlotte have risen more than 50% over the last five years, but still, the median home value is under $227,000.
- Crime: Charlotte gets low marks for safety, with violent crime and property crimes rates higher than the national average.
- Cost of Living: A family of four needs to make about $89,500 to afford to live in Charlotte, which is higher than the national average, and residents pay more for healthcare.
- Walkability: A car-dependent city, Charlotte is only the 50th most walkable city in the country.
- Sales Tax: Charlotte has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state at 7.25%.
- Property Tax: Mecklenburg County has the fifth-highest property tax rate in the state, with residents paying an average 1.164% of assessed home value. For a home valued at $250,000, that translates to a tax bill of about $2,910 annually. Despite being higher than in other cities in North Carolina, where the average rate is 0.855%, the Charlotte rate is slightly lower than the national average of 1.211%.
- Sales Tax: With a 25% rate, Charlotte has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state. The sales tax rate is a combination of North Carolina’s 4.75% rate, Mecklenburg County’s 2% rate, and a special rate of 0.5%.
- Income Tax: North Carolina has a flat income taxof 5.25%, which means the state taxes everyone at this rate, independent of income.
While Charlotte home values are pretty much the same as national values, homes are appreciating at a much faster pace. According to Zillow, the median home value in Charlotte, as of June 2019, was $226,100. Home values have risen an incredible 50.4% over the last five years; much quicker than the national average of 37%.
The population is split evenly between people owning and renting. According to Apartment List, as of July 2019, the average 1-bedroom apartment in Charlotte costs $983 per month, and the average 2-bedroom apartment costs $1,147 per month. These rates roughly align with the national average. Studio apartments cost closer to $900 a month.
Cost of Living
It should come as no surprise that the cost of living in North Carolina’s largest city is higher than the national average. That said, it’s less expensive than the state’s other major city, Raleigh. To determine the cost of living in a specific city, Bestplaces.net calculates an index using a US average of 100. According to their research, the Charlotte cost of living is 106.7, compared to an average of 96.2 for other cities in North Carolina. Queen City residents pay more for housing, healthcare, and transportation, but less for groceries, utilities, and miscellaneous items.
The median household income in Charlotte is $58,202, which is slightly higher than the national average of $57,652. According to the Family Budget Calculator, it costs a family of four with two adults and two children about $89,500 to live in the Charlotte metro area.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Don’t like to choose when it comes to a favorite season? If you live in Charlotte, you don’t have to since you get to experience them all. With an average temperate of 60 degrees, weather in Charlotte is just right. Temperatures are highest in July, with highs/lows of 89/68 degrees F. Fast-forward to January, grab a sweater, and enjoy highs of about 51 and lows around 30.
Charlotte averages four inches of snow per year, considerably less than the national average of 28 inches annually. North Carolina is the ninth rainiest state in the country, based on annual precipitation rates, with Charlotte getting 41.63 inches of rain a year. Be sure to have your umbrella handy in March and August.
Although not particularly prone to severe weather, Charlotte can experience some nasty winter storms. The City of Charlotte has great resources available online to help residents stay safe at home and on the roads.
Economy & Job Market
According to a 2019 report from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, the total number of tech jobs in the Charlotte metro area grew by 30% over the last five years. That’s double the rate of growth in the rest of the country. The area has also added 117,694 jobs over that same period. Charlotte is trying to compete with the state’s other major tech hub, Raleigh, for jobs and talent.
Many of these jobs don’t come from start-ups, but from established companies in a variety of industries that are growing their tech-focused staffs to help them compete in today’s evolving market. With big names like Lowe’s, Bank of America, US Trust and Compass Group, all based in the Charlotte metro area, it’s no wonder the region has added new jobs every quarter since the fourth quarter of 2010.
With an unemployment rate of 3.7%, Charlotte is faring better than the rest of the county when it comes to jobs. This rate is great news for the 102 new people who move to the city every day.
Healthcare and social assistance; finance and insurance; and retail are the three largest industries in the Queen City. Its reputation as a banking hub comes from two of its largest employers: Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Other major employers are Atrium Health, Wal-Mart, and American Airlines.
Are you looking for a job in Charlotte? Check out available postings on LinkedIn.com, indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, simplyhired.com, and monster.com. Executives and other professionals will often hire a Head Hunter to match their skills to the right employer.
Traffic and Transportation
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), operates over 70 rail and bus routes around the city. Charlotte is home to North Carolina’s first light rail, the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail, which connect South Charlotte to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. There’s also the CityLYNX gold line, a 10-mile streetcar system that connects neighborhoods and businesses on the east and west sides of the city. The city’s 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan details Charlotte’s plan to add more light rail and bus lines, in addition to a commuter rail line.
According to Walkscore, Charlotte ranked 26/100 for walking, 30/100 for biking, and 29/100 for transit, earning it the rank of “car-dependent.” Given these ratings, it’s the 50th most walkable city in the US.
Two major interstates meet in Charlotte. I-85 connects the city to Atlanta and the Research Triangle, and I-77 will take you from Charlotte up through Appalachia. The 67-mile I-485 beltway encircles the city, and the I-277 inner loop circles Uptown Charlotte.
Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT) is eight miles west of downtown Charlotte and is American Airlines’ hub for the Southeast. Amtrak operates three routes in Charlotte: the Crescent, the Carolinian, and the Piedmont.
What to Do
In addition to great professional sports teams, there’s tons of culture to enjoy in Charlotte, including museums and performing arts centers. Want a place to take the kids, or just want to act like one? There’s a fantastic amusement park just 20 minutes southwest of the city.
- Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, featuring more than 1,400 works from 20th-century artists
- Discovery Place Science, where kids and adults can learn all about science, technology, engineering, and math
- Blumenthal Performing Arts
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
- Check out a Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Hornets game, or one of the several minor league sports teams in the area
- Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture
- Hike Grandfather Mountain which towers nearly 6,000 feet above North Carolina
- Visit Carowinds, a world-class amusement park
Schools and Universities
Charlotte has fantastic K-12 options, including magnet and charter schools. Public schools are all part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District. According to greatschools.org, the top-rated elementary school is Bain Elementary, and the top-rated middle school is Jay M Robinson Middle School, with both receiving a score of 10/10. The best high schools – Cato Middle College High and Harper Middle College High – are both magnets that are part of the district’s innovative Middle College program where students can complete their high school diplomas while also earning college credits through Central Piedmont Community College. The high schools are co-located on the different Central Piedmont campuses.
Charlotte is home to 29 colleges and universities, including 16 four-year universities. Of those 16, only one is public – the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which offers more than 200 degree programs. Other schools based in Charlotte proper are Queens University of Charlotte, Johnson & Wales, and Johnson C. Smith University. There’s also Central Piedmont Community College, which has six campuses in Mecklenburg county and offers degrees in 12 fields.
Crime rates are not a selling point for Charlotte. According to NeighborhoodScout, Charlotte is safer than only 8% of other American cities. Both Charlotte’s violent crime rate and property crime rates are higher than the national average, according to bestplaces.net. One hundred twenty-one crimes are committed per square mile in Charlotte, compared to just 26 in the rest of North Carolina. As a Charlotte resident, your chance of becoming a victim of violent crime is 1 in 296, compared to 1 in 275 for other places in the state.
When it comes to the internet, you have several options, including Google Fiber, Windstream, AT&T, and Spectrum by Charter. AT&T and Spectrum by Charter also provide cable services, so there may be an opportunity for savings with their services. As far as cell phone service, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T provide 100% coverage in the area, with Sprint just a smidge behind at 99.92% coverage.
Best Neighborhoods in Charlotte, NC
Here are some of the top places in Charlotte to call home:
About two miles south of downtown along East Blvd, you’ll find Dilworth, one of Charlotte’s oldest neighborhoods. This area is full of charm and history, with festivals and block parties going on year-round. One of the neighborhood’s most popular amenities is Latta Park, named after the neighborhood’s founder, Edward Dilworth Latta. The park features fitness trails, several basketball courts, soccer fields, and a small waterpark for kids.
Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb is home to adorable bungalows with big front porches and regal oak trees, as well as the area’s largest hospital. Good schools and a real neighborhood vibe make Dilworth an excellent place for families.
- Population – 8,542
- Median Household Income – $101,980
- Home Price – $487,790
- Apartment Rent – $1,222
- Schools – Dilworth Elementary, Alexander Graham Middle, Myers Park High
Something to try: Order some extra naan with your curry at Copper, one of Charlotte’s best Indian restaurants.
One of Charlotte most sought-after areas, Myers Park, is an established neighborhood known for its beautiful architecture and 100-year-old tree-lined streets. Flanked by Queens Road and Selwyn Avenue to the west, Myers Park is about five miles south of downtown Charlotte. It’s one of the Queen City’s safest neighborhoods, which explains why it’s a hit with families – 32% of households are families with children.
With some of the most expensive real estate in Charlotte, Myers Park also has its share of renters in the form of Queens University students. There’s no shortage of arts and culture in this area, where residents and visitors frequent Discovery Place Nature and the Duke Mansion.
- Population – 12,588
- Median Household Income – $160,432
- Home Price – $854,384
- Rent – $1,459
- Schools – Dilworth Elementary, Sharon Elementary, Selwyn Elementary, Alexander Graham Middle, Myers Park High
Something to try: Catch a movie at the 70-year-old indie Manor Theatre.
Located between 11th Street, Trade Street, Tyron Street, and Graham Street in downtown, Fourth Ward is a great area for people looking to be in the thick of it. Niche.com rated Fourth Ward the #1 Neighborhood for Young Professionals in Charlotte, also giving it high marks when it comes to nightlife.
This neighborhood is definitely an area of younger residents, with 63% of the area’s population renting. The homes in this area are primarily townhomes or high-rise condos that start in the mid-$200,000s. With a happening social scene and a high percentage of renters, it’s no surprise that only 6% of residents are families with children. This statistic also reflects in the mediocre school ratings. That said, there are fun-friendly attractions in the Fourth Ward, which is home to the city’s arts and entertainment district.
- Population – 5,131
- Median Household Income – $88,798
- Home Price – $231,007
- Rent – $1,454
- Schools – Walter G. Byers Elementary, Ashley Park Elementary, West Charlotte High
Something to try: Enjoy a touring Broadway show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Niche.com rates Providence Crossing as the #1 Best Neighborhood to Buy a House in Charlotte and people are listening – 79% of residents here own their homes. About 20 miles south of downtown, this gorgeous suburb is located just outside the I-485 loop. The neighborhood comprises 288 single-family homes between 1,800 and 4,200 square feet and two or three-car garages.
Higher than average household incomes go hand in hand with the higher home prices here, but so do excellent schools. Providence Crossing is a true suburb, with 50% of households that include children and tons of family-focused activities held throughout the year, like ice cream socials, Halloween parties, and visits from Santa. It’s a highly educated neighborhood, with roughly a quarter of residents having master’s degrees.
- Population – 11,582
- Median Household Income – $129,367
- Home Price – $376,941
- Rent – $807
- Schools – Polo Ridge Elementary, McKee Road Elementary, Jay M Robinson Middle, Ardrey Kell High, Providence High
Something to try: Hit the links at the Providence Country Club.
Just four miles southeast of downtown Charlotte and slightly north of Myers Park, you’ll find Eastover. If you’ve got a taste for the finer things and love beautiful real estate with a price tag to match, this may be the place for you. Excellent schools and easy access to all of the city’s amenities make this a highly desirable neighborhood. Thrillist even included it on their 2016 list of “most beautiful neighborhoods” in the country.
When talking about Eastover, the word “stately” comes to mind. It was the first suburb to feature homes with driveways for cars, which gives you just a taste of this neighborhood’s rich history. While primarily made up of single-family homes that can cost upwards of $1 million, there are a few condo buildings in the area. Finding a condo in the low $100s is a rare occurrence; you’re more likely to pay between $250,000 and $500,000 for a model befitting the neighborhood’s reputation for luxury.
- Population – 2,692
- Median Household Income – $203,695
- Home Price – $1,070,952
- Rent – $981
- Schools – Armstrong Elementary, Eastover-Central Elementary, Eastover Elementary, Alexander Graham Middle, Myers Park High
Something to try: Visit the Mint Museum of Art, North Carolina’s first art museum.
Another hub for young professionals, Uptown is the quadrant of the downtown area that’s south of Trade Street and west of Tryon Street. This neighborhood truly is the social center of Charlotte, with a never-ending list of things to do, see, eat, and drink. A great spot to do all of these things is the 7th Street Public Market.
Uptown is where many of the new-to-Charlotte job seekers reside, drawn to the city by all the new opportunities in start-up and large company tech jobs. Seventy-five percent of residents in this area rent, and you’ll pay a premium for being in the center of it all. Especially when you consider how close you’ll be to all the sports venues –Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina Panthers both play at stadiums in Uptown – this area is worth the price.
- Population – 7,828
- Median Household Income – $86,080
- Home Price – $263,826
- Rent – $1,401
- Schools – Dilworth Elementary, Alexander Graham Middle, Myers Park High
Something to try: Savor a specialty cocktail at The Imperial.
Travel 20 miles north of Charlotte along I-77, and you’ll arrive at Lake Norman and the quaint town of Davidson. Residents are proud of their pedestrian and bike-friendly downtown, even going so far as to say “Davidson is built for pedestrians and bike riders, not for the car” on their town website. A close-knit community with year-round events like Concerts on the Green and holiday events, Davidson is a picturesque place tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Founded in conjunction with the opening of Davidson College in 1837, this town embraces its roots and relationship with the college. Residents enjoy all the college town amenities like art galleries, coffee shops, and good restaurants, including Kindred, run by James Beard Award semifinalist Joe Kindred and his wife, Katy. Davidson is a terrific place to raise a family, with A+ schools and lots of things to do.
- Population – 12,325
- Median Household Income – $120,658
- Home Price – $406,000
- Rent – $1,095
- Schools – Davidson Elementary, Bailey Middle, William Amos Hough High
Something to try: Find your next literary love at Main Street Books.
Matthews is another great option, located 20 minutes southeast of downtown Charlotte along US-74. What used to be a tiny rail town has continued to grow over the years into what is now one of the area’s most desirable suburbs. Hardware stores and history museums now share the street with popular restaurants and bars, showcasing how Matthews is successfully embracing both old and new as it continues to evolve.
Seventy-five percent of residents own their homes, and there’s a good mix of families and young professionals. Average housing prices are in line with the Charlotte metro area average, and the schools are good. The only negative for this area is the slightly elevated crime rate, with higher rates of theft than the national average.
- Population – 30,760
- Median Household Income – $76,007
- Home Price – $231,300
- Rent – $1,153
- Schools – Matthews Elementary, Elizabeth Lane Elementary, Crestdale Middle, David W. Butler High, Providence High
Something to try: Visit the Matthews Visitor Center, housed in a restored train depot.
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Now that you’re ready to make Charlotte your new home let’s make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Reach out to Great Guys Moving now to get your free, no-obligation moving quotes.