Charlotte is America’s second largest financial and banking center, second only to New York City and home to Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Company and a number of other key institutions. The city is also home to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and a number of other higher education institutions and boasts a rich culture.
Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and, in the past few decades, has grown massively. The city has a population of just over 730,000 but the metropolitan area adds a million people. Before moving to Charlotte there are some things you should know.
Avoid Moving during Rush Hours. The three major interstates in Charlotte (I-77, I-85, I-485) are all heavily congested from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. If you are moving in and have to be on any of these roads during these hours you will double your travel time. While there are definitely upsides to living in a big NASCAR town, you should avoid moving to Charlotte during Race Week in mid-October. Downtown Charlotte gets really crowded during this time, especially the University area where the speedway is located.
As far as weather being a problem—it isn’t. Unlike the swelteringly hot Deep South or extreme cold of the far North, Charlotte is temperate.
The seasons change but you should be fine moving to Charlotte most times of the year. August might be a little hot, but you’ll find this throughout the country.
You may need a Right of Way Use Permit if you have a moving van or truck. The Charlotte Department of Transportation issues the permit, which is currently free. Some areas will not allow you to move in during certain times of day (mostly in the business district, so it isn’t usually a concern for residential moves). You can find out more at Charmeck.org.
When moving anywhere, it is a good idea to change your address with the US Post Office. Not only will you get mail from your old address, but you’ll receive coupons for your new area. You can do so online here.
Charlotte isn’t a huge city in population but it has some very diverse neighborhoods. From the historic Dilworth area to the newer, residential South End, there is something for every taste—and budget.
The city covers around 297 square miles which, for comparison, is over double the size of Atlanta.
Those moving to Charlotte can find a neighborhood that is bustling and active or quiet and refined. Charlotte has new, growing areas, areas that are changing from industrial to residential, and a number of historic neighborhoods.
Full Neighborhood Report
Cost of Living
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce gives some examples as to costs in the city. You can expect to pay around $750 for a 950-square-foot, unfurnished two-bedroom, two-bath apartment (not including utilities). A 2,400-square-foot house on an 8,000-square-foot lot will set you back a little more than $230,000. They also say that for all types of energy, you can expect to pay around $141 per month and $31 for phone service (landline). The chamber gives examples across the board on cost of living in Charlotte, from gasoline to a bottle of wine (do not mix those two up). Check them out here.
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is responsible for both rail and a bus rapid transit. The Lynx tram/rail line in Charlotte only has one route: the Blue Line from southwest Charlotte at I-485 to the downtown area. This is the first light rail system in the area and is just over nine and a half miles long. There are 15 stations and the line runs seven days a week from 5:26AM to 1:26AM. The trains come every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes at other times. On the weekends, trains come every 20 minutes, and every 30 minutes at night. This single line will, at some point, be expanded north from the downtown area to the University area (and other parts of the city). Other lines and commuter rails are also planned. There is currently no firm timetable for these expansions and new projects.
When moving to Charlotte, you will notice many residents get around by car. Nonetheless, there is an extensive bus system run by CATS. The bus routes are plentiful, serve the entire city and even extend to other municipalities. You can find information on buses, trains and Charlotte’s historic street cars here.
Charlotte is served by a number of interstate highways: I-77, I-85, I-485 and I-277 (which has two sections, the Brookshire Freeway and the John Belk Freeway). Charlotte Route 4 also loops between I-277 and I-485. The Independence Freeway/US-74 also links downtown with other areas of the city. Those who move to Charlotte should familiarize themselves with the city traffic patterns.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is somewhere around the eighth busiest airport in the world (depending on what you are measuring). It is the largest hub for US Airways and is also used by the military. Over 38 million passengers per year use the airport, as of 2010.
Charlotte is the country’s second-largest financial center; many moving to the city are, or will be, employed in this sector. Charlotte is not, however, a one-industry town. If you are looking for work you will be pleased to learn there are 283 large companies in the city that employ more than 500 people. Of those companies, 136 are regional, national or world headquarters. Employers range from the aforementioned financial institutions to healthcare providers, government and education.
Job Search and Relocation Advice
Moving to Charlotte, NC can lead to many new adventures. Discover your new city with local newspapers; they’ll point you in the direction of the area’s cultural hot spots. Doing so will also keep you updated on important news stories, both citywide and statewide. Here’s a list of Charlotte’s essential print and TV media outlets.
The Charlotte Observer is the primary news source for denizens of both North and South Carolina. With roots that date back to 1886, the Charlotte Observer is considered to be a newspaper with little editorial bias in reporting, a reputation that’s helped it earn four Pulitzer Prizes. the Observer is published daily and has an average circulation of 155,000 and over 210,000 on Sundays.
South Charlotte Weekly
Covering local news, community events, job listings and local sports, South Charlotte Weekly can be found on newsstands every Thursday. With a readership 30,000 strong, South Charlotte Weekly is every new Charlottean’s source for discovering a wide variety of cultural events in and around the Charlotte metro area. It’s been in steady publication since its start in 2002.
Charlotte Business Journal
Whether you’re looking for a new job in the Charlotte area or are just interested in keeping up with the latest developments in the city’s business community, the Charlotte Business Journal is the weekly publication of choice for nearly 15,000 area residents.
Que Pasa Mi Gente Charlotte
Loosely translated to “What’s happening, people of Charlotte?” the publication Que Pasa Mi Gente Charlotte is geared specifically toward the city’s large Latino population. Originally named Que Pasa Charlotte, it was renamed after a 2010 merger with another popular Spanish-language Charlotte newspaper, Mi Gente Charlotte. The newspaper reaches approximately 22,000 readers with each edition.
The Charlotte Post
Founded in 1878, The Charlotte Post is the city’s longest-running publication catering specifically to the African-American community. Billed as “the voice of the black community,” The Charlotte Post is published every Thursday and can be found free of charge at various newsstands throughout the city, reaching a circulation over 20,000.
Published every other week and reaching over 11,000 readers with each edition, Q Notes is the most high-profile and far-reaching publication in the American Southeast catering specifically to the LGBT population. Readers can expect to find a variety of news stories, opinion pages, and art and lifestyle feature articles.
Local TV News Channels
Stay up to date on all local news stories by tuning your TV dial to the following statoins.
Charlotte has a subtropical climate, but you also have the four seasons—something that vanishes as you move further south. It is cool in the winter, but not unbearably so. Summers can be hot, but not Texas hot (usually). The average temperature in the summers is in the mid-70s with average summer highs in the upper 80s. There have been temperatures recorded over 100, but this is unusual. According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, only five days with temperatures below zero have occurred since 1878. Even rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.
Those moving to Charlotte should be aware the city is in an area that can feel the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes. It’s generally not something to worry about though, as Charlotte is far inland and any hurricanes that hit have generally weakened significantly before arriving. This does not mean you should be cavalier in the face of a hurricane, but Charlotte is often the place coastal residents evacuate to in the face of a major storm.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is a large school system with 88 elementary schools, 39 middle schools, 28 high schools and four alternative schools). The schools offer many special programs, such as language immersion for kindergarten through fifth grade. In these classes, the entire day is in a foreign language. There are also magnet programs for subjects such as science and technology, and specialized classes at some schools ranging from astronomy and horticulture to history. Admission to magnet programs is by lottery. Those moving to Charlotte can find out more about CMS magnet programs here.
Some of the highest-rated schools in Charlotte include:
Top High Schools (according to Charlotte Magazine)
- Providence High School
- Cato Middle College High School
- Marvin Ridge High School
- North Mecklenburg High School
- Myers Park High School
Top Elementary Schools (according to SchoolDigger.com)
- Metrolina Reg Scholars Academy
- Providence Spring Elementary
- Villa Heights Elementary
- Weddington Elementary (in Matthews)
You can find out the details on particular schools at NCReportCards.org. When you move to Charlotte, be sure to talk to parents and look to multiple sources when determining the quality of a school. Magnet and charter schools operate under a different set of rules than other schools, and can pick and choose students. A neighborhood school takes on all the students for that area. Such a school might seem that it performs less well but it is, in fact, just reflecting the diverse make-up of the student body.
Charlotte also has a number of institutions of higher learning. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is in the city. Wake Forest has a campus in Charlotte, and there are several theological seminaries. A number of small universities, colleges and community colleges also call the city home, such as Montreat College, Belmont Abbey College and Queens University of Charlotte.
There are a number of government websites that can help before you move to Charlotte and during the settling-in process. These websites can help with permits you need for your move, parking rules, registering to vote and more. As your overarching resource, the City of Charlotte’s website can help with a variety of information you’ll need when moving to Charlotte.
- Visit this section of the City of Charlotte’s official website if you need information on parking.
- The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website can help those moving to Charlotte with registering to vote.
- The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles website can help you with getting your new driver’s license and with finding the closest office to your home.
- Visit Charlotte is an organization aimed at visitors to the city, but is also useful to those moving to Charlotte. The organization is the marketing arm of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which is ultimately accountable to the city and mayor’s office.
- For more on taxes in North Carolina head to the North Carolina Department of Revenue.
- The North Carolina Secretary of State website can help with a variety of issues for those moving to Charlotte, including creating a corporation, authenticating documents and more.
- The North Carolina Department of Justice website is where you can file consumer complaints.