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Old 03-26-2011, 07:27 PM
 
3 posts, read 4,264 times
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Default Charlotte or Raleigh/Durham area?

I've lived in MI my entire life (age 43) and am tired of the long, cold winters here, but I do enjoy 4 seasons. I'm also recently divorced and looking to make a fresh start (no kids). I'm educated (Master's Degree) and enjoy walking/biking/hiking/bird watching and just being in nature.

I'm looking for work in the mental health/counseling field (already been applying but not much interest yet, presumably because I'm not yet licensed or located in NC).

I've always lived in suburbs or small towns and not sure I would like the hustle/bustle of a large city. A 20-30 minute commute is ideal. I've researched NC and the climate seems a good fit (I'm not crazy about hot/humid summers, but it's better than a long/cold winter in my book).

My research thus far has led me to consider Raleigh/Durham or Charlotte areas as places that might have decent job opportunities. Can anyone provide suggestions for mid-size/smaller cities outside of these more metropolitan areas that might appeal to a nature-lover who doesn't want to spend hours in the car getting to/from work??

PS, I've only come across one negative NC comment that concerns me so far, and that is that there are alot of snakes, and some lakes are even unusable due to infestations. Is there any truth in this?? I'm slightly phobic of them and wouldn't want to encounter them on a daily basis!

Thanks for any and all suggestions. I'm so overwhelmed with info at this point, my head is swimming (but not in snake-infested waters, LOL).
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Old 03-26-2011, 08:05 PM
 
1,098 posts, read 590,208 times
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I have a huge phobia of snakes. I am a native of Charlotte, and I hear places referred to as "Snake mountain" and "Lake Snake" but I've have more encounters in Ohio than in NC. None in NC. And I never want to have one (Excluding ones going across the road that I see like 2X at most a year)


Charlotte is a bigger city than Raleigh, but the metros are sorta similar. Charlotte has some GREAT suburbs! I love the suburbs of Charlotte and on days I want a big city feel, I just go to uptown.


I don't live in Charlotte suburbs though, I live in ruralness nothing in far out metro Charlotte because I like living in a very slow placed enviornment with little traffic BUT I like having the option of in 10 minutes being in a large Charlotte Metro City and about 30 minutes from Charlotte itself


Charlotte has a lot more attractions than Raleigh. US National White Water Center and Carowinds are my 2 favorite of our attractions. US National White Water Center you can go rafting, Hiking, Canoeing, Zip line, Obstacle Courses, rock climbing, etc.) and Carowinds is a theme park.


Charlotte is VERY nice if you like outdoors type of stuff.
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Old 03-26-2011, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC... for now.
38 posts, read 52,820 times
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I grew up in Raleigh, but work brought me to Charlotte after college. In many ways, the cities are very similar. Similar in size, similar in lifestyles, and similar in the fact that they've witnessed exponential growth thanks to an influx of transplants. In Raleigh's case, I'm convinced half of them are from upstate NY, based on how many Sabres fans show up at Hurricanes games, but that's beside the point. Honestly, as long as you're open to exploring your new city, it's hard to go wrong with either one. In determining which one is a better fit for you, a lot of it will just come down to what your interests are.

GayCharlotteGuy mentioned that Charlotte is a good place for outdoorsy stuff. I would respectfully counter that there are lots of outdoor activities to be done in Raleigh as well. There's certainly no shortage of places to go fishing, hiking, or canoeing/kayaking, among other things. I'd say it's a toss-up between the two in this regard. On another note, it is worth noting that Charlotte is closer to the mountains, while Raleigh is closer to the beaches.

To answer your original question, there are certainly suburbs from both cities that are good for outdoorsy types, while being close enough to the anchor city to keep commuting from being a major concern. A lot of it depends on where you'd be working, particularly in the case of Raleigh, which relies less heavily on its downtown area than Charlotte. It also depends on what you want. Are you looking for a suburban town with a population of, say, 50,000, or are you looking for a small town that's within a stone's throw of such a place and within a half hour of the city? I can give you a list of suburbs, just like a lot of other people here, but being able to narrow it down would help with giving you an actual list.

P.S. I've run into snakes, but not regularly. That shouldn't be a major concern.
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Old 03-26-2011, 11:23 PM
 
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Thank you both for the comments. I'm relieved to know the snake issue is not a major one.

As for where I'll be working, that is the million-dollar question! I have experience as a mental health counselor (preferred profession) and a clerical assistant for a higher ed institution (back-up, if I have to for the $). This is mostly why I'm leaning towards Raleigh/Durham area (thoughts on Cary?) or maybe Chapel Hill (is it all college-town-oriented)? Another plus (to me) is being in the middle of the state . . . . looks to me like ocean is about 2 hours away and mountains 4 . . . is that in the ballpark? I'm thinking I could initially land there, explore both sides of the state, and decide from there which I prefer long-term.

Bushpilotwannabe: this sounds terrific, I would love to know more:
"a small town that's within a stone's throw of such a place and within a half hour of the city?"

GayCharlotteGuy: this also sounds intriguing, can I get more details?:
"I like having the option of in 10 minutes being in a large Charlotte Metro City and about 30 minutes from Charlotte itself"

Potential job oppurtunities will be the ultimate deciding factor. I've been looking from up here, but so far nothing. I have 6-9 months savings to move there and find a job after (if I absolutely have to but I'll keep looking until I likely move in June). I'm planning to rent initially, apt complex or townhome or condo ($7-800/mo feasible?), until I secure a job and then who knows??????

PS, I know there's better ways to quote u both, I'm new and still figuring this out and just wanted to get my feedback out there. Thanks for responding!
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Old 03-27-2011, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC... for now.
38 posts, read 52,820 times
Reputation: 66
In the Raleigh area, in your field I would imagine you're most likely to end up on the north or west side of town.

For the west side of town, most such towns would be out along US-1 or US-64, so places like New Hill and Moncure come to mind. Sanford is also a maybe, although that's pushing it because it used to take me a half hour to get from west Raleigh to their airport, which isn't quite all the way to town. Apex, Holly Springs, and Fuquay are a little closer and bigger, but still have that small town feel in places. Cary is the biggest suburb, and is sometimes referred to as the Containment Area for Relocated Yankees (for obvious reasons). It's pretty nice for the most part, but it's very suburban and fairly well off, which has both upsides and downsides. You might also consider Morrisville, but traffic in the RTP area is the worst you'll see in Raleigh.

North Raleigh is a little more sprawled out, and could be roughly defined as the area bordered by US-70 (Glenwood Ave.) on the west side, I-440 to the south, I-540 to the north, and US-1 (Capital Blvd.) to the east. If you were to end up working there, Wake Forest is the town you'd hear about first. Nearby Youngsville and Rolesville are much smaller, though. The drive would be a little longer, but you might be willing to look at Creedmoor, Franklinton, and even Louisburg.

Southeast of town, there are more smaller towns in and around Johnston County. Off the top of my head, places like Willow Springs and McGee's Crossroads come to mind. Garner and Clayton are a little closer in and a little bigger as well.

As for Charlotte, I've only lived here for about a year and a half, having spent most of that time just outside of downtown, so I'm not too familiar with the outer areas. A few names I would drop, though, would be Huntersville, Cornelius, Monroe, Indian Trail, Weddington, Waxhaw, as well as the area in and around Fort Mill, SC (Tega Cay seems pretty popular...or maybe it's just my boss talking it up). I can't really say which ones more closely resemble small towns or suburbs, though. I can say, having spent 3 months in Ballantyne a couple of years ago, that Pineville and Matthews are closer in and are fairly suburban. I hear lots of good things about Matthews, which in my limited experience seems to be Charlotte's version of Cary. Keep in mind that traffic is more of a pain in Charlotte than it is in Raleigh, so the area of town you'd be working in would have a lot of say in where you'd want to look at living.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:19 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
12,678 posts, read 12,213,993 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCBoundSoon View Post
Thank you both for the comments. I'm relieved to know the snake issue is not a major one.

As for where I'll be working, that is the million-dollar question! I have experience as a mental health counselor (preferred profession) and a clerical assistant for a higher ed institution (back-up, if I have to for the $). This is mostly why I'm leaning towards Raleigh/Durham area (thoughts on Cary?) or maybe Chapel Hill (is it all college-town-oriented)? Another plus (to me) is being in the middle of the state . . . . looks to me like ocean is about 2 hours away and mountains 4 . . . is that in the ballpark? I'm thinking I could initially land there, explore both sides of the state, and decide from there which I prefer long-term.

Bushpilotwannabe: this sounds terrific, I would love to know more:
"a small town that's within a stone's throw of such a place and within a half hour of the city?"

GayCharlotteGuy: this also sounds intriguing, can I get more details?:
"I like having the option of in 10 minutes being in a large Charlotte Metro City and about 30 minutes from Charlotte itself"

Potential job oppurtunities will be the ultimate deciding factor. I've been looking from up here, but so far nothing. I have 6-9 months savings to move there and find a job after (if I absolutely have to but I'll keep looking until I likely move in June). I'm planning to rent initially, apt complex or townhome or condo ($7-800/mo feasible?), until I secure a job and then who knows??????

PS, I know there's better ways to quote u both, I'm new and still figuring this out and just wanted to get my feedback out there. Thanks for responding!
GayCharlotteGuy may be living where I do, in Kings Mountain. It's 10 minutes to Gastonia & 30 minutes to Charlotte, although I live in town, there's a rural area by the same name surrounding the town.

Charlotte is a large metro, geographically. you need a job first. Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) has a system with facilities scattered through the metro. Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia is connected to Caromont. Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte also has a system of facilities.

Ft Mill, SC is near Charlotte & has different medical facilities.

Last edited by southbound_295; 03-27-2011 at 02:37 PM..
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:17 AM
 
Location: Containment Area, NC
13,450 posts, read 8,334,912 times
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Cary has plenty of snakes. I see a few every year. In fact, I saw a sidewinder in a parking lot last year. Even have pics. That was weird.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
7,813 posts, read 10,084,659 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCBoundSoon View Post
Thank you both for the comments. I'm relieved to know the snake issue is not a major one.
No matter where you move (whatever state, not just NC) there will be "critters" you aren't used to, some of them probably scary. NC has copperheads, Water moccasins, and rattlesnakes. Water moccasins are hard to find and mostly in the lowlands and swampy areas; rattlers much more common in the mountains, but copperheads are found in literally every county in the state. There are threads in this forum about NC snakes that you can search on and get lots of info.

Quote:
As for where I'll be working, that is the million-dollar question! I have experience as a mental health counselor (preferred profession) and a clerical assistant for a higher ed institution (back-up, if I have to for the $). This is mostly why I'm leaning towards Raleigh/Durham area (thoughts on Cary?) or maybe Chapel Hill (is it all college-town-oriented)?
Being in Raleigh would give you access to state govt jobs--though I work with DHHS and the govt is hugely in the red, and positions being realigned/cut, so maybe it's not something to count on. And of course every county has Dept of Social Services, but you didn't mention public sector work.

The disadvantage to the Triangle is you have UNC and Duke right here, both with good medical schools (and regular universities) pumping out grads in your field, so competition will of course always be higher when there are others coming out of school with local connections who have a natural head start on you. So you might consider areas that don't have big universities right there. Yes, Chapel Hill is largely a college town, though it also has lots of retirees and biotech workers to RTP. Still, a definite town/gown relationship.

Quote:
Another plus (to me) is being in the middle of the state . . . . looks to me like ocean is about 2 hours away and mountains 4 . . . is that in the ballpark? I'm thinking I could initially land there, explore both sides of the state, and decide from there which I prefer long-term.
If that is the case, you might as well apply all over the state, as employment in NC is not a sure thing right now (10th highest unemployment rate overall, and hundreds applying to many of the good jobs there are, according to HR professionals on the forum).

Quote:
Bushpilotwannabe: this sounds terrific, I would love to know more:
"a small town that's within a stone's throw of such a place and within a half hour of the city?"
Bear in mind that, with the growth rate experienced by NC right now, what's a "small town outside a city" now could be suburbia in just 5 years and all but annexed by the city in 10-20. This is especially true around Raleigh and Charlotte (the town of Morrisville went from almost literally a crossroads to more than tripling its population in less than a decade, in the 2000s). Several all-but-unknown towns in southern Wake county are now huge "relo" areas experiencing astronomical growth and often the problems that come with it (school overcrowding, traffic, etc). So before seeing a small town and thinking it's quaint and Mayberry, look at where it may be in 10 years by researching recent growth.

Quote:
Potential job oppurtunities will be the ultimate deciding factor. I've been looking from up here, but so far nothing. I have 6-9 months savings to move there and find a job after (if I absolutely have to but I'll keep looking until I likely move in June). I'm planning to rent initially, apt complex or townhome or condo ($7-800/mo feasible?), until I secure a job and then who knows??????
I'm sure you have seen the many threads in this forum saying "don't move here without a job in hand". 6-9 months is, unfortunately, laughably short in this economy, at least here. You might want to research and apply in other areas such as Texas or Northern VA (two of the hottest job markets right now) if getting employment within 9 months is your primary goal.
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