My husband and I just passed our first year here in Graham in July. Let me start off by saying we love it here. We love our city, the whole area and the people here. It is a wonderful change from Ft. Lauderdale.
Our move was a lifestyle choice first and foremost. It was too crowded, expensive, stress-filled and hot in Florida. Florida was not the place I would have chosen to live. I moved there with my parents in 1971 from Chicago. I was actually planning to move back to Chicago but I ended up getting married and having my kids. Moving after that was not an option. My husband was born in Ohio, grew up in Colorado and spent the last 30 something years in San Francisco. He came to Florida for me because my parents and kids were there. He didn't particularly care for it and we started talking about retiring elsewhere when the time came. And he's been doing research for a long time.
That time came two years ago. My parents had moved to Tampa to be near my widowed sister. Not long after they moved, my Mom passed away. Dad is still in Tampa. Around that time, my son became engaged. (He is now marrried) and my daughter was just starting to date her now husband. After I got over my shock of losing my Mom,although you never really get over losing loved ones, and the kids looked like they were set, we decided to make the move. (My son and daughter-in-law intend to move out of Florida within the next few years and my son-in-law is in the Coast Guard so they will be moving around.)
A lot of thought and discussion went into this decision. And we did a lot of research. Chicago and Colorado were out because of the winters and both places are expensive now. And my husband had no desire to go back to California. Over many years of vacationing with my ex and the kids visiting family in Chicago, Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, I had fallen in love with North Carolina. On the east coast trips I loved the times we would stop here and started so many years ago saying that was where I wanted to move. I talked about what it was like with my husband. We did research. We also looked at northern Florida, Tennesse, Virginia and Georgia. But North Carolina had the two things we both love-the mountains and the ocean. So after doing a lot of research (with help from this forum) we decided to check out this state. Our first trip was to the Raleigh area. We liked it but could see how crowded it was becoming. That was the reason we didn't even check Charlotte out. Beautiful places but growing too fast. Wilmington was out too. My husband has issues with hurricanes. The next trip brought us to this area and we happened on the development we live in actually by mistake trying to find someplace else. We both just knew this was it. We chose our house and floor plan, went home and put the Florida townhouse up for sale. October 2006 we put the down payment down and moved last July.
Now the advice part. First of all, we couldn't sell our Florida house. In fact it just sold last month. We made the choice to go ahead and move so we would not lose this place. We were lucky we could do that. But it wasn't easy. But you do what you have to to get by. No complaints. I know we were fortunate because so many people can't afford to do that. So if you are looking to do the same thing, just think far ahead and plan for it.
Also, if you are leaving family behind, think it through carefully. No matter what your good intentions are about going back and visiting, know that glitches come up and it might not be as easy as you think. I have managed to get back to Florida and see my kids and Dad many times. I have actually seen my kids quite a lot and put a ton of miles on my car. But of course it is worth it to see them. We spent the holidays last year together. My daughter was married in March. We had two other family weddings this past year. So with those and just getting there it has worked out for us. But boy do I miss them. It has been hard being away from them. They both encouraged and supported the move understanding that we aren't getting any younger and had to do the things we wanted to do sooner rather than later. I am also lucky I work for a Church-based school that understands the importance of seeing family. It's been tougher for my husband with his job and we have had a few "eek" moments because of the dog, but it has worked out. Again, for others it might not.
And I would advise having a job before you move. We didn't need them to get by because of retirement but with the other house as an expense and just having the extra money and not just sitting around was a reason for us to find work. But jobs are hard to come by. So many people losing their jobs with factories, mills, and businesses going out seeminly every week. Jobs are scarce and again we were lucky to get the ones we got. So consider that situation before you move.
Embrace and accept the people, the traditions and the way of life here in North Carolina or anywhere you move. I have found the people here to be warm, welcoming and giving. Both the natives, locals and MOST transplants. There are always those few who want to change everything. That has its place I guess. It's just how they go about it. But people are people and you are going to run into all kinds. This is just such a great place. We love the slower pace, the great food, the seasons and again the people. We live in an area with natives, transplants from the US and other countries. Most everyone gets along except for those few transplants I mentioned. Everyone knows everybody and people get together. It's just great. My arm actually gets tired from waving so much.
People being polite, holding doors, just saying hi when you are in the grocery store and they don't even know you. Saying Merry Christmas not happy holidays. Seeing so many things based on faith. Much friendlier, nicer and more tolerant than Florida was. People are pretty much just plain rude there. Reminds me more of my mid-western upbringing. Yes even Chicago. We grew up in much the same way as here. You are polite. You talk to people. You are good neighbors. You help each other out. You know everybody in your neighborhood. There you just don't talk too much baseball. It can cause problems depending on your team of choice.
And try to understand how hard the growth of this state has been on the people who live here. I saw the changes in Florida and how hard it was to watch that nice little touristy seaside area explode into whatever it is today. Change is hard. So try and look at it from the point of view of the people we are, for lack of a better word, invading. We didn't come here as I said because this was the "it" place to go. But we did come here. But I too wish the invasion would slow down and go away. We tell our friends in Florida Tennessee is a much nicer place.
Hope this helps some people out there. The feedback we got when we were researching helped us.
To all the natives and locals, thanks for sharing this beautiful place with us.