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Old 10-27-2008, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Durham, NC
111 posts, read 94,080 times
Reputation: 33

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Hi--
We are in the very early stages of thinking about a move out of Portland OR. We've "sort of" narrowed it down to NC but we don't know anything about either area. These are things that are important to us:

-Great schools
-Liberal/open-minded attitudes (gay marriage, mixed-race couples etc)
-Independent shops/restaurants
-Easy access to public parks/play areas
-Older houses with character

I was originally drawn to the Triangle area because I assumed that since it has a larger population, I'd be able to find a lot of the things that I find in Portland but I've heard nothing but good things about Charlotte. We are not huge fans of urban sprawl/new housing/strip malls/restaurant chains.

We're planning a trip down there in January to take a closer look at the area.
Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:48 PM
 
4,898 posts, read 5,614,398 times
Reputation: 3058
Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Hi--
We are in the very early stages of thinking about a move out of Portland OR. We've "sort of" narrowed it down to NC but we don't know anything about either area. These are things that are important to us:

-Great schools
-Liberal/open-minded attitudes (gay marriage, mixed-race couples etc)
-Independent shops/restaurants
-Easy access to public parks/play areas
-Older houses with character

I was originally drawn to the Triangle area because I assumed that since it has a larger population, I'd be able to find a lot of the things that I find in Portland but I've heard nothing but good things about Charlotte. We are not huge fans of urban sprawl/new housing/strip malls/restaurant chains.

We're planning a trip down there in January to take a closer look at the area.
Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks.
Well, first of all I would like to say welcome and thanks for choosing NC!!! I am sure you will like either city you choose. I must first warn you that Charlotte and the Triangle falls quite short of Portland's urbanity. I've visited Portland a few times and I was blown away by what I saw!!! At any rate, I would say that you will probably have to visit both areas in order to get a feel for which one is your best fit. Charlotte is actually the largest city and metro in NC. It also has a "big city" feel that no other city in NC can match. "Big City" feel may not be what you are looking for, so I would highly suggest that you look at the Triangle. I don't have any videos on the Triangle as of yet, but I do have some youtube videos of Charlotte's urban side and night life. I hope this video link gives you an idea of what to expect in Charlotte.
www.youtube.com/urbancharlotte

Keep in mind that my wife and I are in an interacial relationship, and we don't have any issues in Charlotte. I would say that Raleigh is just as open as Charlotte in that regard.
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Durham, NC
111 posts, read 94,080 times
Reputation: 33
Thanks, urbancharlotte! I had no idea that Charlotte was more of a "big city" than Raleigh/Durham! I'm so excited to visit and see it all with my own 2 eyes. I'm definitely interested in a bigger city so maybe I should be considering Charlotte more than I have been. How is the food scene there? My husband has a nationally-acclaimed restaurant here in Portland that he will be looking at selling and it's important to both of us to be in an area where the farm-to-table/local/organic scene is BOOMING. If our restaurant options are Applebee's and Olive Garden, we're going to be in BIG trouble.
We are also a mixed-race couple so it's good to know that you haven't run into issues.
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:35 PM
 
9,091 posts, read 18,927,557 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Thanks, urbancharlotte! I had no idea that Charlotte was more of a "big city" than Raleigh/Durham! I'm so excited to visit and see it all with my own 2 eyes. I'm definitely interested in a bigger city so maybe I should be considering Charlotte more than I have been. How is the food scene there? My husband has a nationally-acclaimed restaurant here in Portland that he will be looking at selling and it's important to both of us to be in an area where the farm-to-table/local/organic scene is BOOMING. If our restaurant options are Applebee's and Olive Garden, we're going to be in BIG trouble.
We are also a mixed-race couple so it's good to know that you haven't run into issues.

Portlandshaws,

I think the Triangle and Charlotte areas are both excellent options. You should definitely visit both. Are jobs an issue? That may play a role in what works best. I am more familiar with the raleigh / durham / chapel hill area in the Triangle. Here is a recent article about the foodie scene in Durham and Chapel Hill:

America's Foodiest Small Town: In the Magazine : bonappetit.com

While $$$ is always a consideration and while the triangle has its fair share of suburban sprawl I would look to places in Chapel hill and the historic neighborhoods around downtown raleigh and durham for cool historic looking houses. Here are some pictures of a few of those areas in Raleigh:

Pictures of Historic Oakwood Neighborhood in Downtown Raleigh
Pictures of Historic Mordecai Neighborhood
Pictures of Historic Boylan Heights ~ Downtown Raleigh
Pictures of Cameron Village Area ~ Raleigh, NC

Here are few pictures from neat areas in Durham (Courtesy of Bullcityrising):

Durham Photos: Watts-Hillandale/9th Street
Durham Photos: Trinity Park

Farmer's Markets
Pictures of Wake Forest Farmer's Market and Downtown Area
Durham Farmers Market
Weaver Street Market - Home
NCDA&CS - Marketing Division - Raleigh Farmers Market
Looking for a Great Pumpkin? Check out the NC State Farmer's Market (Pictures)

Other links of interest
Pictures From Weaver Street Market "After Hours" Music on the Lawn ~ Carrboro, NC
Pictures of Downtown Pittsboro, NC
Pictures of Historic Downtown Apex
Picture Tour of Glenwood Avenue Area in Downtown Raleigh
http://www.raleighskyline.com/ (This guy takes awesome pics of downtown Raleigh!)


Look to downtown Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill for a plethora of non-chain dining options!

Interesting Restaurants (Many more, just a sample of a few listed here)
Humble Pie
Foster's Market : Upscale Market, Deli, Cafe, Grocery & Catering Companies
Irregardless Cafe (http://www.irregardless.com/cafe.html - broken link)
Enoteca vin
Zely & Ritz (http://www.zelyandritz.com/news.html - broken link)
Rue Cler
Mo's Diner
Watts Grocery
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:07 PM
 
168 posts, read 223,170 times
Reputation: 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Thanks, urbancharlotte! I had no idea that Charlotte was more of a "big city" than Raleigh/Durham! I'm so excited to visit and see it all with my own 2 eyes. I'm definitely interested in a bigger city so maybe I should be considering Charlotte more than I have been. How is the food scene there? My husband has a nationally-acclaimed restaurant here in Portland that he will be looking at selling and it's important to both of us to be in an area where the farm-to-table/local/organic scene is BOOMING. If our restaurant options are Applebee's and Olive Garden, we're going to be in BIG trouble.
We are also a mixed-race couple so it's good to know that you haven't run into issues.
Yeah Charlotte is roughly double the population of Raleigh (not the Triangle as a whole, however). The Triangle as a whole has just over 2 million people, with the Raleigh-Cary MSA having around 1.2 million. Raleigh has a population of around 375,000 and Charlotte, around 750,000. At the county level, the population difference between Wake (where Raleigh is located) and Mecklenburg (where Charlotte is located) is 30,000 people.

Charlotte is further along than Raleigh is in urbanity, but Raleigh is progressing in that and has a booming downtown, but unless you have a ton of cash, its not ideal right now, as the smallest of condos start at around $250,000. To give you a perspective as to how sprawled Raleigh is, Raleigh covers 126 square miles!

Here is a link to information on downtown Raleigh: Downtown Raleigh Alliance :: Welcome

As far as schools go, the Triangle is no doubt king in that department in NC and the southeast for that matter. The Triangle has an endless amount of colleges and universities that each specialize in something. Our public schools are also great and its the largest public school system in the state.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:57 AM
 
4,898 posts, read 5,614,398 times
Reputation: 3058
Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Thanks, urbancharlotte! I had no idea that Charlotte was more of a "big city" than Raleigh/Durham! I'm so excited to visit and see it all with my own 2 eyes. I'm definitely interested in a bigger city so maybe I should be considering Charlotte more than I have been. How is the food scene there? My husband has a nationally-acclaimed restaurant here in Portland that he will be looking at selling and it's important to both of us to be in an area where the farm-to-table/local/organic scene is BOOMING. If our restaurant options are Applebee's and Olive Garden, we're going to be in BIG trouble.
We are also a mixed-race couple so it's good to know that you haven't run into issues.
You might want to check out Charlotte since you are into having a diverse dining experience. The Triangle has many diverse dining options as well. I do think that the concentration of fine/diverse dining in Charlotte's uptown will be a more pleasant experience for you and your husband. My wife and I love catching the light rail into Charlotte's uptown for dinner. There is so much within walking distance of the light rail stations that it is almost impossible to choose. At 7th street station (you can see this on one of my night videos) there is Reid's fine food grocers. The train drops you off at their front door!!! There deli is very popular!!! They also have both outdoor and indoor dining. Whether you eat outside or inside, you can watch the light rail trains as they come and go while you eat. Train and people watching while dining is just so fun!!! It gives you that feeling of being in "the city". There is Imaginon (a popular Children's library) directly across the light rail tracks from Reid's. When the weather is nice, you can see children running around outside of this place. My five year old son loves Imaginon. Teenage kids skateboard and ride bikes in this area. You can see many adults getting off of the train with their bikes too. My wife and I sometimes take our bikes on the train, then ride uptown. My son has a bike trailer that folds up and goes on the train with us. He loves when I pull him in his trailer. I don't want to make this post too long, but you need to move to Charlotte if you want the better urban appeal. People who move to the Triangle are not too concerned with that "big city" feel. Both areas are very nice. Just different IMO...

Also, you will need to live on Charlotte's south side to get the full advantage of light rail. Charlotte is WAY behind Portland's MAX system. Charlotte only has one 10 mile line from uptown to Pineville NC. There are plans for future lines, but this is currently the first and only. The good news is that Uptown has a NFL stadium and a NBA arena within walking distance of the current line. All concerts and major sporting events is just a quick train ride away!!! If you choose to live uptown, you have a choice between high rise condos 30 floors high, or row houses and townhouses. First ward and Fourth ward in Charlotte are some of the most urban neighborhoods in this state. You will probably fall in love with uptown more than you will the rest of the city. Most urbanites do!!!
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Durham, NC
111 posts, read 94,080 times
Reputation: 33
Thanks again, urbancharlotte! Sounds like you know a lot about Portland. What do you think would be the hardest thing about moving to NC, as a girl who was (more or less) born and raised here? If there are any other folks out there that currently live in NC but have a Portland connection, please weigh in!
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:27 PM
 
4,898 posts, read 5,614,398 times
Reputation: 3058
Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Thanks again, urbancharlotte! Sounds like you know a lot about Portland. What do you think would be the hardest thing about moving to NC, as a girl who was (more or less) born and raised here? If there are any other folks out there that currently live in NC but have a Portland connection, please weigh in!
Portland culturally to me seems to be very liberal and artsy (for lack of a better word). NC as a whole is "bible belt". Bible belt may sound like a good thing, but TOO many of these "bible thumpers" twist the words of the Bible so that they can belittle other cultures that they do not understand. You will see this a lot more in NC than in the PAC NW. You will be happy to know that Charlotte and Raleigh are a couple of the leaders in the state when it comes to being liberal. As far as winter weather goes, there isn't a big difference in temps between here and Portland. Portland does seem to have a lot more fog though. The big difference is the Summers. I find Portland quite comfortable in the summers. NC is just plain HOT AND HUMID!!! You will also have to deal with a lot of tree pollen down here. I hope you are not allergic to it. The scenary here is very green with rolling hills to the west and beaches to the east. I saw a lot of green and rolling hills driving through Washington state. I like the look of Washington state's better though.

The biggest adjustment will be the "culture shock". Charlotte and Raleigh both are very fast growing southern cities. Much faster growing than Portland. They both have a higher percentage of "minorities" than Portland and the Pac NW. Portland is more established, therefore you will find more of a Portland "flavor" or "soul". Charlotte and Raleigh are cities with more newcomers than natives (I am a native New Yorker, my wife is a native Alaskan) and as a result, there is not yet a "soul". On your first visit to Charlotte, you will not be the only new comer walking around uptown so don't get mad when you ask a "local" for directions and they are just as lost as you are. I will say that without a doubt, Charlotte is the lesser of the culture shock. Just don't expect things to stay just as you see them. Charlotte has doubled in size over the last twenty years and it's rate of growth has been speeding up lately. Charlotte will be much larger than Portland in the next 10 to 15 years so keep that in mind. To minimize this culture shock, try to stay within a 2 mile radius of uptown (downtown) Charlotte when looking for real estate. You can live in uptown too!!! That would be even better. That way, you will not have to worry about those Olive Gardens and Appleby's. The dining options in uptown are very diverse and sophisticated. We are talking $35 per entre minimum at some of these places. The food is worth it though!!!

Last edited by urbancharlotte; 10-28-2008 at 12:39 PM..
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Durham, NC
111 posts, read 94,080 times
Reputation: 33
Thanks again! Regarding the summers, I know it's hot and humid but is it so bad that you can't go play outside with your kid during the day? Are you imprisoned to air conditioning and can't go for a bike ride? Is it much different than the Outer Banks? We were there in July and the heat and humidity was tolerable to me. It's not as hot and humid as Atlanta is it? I love the thought of escaping (virtually) 9 months of solid GRAY with the occasional day of sunshine mixed in every now and again. Portland has also become a city where the transplants outnumber the natives. It's more common than not that I'm with a group of people and am the only native. I guess that says good things about both of our cities!
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:40 PM
 
4,898 posts, read 5,614,398 times
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Originally Posted by portlandshaws View Post
Thanks again! Regarding the summers, I know it's hot and humid but is it so bad that you can't go play outside with your kid during the day? Are you imprisoned to air conditioning and can't go for a bike ride? Is it much different than the Outer Banks? We were there in July and the heat and humidity was tolerable to me. It's not as hot and humid as Atlanta is it? I love the thought of escaping (virtually) 9 months of solid GRAY with the occasional day of sunshine mixed in every now and again. Portland has also become a city where the transplants outnumber the natives. It's more common than not that I'm with a group of people and am the only native. I guess that says good things about both of our cities!
I'd have to say that Charlotte is not as bad as Atlanta's summers. It isn't much better though. I very rarely go outside with my kid in the middle of the afternoon in June and July. Early evening is best IMO. As for the newcomers to the area, I would say you will have to see it for yourself. I think Charlotte's newcomer situation has created a city with no identity at all. I don't think this is a bad thing, but I have heard newcomers (some from the Pac NW) complain about Charlotte not having an identity or "soul". This is why I think you will notice this too. Others from your area have.

The Outer Banks are surrounded by water as is much of eastern NC. Charlotte is inland like Atlanta. I think this has a lot to do with the difference in climate. I find eastern NC (by the water) more comfortable than Charlotte. To put it into perspective, there are parts of Kentucky and Ohio closer to Charlotte than the Outer banks. NC is very large from west to east. Many people in Charlotte go to SC's beaches because they are much closer than NC's.
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