I live in the Mooresville area but not in the city limits - which means that I don't pay Mooresville City or school taxes. County and fire district taxes in Iredell county are very reasonable. You don't get city water and sewer. Instead you need a septic and a community well which is run by Aqua - a private, state regulated, utility company. I don't have any kids but my neighbors and friends who do have generally positive things to say about the Iredell county schools in Southern Iredell county which are:
Elementary: Mount Mourne, Lakeshore, Lake Norman
Middle: Brawley Middle, Lakeshore
High: Lake Norman High School
Mooresville Graded School District is also very good but you do pay more taxes. Those that I've talked to who have kids in that area have very positive things to say. As for as promixity to shopping, I think the Mooresville is just as good as Huntersville. We have just about everything you need in a 5-10 minute commute (unless you live way down on Brawley School Rd then, depending on traffic, it will take you longer to get to shopping). The area is really self-contained and I rarely have to go to Huntersville or Charlotte. Only thing we don't have that I can think of is a Home Depot - but there is a Lowe's. Huntersville is similiar in that everything you need is really around the Sam Furr Rd exit but we found the area a bit more crowded overall. But the Highway 150 area is no picnic either.
I am from Northern NJ and have lived in this area for the past 14 years - first 10 in Charlotte and the last 4 in the Mooresville area. We don't have to commute either so we're in a similiar situation as you are. My wife and I have commented that, for daily errands, we actually drive much less here than when we lived in Charlotte. I imagine it would be somewhat similiar in Huntersville though and I agree that Huntersville probably has more in terms of adult nightlife if that's what you're looking for.
Bottom line is that you'll probably find things you like about both areas. We had a small lot in Charlotte and wanted some space which is what we found in Iredell county. Houses up here tend to be on 1/3 acre or more because of the septic requirement in many of the neighborhoods. It does lend itself to a more open feeling in general depending on the neighborhood. But there are great neigborhoods in Huntersville as well. For us, it came down to finding the house we liked and lower taxes.
Sorry for the wordy reply
but I hope this helps. Good luck to you.