Hi Jacksongirl and Fam7 and all newcomers to the area,
I am originally from MA. My husband and I moved from MA to IL in 2004 after my hubby was laid off. Then we moved from IL to SC when he was laid off again in 2009. I am a true Northerner not, a Mid-westerner but I have to say, I found the Mid -westerners to be quite friendly! People in SC are friendly as well.
We decided to come to SC because my parents live here. They moved here from MA after my dad was laid off in 1979. They are now aging and have fragile health so I wanted to be close to them. I feel that I may be able to answer some questions that you may have. I feel for you both coming here to a strange new place.
The schools that have the best reputation are indeed the Fort Mill School. Dave Lyle Blvd. has a Shopping Mall, several chain Dept. stores and chain restaurants. There is a Target, Khols, and Walmart, TJMaxx and Ross. Grocery stores are Walmart, Bi-Lo and Food Lion all three located in Lancaster and Rock Hill. I am not sure which city you will be closest to. Rock Hill also has Earth Fare, a healthy and organic food store, and Harris Teeter a more upscale grocery chain.
Both Lancaster and Rock Hill have hospitals, go to Rock Hill (Piedmont Medical Center) for more serious illnesses and injuries. There are lots of Drs. and Dentists near both hospitals as well.
There is a church on every corner and lots of family activities are centered around church in the south. If that is not your thing, the schools offer extra curriculum activities, clubs and sports.
For nightlife, check the Rock Hill Herald, the Charlotte Observer, and online. Take a look at Do something, Learn something, Share something, Change something - Meetup
for groups to join with common interests.
I have never been to the Catawba Fish Camp or the Wagon Wheel but my parents have and say that it is good. For breakfast in Lancaster, go the the Huddle House. Great Subs? Jersey Mike's or Penn Station In Rock Hill. I have heard great things about Capt Steve's in Fort Mill for fish. For Italian For and Pizza go to Luigi's in Rock Hill. Pizza and Chinese food are very different here. For Chinese we use #1 Kitchen and Red Bowl in Rock Hill, or China Wok in Richburg. For chicken try Lees' in Rock Hill.
Lancaster is very country, Rock Hill is a bit more of a large city, Fort Mill is more upscale. All have good and bad areas. Always lock your car and do not leave anything of interest in sight.
Newport is an up and coming area of York, it also has a fairly new Walmart. Try Cato for ladies and misses clothes in Rock Hill, York and Lancaster.
Winthrop is a well known 4 year university right in Rock Hill. York Tech is a Technical college, also in Rock Hill.
There is rich history and many museums in the greater Charlotte area. I have been to several parks and all are clean and safe for all ages. I recommend the zoo in Columbia for all ages, Rays' Splash planet in Charlotte for families, Baxter's Bunch for 6 and under, Monkey Joe's for toddler through age 7, and Sky High Sports(Trampolines) for elementary and middle school ages. Try Savannah's room for a ladies tea or girls day out. With the price of the movies be sure to go to Carmike 7 in Rock Hill, the movies are $2.00! and they have a great concession stand too!
In the spring, buy strawberries, peaches, and lots of other goodies at the Peach Stand In Ft. Mill. and attend the "Come See Me" Festival in Rock Hill. Also, be sure to check out all of the "Only in Old Town-Main St. concerts and street fairs in Rock Hill.
In the summer, seek out the local Farmers Markets in the area. On July 4th we go to Carowinds Blvd. and park just opposite Carowinds, (A huge Amusement and Water Park) to see great Fireworks. Come early, by 7 pm for a parking space.
In the fall, go to the Asheville, NC area for apples, pumpkins, shopping and a great day!
At Christmastime be sure to visit McAdenville, NC, the whole town lights up at night! and plan to attend several events at the Rock Hill's Christmasville 4 day celebration! The Playhouse in Ft. Mill usually puts on a seasonal production.
One of the hardest things for me to get used to was the accent, some are very thick and I have to ask folks to repeat what they are saying.
There are lots of places to volunteer your time. Unemployment has been very high in SC for the last 3-4 years and it has produced many in need, struggling, and homeless folks and whole families.
There are lots of dead zones in the area that may drop your cell calls and you may have trouble getting service out in the country, get a land line at home.
They do not do well here in the winter. If it snows they freak out, close schools and work places and go home. They do not have the proper equipment to deal with snow and ice is worse. When the snow melts during the day and then the temperature drops at night, the roads ice up and become treacherous, school and businesses close for days! I love the mild winters here and hate the hot summers, they get too hot to even go out!
I listen to Matt and Romona for 3-7 on 107.9 the link, they are hilarious! and NPR on Sat mornings and afternoon for fun and games on the radio.
We have Comporium cable but Dish is also available here.
Everyone goes to the Beach, and 99% of the time they are referring to Myrtle Beach. I haven't been there but I guess that it is the place to go! I go to the Outer Banks and I love it there!
That is all I can think of to share right now but feel free to ask more.
MY DISCLAIMER: I am offering only my opinions, that does not make them right but it is what I have learned, since I moved here in 2009. I am not trying to dis anyone here, as a matter of fact, I tried to post only positive comments. So let's keep this thread informative and not get petty. Just offer other opinions and options for these newcomers if you do not agree with me. I am sure that they would appreciate all the advice that they can get.