Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charlotte, NC

Alarmingly, we may be moving to Charlotte, NC.

Not because of my neighbor or Rick Scott, although they both made the decision much easier.

My "fun" research of other places to live set forth a crazy domino effect of events that resulted in a very promising job interview for Mr. Ashley next week and a very real possibility of us moving before the school year starts. As someone who was raised on a very tiny island and who now lives in a very small city just a few miles away...the thought of living somewhere else (especially somewhere with skyscrapers) is frightening. And exciting. But scary.

I might actually see a full round of seasons before I die!

I am afraid of cold, snow, ice, not wearing flip flops, escalators, public transit and I don't like bare trees! All of the houses up there have carpet and I hate that!

What if I don't make any friends? I have friends here, people who are understanding and accepting of my quirkiness and anti-social tendencies. I will have one friend in the area and interestingly, she is one of you. Out of the many of you I have talked to and connected with, only one of you ended up meeting me for dinner and at waterparks and at birthday parties and that is exactly the one I ended up desperately needing advice from to make this work. And she's fine with me being such a weirdo. So there's that.

But, where will I live? What schools will be lucky enough to help raise the Ashley boys? HOW THE FUCK WILL I GET ALL OF THIS DONE??  And how DID people move before Google?

So...what do you know about Charlotte, Closeteers? Mr. Ashley would possibly be working in Pineville. I've read greatschools and citydata and craigslist until my eyes feel like bleeding, now I want to hear it from real live people who "know" me. Tell me anything that may be helpful and if you're some sort of area school expert, email me so I can harass you frequently.

Edited to add: I'm going to list some specific questions, some not even Charlotte related, to maximize your helpfulness:

1. What areas would you consider?
2. How important are school ratings to you? Big Kid's been to a 6 rated school and a 10 rated school and I personally thought the 6 rated school was better for him--but maybe my perspective is skewed since learning isn't a challenge for him? Maybe it will be a different story with little kid? So what rating is too low to consider or how important are these things?
3. Does anyone have general moving advice for me? On packing, boxes, moving trucks, and/or traveling with 2 dogs (one stiff with arthritis and unaware of her huge size and the other one a total freaking whiner), a cat who hates cars and pees all over herself inside of them, 2 kids and a hedgehog?

Feel free to contribute any additional information, related to Charlotte, schools, moving, pets or whatever else you feel like talking about.

29 comments:

Jennifer said...

I can assure you the people in NC are quite odd. (Especially since I have never lived anywhere else!!!) Quirkiness is a requirement. The schools are good and bad, from reading your blog, I think you have a sense of that already in FL. You'll have great access to the best of things in that area, shopping, medical care, I DO NOT think you be in the big city in Pineville, it is way more "Mayberry" than you think!!! The best beaches in the world are in NC you know!!! You'll be 3 hours away, and you'll also be close to the Blue Ridge mtns, that's awesome! I love all four seasons & we get allllll excited over snow, but it is gone within a couple days, if not the NEXT day. And some of us still wear flip flops year round, we just add socks, ok? How quirky is that?? :-)

aebhlin said...

I lived in Charlotte, NC - next to Pineville - in the Ballentyne area - I LOVED it. It's beautiful, the weather is generally mild (but seasonal,) great access to dowtown Charlotte, which has everything you'd want from a big city - sports, museums, kids (Discovery Place!) I would be happy to give you pointers, as my mom has lived there for over 10 years - she loves it too!

Kim said...

Look in Fort Mill, SC. I live here and it is great. Lower taxes in York County compared to Mecklenburg. Stay out of Char-Meck school district. Great schools in Fort Mill. Feel free to email with any questions kucinski06@yahoo.com

Sasha said...

I will be there in a few weeks for a conference and will report back.

Ashley said...

Sasha, we'll be there next week! I wish you were too.

I really like what I've seen of Ballentyne but I'm not sure we'll be able to afford it (we're trying to majorly downsize as well as move). I also think we may like Matthews, which seems to have good schools and a reasonable selection of house rentals? We'll know next week when we see it all, I guess! I want to find somewhere nice where we can rent affordably but also still have the chance to move up within the same area, know what I mean? Not totally Mayberry but not Charlotte itself, just a normal, middle class neighborhood. I'm a sucker for the style of housing up there so I'll probably be pretty easy to please. I hope.

I HATE worrying about schools. Kim, I like Ft. Mill a lot and that's where my friend lives BUT I do like the sound of Char-Meck's magnet schools and the Metrolina Scholar's Academy which I'd be hoping and praying to get Big Kid into eventually. Does anyone have insight on any of that? I need a NC address for him to be considered. Ft. Mill isn't totally out of the running, though.

Jennifer, 3 hours away sounds like a lot! I do love the idea of being semi-near both but not being within 10 minutes of the beach will be one of the hardest parts about this (for me).

Thanks for the info, keep it coming! I'm going to add some specific questions to the post.

sarah said...

We had a pretty extensive back-and-forth about this on BBC but I want to reiterate that I LOVE NC and would go back there in a heartbeat. As for winter, it's fairly short and mild; you can easily be swimming in May. Snow does have a tendency to shut everything down though, which is of course pretty typical of states that don't get a lot of it. And since your husband is in the mechanical field, he shouldn't have much trouble finding work especially close to a major speedway, so if his job turns out not to be a dream he won't be stuck there. Good luck!

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

1. I know nothing about Charlotte but I think it sounds pretty to say. And when you mention it, everyone is always "oh that's such a pretty area..." and such. So that's something, right?

2. I know nothing about schools but think Little Kid will fit in perfectly with his newly found I heart Jesus ways. And that should make for some hilarious blog material (for me to read...all about me...ha).

3. I do know about moving as I have done it a lot when I get bored in a city. My best advice is to order more. More boxes. More bubble wrap. A truck larger than you think you need. I would start collecting free boxes now. The end/start of the month always offers free boxes on craigslist. So I would hop on this weekend if possible. Paper boxes at places like Staples are awesome too.

4. Be lazy about the crap you don't want. I mean, you are of course going to end up with bags of stuff you no longer want to keep. And much will get pawned off on thrift shops. But my favorite method is to just put it on the curb and list it in the free section of craigslist. One less drive to the thrift shops for you.

As far as all the pets, oy, good luck! A girlfriend drugs her dog (vet approved) when they fly. Might be worth looking into!

Tiffany said...

I don't have any real advice on moving, seeing as I've lived in the same place most of my life and haven't had to move more than 40 minutes in one direction during my adult career. I can however offer some advice as to traveling with an animal that soils itself multiple times. Diapers and Benadryl. Seriously, my dog could pee the entire ride from here to the vet, so I cut a slice in the back of a diaper, just enough for his tail to slide through and diaper him. He still needs a bath after a trip, but it beats getting pee all over his crate and the car. And Benadryl makes him sleepy so he doesn't yap the whole time. Please don't call PETA on me, I think his ride is much more enjoyable with a little pharmaceutical enhancement. :)

Tara said...

We're military so we've moved a FEW times. GET MOVERS!!! Doing a "do it yourself" move may seem like you're saving money but no, it's a huge pain and doesn't wind up saving any money. Movers are professionals, thats all they do. As far as animals go, kennel them while the packing is going on and then sedate them for the drive.

Theresa said...

What a great opportunity. I know nothing and can offer no advice, but I wanted to comment anyway. I hear it is quite pretty there!

shelly said...

On moving, I swore the last time we moved that we wouldn't do it again unless we hired a moving company. We got done and could not believe how hard it was, and the time that it took with all the stuff we've accumulated. That would also allow you to focus on the kids and the menagerie.

Kim said...

I don't know anything about the magnet schools. I did this whole move to Charlotte thing 4 years ago and just about lost my mind trying to find a house to purchase. I viewed over 50 houses in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, and Clover in 8 days with my two kids. How I didn't gouge my eyes out and rip off my ears I will never know. I did learn a lot about certain housing developments to stay out off, so if you have certain area you have questions about I could probably answer them. I live closer to ballentyne, Indianland and Pineville. It is such a nice place to live.

MTGrace said...

I know nothing about Charlotte and haven't been to NC since I was 12, but I can tell you about moving. A year ago, we accepted a move to a new town in a new state where we hadn't even visited! We went the opposite direction - moving from a (small) city to a very small town. It was intimidating and scary. The pets had a rough trip, but bounced back pretty quickly once we were in our house.

As for friends, one day after a month or two of being lonely (I was also pregnant, so the hormones and over-the-top emotions didn't help much), I asked a couple of moms who were talking at the playground at my daughter's school "Where does a mom go to meet people around here when she has no friends?" They told me about a local group of moms who got together each week to hang out. I made a few friends - including one who told me about your blog, so you know she's a good one!

Jennifer said...

I've never been to Charlotte, but I've been to several different areas of the Carolinas and I think they have some of the nicest people I've ever met. I've said before that if I ever left Texas either North or South Carolina would be my first choice. I have definite areas that I would not want to live, but I think that has a lot to do with personal preference and I don't want to list them here.

I've moved a lot in my life locally. A LOT. I would recommend if you are moving that far to get movers. I just think it will totally be worth it.

If you are wanting to save the money or just downsize before you move I would use standard size boxes when packing. You can buy them at U-Haul. It just makes it so much easier to stack the boxes when they are being stored and hauled.

As far as schools, I don't know about other states, but we rate ours differently. Like we have Recognized, Exemplary, etc. Here I would not pick a district out of the top two levels. I think those schools would have more opportunities for Big Kid and then have more things available for Little Kid's needs... if he has needs when he goes to school, I'm not thinking he's going to have needs.

And good luck you guys. I hope whatever happens ends up being the best thing ever for y'all.

Anonymous said...

General Moving Advice: Tranquilize the cat, but do a dry run on the kitty tranqs fist, since some cats need more--the vet usually knows this; then cage him/her for the trip. Same goes for the dogs if they have travel issues.

Have Mr. Ashley ask his (new) employer if there is any moving allowance available. If not, rent a U-Haul (which I've done for three cross-country moves). Do NOT tow your car unless 1) you have experience towing AND 2) have your route mapped so you know where you'll be staying overnight and can pull in and not have to back up. If you do decide to tow, then put the car up on a travel trailer. Do not just put one set of wheels--you can't back up.

U-Haul will sell you boxes and paper to pack with. Their boxes are the easiest size to use, and it's probably getting harder to find paper boxes at the store, what with all the recycling going on.

Sue in MA

Maggie said...

Loved living in Charlotte (South Park area) when my kids were young (8-16). You're better off in NC public schools than in SC ones, for sure. Charlotte has a lot to offer and is a real family-oriented town. Going to church is a big deal there, so you'll want to find one as much for your social life as your spiritual life (and I am a clergyperson saying this!). I look back on my four years in Charlotte as some of the happiest and it's not an exaggeration to say that I left--because of hubby's job--kicking and screaming!

Sam said...

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/11/dogs-dont-understand-basic-concepts.html

^ Read that about moving with dogs. Hilarious shit right there.

My packing advice is use towels and sheets to pack your kitchen (plates, cups etc). You'll use half the space and it's better than stupid bubble wrap.

Nealie said...

check out Sedgefield, Park Rd areas. Pineville is VERY suburban,lots of traffic, Ft Mill is cute. Magnet schools vary w entrance #s and you may want to call MRSA for info- it has entrance IQ minimum s and then lottery for available space--hope this helps!!!

Amanda said...

I live in Charlotte! I have lived here since I was 6. I actually live very close to Pineville, which is tiny and really just a old town Charlotte could not take over, so they just moved all around it. lol I say stay South Charlotte or Matthews. Matthews is going really fast and could be a long drive to Pineville. Neighborhoods that sounds like your now house...Ballentyne, South Park, and Old Providence. I like Baxter Village (it might be in Fort Mill). I think to get into the magnet school you have to enter to win. Not really sure but I know that lots of people want to get in and not everyone can. My kids go to Endhaven (nice fancy neighborhood near it not sure name). It is a new public school and lots of people want to get into it. I guess it is the new fancy public school. To me it is just a reg. public school. Snow is rare and shuts down everything. It is a toasty 90+ here now. I have wood and carpet floors. Most new houses wood and carpet floors. If you want country living near the big city check Lancaster.

www.justonemore4us.blogspot.com

clare said...

We moved across the country when my first 2 were little. My best advice is to only take things you really love. Take this as an oppurtunity to purge your house. I packed our whole house and had the movers do the kitchen. I probably threw away or donated as much as we actually brought with us. We moved from Phoenix to Chicago so I definitely get the weather concerns!!!

Sasha said...

Ok, I'm arriving there on Sunday the 24th and staying until Wed the 27th. I don't suppose there is any chance you will be making a return visit that soon????

AnastasiaBeaverhousen said...

Kudos on the move!!! Its a scary experience but life is about taking chances and I think this is a wonderful adventure. I was always too afraid to move from where I grew up, I had a panic attack when I moved a whopping 30 miles from my childhood home. I love my town but I always will wonder what its like to live somewhere else and experience new things :(


I have no advice on North Carolina as my experience is only a week in the Outer Banks each year. But everything I've seen is beautiful and the people are the friendliest I've ever come across. I can't wait to read about all of the new adventures!! Although I don't envy the packing - ugh!

Rachel said...

I can't comment specifically on North Carolina although I have thought for the past few years if I moved, that's where I would go to. (Thanks Nicholas Sparks!! Read a few of his books & you'll be set!) I now live 30 miles from where I grew up & really wish I had the courage to uproot the family & go try something new. I am visiting Fort Myers this week-from Minnesota- & it's so incredibly different. I am sick & tired of our horrible seasons & an just so curious what it would be like elsewhere...but that's also very intimidating. I can definitely understand the fear of the unknown & having to relearn a whole new place. Good luck with your decision!

Mitch said...

I can see if I still have all the research I did on the movers we checked into. It cost us about $3K to move from Ft. Myers to here. I highly recommend not doing it yourself!!! Also, we collected boxes from any store we could find (found out delivery dates and when they through out boxes and showed up then). Liquor boxes work well for glasses and such.

Can't wait to see you and, selfishly, very excited you are moving! ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this in their comment (I got bored reading half-way through),
if you go to Walmart, Kmart, Target, etc early in the morning (around 6 or 7 am) go to the customer service counter and get their left-over boxes.


(sorry if this doesn't make sense, I'm a little stonie bolagnie at the moment)

-Murphy

Joy said...

So I don't know alot about moving only moved once but I can help you with the animal issues, Drugs! as in call your vet and get some drugs for both the dogs and the cat! they can just sleep their little hearts away on the drive.

Sherri said...

I live in South Charlotte near Matthews. LOVE it. You absolutely MUST MUST MUST research your schools in CMS. Some are great. Some suck. South Charlotte area schools are good. Closer to uptown...no. Once you begin looking if you want to shoot me an email to ask about specific schools, please do! You could also live over the border from Pineville in Ft. Mill, SC. Taxes are lower, and Ft. Mill schools are great. My kids have been in CMS for 8 years now, and I think the schools they have been in have been exemplary. It truly depends on the school.
Charlotte as a city is great, but the streets here have no rhyme or reason, and after 20 years of living here...make that 22, I still get lost when I leave my comfort zone of S. Charlotte/Matthews and Pineville. Feel free to email any questions to swellman@carolina.rr.com!
Sherri (long time reader, first time commenter)

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is a wonderful city, and the people are very friendly. I used to travel there for business several times a year, and loved it. The city itself it not large enough to be overwhelming, and the areas around it are lovely. Moving sucks though. Get a good mover - if your husband's new company is funding the move, they probably already have someone they use.

Jaime said...

I just moved from Arkansas to California last month. I'm a cheap ass and did it myself...yeah it sucked but to save a couple grand it was waaay worth it! Bubble wrap is stupid! I agree, use ur towels as bubble wrap, see cheap ass again lol. We also used our blankets to wrap around our tvs! There are some really great websites out there that help w/ organizing a move and I promise they'll be stuff on there that you would never think of lol. Good luck with the interview and possible move!!! And don't get too stressed out, just pour a big ole glass of wine and take a deep breath! It works, I promise lol.

Oh as far as animals go, benadryl works really well or there is a medicine that u can get from ur vet that prevents motion sickness and helps them sleep!