"North Carolina, your pine trees so tall / Your hills and valleys, your cool waterfalls / Your Blue Ridge Mountains, your fields and your streams / Are lost on the back roads that run through my dreams / Of North Carolina, home in my heart." - Claudia Church, Home in my Heart (North Carolina)
North Carolina is a state that has fought against adversity to become one of the most popular, progressive and beautiful states in the south. From its founding to the present day, North Carolina has weathered the storms of war, weather and economic disaster to become an economic powerhouse. The people are warm, welcoming and friendly, the land lovely, and its major cities are awesome beacons of opportunity and adventure.
If you are looking for places to rent in North Carolina, how you go about it will largely depend on where you are in the state. The larger cities and urban areas are going to be the most time consuming and require the most documentation. Landlords will run a credit check after you fill out an application, but that is no different than in any other large metropolitan area. Once you have been approved, you will hand over a nice chunk of money for the standard first and last months' rent, along with a security deposit. If you have a pet, you can expect to pay both a pet deposit and a monthly pet rental fee.
In smaller cities and towns, you will often find that the rental process for places for rent, be they houses or apartments, is much less formal. You will still need to shell out the security deposit along with the first and last months' rent -- there is no escaping that -- but in smaller areas, the application process, if there even is one, is nothing more than a formality and credit checks also become less common. This is also true of pet deposits and pet rental fees.
This is one of those interesting states, with some major differences in geography. The most interior part of the state is mountainous, and then there is the Piedmont area followed by the Coastal Plain. Each area offers specific attractions that developed or were influenced by their geographic location. Finding plenty of rental apartments in these areas is not difficult. You may have to look hard to find apartments with paid utilities in North Carolina, but they do exist and you can find them if you look hard enough.
Mountains: If you like mountains, then you will love the North Carolina cities of Asheville and Boone! The mountain area of North Carolina is made up of some of the tallest mountains in eastern North America. This is the home of the world-famous Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. This area has a thriving tourist industry owing to both the majestic scenery and the snow; skiing and other snow-related activities are big business and lots of fun. Summers are cooler here as well, making this a great place to live all year round.
Piedmont: This area makes up the middle of the state and is often surprising to newcomers and visitors alike. It's a given that you are going to find old-world Southern hospitality and charm here -- it's not even a surprise to find NASCAR here. What shocks most people is the research triad of Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham, all such hot spots of the high-tech world! The city of Charlotte is also located here and is considered the finance capital of the South. All of these cities are exploding with opportunities in virtually every sector, from high-tech to the arts!
Raleigh is the capital city of this area and a great place to settle down. You can find incredible condos and high-rise apartments here, with breathtaking views of the city. This city boasts the best shopping in the state; if you can't find it here, it probably doesn't exist. That's okay, because you are living in a modern city that thrives on invention and entrepreneurs -- so just invent it yourself!
Coastal Plain: The coastal plain area reaches from the Piedmont area to the Atlantic Ocean, and it's glorious! The historic city of Wilmington is here, as is the city of Kitty Hawk, the birthplace of aviation! There are also military bases here, and the famous Camp Lejeune is nearby.
No matter where you live in the Coastal Plain area, you simply have to visit Wilmington! You will probably recognize the city the first time you visit because so many movies have been filmed here. The trees draped with Spanish Moss, the history, the water... all of these things combine to make this a great city to film a movie set in the South. There is also the convenience of having a beautiful city as well as nearby wilderness, and it's so much less expensive if all of a film's settings are in one place. While you are here, you might get to see a movie being filmed; you could even end up as an extra in it!
Even if you aren't much of an aviation or airplane buff, you should probably take a look at the city of Kitty Hawk. It's a great place to visit with plenty to see and do. If you want to spend time in a less crowded but beautiful historic town, then head over to New Bern.
Don't let the idea of mountains fool you; Asheville and Boone are both modern cities with everything you could want at your fingertips. Asheville alone could keep you entertained for several lifetimes. There are breweries, museums, bars, clubs and world-class restaurants. A visit to this city is not complete without a trip to The Lobster Trap, the best seafood restaurant in the state. There is also live music here, and the seafood is flown in fresh daily! For the shopaholic, Asheville offers a wide variety of options. From the standard mall stores to trendy shops and boutiques. Antiques are also popular here and people visit from all over the nation just to do some antiquing!
Summers are pretty warm here, but it's rarely unbearable. Most of the year, this region gets plenty of sun and winters are rarely bitter cold. This makes for a lot of outdoor activities being available year round. When it gets hot, pay a visit to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Here, you will find a plethora of activities and exhibits to keep you entertained. If you would rather head outdoors, there are several gardens, arboretums and plenty of parks.
Dining in Raleigh is an experience. There is a huge variety to choose from, but a few really stand out. Take Buku for example. This restaurant specializes in street foods from around the world. This is a quite unique and fun place to visit; make sure you try the Moroccan scallops. Another interesting restaurant that is a bit unusual is the Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern. This restaurant is housed in the historic Dodd-Hinsdale House, a magnificent example of Second Empire architecture. You have the option here of formal dining in the restaurant or lighter and more casual dining in the Tavern. All the food is outstanding, but it's the grilled swordfish that gets rave reviews from the locals.
The most important thing you need to know about New Bern is that Pepsi Cola was invented here in 1898 by pharmacist Caleb Bradham; the building still exists where it was made.
The most important site to visit in the Coastal Plain area is Governor Tryon's palace. New Bern was the capital city during the colonial era, and Governor Tryon was its steward. The original house burned down but was painstakingly reconstructed during the 1950's. The mansion is great, and you will learn a lot about the history of the area. The real treat for nature lovers is that the house sits in the middle of a 13-acre garden complex.
There are plenty of options here for drinking and dining as well. If you want to pass for a local, have a drink or two at Harvey's Mansion. The Mansion is actually an inn, and the bar is located in the basement. It's relaxed, cozy and happens to be where the locals all hang out. The inn is nice too!
For something a little unusual with dinner, go to Captain Ratty's Seafood Restaurant and Steakhouse. The food is excellent, and they are known for their Surf and Turf. Be sure to request rooftop dining. You'll get a great meal with an outstanding view!