"Little Charlotte, she's as pretty as the angels when they sing. I can't believe I'm out here on her front porch in this swing, just a swingin'." (John Anderson - "Swingin'").
Also known as "The Queen City", the "The Wasp's Nest", and "City of Churches", on first glance, Charlotte seems to have multiple personality syndrome. It is at once a home for the prestigious and notorious, the modest and flamboyant, the religious and the recidivists. Despite this schizophrenic tendency, most neighborhoods still have the southern comfort of a small-town atmosphere.
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Things to Consider When Choosing your Charlotte Chateau:
Fool's Paradise. Be wary of seemingly lavish apartment complexes with low rent. Most of the time, you get what you pay for. Sure the complex has a rooftop fire place, a huge pool, and a movie theater. But, if the fireplace is broken, the pool adds an extra $50 to your water bill, and the movie theater smells like sweat, cigarettes, and desperation, then life won't be so luxurious.
Climate Control. In a city that experiences both freezing winters and the heat of southern summers, utility costs can become a burden. You can either find an apartment that is all bills paid, or expect to spend more than $150 a month on utilities during summer and winter peaks.
Uptown Security. On a similar note, be sure to ask apartment managers all about the security features of your potential home. Many apartment complexes around downtown and the arts district won't let you go anywhere without a card or key: the elevator, the parking garage, the pool, etc. With tight security like this, you will want to make sure your apartment has a system that allows you to buzz people in. Otherwise, you will have to take a hike downstairs every time you have visitors, or pizza.
Proof of Income. Many places in Charlotte do not accept bank statements as proof of income. This could make things complicated for trust fund babies, freelance workers, and people that just get by on odd jobs. If you make or have enough money to pay taxes on, then last year's tax statements should be sufficient.
Transportation. A car may be necessary unless you are moving into a place on the south side or close to downtown. Charlotte becomes a very sprawling city to the north, and bus routes can be few and far between. However, if you take a peak at the CATS map, then you will be able to find a few apartment complexes up north that are located near one of these bus routes. See: Lynx Blue Line Light Rail, Gold Rush, and Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).
There are nearly 200 neighborhoods sprawled in all directions from Charlotte's city center, creating enough space for urban socialites, suburban families, and even rural country folk that prefer a more small town vibe.
Uptown. Some cities have downtowns. Charlotte has uptown. Take a stroll along the backdrop of the center of the city, the eye of the storm, the epicenter of business, bar hopping, historic churches, global cuisine, cocktails, and live music.
First Ward: Mixed-income, high-demand apartments a stone's throw away from center city nightlife.
Second Ward. (Aka Brooklyn) Home to NASCAR events, government buildings, Zion Church, and dreams of revitalization... no actual homes, though.
Third Ward. Mostly just known for Bank of America Stadium, home of the North Carolina Panthers.
Fourth Ward. Trendy warehouse and old mill apartments, elaborate terra cotta apartments, and super luxurious condos for high paying fat cats.
Artsy East. Aspiring actors, artists, musicians, and human tattoos receive especially warm welcomes just east of Uptown.
NoDa. (North of Davidson) Artists, art promoters, art galleries, art school, grass-roots art groups, and all the funky fixings of your typical art-centered artsy art district... plus pup-friendly pubs.
Plaza Midwood: Tattoo parlors and bakeries, galleries and pubs, antique shopping and fashion hubs, a paradoxical, yet harmonious neighborhood.
Southern 'Burbs. Just south of Uptown is the families' delight.
Myers Park: Super-exclusive, big money neighborhood.
Sedgefield: The neighborhood for professionals working downtown and families looking for an affordable home.
Elizabeth: Comic book stores, modern apartments among historic homes, and the annual 4th of July fireworks.
South Park: Symphonies in the park, international cuisine, high-end department shopping, and general upscale urban living.
Starmount: Practical and culturally diverse.
Northeast Country. Move to the outskirts if you prefer woodsy ranch-style living over urban high rises and suburban bland land.
Derita. Woodsy, neighborhood that's big on youth sports and picnics in the park.
University City. Home to five colleges, three public libraries, parks, lakes, shopping, dining and entertainment, and a close-knit population of proud golfers.
Biddleville: Affordable living one mile from uptown.
Southend: Old cotton mills and warehouses renovated into modern apartments.
Paw Creek: A "tank town" located far out west.
Mountain Island Village: Located far northwest near Mountain Island Lake.
And that my dear renters, is Charlotte in a nutshell. Now crack that shell and go nuts!
-By Katy Comal