So, you just got married or maybe had a baby, and you have the chance to move anywhere in the country. Where do you go? You want somewhere that has a great nightlife for those times you need to get out of the house, but you also need a great school system and other family-friendly amenities. Small-town living seems pretty mundane, but the big cities are just too much to handle, especially with small children. Finding the right balance can seem pretty close to impossible.
However, there is at least one city in America that can fit the needs of young families: Charlotte. The up-and-coming metropolis in North Carolina is rapidly growing, and young people are leading the charge. Large and small businesses alike are finding roots in Charlotte, making it that much easier to find a fulfilling career. In addition, the city is just a short drive from the wilderness of the Carolinas, if you ever need to just get away. We’ve compiled a list of just a few reasons Charlotte is one of the best cities for young families, with a little help from Eli Pacheco:
1. Education Opportunities
For young couples with children, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the city’s district. It operates 136 elementary, middle, and high schools in Charlotte and surrounding communities. CMS also operates alternative education programs and magnet schools. The district consistently ranks as one of the best in North Carolina. Charlotte is home to other education alternatives, too. The city has 72 private schools, with an average high school tuition of $12,909. Finally, there are also quite a few charter schools in Charlotte, which can run from kindergarten through 12th grade.
If you are looking to further your own education, Charlotte and the surrounding area is home to a few different colleges and universities. University of North Carolina Charlotte is part of the UNC system. In addition to Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte is home to Queens University, Johnson C. Smith University and Johnson & Wales University. Schools in the surrounding communities include Belmont Abbey College, Davidson College, Wingate University and Winthrop University, just a half hour away in South Carolina.
2. The Job Market
Charlotte’s known for a having one of the strongest banking presences in the Southeast. However, the job market is incredibly diverse. The surrounding communities — including Concord, Fort Mill, Gastonia, Kannapolis, Monroe, Mooresville, Rock Hill and other towns — offer all sorts of jobs, from tech to textiles. If you are looking for a stable corporate job, these companies call Charlotte and surrounding area home:
- Bank of America
- Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
- Dale Earnhardt Inc.
- Duke Energy
- Family Dollar
- The Inspiration Networks
- Meineke Car Care Center
- Petro Express
- Rack Room Shoes
- Red Ventures
- Richard Petty Motorsports
- SEC Network
In addition, with so many young people living in the city, there are ample opportunities for dreamers to finally start that small business they’ve always dreamed of. In fact, Charlotte has a network for small business owners to get everything they need for their start-up, from financing to tips for getting permits to location advice. Additionally, the city is home to well-known incubators such as City Startup Labs, QC Fintech, and RevTech Labs poised to support the entrepreneurial spirit. Charlotte is also host to an annual Startup Grind event that draws national interest.
3. City Safety
Just like in any city, different parts of Charlotte can have different reputations. Communities farther from the center city tend to have lower crime rates than those in Uptown. The Highland Creek and Providence Crossing neighborhoods are among the city’s safest, as well as the Weddington area. For families with children, suburbs tend to be preferred over the city. To the north, Davidson offers lake living and a small-college-town feel. Just south of the state line, Fort Mill has both quaint neighborhoods and safe new developments with single-family housing. Businessweek named Fort Mill “One of the Best Places to Raise Kids” in 2013.
Charlotte highways, like in other places, tend to stay busy. Interstates 77 and 85 cross near the center of town. Interstate 485 loops around the city to give travelers easy access to the center of the city and its surrounding communities. While driving can become hectic during rush hour and travel weekends, compared to cities like Atlanta and Washington, D.C., Charlotte’s pace is decidedly relaxed. If you have kids who are will be driving soon, Charlotte is perhaps one of the best cities to teach them the skills they need.
4. Fun and Games
Charlotte has a thriving nightlife for those times you simply need a night out without the kids. Thanks to the eclectic community that calls this city home, you can find anything from “hipster” haunts like Amos’ Southend concert venue to raucous bars like Howl at the Moon. Of course, there are plenty of traditional bars and even a few jazz clubs as well, in addition to restaurants serving just about every kind of cuisine under the sun. No matter what kind of night and entertainment you are in the mood for, you can find it in Charlotte.
There are also great opportunities for family fun as well. For art aficionados, the world-renowned Mint Museum is a must-see. Discovery Place is also a great option for learning about science and technology. Football fans will be pleased to know that Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, is in north Charlotte. Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 and an annual Christmas light show, is also nearby. For a fun-packed day with the family, don’t miss an opportunity to visit Carowinds amusement park!
5. Vibrant Community
Though there are more than 2 million people living in the Charlotte, it has the same tight-knit community feel you may find in a town a fourth of the size. There are numerous opportunities to get involved in clubs and organizations, such as Kiwanis and Rotary, that strive to make the city — and the world — a better place. In addition, there are many social clubs in Charlotte. If you are someone who struggles to make friends in a new city, joining one of these clubs may be a great, easy way to meet new people with similar interests of you.
Volunteer opportunities not associated with service clubs are also prevalent in Charlotte. For example,with more than 20 hospitals in the area, the city healthcare system is always looking for helping hands. In addition, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity holds many events throughout the year. For more localized opportunities, Hands On Charlotte can connect you with animal shelters, mentorship and tutoring programs and other one-time or long-term volunteering projects. If you and your family are looking for a fun, enlightening and even challenging way to spend a weekend, volunteerism is a great way to go.
If you are looking for a good place to raise your family, Charlotte is hard to beat. From the school system to the job market to weekend fun, there’s no place like this city. Of course, Charlotteans all have their own reasons why they love their city so much — be sure to ask about their favorite spots when you make your move to North Carolina!