Here's my answer;
I love it. I love how friendly the people are and the how our neighborhood is such a tight-knit community. There is just a completely different feel here and different way of life. Best thing we ever did. You only live once; you have to decide what's best for you and figure out a way to do it.
We also have some pretty great pizza places - all owned by northerners!
Babysitters are shared by neighbors and there are plenty to go around. Neighbors take care of each other and everyone watches out for you.
One of our biggest motivators for leaving NJ, was the cost of living. The housing costs plus the property taxes are among the highest in the country. It was time to get out. It's amazing the size house you can get for your money compared to up north. Our property taxes are ridiculously low as well. Our old house would fit in our new house 4x over! There's just no comparison.
The weather ..... oh the weather. Short winters where the average temp is 50 degrees, then a long spring, longer summer, and long colorful fall. Everything starts to bloom in March and flowers come up so early. I love seeing all the green when up north, we did not see that until early May if we were lucky. I also love that the kids can play outside almost every day.
I also think, much of how I feel is based on why we decided to relocate. For us, it was just the right time in our lives and this was the right place. Some people relocate to a new place because of a job, family, or other reasons, and my not like it. We did it for us and made the 100% right choice.
There so many parks in every town - big parks where the kids can play, we can walk, picnic, do NFL obstacle courses, and they all have real bathrooms. You laugh, but most of the kids parks where we used to live had port-a-potties (yuck!) or no bathrooms. Super inconvenience.
We can walk to Julianna's school from our house- a major perk. Many of the kids walk or bike to school.
Things here are just so different, but in a good way. I love exploring all new places and there is so much to do. I also love how everything is geared towards outdoors. We are only an hour or so from the Mountains if we want to get away for the day or the weekend. We live right down the road from an outdoor shopping and restaurant area called Birkdale Village. Truthfully, it's one of the things that persuaded us to live where we live. We go there at least once a week to shop or eat out. All the restaurants offer outdoor seating because the weather is so nice here. You can bring your dog everywhere, they can even sit with you when you eat dinner or lunch (outside), if that's your thing.
We live within a few minutes of every major convenience known to man kind. In NJ, I've always had to drive far to go anywhere, but here I barely have to drive far ever. I love living so close to everything! I fill the tank of my SUV maybe once every 2 weeks.
Everything is clean, landscaped, and kept up wherever you go.
Charlotte is the cleanest city you will ever step foot in. There is so much new construction and so many new buildings going up all over the city. I love living outside of a major city but not having the cost like we used to when we lived outside of New York City. We don't have to pay a $15 toll to cross over a bridge or go through a tunnel, and then we don't have to pay $30 to park ... and we don't have to sit in 2 hours of traffic just to get into the city. We can cruise in and out in 15 minutes time from our house, a very nice convenience. Charlotte is such a foodie town - we have discovered some really great restaurants as well.
We have, however, met some wonderful people since moving here, but it's hard to make close friends and make that connection with everyone right away. Good friendships take time and need time to cultivate, so I am just learning to being patient. I feel like we are finally headed down that path as we have met some exceptional neighbors, and also have developed friendships with some of the parents through the Julianna and Tyler's school.
One nice surprise is, two of my high school friends live here in the Charlotte area, they moved here long before us. I found out they were here and was in touch before we moved. Once we moved here, we have met up and out to dinner, on the boat, kids activities, etc. It was so nice to have some familiar faces from home.
I feel like we are 'trailblazers' for the rest of our family. Brian's parents decided they will be moving down here in a couple years when his step-father retires. They fly down every few months to visit because of the weather and we have plenty of room for visitors. My mother ended up moving here a year ago (shortly after we moved), and she loves the senior community she lives in. My Aunt and Uncle may end up here in a couple years as well. Oh and Brian's aunt will be moving here soon as well. We also just heard from a cousin that wants to visit and move here! Brian's father and step-mom live in Charleston, South Carolina, which is only 3 hours away. It's nice to have them close by.
In closing, I will say that of course nothing is 100% and I would be foolish if I said this has all been perfect. There have been a few inconsequential things that I do not like (to be expected), but overall I have zero regrets about moving, and we will never go back.
As promised, Here are some more pictures from the last year...
I just love our neighborhood.
This is Birkdale Village (my happy place).