Carolina in My Mind

Welcome to North CarolinaUp until now, many of the posts in this blog have been centered around my life in the Boston area.  After 15 years of dealing with New England winters (especially the Winter of 2015) my wife and I decided it was time to give up our investment in the area.  We were ready to let go of the great piece of property we had and take the southbound lane toward friendlier winters.  For us, the decision on our new destination was an easy one.  After vacationing twice in North Carolina we set our sites on the state James Taylor so aptly wrote about in his song Carolina in My Mind.

Dark and silent late last night, I think I might have heard the highway calling.
Geese in flight and dogs that bite.
And signs that might be omens say I’m going, going I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

That James Taylor song was our anthem as we put our house on the market, sold it in nine days, packed up our belongings and hit the road.  Southbound through Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and onward.  I’ll tell you, it was really something when that sign welcomed us as we reached the North Carolina border.  It was an emotional few minutes where we realized we had once again done what we do best – Make a decision, forge a plan and execute it.

Our lives have changed quit a bit now that we’ve lived here for nine months.  Things are different here.  The attitude is very laid back and people aren’t as uptight as they seem to be in New England.  It’s not back woodsy by any means. People take their time.  It’s like an instant therapy session for those of us who have stress in our lives.  I am a much calmer person since being here and I have learned how to slow things down a bit.  I have even learned the art of procrastination!

The biggest difference between New England and North Carolina that I’ve seen is in the way people treat each other.  I’m not going to call it “southern hospitality” because I don’t necessarily view North Carolina as a southern state.  When you pass a stranger they make eye contact with you.  They say hello, and they’ll stop to talk with you about virtually anything.  Store employees are constantly asking if they can help you or if you have found everything you’re looking for.  Just the simple act of going grocery shopping can turn into a happy adventure where the politeness of people can be utterly surprising if you’re not used to it.

The neighborhood we live in is a throwback of sorts.  It’s strange that I refer to it that way because it does seem odd.  The school busses come in the morning and return in the afternoon.  Then the neighborhood is filled with kids playing outdoors.  When their parents come home from work, they head outside, too, and play with their kids.  It seems old fashioned but at the same time it is the way it should be.  Sometimes I sit back and think to myself that I can have hope for parents and for kids based on what I see in my neighborhood.  Kids don’t appear to be stuck in front of their game consoles, rather they’re outside playing, exploring and interacting with each other.

North Carolina offers up a wide variety of tastes from southern staples to coastal catches and the occasional northern fare.  One thing is for sure – you don’t have to go far for whatever type of food you’re in the mood for.  For me it’s nice to have this sort of variety.  I can have tilapia in the afternoon and mussels at night.  Barbeque or grits, fried pickles or catfish. Have a burger topped with slaw and something blackened.  It doesn’t matter, it’s all here and waiting for you!

The Blue Ridge mountains are a short car trip away from us.  We jumped on the Blue Ridge Parkway last fall and caught the last of the season’s colors in what was an awe inspiring experience that we’ll never forget.  The peaks and valleys were far more majestic than we thought they’d be and at the base of it all is Ashville, a quaint Bohemian town that just begs you to come and stay for awhile.

The housing costs in North Carolina are bordering on being absolutely ridiculous.  Home prices are dirt cheap and property taxes are a tiny little spec compared to what we paid in New England.  When we decided to make this move my father-in-law did a few calculations and he figured that we gave ourselves a 15% pay increase just by moving here.  It doesn’t take long to feel the affects of that!

Now that we’re here I sometimes have a difficult time trying to grasp why we didn’t move here sooner.  Oh, we did have a “snowstorm” a few weeks ago.  We received about a half inch of snow followed by a half inch of ice.  Everything shut down.  There are no road crews.  As the first few flakes began to fly, I looked out the window and could only laugh.  The memories of moving snow in New England produced an acute pain somewhere deep within my brain and then the Carolina reality hit me square between the eyes and the next thing I knew, I was laughing, first inside and then I turned that laughter outside.  As I write this on February 28 the sky is a purely classic Carolina blue and it’s 68 degrees outside.

Suddenly those cold, bone chilling winter memories of New England were quickly replaced with Carolina in My Mind.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m a PA resident since birth. However, if things go as planned, that will change in January, 2017. Unlike your family, I’ve never seen NC or even driven through it. We have settled on an area and need to start the job search. I ask you this, how far in advance did you start looking for work down south? I’m afraid to apply to early but I live the apartment life so I need some answers by October. Thoughts? Advice from one northerner to another would also be greatly welcomed!

    Reply
    • Hi Hickory,

      My wife and I were very fortunate about selecting a place to live – we both work from home for the same company, so all we need is an Internet connection, so a job change wasn’t part of our equation. Our employees are scattered all over the country so we could live anywhere without changing jobs. I would say this, though: As being someone who has relocated from one region to another back in 2000 (moved from Michigan to the Boston area), I began looking about four months in advance. But, that timeframe depends on what type of field you are in and what your salary expectations are. In North Carolina, a shift occurred about a decade ago where high tech was beginning to increase their presence in the Charlotte area. I receive stuff from recruiters every day (my old computer programmer resume is still floating around out there) that indicates the tech market in Charlotte is doing very well and has several openings right now.

      Let me know if I can offer anything more specific to your particular situation, and thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. Kristin Hennessy

     /  February 28, 2016

    Just so you know, there is no snow on my new lawn and my back door is open, so some fresh air can come in. Yes, on February 28th 🙂

    Glad to see you pick up a “pen” again!

    Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2016 17:25:08 +0000 To: kmh6278@hotmail.com

    Reply
    • Ha ha, yes, the irony is that the year we finally move out of the winter madness, New England has possibly it’s mildest, most mellow winter ever!

      Reply

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