Monday, April 25, 2011

North Carolina on my mind.

As Michael shared last week, we headed to Charlotte, NC with our bikes to do a little reconnaissance. Charlotte is on our extremely short short list of possible places to relocate. When choosing a new place to live, we have certain non-negotiable requirements. Charlotte already fit the bill (according to our endless sessions of googlestorming) for many of our specifications therefore a visit was of the utmost importance in order to make a well-rounded decision.

Here's what we found out:

  • Requirement 1 - Mountain Biking Culture: The first day we got to Charlotte we attended a race, which took place about 10 miles south of downtown. We expected there would be about 20 bikers participating in this Wednesday evening race. Truthfully, we figured we were probably wasting our time. We were wrong! After we took the turn to enter the park, we saw around 50 cars parked along the street with many more in the parking lot. There ended up being over 250 riders registered for the race! We found out that this series goes on every Wednesday for 16 weeks and rotates between three different trails around Charlotte. Michael found a place to camp out so he could take some pics, and the people passing by us were extremely friendly and welcoming. Requirement full-filled, check!!
  • Requirement 2 - Neighborhoods: Naturally, even though we are about a year out from actually moving from Boston, we are curious when it comes to the types of neighborhoods around the city. Prior to our trip - and thanks again to our googlestorming skillz - I had a list of addresses ready to punch into the GPS for our house hunting adventure. Michael and I are hoping for a nice bungalow or craftsman with about a quarter acre or more of yard that's close to downtown. After five years in Southie, we've had our fill of street parking and concrete so really urban neighborhoods need not apply. We were delighted to find so many places with exactly the feel we wanted! Basically, every neighborhood on this list was awesome. Looks like the "not hipster but still highly interested in biking and craft beer" couple will have many options!
  • Requirement 3 - An actual city: So we may be ready to get a house with a picket fence, doggy door and a yard providing a justifiable reason to purchase a lawnmower -- but we ain't quite suburbanites yet. Unfortunately, the southeast isn't really full of metropolitan areas. You pretty much have Atlanta and...well Atlanta to choose from. So we decided a small city could possibly work as long as it had the amenities we loved (A major airport hub, professional sports teams, a major university, concert venues, multiple cuisines with many restaurant options, great hospitals and a strong arts district) without the ones we're completely over (subways, traffic, Chinatown I work right here, water issues, non-stop concrete and rodents). Charlotte, albeit small, has a beautiful downtown area with all the things we need. Looks like we're on a roll!
Our next step is to visit again in the summer to see how well we stand up to the intense humidity we keep hearing about. I'm thinking that adventure will be sans Treks, since taking our bikes will require us driving again. Not enough time has passed since our 14 hour ride home last Saturday for me to get excited over another possible road trip.


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