A Londoner in Charlotte
As many of you know, Dan and I recently relocated from London to Charlotte and so far we are loving our new life. Here’s how the ‘Queen City’ compares to the Queen’s home town...
Culture and Community
Charlotte is a city with a small-town feel, and balances the best of both worlds: city-size entertainment and events paired with a strong sense of community. It’s the only place I’ve lived that doesn’t compromise cultural kicks for social cliques (or vice versa!) Whilst London offered me a life-time supply of museums, restaurants and live entertainment, I never got to really know my East-London neighbourhood. Yet after just 6 weeks in Charlotte we already have a ‘local’ (Wooden Robot) and have met a lovely group of people from our apartment block. If we’re talking quality over quantity then Charlotte’s certainly ‘got a lot’, particularly when I consider the fabulous places and people I’ve come across so far!
Size and Space
Charlotte offers sizeable and relatively affordable apartments close to the city-centre. This is amazing coming from a large city, where every day began and ended with a 45-minute commute by tube. I once attempted to walk from our East-London flat to Oxford Street and it took me over 3 hours. So, the 20-minute walk from Southend to Uptown still feels unbelievably short!
We also laughed at the size of some of the apartments on offer. The “small one-bed” we ended up leasing is larger than our two-bed flat in London!
Left to right: Southend sign; Churchmans on Church Street; Exploring Freedom Park.
Breweries and Bars
This was one of the biggest concerns coming from the London: no old-school British pubs! * However, I must say that the brewery boom in the Charlotte has definitely offered up some decent competition. Whilst they are a lot younger than 17th Century favourites along the River Thames, Charlotte’s breweries still offer a lot of charm offer a chilled-out space to chat and cheers, with the added addition of in-house breweries and brewery specific socials. Whoever came up with the ‘workout for your beer’ concept is a genius- what a fabulous way of motivating people to move more and make friends.
*Disclaimer: I haven’t yet tried the Big Ben Pub, so I may be proven wrong!
Left: Enjoying the self-pour bar and wine at Hoppin'
Right: Experiencing our first Low-Country Boil at Sycamore Brewery.
Transport and Tailgating
We’re starting to realise that we’re going to need a car. Charlotte’s public transport only gets us so far and we’ve noticed that we’re the only ones who walk (the other week we walked from Southend to South Park and we got some very strange looks!) However, the car thing is pretty convenient for three reasons: firstly, because it’s a dream to drive here. The cars are big, the roads are even bigger and compared to London there’s a lot less traffic. (Believe me when I tell you that rush hour on the I-49 is a dream compared to the M25 on a Monday morning!) Secondly, because there’s so much cool stuff within driving distance (like the U.S. National Whitewater Centre!) And thirdly, because you need a car to host a pre-game Carolina Panthers party, otherwise known as a tailgate. Who knew that a parking lot could be so much fun?!
Delight in the Difference!
So, whilst it’s not got Buckingham palace, the Queen City’s got several gems of its own! It’s not a matter of better or worse, good or bad… just difference. And I’m going to try and stay conscious and curious to as many of those differences as possible.
Thanks for welcoming us Charlotte. We’re so excited and proud to be a part of this energetic, every-changing city and look forward to experiencing your four proper seasons with hopefully a little less rain!