How I Got To Know My New City Before Moving

Getting To Know Charlotte, NC - The Leigh Clair Blog

Our move to Charlotte was by no accident. Kevin and I are serial planners so when it came to relocating, it was happily calculated. We decided to finally move to Charlotte in 2012. It was a typical frigid New York Winter night that consisted of pizza, red wine, and Homeland. I remember the moment distinctly: All of the sudden, I recognized a home on the show and shouted "I know that house, I know that road!" It brought back a flood of memories of trips down Queens Road West.

Kevin grew up in the area and we visited regularly to see family (and most recently to get my wedding dress at Nitsa's!) And I always had this feeling we'd end up here (sometimes you just know.) After we paused Homeland, we looked at each other and said almost in perfect harmony, "Let's go to Charlotte!" And so we did. We booked a cute garage apartment on AirBnb and made a trip out of it. And so our love for the Queen City began to grow. 

I'll spare most of the the dorky details (we made a huge map of Charlotte outlining all the neighborhoods... yeah.) But we started researching all aspects of life there- doctors, hospitals, museums, schools, restaurants, and of course real estate (probably the most fun!) We got to know the neighborhoods (there are so many!) and even specific streets (there are some here I swear my dreams are made of.) Google Street View became my best friend.

I learned as much from afar until we could visit. And visit. And visit again. To make a long story short, we wanted to move for some time (two and a half years) before we actually made it official. So, I got to know this amazing city on my own and from a distance at my own pace. I highly recommend doing this to avoid moving to a place completely blind. But then again we are consummate planners...

So, I have a few tips to share with you when you're thinking of making a major move to a brand new place! And if you're new to Charlotte, I hope my list can give you some ideas. It will help you meet people, find things to do, places to eat, groups to join, and assist in your job search. (I was my own guinea pig and I can happily report that these resources have helped tremendously.) 

1.) Sign up for newsletters

I still can't remember how I discovered the Charlotte Agenda (probably down a Twitter rabbit hole... yeah, definitely a Twitter rabbit hole) but I'm so glad I did. I'm not sure something like this even exists in other cities(?) but this newsletter has changed my life. Kevin and I read it each and every day. It's basically the beating pulse of what's happening here in Charlotte delivered to your inbox each morning- from foodie buzz to new developments and everything in between. It keeps us posted and up to date and provides an amazing network of people like us, who happen to be obsessed with this place.

2.) Look for local blogs, websites, magazines & guides

With the advent of social media, the world is so much smaller. A quick look at hashtags will open a can of worms (in a good way) and help you find your next meal, a new friend, fun events, and more. Also make a habit of picking up the free publications at grocery stores. My favorite local guides are definitely The Scout Guide, which is available in more cities than just Charlotte and Scoop Charlotte. They're both chock full of fabulous vendors, businesses, shops in your area, and promotions and events! I love their Instagrams too- they always have something new and exciting to discover. I also subscribed to Charlotte Magazine long before our move which gave me a sense of what was going on from afar. 

3.) Get to know the locals

Try and find out who the local movers and shakers are. In a not creepy way, of course. Again, I did this via social media while I was still in New York and started following all kinds of people here in Charlotte- chefs, businesses, bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs… the list goes on. These folks always make great recommendations, hit up fabulous places (The Punch Room, anyone?) and know a lot about their city. Oh and they eat fabulous food. A quick skim of my Instagram feed literally makes me hungry. Learn from the locals!

A few great folks to follow:





(I'm sensing a trend...)

4.) Make a Yelp bookmark list

I’ve had a Yelp account for five years. For four of those years, it basically sat dormant and unused. There’s a great Bookmark feature that has certainly gotten a workout since we decided we were moving to Charlotte. Yelp is such a great resource with candid reviews and helpful photos of what your food actually looks like. I think my bookmark list is 100 restaurants deep but hey, who’s counting? And Yelp isn’t just limited to food- doctors, services, shops, everything is basically on there. We found a cat-sitter for a recent trip with excellent reviews that certainly gave us peace of mind while we were gone (the reviews don't lie!) 

5.) Check out the local real estate

Well, consider me biased, but this has to be the most fun you can have while exploring your new city from afar. A quick google search will help you find local brokerages, who, in my opinion can offer a wealth of knowledge about your new city. See what types of homes they list, what neighborhoods they specialize in, read their blog and see what they’re up to. And if you’re moving to a new city, you will undoubtedly need an excellent real estate agent. It doesn’t hurt to start looking early. If you're looking for an excellent firm here in Charlotte, look no further than Dickens Mitchener- undoubtedly your best source for residential real estate. And please feel free to contact me directly to help you find exactly what you're looking for:!

Have any other tips? What have I missed? You can tell that food and real estate are my true loves. But the nice thing about the Internet is that it makes the world so much smaller, so much more accessible- you can cater your research to your liking. 

For more of my Charlotte picks, check out my Instagram @KiraLSemple