When I saw your question I thought how ironic. Eight years ago I was in the same dilemma between choosing between the Raleigh area and Charlotte area and chose Charlotte. I moved here from Connecticut and like you enjoyed a lot of things that New York City had and knew I would not get them all but was looking for something close. It has been eight years for me since I have looked so I cannot speak for Raleigh. I can tell you that I chose Charlotte for a variety of reasons.
One, I liked the sporting activities that Charlotte had to offer. being a father of four children and a couple of them active in sports I liked being close to the NFL team, basketball team, minor league hockey team and next year home to a triple A baseball team. It gives me events to do with the kids and even living in the suburbs of the city only a 30 to 40 minute drive.
Second, I loved the greenways and public park access that Charlotte had to offer. So many places to go for walks, run and bike. Kids love it here for that. And with the white water center in he northern part of Charlotte we have gone there to d white water rafting and walk through the acres of trees and woods...
Third, I am biased in that I live here but with four children I was extremely pleased with the public education my kids are receiving. I cover all three spectrums from elementary school to high school and have not been disappointed yet.
Fourth, there are a lot of arts and theater events in Charlotte. You have a wide array of choices from dance to off Broadway shows to concerts.....Charlotte does cater to the vast majority of people with a great cultural variation.
Last, coming from the North I do not miss the snow. But I like the fact that because of Charlotte location I am only a few hour ride away from the Smokey mountains and skiing if I want it and a few hours away form the beach. So, in about three hours I can be either at the beach or in the mountains. That was something I could not get in Raleigh and liked the convenience it offered me.
There are many other reasons I chose Charlotte. But those four were my so to speak hot buttons along with housing affordability and a variety of good restaurants and food....
If I can be of any other assistance to you please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Helen Adams Realty
I would definitely spend a long weekend in Charlotte to scope out the areas, you should not be disappointed. Here is a great website that overviews this great city http://www.charlottesgotalot.com/
If you want to get an idea of home prices and communities feel free to check out my website. http://www.charlotte247realestate.com/
Best of Luck !
Thanks Ryan 704-608-4767 C/T
Charlotte is not NYC. The quantity of theatre and music options here is generally less. But the quality of life here is good. Other clients who have told me they were considering both Charlotte and Raleigh seem to choose Charlotte about 2:1. The driving factor seemed to be proximity to the capital, or work/research triangle. From what you wrote, the Charlotte region may have more of what you want... but you really need a guide giving you accurate information. Did you contact the chamber of commerce in each area? If you appreciate an answer, please give thumbs up. For the most helpful answer, please say thanks with a best answer click.
I live in Chapel Hill, spend a lot of time in Durham for the restaurants and cultural activities, plus my husband teaches at Duke. I lived in Boston, Austin, and Palo Alto and would describe myself as a Northerner who lives here by choice. What I love here is that there are neighborhoods where people wave to you when you drive through them. People are friendly, there are all kinds of activities for kids, families, and adults. Not only that, you don't have to drive a far distance and deal with traffic to get there. Already that is worth a lot.
Durham has an incredible restaurant and cultural scene. Between UNC and Duke, there are so many music, dance, theater and Broadway offerings that you won't be able to take advantage of all. Chapel Hill has a brand new superb library (the most used in the state), great food shopping, and the positives of small towns while being more sophisticated and cosmopolitan.
The big industry in Charlotte is banking. The big industry in the Triangle is high tech, health care and education.
Happy to talk with you if you want. Don't worry about waking me because I turn my cell phone off when I go to sleep. Good luck with your decision--you are choosing between 2 very good places.