Congratulations on your decision to escape the frigid north! I work with a lot of Northern transplants (several would be happy to talk to you) and I can tell you, they all love it here, especially the cost of living. Matthews is a nice area, but depending on what part of New York you are from, it is not very walkable and does require a car. That being said, it is a very family friendly area with a nice selection of older traditional homes as well as new construction neighborhoods. It truly has a suburb feel with a quaint downtown area and local shops, but about 15 minutes away from downtown Charlotte. You can get a lot of house for your money here.
I tell people that are coming down here that it is best to really know yourself in order to pick the best area to live. In addition to considering commute times and schools, you should look at whether you prefer a more suburban, urban, or rural lifestyle. What do you like to do for fun? After all, you want to enjoy where you live, not have to drive somewhere else. If you like lakes, we have two great areas, Lake Norman to the north and Lake Wylie to the south. In the summer, I take my clients out on my boat to preview lake homes. If you like outdoor activities, consider Union County and the Waxhaw or Weddington area which has a lot of bicyclers, equestrians, and state parks for hiking and camping. Love shopping and eating, choose the suburb of Ballantyne or Huntersville, or if budget allows, one of our more historic areas close to downtown such as Dilworth, Myers Park, or Elizabeth.
As you can see, Charlotte has a lot to offer. I recommend checking out http://www.charlottesgotalot.com
for information on the areas of town and what is going on. One thing that many transplants don't realize is how close to South Carolina we are. Fort Mill, SC was ranked #7 small city by Parents Magazine last year. It is only 20 minutes from Downtown and has great tax rates. Feel free to call or email me with any further questions you have. I would love to help you figure out just why I, and so many others, truly love this city!
Stephanie Blackburn, REALTOR