The Pros and Cons of Your Relocation to North Carolina from New England
A family relative moved to the rural area of Clayton, NC, from north central MA, in 2007. We discussed the pros and cons of his relocation to North Carolina from New England.
Cost Pros - Real Estate and Property Taxes
The cost of real estate in NC is considerably lower when compared to the north central MA area of New England. After the 2007 sale of his 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,400 sq. ft. ranch home in MA, he was able to pay cash (with profit and savings) for a larger 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2,365 sq. ft,. two-story home in NC. Current values on Zillow.com show a difference of nearly $30,000 less for his larger home in NC.
The cost of property taxes, on his NC home, are just over $1,000 less than what he was paying in MA.
Cost Cons - Highway Use Tax (HUT) Sales Tax and Payroll Tax
North Carolina collects a 3% Highway Use Tax on vehicles in lieu of a state sales tax. The tax is assessed each time a title is transferred.
All transactions involving a vehicle already titled in the customer's name, from another state, 90 days prior to registering in North Carolina, will be taxed on vehicle value, with a maximum of $150.00 being assessed, in addition to a fee of 28.00 for plates and the yearly excise tax.
The sales tax in MA is 5%. Sales tax in North Carolina is a 2-part tax, state & local. The state sales tax rate is 4.25%, but the local sales tax rate varies from a low of 2.5% to a high of 3.0%. So, in most areas of the state the combined sales tax rate is 6.75%, but can be as high as 7.25%
Using the percentage method to determine the payroll tax, he is taxed approximately 2% more on his pay in NC verses MA.
Weather - Pros
Clayton, NC is approximately one half hour south of downtown Raleigh. Snow is a rare occurrence here. However, it did snow approximately 7” in January of 2009.
There are four seasons, but they are not as drastic as the seasons experienced in New England. Along with mild winters, in the springtime, the dogwood and pear trees are in full bloom, and it is simply beautiful. In the fall, the oak tree leaves can be just as colorful as in New England. The summer of 2008 was a mild one, where the temperatures were most often in the upper 70ies and 80ies.
The summers are filled with beach days, and the constant breezes at the beach provide relief from the heat. Clayton is just an hour and a half away from the beaches, where he often goes throughout the summer.
Most homes are equipped with central air and heat. Staying inside, during the hot weather streaks, is always an option.
In the mountains of the western portion of NC, it snows often. This can be a pro for the avid skier or mountain climber.
Weather - Cons
The extremely hot summer of 2007 in NC resulted in a drought. During a hot streak, the temperatures can reach over 100 degrees easily. The weather can be very humid also. His location in NC is on one of several of the state’s river basins, at sea level, and during a heat wave, the water in the ground heats up and creates the high humidity.
Nature Pros - Enjoying the Natural Night Life
In the rural area of Clayton, NC, he is in touch with the natural world, found right outside his door. The tree frogs and crickets, peeping at night, are extremely loud, and it is amazing to listen to them. Along with the crickets, the birds continue to fly and chirp into the evening hours.
During the day, it is common to see several big birds like hawks and black vultures, with huge wingspans, flying overhead. Black vultures are found in the southern U.S. and in southern South America . Their body length measures up to about 23 to 29 inches, their wingspan is about 6 to 8½ feet, and they weigh around 16 pounds. They eat dead cattle, sheep, ground squirrels, deer, and horses.
Driving through Clayton he describes as, “driving through a painting”. The area consists of horse farms, tobacco, cotton, corn and soybean fields. The skies, visible for miles, are breathtaking.
Nature Cons - Too Many Bugs and Sandy Soils
The insects are notably larger and plentiful, in this area of NC. It is not uncommon to see grasshoppers and praying mantis that are two to three inches long. Bugs and snakes (in volume) can be nature’s unwanted guests!
Gardening can be difficult, because there is a lot of clay and sand in the soil. The water drains through the soil rather quickly, making it difficult to get the type of plants that would grow easily in New England, to grow in this area of NC. To maintain a nice lawn, it has to be watered very often.
Employment Pros – Raleigh, The Major High Tech Center
Raleigh is part of North Carolina's Research Triangle, one of the country's largest and most successful research parks. It is a major center in the United States for high-tech and biotech research. Many high-tech companies are located here. The high-tech company SAS, rated one of the best places to work, is located in Raleigh. SAS can be compared to the company Digital, which once dominated New England.
Raleigh, NC is the home of Duke University, U.N.C., N.C. State, and E.C.P.I. College of Technology, just to name a few. As a college town, Raleigh caters to the young professionals. There is no shortage of nightclubs, which range from contemporary to alternative dance clubs. There are a variety of great restaurants in Raleigh, as well. Residential and commercial development continues in Raleigh, at a rapid rate, despite the nation’s economic issues.
Employment Cons - High Tech Jobs, Artisans Lack in Rural Areas
In a rural area like Clayton, professional employment opportunities are obviously not as plentiful as they are in the city’s capital. If you live on the outskirts, and seek employment at a high tech company, expect to commute into Raleigh.
While locations south of Raleigh are rural farming towns, locations just one half hour north of Raleigh are more developed, having subdivisions, condominiums, tightly packed neighborhoods, strips malls, and much more traffic. Of course, it really all depends on where you choose to live in NC. If you work remotely, your location in regards to employment, is almost irrelevant.
Many New England towns cater to crafters and artisans, where you will find a variety of art galleries and crafters’ shops. In New England towns, you can find quilts, pottery and handmade jewelry all on the same street. In this area of NC, there aren’t nearly as many art galleries and crafters’ studios.
As a studio musician, teacher and producer, he finds the music scene to be thriving in Raleigh. However, it is not quite as robust as it is in Boston, MA.
Cuisine Pros – Great Restaurant Variety in Raleigh
Whether you prefer Thai, Italian, Mexican, or seafood, in Raleigh, there is a great variety of specialty, niche restaurants to choose from. You can find whole food and grocery markets with excellent varieties of organic foods.
Cuisine Cons - Rural Areas Lack Variety
In the rural areas like Clayton, there isn’t a great variety of restaurant to choose from. He described the local restaurants as “cookie cutter”, including: your typical pizzeria, Chinese food, and bar and grille.
Not as health conscious, the grocery stores in the rural areas of NC do not have the organic and healthy food variety that you will find in New England. Also, the grocery prices in NC are slightly higher than in New England.
New England has an abundance of ice cream stands and shops. In New England, it is rare indeed to have to drive more than ten minutes to your favorite ice cream stand. Unfortunately, ice cream shops in this area of NC are far and few between.
People - Pros and Cons
Southern hospitality truly prevails in NC. In the farming community of Clayton, people are exceptionally friendly and neighborly. Being invited to your neighbor’s house for coffee is not uncommon. Young children respect their elders by using language such as “sir” and “mam”, which leaves one with a nice feeling.
In his experience, the grumpy, rude and demanding people that he has encountered, are most often those New Englanders that have relocated to NC!
Relocating to North Carolina Highly Recommended
While any location has its drawbacks, my relative is very happy with his home in Clayton, NC. He would recommend the move wholeheartedly to anyone. He really loves the variety that his NC location offers. Within a half hour he can escape the country and be in the heart of city and vise versa.
For additional information, search the group/opinion forums on Google by typing “relocating to North Carolina”. This is how he did some of his online research.