I moved to Charlotte in October after I got hired to cover the Carolina Panthers for the Observer.
I came from Pennsylvania, and before that, Arizona, where I was born and raised. Before that, I lived in Seattle and before that, Los Angeles. I had no idea what Charlotte would be like, and had no conception of what life is like in the Southeast in general, so I have spent this past year absorbing all of my experiences and exploring everything this gorgeous little city has to offer.
I did what every newcomer should do: I started with the breweries.
To discover the wealth of local craft beer that Charlotte has to offer has continued to be an excellent experience. Most of the breweries are designed for socialization, so I never felt weird going to one by myself (or with my dog – a great conversation starter if there ever was one).
I also discovered that Charlotte is a “foodie” city (which also explains why so many people are so active – another pleasant surprise), and started exploring restaurants in South End, Plaza Midwood and NoDa. My favorites so far have been Kid Cashew, NoDa Brewing, Wooden Robot, every food truck that exists in the city, Midwood Smokehouse and Moo and Brew.
At these places, I learned that Charlotte is getting a rapid infusion of people my age, and many of them meet each other in the workplace.
But in my job, finding friends my own age with similar schedules (or friends who aren’t just in it for the fantasy football advice) is really tough.
So my neighbor encouraged me to join SportsLink teams, which is like intramural sports but for adults. So far, I have met some of the most wonderful, smart and active people through my sand volleyball league.
My advice to any newcomer is to not be afraid to do these things – go to breweries, explore restaurants, play sports sports – alone. There are so many people in Charlotte who are also new and have moved here for work without any ties to the city, so finding something to bond over with a stranger isn’t as hard as it seems.
Maybe I’ll see you out there.