Charlotte growth slows as more people trade city for suburbs

Charlotte's hottest neighborhoods

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte now stands as 16th largest city in the U.S, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Queen City has overtaken Indianapolis in that ranking…but there’s a catch.

Recent data compiled by WBTV’s partners at the Charlotte Observer show that the top-selling neighborhoods in and around the Charlotte area are located in Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Clover—interestingly, all cities that are located in South Carolina.

The U.S. Census data also shows that the number of people moving to Charlotte from 2017-2018 was the lowest it had been in a decade. However, Tom Hanchett, a long-time Charlotte historian and writer, says he’s not surprised by the findings.

“Growth is happening in the center of the metro, in Mecklenburg County,” said Hanchett. “It’s happening even faster at the edges because, as people pour in, developers are turning former fields into housing.”

Hanchett also says there’s only so much space and property to sell. It’s twofold; national trends show many people in general are moving less.

However, as homeowners search for residential property, they’re increasingly choosing places on the outskirts of Charlotte, though they work in the city itself.

Hanchett offers up one explanation for this, saying historical Charlotte neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood and Myers Park are getting more expensive due to high demand and their close proximity to Uptown Charlotte.

“It’s getting increasingly hard to find an affordable place,” said Hanchett. “And I don’t mean public housing. I mean housing for teachers, service workers, nurses.”

One woman living in Plaza Midwood, Jodi Warner, says she moved to the neighborhood five years ago and, even with the most recent changes in housing costs, it was too costly for her parents to make the same move.

“We’re fortunate we got into Plaza Midwood before it became Plaza Midwood,” said Warner. “So, once my parents…they wanted to move here. They look around, they realize the cost versus what you can get in Indian Land. And that’s what they chose, what they could afford.”

Alternately, those specializing in Charlotte real estate say they’ve noticed the shift from city-living to the suburbs as well. Robin Tyus, a local real estate broker, says she’s increasingly seen the decisions come down to how close people can live to Charlotte without the drawbacks of high housing costs and reduced privacy that cities tend to come with.

“So, small town feel but then you still have the benefits of being in an urban area if you want entertainment or if you want other restaurants outside of your little town,” said Tyus.

Tyus also says lower taxes, school systems, and access to highways, stores and entertainment also play major roles. Ultimately, she says families are many times willing to take the extra 20-40 minutes in commuting to Charlotte for entertainment and work, if it means they get to enjoy the privacy and low-cost of living on the outskirts of the Queen City.

“You can still get to Uptown,” said Tyus. “So, you still have access to those things but you live in a tight-knit community where people really work together and people really live and grow together."

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