Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One soon-to-be-ex-New Yorker's story

This e-mail arrived in my inbox today, and it nicely sums up the migration trend that has resulted in so many New Yorkers moving here.

"Hello Ms. Dyer,

I read your article on Charlotte.com and wanted to drop you a note. We currently live in Cortland, NY, 30 miles south of Syracuse. Our home is on the market and we are looking to relocate to Ft. Mill, SC over the summer. Though the Finger Lakes area of NY is, indeed, beautiful, there is an 'exodus' from NY. (Though you already know that.)

Taxes are outrageous! We purchased the home we are in now in 2000. Since then our taxes have doubled. For our 1900sf home on a third of an acre we are paying $8,000 a year for property and school taxes.

My husband is self-employed and NY is not friendly to self-employed individuals. Why would one want to begin a business here when the State will take so much of what you bring in?

Jobs are difficult to come by. Several years ago Smith Corona (remember the typewriters?) left Cortland for Mexico. Rubbermaid and Marietta are gone. Cortland County, last I heard, has the highest poverty rate... in the state.

Ithaca with Cornell University and Ithaca College, Syracuse with SU and LeMoyne, are each thirty miles in opposite directions. With gas here in Cortland County at $3.17 a gallon, it is tough to rationalize the commute for minimally paying jobs. Cornell is known for great benefits and low pay.

With our oldest two daughters in college, even the in-state tuition and costs run approx. $17,000/yr. Our younger two children are currently in 7th and 5th grades. If we are to relocate, this is the time so they can get established.

In terms of 'adapting' to the South.... A co-worker of mine lived in Charlotte for several years and only returned to NY because of her husband's family being here. When I told her of our looking to relocate to the Charlotte area she told me to 'go and don't look back!' She also told me to make every attempt to adapt to the Southern ways and not expect the Southerners to adapt to us. Makes sense.....

In a nutshell,... if (my husband's) new venture does not work out, there are jobs to be had, unlike NY. Taxes are less, MUCH less. The schools are good. The lack of 120 inches of snow is an added benefit though my son pines at the thought of not having his yearly snow fort next to the mailbox.

I look forward to meeting new people--ones who I hear are friendly. And let it be known that I do very much realize that it it we who are entering their 'world' and we must to it graciously and thankfully."

I'm omitting the writer's name until she gives me her OK. I'm guessing that with this positive attitude, she won't have much problem being warmly welcomed here - even by some of my more ornery blog posters. Do you agree?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think a lot of people down here realize that Upstate NY is a different world (farms, mountains, open land, small towns) and I think it is important to make a distinction between the Tri-State area and Upstate NY. They think NY is all concrete, everyone is rude, and that it is a cesspool of crime (statistically NY has a very low crime rate). All they have are generalizations and a couple of episodes of CSI NY and Law and Order. I bet most of them haven't been to NY and if they have it was NYC (and they never ventured out into the suburbs, for obvious reasons such as there really is no need to, and see that there are still trees, beaches, and quaint towns). NY is a beautiful place - but it is very hard to afford nowadays. If it weren't for affordability, MOST people wouldn't be moving out (some will still hate the winters or want a slower pace). I love NY and NYC but I realize NC is neither and I don't compare them. If you want to be happy here you have to understand that it is different and just ignore some of the idiots that post on this blog who are still living in the Civil War.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one thing that really irks me is that I feel like you have to suck up to people so much here in order to be "accepted". Once they here your accent is different from theirs, they assume all of these generalizations and judge you without even knowing you. Why can't I just be myself and why should I change my views so I am accepted? Nobody should be rude and people should have manners - this isn't a regional thing as I have run across plenty of rude southerners - it applies to everyone.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Leigh, I think that you're right, this STBENY'er will have an easy time adjusting. Sounds like she has a great attitude. I do hope you told that person not to move in August if she can help it. I would think that August in the Charlotte area would be about bad enough for someone to want to head back north and just pay the taxes, it's so hot and muggy here then. I'm a lifelong North Carolinian so I should be acclimated, and I still hardly step out of the air conditioning in August! Move in July, or wait till September, but if it's gotta be August, just crank up the AC and budget for a high power bill.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I welcome the next new Yorker down here and know that they'll be fine. They have the right attitude about fitting in to the Southern way of doing things, but will still have to accept the fact that there is a certain hard headed hatred to change and new people from some around here. Luckily, there are enough people here from all over the country and know how the rest of the country operates. They will be all right. Again, welcome.


2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to this New Yorker from this native Charlottean. If all New Yorkers (as well as other transplants) had this attitude, Charlotte would be a much happier place. I am only resistant to change because everything that meant anything to me growing up in Charlotte has been torn down or replaced by a mediocre or horrible substitute. Even my church is now a school. Just because I yearn for the "good old days" doesn't mean I hate change. I just don't like destruction of things that should be preserved.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When one person moves out someone else moves in. The reason for the high cost of living is because there are enough people willing and able to afford it. It's basic supply and demand.

Remember, the grass is always greener over a septic tank.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1993 I was a soon to be ex-New Yorker. Moving to the Charlotte area was the best thing I've ever done.

I loved upstate NY and never would have left if not for how impossible it is to stay afloat there, financially. That being said, I'm a North Carolinian now and wouldn't ever think of going back.

I love it here and consider it home.

I grew up in Niagara county. Schools were good but taxes were outrageous.

I think the people who come from upstate NY and gripe here do so because they saw what happened there -- all the taxpayer dollars ended up being funneled into NYC and LI, leaving hard-working folks upstate with less take-home pay than welfare recipients in the metropolitan areas were getting.

It's a worn-out argument, but the small-town folks like me from upstate NY flocked to the Meck. Co suburbs because it's all we've ever known. For us, to have a decent paying job AND the ability to go home to a neighborhood and town where we know everybody makes us feel better.

The suburb-city arguments are almost like the north-south arguments I still hear. Funny thing, though -- many of the natives who put down those moving here don't realize how many of them are just like they are.

Northerners would be just as crotchety (as southerners) and Southerners just as obnoxious (as northerners) if millions from the Carolinas were moving to NY or Pennsylvania every year.

bottom line: we're all pretty much the same.

But here, the weather is better and -- at least until everyone from up north moves here, the taxes are lower.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and although its north of Charlotte, it is INFINITELY MORE SOUTHERN than Charlotte will ever be.

The Observer and people in Charlotte seem to think that an accent and a penchant for sweet tea sum up what it means to be "Southern". In many ways, being Southern is as much a stigma as a blessing - people all over the country have negative perceptions of this region's overall education and tolerance, but love the romance of the region and the elegance of our manners and customs.

Charlotte is unique in that unlike other Southern cities whose backs are heavy with the weight of history, its a town known for its transients. From its own Gold Rush to it becoming a hub for textile millls and military personnel during the early 20th century, Charlotte has welcomed and adapted to its changing inhabitants. As its economy has developed it has become less of a turnstile town and more people are making this their home.

To your writer, I think she'll fit in nicely. She may have to get used to everything being closed on Sunday but its not as if her plain vanilla upstate NY accent will spur any prejudices. Even if it does, she'll find plenty of hometown support already here....and lots more on the way.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This native NCer would like to welcome the stbenyer also. It really is all about attitude. So many transplants omit learning about our local culture and history when they come and rob themselves of so much of the enjoyment moving to a new region can bring. It won't be like anywhere else, accepting that and finding so many new things to love is important. It doesn't minimize where you're from to love somewhere else too. As an example the writer mentioned that her son will miss his snow fort in the winter. This can be an opportunity for her, The Carolinas have had a long and torrid history with Pirates, Blackbeard had a main refuge on the NC coast and held Charleston at ransom once, so perhaps she could find some children's books on Pirates in the Carolinas and when they get to SC she could build her son a Pirate fort in the backyard to replace his snow fort. For added dramatic effect plant a palmetto tree next to it as they're readily available at many SC nursuries, this is the state tree of SC, it could provide another leaning opportunity for the kids since its role in the Revolutionary War helped SC to secure victory over England. And of course, when friends and family call to tell her stories of snow storms back home, she can jab that her palm has been doing quite well weathering through the winter.:)

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think she will be find but I don't see why people have to suck up to other people in order to "fit in". I think people in Charlotte need to be more accepting of other people. Charlotte is a city and cities are melting pots. Having manners, etc is something that EVERYONE should have regardless of where you are from.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" adapt to the Southern ways ? "

Are there any still left? I rarely hear the word "please" anymore, and a cheery "you're welcome" in reply has been replaced with a flat "no problem" with the last syllable trailing off into what sounds like "ugh."

I don't see people holding doors for anyone anymore. You can't strike up a conversation with someone because if they're not on their cell phone or punching away at a blackberry, they've got the ear buds to their i-pod plugged into their head.

I may be one of the last people riding CATS who will stand up to offer my seat to a woman on a crowded north-bound 77X in the afternoon.

And when was the last time you saw this transaction: someone gives friendly wave "thank you" because the person behind them in traffic actually backed off to let them easily merge into the lane...instead of speeding up to close the gap...and tapping the bumper of the car in front of them causing an hour delay for the thousands of drivers behind them?

Yeah, I can understand why it's so hard to "adapt to the Southern ways." It's because they're so hard to find.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a resident of Erie County, NY, in upstate NY. I moved here from Charlotte where I lived for over 30 years and let me tell you, the belief that New Yorkers are the rudest people on earth is true. I've met some really nice people here but for the most part they are rude and have absolutely NO MANNERS. I think the lady from the Finger Lakes region will be very happy in Charlotte, as I would be if I could just "go home", but I am in WNY out of neccessity, not because I WANT to be. So to her I say, go South...you will love it! The people are much friendlier, more well mannered and they really CARE about each other. Charlotte is a wonderful place to live and work (I consider Ft Mill a suburb of Charlotte). My daughter and her family lived in Ft Mill for years and left only because his job dictated a move to Tennessee. Good luck with your move and God speed.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Yorkers are REAL. Enough said. You wouldn't understand anyways and that is fine by me.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know where the people who are convinced southern charm is gone... I am surrounded by it on a regular basis. I am always seeing people opening doors for others, and I hear pleases and thank yous all the time. Those that are not of the "southern way" are probably not from here... they are one of the "real" new yorkers I am sure. If real means having an awful attitide, and being seemingly very unhappy... I do not want to understand, you can have your yankees... I do not want them! -Native Charlestonian

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This woman who wrote in from New York is going to fit in very nicely.

I would like to add one more reason to the overflowing list that the south is in some ways better than the north... not to say the north is not better than the south in some ways... I am a young professional man, and I am currently single. Can I just say that the southern women are more beautiful than women anywhere in the country. I have lived all over... California, NYC, Seattle, Florida, Midwest... and the women here have it ALL over the northern women, especially. And the really cool thing is they tend to be sweet and funny on top of it. This is a phenomenon that northern men will never find. The ones I meet also tend to be very intelligent, and I find their southern drawls to be sexy when it is not redneck...
-1 lucky guy

12:10 PM  

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