Thursday, January 11, 2007

Moved to the South and Couldn't Stand It?

I need your input for a book I'm writing, and that's why I decided to start this Blog. Let me explain…

Many young singles, couples and families, as well as many of the 76 million baby boomers approaching retirement age will look to relocate to other parts of the country where they will either boom or bust. "Woe Is We -- a tale of two New Yorkers relocating to the South… and back," is the true story of one boomer's bust.

Written by a New Yorker under the nom de plume Yan Kee, "Woe Is We" debunks the myth that the quality of life is infinitely better in the South where lawns are trimmed daily and trees are planted ever-so-neatly 9.5 feet apart. Unlike the glossy Chamber of Commerce variety of sugar-coated propaganda many people rely on when researching "Best places to live," "How My Retirement Went South" exposes the truth about what lurked behind this contrived beauty through a combination of personal observations and experiences, surprising research revelations, and media tidbits. Also shared in the book are the many hardships we endured and sacrifices we made during our two-year stint in the South -- the cost of listening to other people's opinions, not doing the proper due diligence, and not following our own instincts.

There are over 57 million sites on Google dedicated to helping people find the "Best places to live," more than 11 million dedicated to "Relocating," and over 2 million dedicated to helping people find the "Best places to retire." Since I think every town or city in the entire US has had their 15 minutes of fame on one of these sites, or in some glossy magazine at one time or another, I felt compelled to share my experiences about living in one of these towns that, despite popular opinion, turned out to be not so great.

But why do I need your help, you ask? Well, as it turns out, we met a lot of people along the way who did the same thing we did. They moved to the South, quickly became disenchanted, and moved back to where they came from or somewhere else. Sadly, other people we met got stuck living there because they had no choice but to stick it out even though they hate living there. This book is dedicated to all of those people.

You see, the problem is you only hear about the "Happy Ending" stories. It's like the guy who gambles – he only tells you how much he won, but he never tells you how much he lost, right? The same goes for statistics on the subject of "Returnees" as I call them. Demographers only tend to focus on trending where people are moving to, but don't think about tracking the number of people that move and return to where they came from or somewhere else. And that's a large number to be ignored, believe me.

That's where you come in. Since I've been a computer guy my whole life, I thought I'd harness the power of the web, and try a novel approach to building a chapter for my book. The chapter is entitled "Stories From The Blogoshere," and I plan to populate it with your stories. Think of yourself as a "Guest Author" in my book. Stories must be true and should be no more than one page, or so, in length. You can post your stories on my blog, or you can e-mail them to me offline -- whatever you're more comfortable with. Please be advised that no stories will be published without your written approval. If possible, I’d like you to include your first name and state. If you feel uneasy about that, you can just use your online nickname, or just say “anonymous.” Either way, please include your state. If you’re uncomfortable with any of this, please do not submit a story. Lastly, please refrain from submitting stories about moving back to where you came from because you missed your kids, your brother or sister, or your best friend's wife. While I'm sure they are interesting, they are not within the scope of the book I'm writing.

Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to hearing from you! I know you're out there, and you've been waiting for a chance to spill your guts. This is it! By the way, if you know someone who has had a similar experience, please pass along my invitation to them.



Fran Friel said...

I think this is a brilliant idea for a book. I'm not a "Returnee," but I could be someday, so I hope to read your book and avoid the whole mad cycle.

Good luck with the project. Sounds like a hoot!

Hugs from a YanKee,
Fran Friel

Anonymous said...

I have never "left home". I have friends who have though and most were not happy about it.

Good luck dude,


mary.linder said...

I'm not retired yet, but have family in the south, and think about retiring there... My sister and husmbad did tht, however, and now are back up north after 1.5 years. I'll ask her to comment for your book! Thank you, this is interesting!

Anonymous said...






Anonymous said...

My wife and I spent two years in
Parkland, South Florida.

After four hurricanes we ran back to New York.

There is a tremendous sadness about

Pawn shops and check cashing joints scatter the landscape and the wealthy afraid to venture beyond their gated communities.

My wealthy friends all have guns in their gated communities.

Uncultured, ignorant, illiterate
pickup truck heaven.

The weather gives everyone a false
sense of well being.


Anonymous said...

I knew that when I found myself starting every sentence with "I tell you what!" and heard the twang creeping into my voice, it was time to move back to Massachusetts.

Walter Giersbach said...

It's not all about the South. The Boston area is dreary, provincial, over-crowded, bureaucratic, sclerotic. Well, there are some notable universities, but unless you're a 25-year-old student with hormonal surges, I'd skip this over-rated urban disaster.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have found your site. I relocated from Long Island NY to Charlotte NC..what a mistake...I could go on for hours!!!! I hate it here..bought house in cash in nice neighborhood and followed others here. It took about a year for the new house pink cloud to wear off and all I am left with is a city that I cannot ever get used to...
and now with the bad economy its going to take forever to sell and get out of here. I think what you are doing is good...I never thought I could feel this bad every day...
if you want to know more, write me..I have made a large comment on Sperlings..I feel bad saying this..but cant help it...I wish I never moved...I dont like the south at live and learn.

Anonymous said...

Think Twice! - 7/1/2008

I came here from Long Island NY and bought a beautiful large new home in cash..I felt least for a I am ready to sell the house and move back to NY...heres why..and its just my opinions with some hardcore facts thrown it..
1. Charlotte lacks charm, no community or small town feel..lots of subdivisions.
2. Crime is off the charts everywhere in Charlotte
3. It is too hot in the summer
4. Jobs are scarce..and the great industries here are drying up...merging banks etc.
5. Scarcity of regional beauty and nature.
6. Too far to ocean
7. Roads are bad, no traffic lights, bad traffic
8. No understandable reason why some housing is going up in value in some areas and not in others.
9. Confederates are alive and well
10. Lousy paying jobs..and right to work state..really means fire at will.
11. Charlotte is the first city to want to know how many times you sneeze in one day before they hire you for a job.., fingerprints, background checks that you have to pay for....yet the city cant seem to do a damn thing about crime and cant get enough prosecutions to keep the criminals off the street.
12. Too much unneccessary building at this one is filling the retail space-stop already..and the landlords are charging too much for retail rent..therefore alot of businesses are going out with the first year of startup...not good for the neighborhoods...poor urban greedy!
13. Too many transients..everyone thinks its the promised land..alot of poor and lousy neighborhoods. No one has any family here, except for their own kids..
14. Bad schools

I cant wait to go back to NY...even my tenants who have come from much less high profile cities are not happy here...dont let the low housing prices entice you here without alot of research, and for job transfers..dont buy too quickly, rent and research..lots of research..see if you can actually be happy here before you commit like I did

Jeffery Minnish said...

I am writing in response to Think Twice! posted on 7/1/2008. I can't argue with most of what you have said because I don't know enough about the Charlotte market as I live near Raleigh. But I am dumbfounded by "5. Scarcity of regional beauty and nature." Have you not ventured the hour or a little more by car that it takes to get to the mountains of North Carolina. Some of the most jaw-dropping beauty on the planet, particularly in the fall, is right in your backyard. The mountains are a stunning place of inspiring beauty that has no rival. Just check it out it before you move back to NY if haven't had the time to experience it.

Anonymous said...

Retired parents moved to Myrtle Beach way back in 86, from Long Island. Unfortunately, the boom LI housing market of the 80's and 90's prevented their return.

At the time, the temperament of the area, was very clannish, not at all progressive, in fact, down right backward.

My parents' hearts used to bleed for the children because the school were obviously so behind the times. The kids in many instances, were often stereo types of the old south.

My folks were intelligent, WWII era "Greatest Generation" people, that happened to be of Italian lineage, and experienced a fair amount of prejudice.

There seemed to be an element of fear and unwillingness to move into the future, on the part of the native white southerners.

A very uninspiring, tacky, place, that lacked any sense of pedigree or lineage other than that of the confederate flag.

They ultimately left in 98....Not a place for a person accustomed to the Northeast to live full time...a place, perhaps, to have a second home (small condo maybe), to spent some time during the cold winters of NY....

RS said...

For anyone that reads these relo sites and sites like sperling, etc, you may notice rather quickly that most people that move somewhere new and different, often seem unhappy. I think human nature is such, that we seek some sense of familiarity in our lives, and it may be a mistake to put all our eggs in any of these Xanadu baskets.

For anyone coming from a pricy housing market like the NE, into a less costly like many places in the south, the key may be trading a large expensive home, for 2 modest places in both locations....

I think the idea of now being "here", in a totally new place, completely unfamiliar to us, might be too much pressure for us.

Perhaps just that feeling, that you can return to the old neighborhood if you'd like, is enough to help with the transition...and actually make the new place more agreeable.

Just an opinion....

Elephteria said...

This is great info to know.

rosy said...

I moved here from NY almost 2 years ago. What a disappointment. I can not find a permanent job and I am an accountant with over 18 years experience 14 years at 1 very famous bottling company. I have been working a temp assignment for about the last 9 months. The pay scale is terrible. I understand the cost of living factor seeing that I have also lived in Atlanta & Washington DC. What Charlotte calls CATS system is a joke it only goes on one side of town and has only two cars. Don't let there be an event at Bobcats Arena oops excuse me at the now called Time Warner Arena. The platform is almost as crowed as New York platform during rush hour and they tax everything out here food, cars etc. Do not let the housing market fool you. I almost purchased a house before I got here thank god I did not. I can not save up enough money fast enough to get out of here.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible idea! I could seriously give you an entire chapter. I moved from Long Island to Florida, left a successful business to get married and start a family. Florida was terrible for young adults to start a business and family...after my divorce in 06 I moved to Charlotte...WHAT A BIGGER MISTAKE! Ny'ers are judged here..cant get work...I am 6 foot 1 and a body builder type and I get looked at like Im a lepper..NO JOKE...cant get calls back on a Flawless Resume'...why..cause Im a Yankee!! I say hi to people and the second my northern accent comes out...their attitude changes..Need to go back up North and start a new life..This one here is the pits..

This is only the tip of the iceberg!


I was transferred to Charlotte, NC two years ago from my wonderful borough of the Bronx in NYC. I am a native NYer who has lived in all of the boroughs of NY, White Plains and Mount Vernon. I feel like an alien in Charlotte. I am uncomfortable with the insincerity of the people (everyone smiles but you hear them talking about "them **** Yankees" behind your back). The crime of OFF THE WALL!!! There are so many teenagers dying from being shot here it is incredible. My 16 year old daughter has lost 5 friends to gunshot deaths or suicide in the past two years. When I was at home in NYC I complained about our school system. It is so true that you don't know what you have until its gone. Our schools in NYC are excellent, at least our children are learning something at home. Here my kids are doing worksheets in Algrebra 2 and watching movies when the assignments are over. In no way does this prepare them for college. I don't understand how the goverment here plans to deal with the 1000+ people that move here, the NASCAR museum, the North Carolina Research Center (said to be the biotechology mecca of the country in 2009) but the crime rate is crazy and scary, the poor schools (the state wants to close 4 poor performing high schools) and the lack of culture or identity (unless its a confederate flag). True I have a big beautiful house - one that I would not be able to get anywhere in NY (our surrounding areas) for the price, my property taxes are low and its sunny most of the time, but I have learned a valuable lesson while living here. Being close to your family and friends, living in an area that you can identify and claim, and feeling like you belong is worth so much more than a 2500 sq ft house, a 10 minute commute and favorable weather. My kids are 15 and 16 years old I can't let them go anywhere in Charlotte for fear that they will be a victim of gang or violent crime. If I have to be afraid for our safety I might as well be home with my family. I just don't see the benefit of living here anymore.

Charlotte, NC

Yan Kee said...

Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. Maybe people will begin to see that the grass on the manicured lawns in North Carolina isn't greener after all.

You'll be interested to know that I was born and raised in the Bronx myself, and lived about three blocks from Mt. Vernon on 239th Street. I also attended public schools in the Bronx to which I credit my success in becoming a Managing Director at a major international financial services company in NYC.

It's interesting that Southerners have preconceived notions about NYC through television and film, but don't know what's going on in their own backyards. When we lived in Charlotte, I often asked locals what they thought of the crime scene there. Most of them answered "What crime?" It seems like “What happens in Charlotte stays in Charlotte,” doesn't it?

In the fall of 2006, the results of the 13th Annual Safest City Award were announced by Morgan Quitno Press, a Lawrence, Kansas-based publishing and research company in their latest edition of City Crime Rankings, an annual reference book of crime statistics and rankings. The award is based on a city’s rate for six basic crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. It may surprise people to learn that in the category of cities with populations over 500,000, New York ranked fourth "SAFEST" while Charlotte ranked eight "MOST DANGEROUS." Mmm...

I'm glad you mentioned the gang problem in North Carolina NYMOMINNC because it's as real as you say. In a feature article in the New York Times, Patrick L. McCrory, Mayor of Charlotte, was quoted as saying “This is organized crime, and just like we had specific laws to target organized crime in trying to break up the mafia, we need laws to break up the gangs.” It’s more than just selling drugs and participating in violence. These are coordinated and strategic acts within a structure, and you have to go after that structure.” The article went on to say “In Charlotte, the state’s most populous and violent city, the police already take a hard-line approach to gang crime, and there have been complaints of racial profiling.” Sounds like the Mayor has his hands full down there, doesn’t it? The gang problem isn’t confined to Charlotte either; it’s also a problem in Salisbury and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Well NYMOMINNC, if these stats don't give people second thoughts about relocating down there, then they must be the same kind of people who buys a condo on the water in Florida after it’s been devastated by three successive hurricanes.

Hope to see you back in New York soon NYMOMINNC, -- you're ALWAYS welcome here! By everyone! Then you can change your ID back to NYMOM4EVER!

Thanks again,
Yan Kee

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I have many bad experiences I can add to your book..Came here with such a positive attitude..Moved from Long Island, NY to Florida and then finally to South Charlotte
Don't want to leave my townhome...
Never experienced such negativity and judgement...I get looks and whispers behind my back...I feel I am a nice person...Sophisicated and laid back in nature...But when I speak..The reactions are all negative...I am getting defensive and don't what to become like that..I have to get out of here for my sanity...Who cares about the beauty...When there is so much
anomosity towards us...

Anonymous said...

I have to say...I have lived in mnay cities in many states and this by far is the worst place I have ever lived. I cannot wait to move back to NY...where the people are genuine & the job salaries are not jokes. I thought the Civil War was over...just wait to I see some of these phony southerners in my Town...enough said!

Anonymous said...

I moved here from LI & it has been some experience to say the least. The schools although are rated a "10" they stink! Big, pretty house- nothing else. The southerners think who they are- I was actually giving the middle finger while driving when I first came down with my NY plates.
Stay where you are- avoid the Charlotte Experiement at all cost! I"m going back, my house sold- thank Goddness! Jerzee bound.

rosy said...

I already left I am back In NY YA!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosy, very happy for you....
You broke out of jail!!!!!

andrea said...

OMG...I am telling you that these bloggers are telling the TRUTH. I have an impeccable resume. I can't seem to land a tutoring job let alone a teaching job in Atlanta Metro because of my predominately white top education schools that I went to and also because I am from up North. I moved to Georgia almost almost 2 years ago after living in 4 other states that for the most part I did extremely well in my profession. I can send my resume right now up north and get several job offers, but not in Atlanta or the metro areas and here's why:
1. I am a Black female and Black women here harbor self hate so they hate you if you are attractive, educated and A YANKEE. As I have been often called.
2. Black folks have a crab in the bucket attitude. They don't want to hire the best because they are intimidated.
3. The historically Black Schools in the south are jokes, just party schools. I have come in contact with graduates and worked with them. Education is no where near the level of schools up north.
4. Georgia is ranked number 48 in education out of the 50 states and is not doing anything to improve upon it.
5. Home school population is growing by leaps and bounds.
6. The Blacks from Georgia and that have never left are truly sad. They still have the slavery mentality.
7. No unions. Unions set precedence, accountability and livable wages. you can get terminated for ANY reason with no recourse. There is no one there to fight for you.
8. People are more interested in image THAN RAISING THEIR CHILDREN. WTH.
8. I have met so many northerners on their way back or stuck and miserable.
9. it is no where near diverse. The middle class Blacks are just as ghetto as inner city Blacks from up North. Not to say that all inner city Blacks are ghetto, but I have lived in middle class diverse areas and have NEVER seem Blacks with so low expectations, no morals.
10. Don't talk about the pimp church scene and the lack of transportation opportunities so that communities won't be mixed.

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Kel said...

Came across this when I was googled "why are there so many shootings in charlotte nc"