Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

60 Things About Life in Lake Norman That You Should Know: Part 1

Lake Norman Waterview

 If you are contemplating a move to our Lake Norman area you most likely have gone to the Chamber of Commerce websites and already know about our great weather, proximity to Charlotte, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the beaches.  But what is it REALLY like living here?  Here is my list of things that I found most interesting after I moved here from California in 2005:

  • Trees, Trees and More Trees:  There are so many beautiful, tall trees, even along the Interstate that it is easy to loose your sense of direction.  From hardwood trees like Maples to towering Oaks and Pines to numerous varieties of blossoming fruit trees (like the Dogwoods above), we are surrounded by trees.  It is incredibly beautiful but you might want to have a compass handy as it is easy to get disoriented at first!
  • Wave!  Everyone waves at you here.  If you are driving in neighborhoods people in their yards or walking their dogs will wave at you.  Smiles and waves are a part of daily life.  It didn’t take long for it to become a habit for me too!
  • Imagine getting ready to get in the checkout line at a grocery store and having no lines or better yet have the sales clerk walk out to you to grab your cart!  Friendly customer service is a priority and a part of life here.  This is especially evident to me at grocery stores, banks and when I go to our local Lowe’s Home Improvement.  There are always plenty of knowledgeable sales people who go out of their way to help.
  • Stars at night:  If you live out on the lake and away from the center of town, you will be treated each clear night with myriad stars sparkling in the sky.

  • Peace and Quiet:  No matter where you are, you are never very far from almost complete serenity.  Even though I live off of Brawley School Road, once I am home I rarely ever hear a car go by.
  • Sounds of the lake:  Unless you live on the main channel, in the boating months you most likely will have just the occasional sounds of a boat going by or the screams of delight of children water skiing or riding in one of the amazing variety of tubes and clever things pulled by boats.
  • Birds:  If you put out a bird feeder or two you will be treated with a constant variety of visitors from bright red Cardinals (our state bird), to Blue Birds, Golden Finches, Wrens, Chickadees, Woodpeckers and many more who come and go all year round. Don’t forget to put sugar water out for the hummingbirds as well. I highly recommend you get a Southeastern US guide to birds!  (Also, visit Wildbirds Unlimited in Huntersville).
  • Sounds of nature:  If you are lucky enough to have tall trees, the sounds of birds singing and chirping will be in the background most of the day.  On a windy day the pine trees and other tall tree make a wonderful rustling sound.  During the summer we add in the crickets, cicada’s and the cute little tree frogs croaking as well.
  • Chances are you will pass a farm, produce stands, goats and beautiful glimpses of the lake on your way to the market or the Interstate.  We still have many wonderful reminders of the days before Lake Norman was created and became so popular.  You don’t have to go very far to find the beautiful farming country in addition to the few still lingering around the lake area.
  • Polite Drivers:  Now some people may not fit in this category, but I can tell you that the majority of drivers will let cars merge in front of them and even stop to let a car from a side street get on to the main road.  I rarely hear horns.  When in doubt, be polite.  I left my road rage in Los Angeles!

  • Parks and natural areas are a priority.  Many housing communities are designed to maintain what we call “natural areas” where the native, mature trees that were once part of a forest still remain.  We have lots of green space and many parks from small neighborhood parks to the 1300 acre Lake Norman State Park.  
  • Sports are an important part of life here in Lake Norman just as they are in the entire Charlotte area.  You will find that our local TV stations and newspapers will cover high school football and basketball on their prime-time news.  Our schools have highly competitive sports teams of just about every type you would find anywhere.  Of course, during the Sweet 16 basketball tournaments most everyone keeps track or watches the games.  UNC (Charlotte) was crowned the US Champions again this year but there are always a number of North Carolina Colleges in the competition including our small town favorite of Davidson College who made it to the final 8 last year. And, you can’t forget we are the auto racing center of the country as well!  See my Lake Norman Sports Resource Guide for a comprehensive list.
  • Recreation is an important part of daily life here from boating on the lake to walking, cycling, hiking and mountain biking. Lake Norman is large enough to accommodate the fastest “cigarette boats” and large sail boats but also has many small coves that are perfect for canoes, rowing, paddle boarding and kayaking. Water skiing, wakeboarding, wind surfing,…you name the water sport and we probably have it!

  • Vegetable gardens are a common site, especially in neighborhoods outside of the major subdivisions.  The neighborly thing to do is share when you harvest.  My neighbors even offer bulbs and plants when they are dividing them up.  A little sign of the country and the old ways which I love.
  • Variety of people:  About 70% of those of us lucky enough to live around Lake Norman are “transplants” from other states.  Everywhere you go you will hear a great variety of accents.  Even the Southern accents vary tremendously depending on where they are from originally and how long they have lived here.
  • Yellow pine pollen in April. One day in April you will suddenly notice what first looks like a layer of dust on cars and outdoor furniture. Pretty soon it will be apparent that there is a light layer of sticky, yellow pine pollen everywhere!  It doesn’t last but a month or so but I highly recommend you close your windows during this time.

  • Japanese Beetles.  Usually towards the end of May you will start to see an iridescent flying bug sitting on your rose bushes, crepe myrtles and other tender flowering plant.  Within a week they will become a force to reckoned with, particularly if you have young plants.  They eat the plants and flowers leaving just the lacy veins.  Do not get the bags that are meant to capture them as they actually attract more to your garden.  Several bug sprays are popular but we find hand picking them off of our plants to be more environmentally friendly along with an application of a systemic on the vulnerable plants in March.
  • Casual life style and clothing is the way of Lake Norman.  While you can find occasions to dress up, generally life is pretty casual and we all dress accordingly.  Shorts and sandals are fine just about everywhere in the warmer months.  It’s a bit like living at the beach or on vacation.
  • Tanning salons seem to be in every strip mall.  Having spent too much time on the sunny beaches of California I am now a regular at my dermatologist due to minor skin cancer so while many here still believe in having a deep tan, some of us use SPF 45!
  • No matter what type of shopping you are looking for, we probably have it nearby.  We have upscale boutiques and malls, all of the major Big Box stores and chains as well as Outlet Malls,  the Metrolina swap meets and antique events.  Our grocery stores range from Harris Teeter, Fresh Foods, Whole Foods (New!), and Trader Joe’s to the mega stores like Wal-Mart, Super Target, Sam’s Club and B.J.’s.
  • As I have written about before, those of us from other states have brought our favorite foods with us!  From New York style Italian to Five Guys awesome hamburgers and fries to upscale restaurants featuring a huge variety of foods, there is little you won’t find here in the way of food.  Having fresh produce stands so nearby as well as farmers markets means we have wonderful, locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods, honey, pickled green tomatoes and seasonal plants.

  • Porches:  For those lucky enough to have a “rocking chair front porch” as they are called here, there is nothing more relaxing then soaking up the peace and quiet, enjoying your morning coffee or evening glass of wine and greeting those who happen to walk by.  Screened porches are GREAT for the back side of your home too.
  • Take time to talk to workers…fence installers, pest control, tree trimmers, plumbers.  Whether you are having a fence installed, trees trimmed or a plumbing leak fixed, especially if the service person  has a Southern accent, you will find a friendly conversation to be an important part of the service.  Things are more personal here.  Enjoy slowing down a bit and chatting with folks!
  • People are nice, polite, talk while waiting in line, friendly.  I think we all adopt the Southern hospitality and culture a bit after moving here.  People are more likely to chat with you while waiting in line at Starbucks or just about anywhere if you welcome them.
  • Stop for pedestrians at the market:  If you even put one step towards your car after leaving the market most cars will stop and wave you on.  Just as when driving, there is a politeness that extends way beyond what is experienced in many areas of our country!
  • 4 seasons:  Yes, we do have 4 distinct seasons but all are mild.  Trees have usually finished loosing their leaves by Thanksgiving and by mid April everything is almost completely leafed back out.  Our hottest months are July and August.  We get about one real snowfall (snow sticks to the ground) each winter and a few hail or ice storms mixed in here and there.  We have afternoon thunder and lightning during the warmer months but they are very sporadic. You can be driving along and run into a heavy rain and be back out in the sunshine 10 miles later.  Because we are so far inland, hurricanes generally bring tropical rains but little else.

So, these are the first 26…Look for Part 2 soon!

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13 thoughts on “60 Things About Life in Lake Norman That You Should Know: Part 1

  1. Yes,
    Communities have sprung up on every side of the lake. Eastside lakefront properties buzz with the incoming traffic from Charlotte and present all the luxuries of a large city without over crowding and pollution. These communities blend a connection to Charlotte effortlessly into a different pace of life on the lake.

    Various communities put forward a mixture of lake living. Some will treat their homeowners to membership in the local Yacht Club’s marina while others may chose to focus on the neighborhood clubhouse as a fulcrum for the community. Boat slips and docks in nearly in every Lake Norman Lakefront Homes community and it shows, that no matter the preferred style of living, all homes in the area focus their attention on the lake.

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