Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

60 Things About Life in Lake Norman that the Tour Guides Won’t Tell You: Part 4

Lake Norman after a Snow Fall

 There is so much about life in my wonderful Lake Norman community that one can only learn after living here.  If you have been following this series you will now know that you need to carry a compass with you because there are so many trees it is very hard to get a true sense of direction, that roads will change names when you least expect it and how to pronounce some names that aren’t quite what you expect.  Here is the last of my series:

  • Out Buildings: When I first started looking for homes here I keep reading about outbuildings and I had no idea what they actually were.  Well, they are simply detached sheds, workshops and garden shops.  Most of us have one because we need somewhere to keep our John Deere mowers!
  • If ice or snow is predicted, everything shuts down!  Folks from cold climates truly laugh their first winter here as they observe not just schools but the entire Charlotte area shut down if we have even an inch or two of snow or a threat of ice storms or even ice on the roads forming overnight.
  • Walk out basements versus traditional basements:  It you are from the north where basements come with every home, you will be surprised to know that most all of our homes do not have basements. However, if the lot is slopped enough, we have walk-out basements that are extremely popular especially if they walk out to the lake.  In place of basements, most of our newer homes have a large bonus room on the second or third floor of the home.
  • Hardwood trees are good and Pine trees can be evil:  This may seem harsh, but I learned this from my tree guy who is a native.  It turns out that pine trees have small root-balls so they tend to be the trees that blow over in storms.  Since learning this I have observed it myself.  We have had two trees fall on power lines at different times on our street and in both cases they were pine trees on forested lots.
  • Pine straw mulch is a cure-all:  I had never seen pine straw mulch until moving here which is why I even bother to mention it.  I have since found out that most serious gardeners include a twice annual ritual of spreading bales of pine straw under and around their trees, shrubs and flowers.  It is used extensively commercially because it tends to make everything look very fresh and neat.
  • Siding:  We have all of the common types of siding here.  Brick is the most popular because of the low-maintenance but it is also one of more expensive options.  Other types of siding include stones of all kinds, cedar, cement fiber, logs (as in log cabins) hard-coat stucco and various thicknesses and textures of vinyl.  Some folks are still a bit nervous about stucco because of the synthetic stucco problems years ago but there are great stucco experts that can test it for moisture issues.
  • Inspection issues: moisture, crawl spaces, caulking:  Moisture related problems are the most common found on home inspections here.  From crawl spaces with inadequate drainage or moisture barriers, to lack of caulking at windows to rot damage to door jambs.  Also, look for broken seals in double-paned windows…there will be moisture in between the exterior and interior layers of glass.
  • Barbecue, especially churches and clubs:  I wrote an entire article about North Carolina Barbecue but I just wanted to mention how much barbecue is a part of life here.  Churches, civic organizations, fire departments and schools are known for their great barbecue fundraisers.  Just look for home-made signs at street corners or in the local newspapers.  Pulled pork is the best!

Lake Norman Festival 2009

  • Festivals!  It you want to experience the true, small-town and southern culture, you need go no further than your local town festivals.  The Lake Norman Festival (Now called Race City Festival) is held every May in Mooresville.  Davidson has a wonderful 3-evening Christmas Festival and you will find many around the Lake area on July 4th.  What they all have in common is decadent food (funnel cakes, giant turkey legs, fresh lemonade, barbecue, Kettle Corn), arts and crafts, music and entertainment.
  • Art, Gallery Crawls:  I had no idea how art is ingrained in the culture here.  Whether you are interested in Museum quality, contemporary or traditional, paintings, pottery, wood turning, sculptures and photography, you will find it all right here.  Downtown Mooresville has monthly “gallery crawls” and exhibits at the local Artist Guild.  Davidson has wonderful concerts, plays and performances on and off campus plus some exceptional art galleries and stores.  There are concerts ON the lake as well as movies you can watch from your boat.  Then there is always the Mint Museum, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and such in Charlotte.
  • No Smoking laws!  Now this truly is a sign of the times as North Carolina recently passed a law forbidding smoking in bars and restaurants.  It is great news for us non-smokers but actually over the past few years most establishments have banned smoking on their own.  With towns like Winston-Salem it truly is a big deal to be able to see this law passed. 
  • Take the time to get to know the locals…we have invaded them.  Most people estimate that 75% of the current residents are what are termed “transplants”.  We have come from all over the country to enjoy life here.  Many folks around the lake never take the time to get to know the old-timers and locals which is truly a shame.  I have met so many wonderful, native residents who have shared what it was like watching the lake fill up in the 1960’s and their sleepy cotton and tobacco towns scattered along the railroad increase in population ten-fold since the completion of the I-77.
  • Yur Fine!  This is one of my very favorite responses you will get from our true Southerners to any kind of apology.  Example:  “I’m so sorry!”   “Oh, yur fine” they respond with a smile!

Y'all Come Back Lake Norman's Catawba queen 

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

 60 Things You Should Know About Life in Lake Norman Part 2

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Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

60 Things about Life in Lake Norman that you won’t find in a Tour Guide! Part 3

Boatslips at The Peninsula Yacht Club in Cornelius

 If you missed Part 1 and 2 of this series, then you don’t know how to pronounce Appalachian properly, or that you shouldn’t be surprised to have complete strangers wave at you as you drive by most any Lake Norman neighborhood or why you need to merge quickly onto our Interstates.  Here is Part 3: 

  • Boatslips are scarce on Lake Norman, so try to get one with your house!  This is one thing I wish my Realtor has told us when we purchase our home here on Lake Norman.  Duke Energy oversees the lake and they are making  boatslip and dock regulations more restrictive.  If you plan on having a boat, try to buy a home with a deeded boatslip if you aren’t buying a waterfront home.  There are few public marinas and from what I understand no more permits for multiple dock marinas are going to be allowed in all of Lake Norman. 
  • Green is coming:  When it comes to the environment, we tend to follow other states and are a bit behind, with the exception of areas like Asheville.  Our local towns don’t have curbside recycling but there are several private companies that offer it. (We now have curbside recycling! 2014).  As a member of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association’s Green Council I can attest to the fact that more and more home builders are incorporating energy efficiency and high-performance materials into their new homes.
  •  Round Bale of Hay in North Carolina Round bales of hay, not square!  You don’t have to drive far to see bales of hay spread across a field, especially in the fall.  In fact, we had some until recently on Brawley School Rd.  What I love is that they are all round as in this photo rather than the square bales I used to see in CA.
  • Canoeing during the day and Bobcats at night:  Recreational, amateur and professional sports are a huge part of life here.  I had no idea Charlotte had all of the major professional sports including hockey until I moved here.  Golf courses are dotted throughout the Lake Norman area.  Basketball, especially the college playoffs, is hugely popular.  Go UNC!
  • Very little access to swimming unless you have a boat:  At the time of this article, we only have one public swimming area on the entire Lake Norman shoreline and that is at the Lake Norman State Park.  However, Mecklenburg County is considering approval of several that will be adjacent to public boat ramps in Cornelius.

1957 Chevy in Paint Booth

  •  Cars, cars, cars:  Cruise-ins, shows, racing:  While Lake Norman may be a Mecca for pilots, it most definitely is THE Mecca for all things on wheels.  From NASCAR, to drag racing, Charlotte/Lake Norman is home to approximately 80% of the auto racing industry.  Along with that come the car collectors and enthusiasts…I’m married to one!  If you want, you could probably find a cruise-in or gathering of car collectors almost every night of the week during the summer.  Plus, we have the big shows like Good Guys as well.  So, if you are a car nut, put Mooresville at the top of your list!  (Photo is my husband’s latest custom hot rod)
  • Wine is  local and international:  Full disclosure, my parents had a vineyard in Napa Valley for 25 years.  Yet, despite my exposure to the wine world I had no idea that North Carolina has quite a number of local wineries.  There is even a new one in Troutman right here in Lake Norman.  For those that have not acquired a taste for our state wines which can be a bit sweet, we have a number of wine shops (Total Wine), groups and tastings in the area on a regular basis.  We also have our own local breweries and craft beer makers in growing numbers.  (Yes, and thanks to Trader Joe’s we also have two-buck Chuck!)
  • Lake Norman folks are usually really tan, especially the longtime lake residents:  To get the idea, just visit the local lake hangout Vinnie’s where you will find the waitresses with deep tans as well as many of the patrons.

Red Clay at construction along Brawley School Rd

  •  Red clay:  Our natural soil here is a deep red clay.  If you buy a home with a mature garden you may not even see it but if you have a good rain, don’t be surprised if you track some red footprints into the house.  If not amended with mulch, our red clay becomes rock hard when it is dry.  If you have any planting to do, I would plan it for after a good rainfall.
  • Cycling is not so great on our roads but is improving:  My husband has been a serious cyclist for most of his life and even he finds the roads here too narrow for safe cycling.  Most of our roads have absolutely no shoulders and with just one lane in each direction can be quite challenging for cycling.  However, the widening of Brawley School Road includes bike lanes and there is a group that is working hard to get a cycling path built that will completely surround Lake Norman.  Until then,  Lake Norman State Park, Jetton State Park and The Point in Mooresville and The Peninsula in Cornelius are good options.

Stay tuned for the finale, Part 4!

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60 Things About Life in Lake Norman Part 2

60 Things About Life in Lake Norman Part 4

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Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

60 Things About Life in Lake Norman You Won’t Find in a Tour Guide: Part 2

Early morning on a North Carolina Beach PICT0002

A while back I wrote part one of this series about life in Lake Norman 60 Things about Life in Lake Norman Part 1.  Most of the 60 things on this list are not information you will find in any tour guide or Chamber of Commerce website but I thought it would be fun to share some of the interesting and quirky things  I have discovered/observed since moving here in 2005:

  •  Road names changes:  This is a biggy…Don’t be surprised if the road you are on changes names or if you come to an intersection and find that the right side of the street has one name and the left has an entirely different name.  Always look at both signs when trying to find the name.
  • Lake Norman is about 4.5 hours from the beautiful Atlantic coastline:  The beach is probably the number one vacation destination of local residents many of whom have second homes in Wilmington or Myrtle Beach. Compared to the beaches of Southern California, they are clean, have lots of shells and the water in the summer is really warm!  They can be a bit humid in the summer but are incredibly beautiful all year round.
  • Merging lanes are very short!  The merging lanes on the I-77 and other state highways have a way of disappearing VERY quickly. Don’t expect to have a lot of time to move over when exiting or entering a highway!

Geese crossing the road is typical in Lake Norman

  • Ducks and Geese are quite at home here along with deer, squirrels, raccoons and myriad birds.  But watch out, I have seen a family of geese walking across Williamson Road stopping traffic in both directions!
  • Raft ups is a local term used for boat parties on Lake Norman when two or more boats are tied together.  As I wrote recently, I do believe Lake Norman holds the worlds record for the number of boats tied together at one time!
  • Variety of lifestyles: You can be yourself and simply find others who share your interests.  Casual, formal, conservative, liberal, churches of every kind, party goers, homebodies, those that want to escape and those that want to be surrounded by a community of friends, farm country or city, historic or modern, southern or Yankee, natural or commercial, cutting edge or old fashioned; ee have it all either on the Lake or in the surrounding communities.

John Deere's Line up in front of Lowe's

  • Most folks mow their own lawns with riding mowers .  While this might not be the case in The Point or the more exclusive communities, for the most part you will see husbands and/or wives out mowing their own lawns.  In fact, a John Deere mower was our very first purchase.  My husband actually finds it relaxing.  I have tried it and it really was fun but it seems he doesn’t like to share!
  • People move here because they want to, not because they have to!  I work with a lot of relocating buyers and the most common question I get asked by my friends is why are they all moving to Lake Norman?  While each client’s story is unique, with a few exceptions, all of my buyers are moving or have moved here because they want to live here.  They have done their research and whether it is the lake, the weather, the proximity to so much, most every one has purposely picked Lake Norman as THE place that they want to live….from young couples to families looking for good schools to retirees.

Magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright style Estate on Long Island Airport Lake NormanP1020956

  • Lake Norman Air Parks x 2:  Yes, we have not one but TWO small airparks on Lake Norman, one on the west side and one on the east side.  I am finding that we are a mecca for pilots of all kinds!  This home overlooking the grass runway at Long Island AirPark is one of my very favorites because of it’s Frank Lloyd Wright feel.
  • If you want to fit in, you need to know how to pronounce some very important local names: 

                    Jetton  (As in the street in Cornelius)  Je-t- ON;

                    Iredell:   Eye-er-dell; 

                   Rowan:  Row-Ann 

Appalachian: App (sounds like apple)- a- latch-a.  (the most mispronounced word throughout the US!)


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60 Things You Should Know about Life in Lake Norman, Part 3

60 Things You Should Know About Life in Lake Norman Part 4

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