We moved to NC a little over a year ago from Syracuse.
Everybody down here has AC. I mean everybody. There's some lower income families who live in a row of small apartments just outside of our subdivision, and each of them have a window air conditioner. All of the malls, businesses, etc have air conditioning. We have our AC on almost all the time over the summer (set at 76- anything lower and I'm too cold) in our 1400 sq ft apartment, and we pay no more than $150 a month during the hottest months for electricity. (Everything in our apartment is electric- fridge, water heater, washer, dryer, and of course the lights.) For comparison, I think we pay about $90 a month in the milder months of the spring and fall when AC isn't necessary.
I don't think the humidity is as bad in NC as it is in NY. Some NC friends, the kids, and I were in NY at the end of July, that weekend right after it was 100 degrees (but still hot the whole weekend). The temperature in NY that weekend felt way hotter than the way its been in NC lately.
We visited Asheville last May, and I personally didn't like it. It was something about the air, maybe too humid. Something... I'm not sure what it was. I started getting all stuffy after being there for not even a full day. We only stayed for the weekend, and it went away within a day or two of going back home (elsewhere in NC).
Winters are a joke. It gets cold, but it rarely snows. Like others said, everything literally shuts down. Everybody runs to the grocery store whenever the weatherman says the s-word. I didn't believe it when people told me that everyone will be buying up milk, eggs, and bread. But lo and behold, this past winter, when a storm came, the milk shelf at the grocery store looked like they were paying people to take it. All of the stores closed too, all by 7 pm, because they did not want their employees driving in this. Everybody closed- Food Lion (grocery store), Harris Teeter (another grocery store), Rite Aid, CVS, Target, even Wal Mart! I personally stayed home because even though *I* know how to drive in a snowstorm, I don't trust the other drivers on the road who have no clue what to do in this stuff. (Seriously... worst drivers ever down here. I'd take NY drivers on the first snow of the year over southern drivers any day. The number of accidents I have seen in broad daylight is just nuts. There is an interstate highway I refuse to drive on in certain times of the day because I'm so terrified. You'll be doing 70 mph, then all of a sudden, everyone ahead of you is stopped. Not just slowed down, but literally all 3 lanes of the highway, everyone is stopped. But don't let traffic deter you from moving south, its just something you get used to.) Anyway, that snow we had this past winter, everything shut down. School was closed for 3 days, and then the kids went back Thursday with a 2 hour delay. I can't remember if Friday was a normal schedule or a 2 hour delay also. You'd expect some massive blizzard where cars were buried in the snow for this. Nope. It was maybe 2 inches of snow. The kind of snow that you'd get overnight in upstate NY, you'd see it in the morning when you wake up, and its all cleared from the roads by the time the kids go to school and everyone leaves for work. They just don't have the plows and the salt trucks like they do up north. Also, it warms up during the day, so the snow melts, and then it freezes overnight when the temperature falls below freezing again. So its even more dangerous to drive on the roads in the days following the snow because its a sheet of ice. But that literally happens once, maybe twice, every winter. And everyone just stays home, cause that's how it is.
Property taxes are significantly lower down here too. We live in one of the most expensive counties in NC, and taxes are a little over 1% of the property's assessed value. Other counties' taxes are about 0.65% of the property value. I have friends who pay $1,000 a year in property taxes on houses worth over $100k in a suburb of a major city down here. Houses cost more down here than in upstate NY, but the monthly payment will be about the same because taxes are so much less. Most of the houses in the suburbs are relatively new, as in, built in the last 20 years (many of which have been built in the last 10 or fewer years). I think that the cost of living is cheaper down here than in upstate NY. I was shocked at how much stuff cost in Tops when I was there last month, especially because everyone says that groceries down here are soooo much more expensive. For comparison, it seems like mainstream grocery products cost more down here, but the stores run better sales than they do in the Syracuse area. And shopping around, you learn who has the best prices on items you buy regularly. I think that stuff at health food stores is pretty comparable to what we were paying up north. But you will miss your Wegmans if you move down.