We are planning to move from upstate NY to somewhere sunnier and warmer, and are considering the Chapel Hill area.
I'd love to learn a little more about the weather there, as my older (mid-seventies) parents will be moving with us and are less adaptable than we are.
How hot & humid are the summers? And how long does that last? Are most homes air conditioned, or are window air conditioners more common? What are the other seasons like?
Thanks so much!
We definitely get the heat and humidity, but central A/C is pretty common, and the heat doesn't usually go that long without a break, and is fairly well contained to the summer months. Also get summer rain and thunderstorms. This summer is apparently near record for number of days hitting 100 (around 10 I think) and last year was the record for number of days in the 90s, but some years are cooler. There are plenty of shady and indoor places to go when it is unpleasant. Last weekend we went for a walk along a river at the hottest part of the day and it wasn't bad. The rest of the year is quite pleasant with lots of sunshine. Winters are mild compared to NY. Occasional ice or snow storm, but also occasionally in the 70s. Most northerners love the winters, and laugh or complain about how everything shuts down for the smallest amount of snow or ice.
Have you considered the mountains of NC/Asheville area? We still have fairly short Winters, beautiful Falls and Springs and, while it still gets hot and humid here, my understanding is that it is less so than Eastern Carolina areas. It's also nice to be able to get up into the moutains quickly on those truly, wickedly hot days. Best of luck to you and your family!
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Julesz, it's pretty darn hot and humid.
All the houses have central AC except a few older ones or in poor sections of town. Most of the older homes have central AC retrofitted. No new home would be built here w/o AC unless it was a green home with some other kind of cooling method. It's been said many times that the invention and wide adoption of AC in the 50s/60s led to the resurgence of the New South.
Many years we don't really have much of a spring (like 60 and 70 degree days) and just have like a week or two of that and then move straight into the 80s and then the 90s. March is very mercurial here. We can have snowstorms or 85 degree days. April starts to warm up more consistently although we can still have cool days and occasional downright cold days. May is pretty consistently in the 80s and toward the end of the month 90s. It will pretty much stay in the 90s through August, cooling down into the 80s in Sept and possibly 70s toward the end of Sept. October is the month of change in the fall with the first part of Oct often being in the 70s, but by the end of Oct it could be really cold, or not. You never know whether to have a warm Halloween costume or something you won't sweat to death in.
Weather.com has good info on averages for different areas. Just plug in the area you're interested in and go to "monthly" from there go to "averages". Here's the info for Chapel Hill. Be sure to click the "high" and "low" buttons, too. You can also compare areas on this page, too. Here's the comparison for Chapel Hill and Ithaca. I would say Chapel Hill looks to average about 10 degrees warmer in the summer, but maybe 20 degrees warmer in the winter.
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Oh, this is great information. Thank you Amia and Beanma for the details and links. (Beanma, you gave a lovely detailed answer on my other post, too. Thanks!!!)
Aquarius Aspiring - where are you thinking of moving from?
Stacy, we checked out Asheville first. We actually visited there in February. There was lots to love about the area, but somehow just didn't feel like a fit. So we're still looking!
Julie, I mentioned in a reply that I spend July in upstate NY (about an hour NE of Ithaca), so I think I can give you a good comparison.
Summer is an entirely different beast down here. Seriously.
Partly, it's just longer in every way. We start getting genuinely hot days sometimes in April, and always in May. June is full-on summer, and plenty hot. And it generally lasts into September in beyond.
One of the other big differences I notice is that in NY, even on the hottest days (like when it was so crazily in the high 90's this summer), it is almost never unpleasant to be outside. There is usually at least some breeze. And the hottest part of the day doesn't last very long--by late afternoon it is always cooling off, and it's pleasant outside. We always chuckle at what our cousins in NY refer to as "hot weather." Around here, it's unusual for it to feel cool at all--it's warm when we wake up and warm when we go to bed. And I often find it oppressively hot and humid during the day.
I came here from Massachusetts, and the summers were really a big adjustment for me. I still don't like the heat, but I appreciate the trade-offs--we have an amazingly long growing season (some things grow year-round, with 6 full frost-free months, compared with more like 4 in NY), and the winters are of course much milder. As someone who grew up in a northern climate, I find February--which is really and truly the beginning of spring--to be amazing and magical.
Mainly, I've just had to adjust my thinking. Down here, it's really SUMMER where we huddle inside away from the elements. Of course, we do a little of that in the winter, but that's generally a pretty short window. Spring and Fall are amazing. (And it doesn't hurt that we escape the heat for a month in the summer.)
And yes, everything is air conditioned. I'd give up a lot of luxuries before giving up my A/C!
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.