20 Surprising Things You Might Not Expect When Moving To North Carolina

Between going out of state for college and recently returning from two months in Europe, all I have to say is culture shock is very, very real. While each state provides it’s own unique culture…North Carolina has a handful. For new residents, or recently returned natives like myself, here are twenty things that might surprise you about the Tar Heel state.

1. We’re really THAT nice

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You might find yourself wondering if you’re part of some weird social experiment…or if everyone is just being really nice to you because they know you’re not a local. It’s hard to believe a group of people can really be this nice…but our southern hospitality and southern roots lead us to be a pretty good bunch.

2. Gravy on everything

It’s not just our biscuits that get a helpful serving of gravy. We put it on mashed potatoes, chicken, country friend steak, anything that looks a bit ‘thirsty’ will likely be topped with gravy.

3. Amazing fast food

While most people have their qualms about ‘food that comes out of a window,’ North Carolina has some pretty amazing fast food restaurants. From Bojangles to Cookout…you’ll never feel the need to stop by those golden arches again.

4. Really delicious food in relatively abandoned/questionable buildings

North Carolina has perfected the art of a ‘joint.’ You’ll find some of the best food in the state in these little buildings.

5. We don’t just disagree about basketball

While the infamous NC/Duke rivalry is commonly what one thinks of when they think ‘NC Beef’ you’ll be surprised to find there is a whole other war brewing in the Tar Heel State. That disagreement is of course over barbecue. With two distinct styles dominating the state (Eastern and Lexington) each native has their own preferred sauce, and cut of pork…and is very passionate about it.

6. There’s no BS’in round these parts

With a state motto of ‘to be rather than to seem’ North Carolinians will always keep it real…even with you.

7. And on the other end of that one…you might get a disguised insult

While North Carolinians do keep it real…we also prefer to ‘disguise’ our insults with a subtle ‘bless your heart.’ Beware of the bless your hearts….

8. All four seasons…in one week

While many flock to North Carolina for it’s beautiful weather and four seasons in full force, you’ll be surprised that during the ‘transitional’ months like October and March you can have 70 degrees on Monday and snow on Thursday.

9. Things move a bit slower

You might find yourself in a big city like Raleigh or Charlotte…but you’ll still be surprised at the laid back lifestyle instilled in even the most busy city folks. While we prefer to work hard and play hard, we also reserve ample amount of time for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery and company.

10. Allegiance to soft drinks

You’re sure to find natives drinking a handful of soft drinks. Yet, we prefer to keep our allegiance to Cheerwine and Pepsi, which were invented in the Tar Heel State. North Carolinians also have a weird fascination with Sun Drop, in which some natives claim it just tastes better here.

11. Livermush


It’s likely you’ll find yourself in contact with this strange meat-combo of pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal. Try it once to say you’ve tried it…that’s all you’ll need.

12. Our own vocabulary

Half of the time it might sound like we are speaking a different language. Well, we somewhat are. It’s called ‘North Carolinian’ but luckily I made a helpful guide for this ‘language’ right here.

13. Beautiful small towns

While some small towns in the south are so decrepit and abandoned they look like the perfect setting for Wrong Turn 2, North Carolina takes pride in its small towns. From the mountains to the Outer Banks, you’ll find dozens of beautiful, picturesque small towns that look straight out of a movie set.

14. Manners

Unlike our neighbors to the north, if we bump into you on the street we’re sure to say excuse me. You also might find it strange the first time you get called mister or ma’am..but eventually you’ll get used to it.

15. Reasonable cost of living

You’ll be amazed at what you can get in North Carolina. Between beautiful views, lush greenery, friendly neighbors, and amazing city life…you’ll feel like you’re somehow cheating the system living for a reasonable price in North Carolina.

16. Art…everywhere

North Carolina is known has a very artistic state. Yet, once you arrive here you’ll be amazed at just how artistic the state really is. Murals are everywhere, quaint bookstores, galleries, amazing live music, I could go on and on.

17. Immense diversity

You’ll meet every kind of person in North Carolina. From the hippies of Asheville, the fisherman of the Outer Banks, the finance dudes of Charlotte, and the down-home southerners of the small towns. You’ll be amazed at the vast array of personalities that call North Carolina home.

18. Endless activities

From outdoor recreation, to catching a concert on a warm summer night. North Carolina is filled with activities to keep your calendar booked.

19. A festival for everything

From white squirrels, to apples, to livermush, to holidays….’Festivals’ in the Tar Heel State are extremely popular. Here is a list of ten to check out.

20. Never wanting to leave

You might have grown up in another state, but soon enough North Carolina will make it’s way into your heart and you’ll find yourself never wanting to leave.

What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments!