Despite what my voting record indicates, I’ve spent nearly all of my 10 years as a Charlottean in South Charlotte.
I went to Queens University in Myers Park for college, then moved into an apartment in SouthPark for three years after graduation.
But out of all the South Charlotte neighborhoods I’ve lived in, Ballantyne was by far the southernmost.
Ah, Ballantyne, where Harris Teeters are stuffed more tightly near each other than Expeditions in one of the many shopping center parking lots.
Where they have the decency to disguise hideous cell phone towers as mutantly tall pine trees.
Where the Uber fare is always tripled during weekend brunch hours, because the kids are at your in-laws and it’s time to booze up.
Beautiful, beautiful Ballantyne. I could not wait to leave you.
I’m a punk rock kid at heart. I wanted to be in the edgier parts of the city.
One year ago, I finally was able to move to Plaza Midwood.
This is the neighborhood I’ve wanted to be in since my first semester of college, when my buddy Josiah took me to the back alley of Common Market, gave me my first American Spirit, and we listened to a band called Wavves for the first time who I’d go on to love.
Yes, I’m finally here.
But after a full year in Plaza, I’m realizing maybe things aren’t always how you envisioned them as a teenager.
American Spirits are actually kind of gross, Wavves should be spelled with one ‘V’, and I actually miss a lot of things about living in Ballantyne.
Here are the 8 things I miss about Ballantyne.
(1) Way less crowded bars.
Mom and dad on date night are a lot more polite than former lax bros fighting over cheap liquor.
It seems like 40% of any nightlife activity in Charlotte involves squeezing through tons of people.
We’re in the middle of a flu epidemic, people.
I miss maintaining my personal space in Ballantyne at Duckworth’s, Brazwell’s, or Hickory Tavern, getting the same great atmosphere that you’d find on Montford or in Midtown, in a much more low key atmosphere.
(2) Easy access to Carolina Place mall.
Concord Mills is tough to navigate and SouthPark mall is a bit out of my price range, as I haven’t yet hit the lottery.
Carolina Place has a great mix of stores and a simple layout, making it perfect for wandering around on a Saturday afternoon.
(3) Nobody ever asks to crash on my couch.
Not once when I lived in Ballantyne did anyone ever ask to crash on my couch after a night of drinking, mostly because my friends never wanted to drive all the way out there in the first place.
(4) Ballantyne is so, so much quieter.
Whether it’s motorcycles screaming down I-74 or groups of girls in heels stomping through the breezeway of my complex after a night out, Plaza Midwood is a lot louder than Ballantyne.
I love a good hootenanny as much as any millennial, but the older I get, the more I’ve learned to love silence.
(5) Ballantyne has shopping centers galore.
From The Arboretum to the Promenade to Stonecrest to Blakeney, the shopping centers of Ballantyne ensured that I would never be more than 2 miles away from literally anything I could ever need.
Who could hate groceries, dining, date nights, and shopping all in one place?
(6) Living in Ballantyne provides an easy excuse to avoid social outings.
“Sorry, my gas is low.”
“Sorry, the Uber ride is too expensive.”
“Sorry, that’s a long drive back that late and I’ve got to be at work early.”
Score! No socializing tonight. Pants off, Netflix on.
(7) Plentiful chain restaurants.
I’ve done my time on the hashtag Charlotte foodie circuit, and this city has endless stunning local joints, but some nights you just really want some Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster, or a margarita from Chili’s.
Even basic fast food chains like Taco Bell and Chick-Fil-A require you to get nearly 10 minutes outside of the Plaza. Look, I’ll try every quirky fusion restaurant you can give me, but there’s something to be said for not having to go far to find something safe and familiar.
(8) You can find the BEST secondhand stuff.
I’m not going to stereotype rich people, but I think it’s safe to say they generally have better stuff than the rest of us.
Ballantynians donate tons of brand name clothes and great furniture to their Goodwills and Salvation Armys.
I have a few fashionista friends who would kill me if I told you how much of their high-end designer gear they buy (and sell) at consignment shops like Nouveaux in Ballantyne.