The Year of the Carpetbagger
The confluence of events that was 2008 — in war, in politics, in business, in the economy — will have a profound effect on the history of the world. But here in North Carolina, we may feel the changes more deeply than most. We are going to declare 2009 to be the Year of the Yankee in North Carolina.
Sure, carpetbaggers have existed since before the term was coined after the Civil War, and it’s no secret that snowbirds have been relocating to the Old North State in big numbers over the last 20 years. But the events of 2008 will precipitate a “surge,” if you will, of the pizza eaters that should begin in late February, while it’s still freezing and gray up there and we are enjoying the first blushes of spring. And like everything else this year, it began with real estate. We had long thought the New York real estate market to be unassailable, and we have ample anecdotal evidence to back it up. But in the Great Asset Reduction of 2008, which resulted in a purge of the financial sector, thousands of suddenly jobless bankers need to figure out where they’ll be playing golf in April. We have seen firsthand the opening strains of devastation in the real estate market, and we have heard whispers on the streets and bars of Long Island, plans being laid to head south and settle down for awhile. It’s still a pretty good deal. In Garden City, NY, for example, you can still sell your house for at least $600,000 or so and there are plenty of houses that could fetch more than $1 million. And because we haven’t experienced that much of a bubble in the Piedmont Triad, $1 million can still get a heck of a lot of personal space. Generations of Yankees have been doing just that: cashing in on their homes and buying cheaper properties in North Carolina, using the surplus to retire, pay off debt or start businesses. And after Barack Obama took NC in the presidential election, more will realize that the South is not the racist backwater they think it to be… at least, North Carolina isn’t. We say we should embrace this influx of Yankees with the kind of Southern hospitality for which we are famous. Sure, it means you’ll probably be hearing car horns a lot more, and it looks like we might be voting Democrat in presidential elections for a while, but we could really use a few thousand people with money to buy homes and create jobs around here. Plus, Yankees like to shop and they are great tippers. And North Carolina really is something of a promised land. The weather is great and the business climate is favorable as well; we are home to a professional football team; we have cities, beaches and mountains; our barbecue is second to none; we are home to one of the world’s largest banking centers in Charlotte and a worldclass research district out by Raleigh; there is plenty of open space and any number of cool and funky little corners. They’re going to love it here.
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We have seen firsthand the opening strains of devastation in the realestate market, and we have heard whispers on the streets and bars ofLong Island, plans being laid to head south and settle down for awhile.