Diamond in the Rough - 3/20/2011
Winston Salem is by no means a large city, so if you are looking for one, then this city is not the place for you. However , with that being said I will review the city as objectively as I can (which may be hard since I have lived here for over 10 years)
Cost of Living- The cost of living in Winston(as the locals call it)is great. A nice two bedroom apartment can cost $600-$900. A 2000 sqft 3 br house in a nice neighborhood with a good sized yard can range $130,00-$220,000 although great finds under this price are common. There are plenty of farmer's markets around the area with great deals on produce.
Education- Primary schools here have a good ratio of students to teachers. (20:1 in my son's classroom)However, many schools are over capacity and have extra trailers to hold classes.This is due to the ever influx of new residents to this town. Two new schools have been built to try to help this situation. High schools here can be lacking somewhat but they do offer programs to take hybrid classes at the nearby community college for career readiness.
My experience with the high schools is that they tend to push minorities to sports and career readiness programs in high school and non-minorities to college prep programs to get ready for college. However that may not be the case now since they have opened up new high schools and redone the busing zones.
The abundance of college choices here are great! Home of two great universities, Wake Forest and Winston Salem State. Also Salem College, NC School of the Arts and a great, great community college; Forsyth Tech. Forsyth Tech is actually bringing some jobs to the area by partnering with business's to be used as training centers.
Crime- Winston Salem has crime like any other city, most of the crime that I have seen though is drug related and this is usually restricted to certain neighborhoods. Overall nothing too bad. If you are a minority coming from the north, be prepared to get pulled over a couple times for no reason. There are still a few officers that are stuck in the "old south" ways but this is slowly changing with the influx of new residents to this city. If your from the south, I bet your used to it :)
Employment- Winston Salem, like other manufacture based cities has been hit hard with overseas expansion. This city was founded by tobacco and the Reynolds family and many generations of families worked in the nearby tobacco plants which are all but closed now with just a few straggler plants open. However, with the help of Forsyth Tech, Caterpillar and the expansion of the two main hospitals here, job outlook is looking good. We are not at a point that I can say we have many jobs, but if you look hard , you may just find a great career.
Health- We have one of the best hospitals in the country right here in the city- Wake Forest baptist Medical Center which has the brenner's children hospital. And also Forsyth Medical Center is one of the leading hospitals in stroke care. There is an abundance of physicians and dentists and optometrists. No better place, in my opinion for healthcare.
Religion- Winston is in the middle of the Bible Belt and therefore there is abundance of Protestant, Baptist and Moravian churches. There is one Catholic church and I am not sure about how many synagogues. Be prepared to hear many conversations start out normal and end in talks about the bible. Some may get mad at me but this perhaps can be negative. There is almost no balance to this and churches to tend to overrun many things. In many cities there are different religions but this city is mainly baptist or protestant, so if you are catholic or another form of Christianity, other people will try to convert you. This can be a good thing though if you are looking for a devout Protestant or Baptist city to call home.
Nightlife- If you are looking for a great night scene, Winston Salem is NOT it, with the exception of strip clubs, we seem to have an abundance of those. Downtown hosts certain events every now and then but in between those times, its pretty lacking. However just 20 minutes away in the neighboring city of greensboro there are a TON of clubs and bars. many young, single Winston residents venture over to Greensboro on the weekends for that reason.
Entertainment- I listed this separately because although there is not much nightlife there are many things to do in Winston or near it. We are very close to Pilot Mountain, in fact on many roads you can see it in the distance. Their is Tanglewood Park, SciWorks and many great restaurants. There is the Children's Museum, NC School of the Arts hosts many plays for all tastes.
Overall though I really like Winston and in the time I have lived here I have seen a change in Winston, mostly for the better. Great place for young families,but I would not recommend for singles who may get bored with the city.