A Year in Charleston.

A Year in Charleston

I cannot believe I have lived in Charleston for a year. Today I thought it would be fun to reflect a little bit. The good, the bad, the great! Overall, this has been such a good move for me. I am really happy. I feel like I am right where I should be, which is a good feeling to have. It was a very hard decision to leave New York (and I miss New York every day, but I get back there every few months) but for me personally, it was a very good decision overall. Nothing beats the warmer climate, living near family, and a slower pace of life. (Also, I am just sharing my thoughts and feelings… not looking for unsolicited advice today!)

A Year in Charleston!

The highs

I’ve lucked out and made some amazing friends.

It has really been a very warm welcome. I moved here already having a solid group of friends (mostly transplants from New York or other influencers) and my family nearby, so didn’t really feel like I needed any new friends. But through introductions here and there, chatting to the person next to me at a dinner, and a fun weekend away, I have deepened older friendships and made newer friendships that will last a lifetime. I feel incredibly grateful for that. Making new close friends in your forties is hard! (More on that in this post). I have definitely had to step out of my comfort zone (In the beginning at least, I went out and to more events than I did in New York… that was a stretch for me) but it has been worthwhile.

I love living near my family. LOVE.

This is far and away the best part, outweighing any and every low. We are missing my youngest sister and her family (she will never move here, she is a biologist + professor at Cornell and her research work relies upon colder climates) but it is truly just the greatest, especially all the time with my parents. My dad and I have been having monthly lunches, just the two of us, and I see my mom all the time. Plus, family dinners, usually a couple times a week. I get to see my niece grow up and be a big part of her life, and I cherish that. The other day she listed all of the planets out for me which blew my mind. I didn’t know that is something a three year old could do? Next up, I’m working on her Easter basket.

I love living near the beach.

Having grown up on Cape Cod but lived in New York for 15+ years, I have always felt torn between the city and the beach. In Charleston, you can have both. Of course it is not the same hustle and bustle of say New York, you know what I mean. From my apartment, I can walk to the Apple store or Sephora (or a chic downtown restaurant for dinner) OR get a ride and be on the beach. Either of these things take about twenty minutes. I love living in a city but being that close to the ocean.

The weather is such a treat.

It is a little bit cold Dec-Feb but so much milder than New York. There were only maybe two or three days this year where I needed my real winter coat, which is nice. It’s also better for my mood and temperament – I do better in warmer climates.

I really like my apartment.

In New York, I’d never be able to afford to live in an apartment like this. I think there is a point in a lot of New Yorkers’ lives where you get tired of always struggling. I hit it during the pandemic. My old apartment was big but it was so rundown. There were always cockroaches. I had to walk 4 blocks to do my laundry. I agonized over every dish I used because I’d have to wash it by hand. Here, I have two big bedrooms, in unit laundry, a dishwasher, and a garbage disposal. Plus, great amenities like a pool and a gym. Also, having a doorman/mailroom is everything. There is no more fighting with FedEx or UPS or tracking down lost and stolen packages.

The creative community here is pretty epic.

There are countless incredible small business owners, I feel like I learn about a new one every day. One thing I love about the “influencer” events here is that the “influencers” of Charleston are not just bloggers and instagrammers. They are small business owners (like Molly from Red Clay and Stephanie from Estelle Colored Glass), artists (like Katie Stevenson), interior designers, restaurant owners, photographers (like my v v talented friend Laura), etc.

The lows

There is a big lunch culture that has been hard for me to adapt to.

In New York, I usually worked nine til six or seven and then went out to dinners and events. Here, I notice that people get up a lot earlier than me (I am no slouch but start my day around 8), and love a mid-day lunch hang. I prefer to socialize in the evenings. It makes sense as most of my friends here have kids, so nights are harder for them… but it is an adjustment and I feel torn between feeling like I am missing out and just wanting to have my workday.

In the beginning I felt like I was going crazy but now I just say no most of the time. I have a rule of only 2 or 3 lunches per month, and unless it is a Friday and all of my work (including Saturday and Monday blog posts) is fully done, no more than one drink!

Although I like my apartment a lot, I have been looking to buy a home and right now that is very hard.

I think this would be a low anywhere though, it isn’t specific to Charleston! I know we have been talking about this in the Facebook group and a lot of you feel this way. If I am being honest, I really regret not buying last year. I hadn’t been sure about Charleston and wanted to rent for a year or two and keep saving to have the down payment for my “dream home.” The irony is that I hit my savings goal but now properties are so expensive that my “dream budget” now would get me the same house I would have been able to buy last year as property values have gone up so much. Also, there are very few houses, so when one does go up for sale it is oftentimes a cash offer above asking.

I signed my lease for another six months and am hoping to find something between now and October. But we will see. I love my apartment and believe that everything happens for a reason so I am just going to keep looking, appreciate my apartment for what it is (mostly: enjoying that pool and gym while I have them), and hope to find that dream home sometime soon. I have a great realtor (he found my sister and her husband their home) and he is optimistic!

Charleston is not very diverse, and I hate that.

There is not a whole lot that I can change (except on a very micro level with who I befriend, choose to work with, or invite to the events I host) but it bothers me. I feel clumsy talking about it, but it also needs to be said. (It also feels wrong grouping such a serious issue in with too hot weather and my silly home-buying woes.) Along those lines, I get asked about the politics here and while on a macro level South Carolina tends toward red, Charleston is blue. It’s regularly referred to as the “liberal jewel” of the South. I haven’t felt any sort of political divide since getting here, but maybe that is just me… my friends and family all have more or less very similar political views to my own, and conversations around politics have always been respectful.

You are never entirely sure what someone is thinking.

For example, when someone says “bless your heart,” it’s not a nice thing. (For the record, no one has said that to me yet!) I do not have a poker face and what you see is what you get. But inside I am worrying a lot. I have combatted that by keeping a close, tight-knit circle. There are the people you can really trust and confide in, and then there is everybody else. Along those lines, everyone is always “on.” Like, if you run out to get coffee or groceries, you should probably dress nicely and be ready to run into to someone you know.

This has been an adjustment vs. New York, as not so long ago I would throw on a coat over my sweats and run out to get a bagel and coffee. No one would bat an eyelash, notice me, or recognize me. There is no anonymity here!

Summer is rough.

Those 2-3 months are HOT. I tend to travel a lot and/or stay indoors mid-July through the end of September. But honestly, I would prefer to be hot vs. cold. I really do not like winter and suffer from seasonal affective disorder so for me, a warmer climate is preferable, even if it means a couple tough months. The good outweighs the bad.

Lastly, I need to learn how to drive and get a car.

This is not a true low but a personal thing that I keep having a block around. It is scary, but also: enough is enough. If you live downtown, you can absolutely get away with not having a car, but I am kind of tired of taking an Uber to places off-peninsula (especially as the wait times can be very long if I am at my parents’ house, Mt. Pleasant, or the beach!). It’s daunting but will happen this year.

At the end of the day, there are good and bad things about living in any city. My biggest reason for moving here was my family, warmer weather, more space and to slow down a little bit. Everything else is just extra. Of course, I will always miss $8 manicures, my friends up North, and direct flights!

photo by Laura Saur.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Loved reading this! Where you said “I feel like I am right where I should be” – I feel that on a deep level. I moved to a new city for a new job last July and I feel exactly the same!! Every move of course has its ups and downs, but what a true gift to feel at peace and happy to be living where you are. 🙂

    xoxo A

    4.5.22 Reply
  2. Maggie:

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year!

    4.5.22 Reply
  3. Anupama Sekar:

    i loved this so much!!! i am in my later twenties but i’m already realizing that cliche city living isnt the most important thing in the world, you need to really think about what matters to you and not what looks good on instagram. thanks to posts like this, i can cheat the system and learn these lessons earlier than others.

    4.5.22 Reply
    • Yes!!!! And with the shake up from the past year or two more or more people can work remotely!

      4.5.22 Reply
  4. Dallas:

    The real estate thing is true anywhere, I think. Hindsight is always 20/20. Sounds like you made great choices!!

    4.5.22 Reply
    • Yes, it seems like a huge issue everywhere! And same with buying a car, for that matter!

      4.5.22 Reply
  5. Congratulations! I wouldn’t have advice anyway- it sounds like you’re in a really good place right now. Best wishes!

    4.5.22 Reply
  6. Cathy:

    Grace, what a great analysis of living in Charleston. But, wait? You don’t have cockroaches in Charleston?! It’s very interesting to read your lows because they mimic mine in Texas- the lunch culture, the heat, women in athleisure with a full face of make-up, and the politics. Housing prices are just insane here with a very low inventory. The car situation is the same- low inventory and high prices. But you can’t walk anywhere. I’m very happy for you that you’ve made such a good life for yourself in a new place.

    4.5.22 Reply
    • Omg I am sorry – I probably should have clarified here… Charleston def has cockroaches, my building just doesn’t seem to have a single cockroach or bug for that matter. I’ve seen them other places and in the street and at the park.. but NOT A SINGLE BUG in my building. (Sometimes it makes me worry? Like what are they doing to prevent them!?) but yes, no bugs. When I am sad about the housing market, I think about that. Because I know that the old historical home I dream of owning will definitely have it’s share of cockroaches.

      4.5.22 Reply
    • Have enjoyed following your move and this reflective post. Always pros and cons of any situation and I like to detail them out too.

      Kudos for having the courage to make such a big change. We made a similar one around this time last year and I have been very reflective about it as the anniversary approaches. I’m glad we did it because I’m not sure I would have the courage to do it again!

      Two favorite quotes – ‘leap and the net will appear and ‘we must let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us’ 🙂

      4.10.22 Reply
  7. Shana:

    I find reflection therapeutic and when we were moving a lot between overseas locations 6 weeks versus 6 months versus 1 year “me” were fun to look back on 🙂 Really enjoyed reading your reflections with my coffee this morning, thank you for sharing with us!

    4.5.22 Reply
  8. Meaghan:

    I made a decision to move states a few years ago for many of the same reasons you did…namely to be closer to family. Leaving sunny San Diego for rainy Portland was tough, but the highs of living near my family (especially now that I have a niece!) far outweigh any of the negatives! Plus PNW summers are the actual best. Cheers to knowing the next right move and being bold enough to do it!

    4.5.22 Reply
  9. Really enjoyed this post, Grace! I’ve loved living vicariously through you the last year (can’t believe it’s already been that long) and you seem happier in CHS. I was late to get my license and start driving as a teen and my mom always said “when I’m ready, I will”. You will, too ❤️

    4.5.22 Reply
  10. Dana B:

    I live in Cleveland, near all my family, but the winters are tough. I’ve realized that with working remotely and no kids, there is no reason to spend full winters here. My husband and I already have a place booked for three weeks in Bradenton, FL next February and are looking to rent for two weeks in Savannah or Charleston next April. Sounds like you could do the same in those hotter months – spend more time in NY then maybe!

    4.5.22 Reply
    • That is the beautiful thing about working remotely and not having kids!!!!! I am definitely thinking of spending more time in NY and/or LA this summer.

      4.5.22 Reply
  11. Madeleine:

    Love these reflections, I just moved across the country and this helps me think through my own personal highs and lows! Also, my jaw just about dropped at $8 manicures haha, I didn’t know that was a thing!!

    4.5.22 Reply
    • Yes, in New York – such good inexpensive manicures and you can walk right in! Here, it’s expensive but also hard to get an appointment.

      4.5.22 Reply
  12. Alyssa:

    Love this Grace. Thank you for sharing all of it, the good and not so good. I hope you find the house for you this year and totally believe in you with the driving stuff. You got this! Thank you for sharing your life with us. Sending you all the love!

    4.5.22 Reply
  13. Sarah:

    Moving is hard but glad to see you made the right decision! I’m “snowbirding” and escaping Maine for a few months in the winter. The warm weather truly makes such a difference!

    4.5.22 Reply
  14. Kelly:

    May be wise to wait on a house until the prices drop back down, prediction is we are heading towards a large recession!

    4.5.22 Reply
  15. Tracy:

    What does it mean when someone says “Bless your heart”? It sounds like nice comment?!

    4.5.22 Reply
  16. Joyce:

    Loved this personal update of the highs and lows of your move! You were actually my inspiration last year – I moved from SF to North Carolina, to be closer to family. It felt like such a daunting move, and a big change, and I had so many concerns about it. Seeing you follow through with your move though, I felt so encouraged to do the same. 6 months later, I’m SO happy I did it! Like you said – there’s highs, and there’s lows, there’s always a tradeoff. But the high of having my family close by, having a newer apartment for less $, and a slower pace of life have all outweighed the rest 🙂

    4.5.22 Reply
  17. Elizabeth:

    Girl, I feel you on the driving/car front! I got my license when I was 16 but moved to London a couple years after college and didn’t ever need a car/license. I moved out of London during the pandemic for more space and had to get my license all over again. I felt REAL old taking the test with a bunch of teenagers, lol! But I’m so glad I did it, and I took a couple driving lessons which really helped me feel prepared for the test. Also I bought a Mini Cooper and it’s a great car for someone that hasn’t driven in ages. It’s fun, easy to park and reasonably priced. Highly recommend! I hope getting your driver’s license is easy breezy. 🙂

    4.5.22 Reply
    • Marcella:

      agree re: small cars, my friend had a pistachio green Fiat in college and it was the BEST for parking!!

      4.5.22 Reply
    • Oh my future car is going to be a little one for sure!!!!

      4.6.22 Reply
  18. mary:

    You have pretty perfectly summed up life in the South. I have watched with curiosity as so many influencers have moved down here–and have been both amused and horrified as the housing market has gotten crazy. The Southeast is a nice place to be, even with some big problems like heat and politics. I don’t think of Charleston as being very liberal. I even had a major blogger block me because I said I was disturbed by a Trump flag in her stories. Bless her heart. I am glad that the local political scene is at least being challenged more these days and it does matter whom you befriend. That being said, I think y’all bring fresh perspectives and I’m so glad y’all are here.

    4.6.22 Reply
    • Wow, that is wild to me! Now I am extremely curious who that blogger was, ha ha. I guess it really is about who you befriend and surround yourself with.

      4.7.22 Reply
  19. I love that you love it so much! You look really at ease.

    When people ask me why I left New York, I tell them “New York either *gives* you energy (that you thrive off of) or it drains your energy,” and when it switched to draining my energy, I knew it was time for me to go. I’m so glad I made the move, too, even though it was a hard decision to make!

    4.6.22 Reply
    • Yes! It was that way for me… I was so drained by my last (fifteenth!) year in New York. The pandemic certainly didn’t help either!

      4.7.22 Reply
  20. Anna:

    Congratulations on making the move. It really sounds like a good fit for you. Also-wow! I have so many comments on this post!

    I moved from Los Angeles to a city in the Southeast. Some of it was good but also culture shock. I felt like in LA people were nice because everyone is just chill (if a bit superficial) but in the South it was this ‘buttoned up’ niceness. It was nice but not warm and open – I struggled with that a bit until I found my people. I still remember the first and only time someone said ‘bless your heart to me’. I do not know what it was about but I remember it felt crappy and I immediately knew it was not a nice comment. Ten-ish year later is a long time to remember so I hope no one says that to you.

    I’m embarrassed at the terrible Southern stereotypes I had. I thought everyone would be dressed in shorts and flip flops because it was (in my mind) the middle of nowhere. First get together I arrived at I looked terrible compared to all the women with their pearls and sundresses and their hair done despite the crazy humidity. I went home and realized I had made assumptions — same ones I judge other people for making. Eventually I adjusted but I could never get my hair to look right down there!

    Thanks for letting me reminisce! Congrats again! And $8 manicures? How in the world do the economics of that work. I can’t believe it!

    4.6.22 Reply
  21. Love this post!! I lived in Charleston for a couple years recently and agree with basically this entire post. The heat & humidity in the summer is the most intense I’ve ever felt. And being a Rehoboth DE beach visitor, the ocean is always freezing most of the summer but in Charleston it’s like 80 lol

    The housing market was crazy 3 years ago when I was there, can’t even imagine it now. Lived in the Westside neighborhood and honestly loved it there. Close to good breweries & walking distance to some of my favorite restaurants – Daps is a gem (fruity pebble pancakes are divine).

    4.7.22 Reply
    • Yes! I am from the Northeast as well, so it’s been interesting (and wonderful) going to the beach and having the water be so warm.

      4.7.22 Reply
  22. Kassie:

    Great post!!! Thanks for sharing Grace. Sending positive thoughts re: driving. I have a similar block and don’t even want to think about it. I moved to DC during the pandemic and luckily can walk to most places, but at some point I’ll have to face the music!

    4.8.22 Reply
  23. Sage:

    Hi Grace, thank you so much for this post, especially your piece on relocating. I live in NY and I am planning on relocating and I need to learn how to drive too. I’m over 40 and I will need a car to get by, my hubby is my personal uber but I need to stop and stop being afraid. I really need to. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
    Take care of yourself.
    You’re amazing.

    4.8.22 Reply
  24. Chelsey N.:

    Thank you for sharing, Grace!

    4.8.22 Reply
  25. Toni:

    This was such a great post. I moved across the country last year from the East Coast. What you said about wishing you had bought a home last year really resonated with me. I wish I would have done the same, but grateful to have made the move and start a new life that suits me better.

    4.9.22 Reply
  26. Kezia S:

    I’ve been here for 11 years and your blog is so relatable! Everything you say is true. I moved from NY as well. Growing up in BK then married in Hempstead. It definitely takes some adjusting. My hubby and I always say Charleston is a circle. Very small and once you learn the roads I realized that it was true!

    4.9.22 Reply