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!
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.
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.