One Year In Charleston, SC

Growing up I always wanted to live by the ocean. I dreamed of living by the beach, swimming in the salt water, and the availability of sunshine and sunbathing anytime I wanted. Last year I took the plunge and gave up my Michigan home and the snow and moved down south. My S/O had lived in Charleston previously and l heard many stories about how “great” it was and how he had thrived as a musician there. I moved with him, his best friend, and my 6 (now 7) year old daughter. I had never even been to South Carolina before! I packed what I could in my ’06 Ford Explorer and hit the road. I already had a job in retail set up with hopes to transition to something in tourism eventually.  I was ready for a change and a new sense of adventure overcame me as I started the 16 hr drive to my new life by the ocean.

My first day in Charleston I was so hot I thought I was going to melt! It was 98 degrees and 100% humidity and I was miserable. I knew it would be hot but I was not used to such a high heat index. My S/O, roommate, and I made some calls and found a place to live..it took 21 hrs to drive there from Michigan. Our place is small, two bedrooms two baths, and just outside of Charleston because living by the beach is incredibly costly and I certainly did not prepare or research enough before moving. The sales tax is 8.5% (6% in Michigan) and it still throws me off when making purchases. My job is about 35-45 minutes from home as traffic in Charleston is horrific and unpredictable. If I leave an hour ahead of time I can make it on time but at times it has taken me up to an hour and a half. The people here cannot drive and the speed limit is 60-65 mph on the highways. The roads are so narrow in Downtown Charleston that you have to drive very slow to not die or not to hit the wandering tourists. I used to be slightly freaked out by bridges but after breaking down on the Don Holt Bridge during rush hour traffic, I have been cured me of that! I have learned to use my days off to my advantage and am driving a more fuel-efficient car since moving here last year. Who needs 4 wheel drive in a place that only got down to 20 once during the “wintertime”? Wintertime…basically Fall as I know it. I have learned there are two seasons, Fall and Summertime and air conditioning in your car is a must.

My daughter adjusted fairly well and made new friends quickly at her new school. Thanks to modern technology, video chatting and facebook has made it easy to keep in touch with friends and family from back home. I have  Very cool thing about living in Charleston is you will meet the most interesting people as they come from all over the country. From retired New York taxi drivers to California Surfers, to townie hippies and even fellow Ohio and Michigan retirees. I’ve met a lot of tourists and sight-seers who are confused by my reference to “pop” and I have to remember to say “soda” instead. I have made new friends mostly through work who are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I am into the live music scene (my S/O and roommate are musicians,an acoustic duo named Redolence) and I have loved the mix of styles and the local talent here is amazing.

So, It has been one year since I moved to Charleston, SC from Michigan. I had a lot to learn about traffic in a high touristy area, how to settle a child into a new school and neighborhood,” southern hospitality” and lingo, tourism, and a rich historical background. It is truly awe-inspiring to go to Market Street, Downtown Charleston and feel the history this old city has. The Museums and churches that are everywhere and the old cobblestone roads with the gorgeous old architecture makes you feel like you can actually envision stories you read in history class. The perks of living by Folly Beach and Isle of Palms are amazing and the two beaches I prefer to go to. Collecting seashells and starfish, sunbathing and swimming in the ocean makes you feel like you are on vacation yet you only have to drive a half an hour to get back home. While traffic may not be the best, the beauty and marvel of Charleston, SC is worth the drive and wait in traffic to get to where you are going. There is always something to do and the list of local events are endless. I think it is safe to say…I like it here.

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