The Thanksgiving in Charleston that Changed my Life
One of the reasons I made the decision to move to the island of Martha’s Vineyard from Pennsylvania years ago was the fact that the winters were milder than mainland New England, largely because water tempered the atmosphere and it was not subject to the kind of snow the rest of the northeast received. As time wore on however, the winters became increasingly severe. My last winter required hiring a front loader to open my driveway after snow plows stacked it more than 10’ high. I was over it, and began looking for a new adventure. I had criteria of course, my next home had to be near a beach, on the east coast in order to be near family in PA, and it had to have a lively arts community. It also had to have an economy that would support more than just the hospitality industry as we were coming with no firm employment. We studied cities up and down the Atlantic coast, and decided our first visit would be to Charleston. We took the longish holiday over Thanksgiving to make our first investigation to do some exploring on our own as well as arranging with a local REALTOR® to see some properties.
We drove around a bit and loved what we saw. It did not take long to know Charleston would be our next home. I found myself sitting in Waters Edge restaurant overlooking Shem Creek on Thanksgiving Day and that sealed the deal. It was 75 degrees and sunny, I ordered a rare tuna steak and declared this was the best Thanksgiving ever!
The next day we began looking at homes. We were moving from a very remote location only accessible by boat or plane, so the idea of just running to Home Depot on a whim rather than planning it weeks in advance was an idea we needed to wrap our minds around again. We looked at homes in Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, and Hanahan. They were very nice homes, but the neighborhoods were more suburban than we preferred. We had been living next to a 10 acre meadow and just two blocks from a state forest. Still, seeing them and their relative convenience helped us refine our requirements. Perhaps even tougher than the neighborhood feel, was the architecture. As a REALTOR®, every week I talk to people about growing older and wanting a master on the first floor at a minimum, and preferably eliminating most stairs altogether. Our New England saltbox was fine for our younger selves but in our forties, we knew that those days were numbered. Finding a single story, contemporary home where most folks want the elevated and more traditional architectural vernacular of the Lowcountry was not easy. Nothing seemed to fit the bill.
After a few weeks of searching I found a contemporary house on Johns Island. Rural to be sure, but just a 15 minute trip to Costco – by car! Anxious as we were, we had to wait until after Christmas to see it in person. We feared it would be snapped up but, it was just not feasible to get there sooner. Fortunately for us, because more people wanted the true Charleston character it had not yet been sold. We walked in the door and I knew it was my house. New construction – a spec home, and it backed up to wetlands and woods. We wrote an offer sitting on the floor in the empty living room. Now, I did have to give in on some things I thought I needed like a larger kitchen, but everyone does – no home is perfect and even if you build it yourself, there will be things that don’t turn out as planned. Remember, everything is a trade-off! Sometimes you get tuna instead of turkey and you can be very thankful.
If you are thinking about making the Lowcountry your home, take it from a transplant – best decision ever! I’d love to help you find your next home.