This past week I traveled to Charleston, SC for business. Charleston is a wonderful city. I have only been there on two previous occasions, the first time was about 20 years ago on a trip with my parents, and then a year ago on business.
Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the country, being originally settled around 1670. The city has a lot of southern charm and beautiful architecture. The neighborhoods in the oldest part on “the peninsula” remind me of those of the French Quarter and Garden District in New Orleans. The homes are colonial style and they also use a lot of decorative wrought-iron. I spent Wednesday and Thursday evenings walking around the city and along the waterfront and Battery Park. I really enjoyed walking around the area and soaking up the atmosphere – a warm evening with people milling about and the smells from the great area restaurants coalescing around the beautiful homes and gardens.
As I was walking around, I realized this is definitely a place where I could live. It is a city of only about 120,000 people, with the largest demographic in the 22-40 year old range. It has a thriving arts scene, many great restaurants and an interesting nightlife. Although the state overall is very conservative, Charleston is a bit less so. A local paper had an article about the fact that many younger people are choosing to move to Charleston over the state capitol, Columbia, which has better and higher-paying jobs and a lower cost of living. People want a better quality of life in Charleston and are consciously making the choice to take lower-paying jobs to move there.
I could easily move to the Charleston area. It reminds me of one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. It’s like the best parts of the French Quarter without a lot of the bad. It has a lot of art shops, great restaurants, antique stores, beautiful homes and lovely parks. It doesn’t have the raucousness of Bourbon Street – which has its place at times, but you wouldn’t want to live near it. It’s also not nearly as crowded.
It dawned on me while I was there that Charleston is the city where my ancestors originally immigrated to America. That sort of adds a bit of interest and intrigue to the city for me.
Charleston also has another important ingredient that I need in a top place to live – water. It is essentially on the Atlantic coast and beaches are nearby. The city itself is in Charleston Harbor, a confluence of two rivers before they empty into the ocean. The water in the harbor is kind of a murky brown, so the water itself is not particularly beautiful but it still has a nice skyline and view across the harbor, and even a beautiful bridge.
James and I need to make a trip to the area, including Savannah. On this trip that I took as a kid with my parents, we also visited Savannah, and I remember liking Savannah more at the time. One of my favorite movies, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was set in Savannah and portrayed an eccentric and interesting community. We need to go and visit both places and see what we think.
Most of our friends know that James and I would like to someday live in Key West, either by retiring there or (hopefully) moving there to eke out a living running a bed & breakfast or some other business. Charleston certainly has a lot of bed & breakfasts and other business opportunities, such as eco-tours (touring the backwaters of the low country). Maybe we could find something fun and life-sustaining to do there 🙂