Friday, March 1, 2013

My Getaway to Charleston, South Carolina

And I’m back! Greetings to everyone out there.  I must say that it is both exhilarating and joyous to be writing again after a brief sabbatical. My wife and I got away from the harsh winter weather for a few days and ventured out to Charleston, South Carolina.

For those of you whom have been following we have been using occasional vacation trips to visit smaller cities in the Southern part of the United States, in hopes of finding a smaller city that we can move to. Lower cost of living, lower housing prices, lower crime rates and better public schools are what we are after.

In contrast to our trip to Charlotte, NC there was a lot less pressure in the Charleston trip. We made a pretty general itinerary to visit and spend time in three locations while we were there: Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and downtown Charleston.

I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with what each area had to offer. To an even greater degree of the individual identities that make up Chicago’s neighborhoods, these three sections of Charleston not only have their own identities, but have completely different feels as if each locale were in separate states.

Folly Beach
Going off season I really felt like we got to take in Folly Beach in a very intimate way. We stayed in an excellent hotel right on the beach and felt like we had the small town to ourselves. Nestled away from everything Folly was definitely a relaxing and unique destination. You see, here in Chicago certain neighborhoods pride themselves in being granola and organic, in fact we pride ourselves so much in that fact that we carry a sufficient snobbish attitude about ourselves in being healthy. In Folly the same organic and granola feel is present, just without the Windy City attitude.

My favorite restaurant there was the Lost Dog Cafe where we stopped in for brunch. The menu options were fantastic, reasonably priced and the wait staff really second to none. On top of that while we were in Folly we caught a performance by, honestly, a band that deserves to catch on regionally in a BIG way. The Holy City Hooligans have the smoothest sounding lead singer that I’ve heard probably in the last 20 years. My wife and I were both captivated by their reggae sounds, original songs and delightfully rearranged covers.

If you’ve been following this blog even remotely you know that I don’t dole out complements like this often. Seriously, if you are ever in or passing through Charleston, pop over to Folly Beach and hit the Lost Dog Café and seek out the Holy City Hooligans for a show, you’re welcome in advance.

Kiawah Island

I have to say that I was completely taken aback by Kiawah. I was expecting in your face glitz and glamour, similar to Newport Beach or the Hamptons. Instead I found that Kiawah is a relaxing and laid back getaway surrounded by preserved nature. We entered Kiawah under the guise of heading to visit the sanctuary as there is private security upon entrance and received a day long driving access pass. The sanctuary was amazing in sight, and yes, if you know me we even drove around to take in some great views and walk through a gorgeous hotel on the island.

Downtown Charleston

I’ve never been to New Orleans but I would imagine it looks something like downtown Charleston. The streets are lined with cobblestone and buildings on every corner have brick facing (yes I’m somewhat of a yuppie and yes I am aware that the very same brick was made by slave labor several hundred years ago). I was pleasantly surprised at how walkable the downtown area was and was even more taken aback by the peacefulness and tranquility of the downtown area late at night. One night in fact we had a later dinner out and meandered up and down several streets in route back to our hotel, and never once did I ever think twice about our safety or if we would run into a “bad corner.”


The history, the sights, the genuine southern hospitality, it is all alive and well in Charleston. But it’s not the place for us long term as a future residence. As peaceful and tranquil as Folly Beach and Kiawah are, I can easily see how in the midst of summer or a PGA golf tour, that the peace and tranquility are instantly changed into crowds and traffic everywhere. And to be quite frank downtown Charleston at this point in our lives is out of our price range. For that matter I would consider it out of our price range even 30 years after we reach the pinnacle point. I mean seriously, who would pay $6 million dollars for a 12,000 square foot home that is over 150 years old, has no central air conditioning, has a foundation that’s caving in, and that you have to fight a Board of Architectural Review for just to put a new coat of paint up on your house.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Charleston. Off season it is definitely a great place to visit and I highly recommend it. Just don’t expect to catch me there in the middle of July or occupying a single family home J.

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