Operation Find a Home

So in my last blog, I talked about falling in love with Charleston as I visited as a kid and teenager. I mentioned that the last trip to Charleston that I took before moving here was way back in 2004. I was a senior at UGA. My roommate and dear college friend, JulieAnn and I took our moms on a trip with us over spring break. JulieAnn’s father had passed away not long before and we had calmed down from our once party animal selves. We thought it would be a nice trip to spend time with our moms and have a little fun while we were at it. It was a great trip. Lots of site seeing and the food in Charleston was good back then too. 😊 I took my 35mm camera and took some great black and white photos during that trip.

The next 10 years went by super fast and consisted of moving back home, going back to school for another degree (nursing), getting my first nursing job, getting my first apartment as an adult, meeting my now husband, moving to California, moving to Texas, and going back to school a third time to get my master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. And that brings us to when the decision to move to Charleston was made. It’s a good story so grab a cup of coffee (or wine) and sit back for a quick read.

The year….2013. The month….not sure but it was sometime in the fall. I was in my last semester of NP school and I was a stressful mess. I was still working in the ER all while trying to squeeze in a gazillion clinic hours to finish school. Kevin, my then boyfriend and now hubby, had just finished his MBA the semester before. We were at dinner. I don’t remember where exactly, but we were sitting in a booth. Kevin had on a sweatshirt which is why I know it was the fall. We were talking about what we should do after I graduated. Kevin’s job had taken us to Texas. Neither of us disliked Texas, but neither of us loved Texas. We were talking about wanting to be closer to home and family and how there was really nothing to keep us in Texas.

We were both at transition point in our careers with finishing our Master’s programs and it seemed like a good time to make a change if we wanted to. It was then that my hubby said “Brittnay, what if we quit our jobs, sold our houses (he had one in Texas and I had one in California), packed up our stuff, and just took off to visit different cities to figure out where we wanted to live?”

Now let me tell you a little about me so you maybe can understand my initial reaction. I am a planner. I do not like unexpected change and surprises. I am responsible and have always taken pride in doing the “responsible” thing. I am not spontaneous.

My initial response….I laughed and said “We can’t quit our jobs. We won’t have health insurance.”  Yep, me being the responsible adult that I am was worried about health insurance. This conversation quickly turned to me coming up with all the reasons Kevin’s crazy plan wouldn’t work and Kevin quickly coming up with solutions to all my “Issues”. The conversation looked a little like this.

B: What about health insurance?  K: We’ll buy private policies to hold us over until we get jobs.

B: What about all of our stuff? K: We’ll sell some, but we’ll buy a trailer to pack everything in and park it at my parent’s house.

B: What about money since we won’t have jobs? K: We both have saving and we’re going to be selling our houses. We’ll be fine.

You get the picture here. I would come up with the reason no and he would counter with a feasible solution. A few months later in December 2013, I graduated, we both quit our jobs, we sold some stuff and packed up the rest, and moved it to Alabama (all in the middle of a Texas snow storm). After Christmas, we took off on a mission to find a city we loved. Our road trip lasted about a month. I named our adventure “Operation find a home” and actually started a little blog to document our adventure. We planned our trip around cities that we were interested in living in. We would spend several days in each city to get a “feel” for the area and do a little research about cost of living, housing, jobs, recreational stuff, etc. When it was time to move on to the next city, using an elaborate spread sheet my husband created, we would rate the city based on those things I just mentioned and the spread sheet would compute the final score for the city. The idea was the city with the highest score would likely be our city.

One of my goals after graduating, was to start doing the hobbies I once had before studying took over my life. I wanted to pick up my camera again, I wanted to bake more, I wanted to exercise more. I did take my camera on our trip. I didn’t pull it out a lot, but I did on occasion and got a few pictures to document our trip. I’ll post those as I go.

We started our trip in the Alabama gulf coast area, in the little towns of Fairhope and Daphne right outside of Mobile. The towns were little quaint towns with lots of charm. However, we did not like Mobile.

We then moved on to Jacksonville, FL. Jacksonville surprised us. It was a much larger city than I expected, had beaches and the city itself was very pretty (especially at night). Housing was cheap in Jacksonville. It seemed they still had a lot of foreclosures still happening from the house market crash. It was a definite maybe.

Next on the list was Savannah! Savannah was the first city I fell in love with at a young age. I knew this city pretty well since I had spent a good amount of time there over the years. Nothing surprising found there. Southern charm, historic scenery, great culture, but we were little concerned with job opportunities for Kevin because at the time he was working in supply chain and we weren’t sure there would be a lot of opportunity for him there.

Next up was Charleston. I know I was already secretly biased and leaning toward Charleston, but I tried not to let this show or influence Kevin. Kevin had never been to Charleston. It was a good week to come to Charleston. The weather was mild for January and we happen to come on the 2rd weekend of the month which means we got to experience 2nd Sunday. Every month on the 2nd Sunday, King Street is shut down and all the shops and restaurants do special things and bring tables out on the street. It’s like a huge block party. And for those of you not familiar with Charleston, King Street is one of the main streets here in the city with lots of restaurants, boutiques, and retail stores. The vibe in Charleston was just fantastic. Kevin had a business acquaintance in Charleston and he and his wife showed us around a little and we went and saw their house in Summerville. There is a decent size port in Charleston so Kevin was pretty confident about being able to find a job here. Before we knew it, the positive points started adding up. Just a couple days into our Charleston stay we made the decision that this was in fact our city. This was where we wanted to be and where we would settle down.

We had actually planned to go to one more city, Wilmington, NC, but never made it there. Charleston made up our minds for us. After the decision was made, we decided to stay another night and then head back to Alabama to start working on finding a job. We had been staying in budget hotels our whole trip, because remember, we did not have jobs during this time. But for our last night in the city that was going to be home, Kevin surprised me and booked a room at the HarbourView Inn in downtown Charleston, right on the water. It is a lovely hotel that overlooks the harbor and Water Front Park. Check out how lovely this hotel is on their website (https://harbourviewcharleston.com). That night we walked out on the pier and sat in a swing and talked about our plans to move. It was then that Kevin pulled out a ring and asked if I liked it. There was only one problem, it was very dark out with little to no lights, I really couldn’t see the ring!

That was the end of January. A couple of months later in March we would move and I would start my new job in our new city. Little did I know then, how fantastic of a life we would build here. That we would build a great house in a great town, meet great new friends including neighbors and co-workers. That we would get married and have two beautiful children. And that we would both end up branching out of our safe careers to follow our passions; Kevin in real estate and me in photography. Life is good and only getting better. 😊