Charleston is a beautiful city and a wonderful place to live, no doubt about that. But Charleston hasn’t been particularly kind to me in some ways. And sometimes I’m left wondering what exactly everyone else thinks is so great. Yes, yes, we have the beach, we live on the coast and that’s something I swore I’d never take for granted (but sadly I often do). But for me, some things about Charleston are a little tough. We moved here a little over three years ago and I’ve had some unexpected struggles.
The weather and air here set off my allergies and asthma in terrible ways that I’ve never dealt with before. I’m sick much of the time despite a buffet of medications that are supposed to keep me well. I went from two medications that I occasionally used to five that I use every single day, plus I’m starting allergy shots. All of that illness makes it really hard to do one of my favorite things: run. Running when you’re sick with asthma isn’t just hard. Sometimes it’s impossible. Running requires oxygen. Asthma steals that.
My other struggle here: the job market. For what I do (tech), at the career level I’m on (senior/management), it’s tough to find a good job that pays market value for me. Despite the glittering promises of jobs, jobs, jobs here in the Holy City, that isn’t necessarily accurate. Certain jobs at lower career levels, yes, but once you start climbing, the pickings get slimmer. That’s one of the many reasons I took my experience out of the Charleston market and put it into a remote job with a large software company. I didn’t want to move, but I also couldn’t stomach the pay cuts of taking a job here. Fortunately, I found a solution, but I wish Charleston did a little better here.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post bashing Charleston. It’s a wonderful city, but sometimes because two big life factors lean toward the negative for me (job availability and health), it’s hard not to wonder why we stay here.
So I started thinking…why do we stay here? If we left, what would I miss? So I made a list.
5 things I love about Charleston
This one is obvious. Charlestonians enjoy awesome beaches and I live within six miles of them. That’s a pretty cool thing for someone who grew up always wanting to live at the beach. And my son is a water baby through and through, so being so close to the beach adds a bit of magic to his childhood.
Anyone who knows me probably isn’t surprised to see this one is on the list. Before living in Charleston, I had never been to an oyster roast. And I had no idea how incomplete my world was without them. During the fall and winter months, it’s easy to find multiple oyster roasts in one week. They’re everywhere and they’re awesome. Buckets and buckets of oysters, usually for much cheaper than you get in a restaurant off the menu. The only catch: you have to shuck ’em yourself. But then, that’s part of the fun.
Yes, really winter. I never thought I’d say that since my favorite season has always been summer. But here, summers come with miserable, practically unbearable humidity. Daring to step outside in the summer immediately requires a shower. You sweat when you’re swimming. It’s gross.
But winter! Glorious winter! There’s no snow, no ice – not usually anyway, and if we do get even a flake, the entire city shuts down. The temps hang around the 50’s, sometimes 60’s, during the day. The humidity fades away and my asthma gets so much better. Last year we didn’t get quite as nice of a winter and the humidity stuck around, but this year we already have those dipping temps and it has been wonderful. The skies have been delightfully blue-grey and it almost reminds me of fall up north (without the impending snowy winter doom to follow).
Also see: oyster roasts – there are none in summer, but all over the place in winter.
The abundance of things to do
There are so many activities and venues here, it’s hard to decide what to do. I will admit, I haven’t found the time to truly enjoy all the city has to offer. We have festivals, farmer’s markets, the South Carolina Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, a host of art galleries, The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston Fashion Week, The Spoleto Festival, Southern Ground Music Festival, and so much more.
Not to mention (since I’m a runner and all) the multitude of road and trail races year round. While we’re most well known for the Cooper River Bridge Run, we’ve also got the Charleston Marathon (and half marathon), the James Island Connector Run, the Turkey Day Run, the Reindeer Run and tons of other runs. There’s one almost every weekend here.
The opportunities for side projects
While viable full-time gigs are questionable here, there are still a good amount of side opportunities if you look for them. I’ve been more successful here than any other city in securing freelance design jobs. There are lots of groups to get involved in to get plugged into the tech scene and to get to know more people.
In addition to design work, I also found opportunities here through my running blog, including being a contributor here on the Charleston Moms Blog and some local ambassadorships for businesses I love.
So while Charleston has been a bit of a struggle in some ways, there are still so many things that make life in this city worth living here. And even though I do get a bit of wanderlust from time to time and think we should pick up a move again, for now I’m happy to call this beautiful city home.