I moved here in the Summer of 2014 with my then boyfriend (now husband-woot!) David, a Charleston native. We had zero job prospects and a small amount of money to ride out an unknown length of unemployment. Some people thought we were foolish to move to a new city on these circumstances but to us, it just felt right. We were living in Peoria, IL at the time and were ready for a change (and some warmer weather). Charleston seemed like a no-brainer for us. We had a lot friends there, it’s full of amazing food and we’re total porch dogs. What more could we want? Two of our good friends let us stay in their attic apartment for a few months until we could land some jobs and find a place of our own. Which we did. And the rest is history.
Charleston has been and continues to be a beautiful place to live. Here are my top four reasons why I love living here.
There’s a Strong Local Movement Here
In addition to the many local/family owned restaurants in the area, there are over 80 local farms here in the Lowcountry, many of which participate in a CSA program. Subscribing to a CSA helps keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce, something near and dear to my heart as a Registered Dietitian. The healthier your environment is, the healthier you will be. Plus, it encourages variety in your diet which is a hallmark of nutritious eating. Love a good farmers market? We’ve got five; downtown, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island and Boone Hall. Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local farmers and purveyors. The Lowcountry’s use of family owned local farms removes the dependence on 'big agriculture' which causes enormous environmental implications and does not support a sustainable food system, something that our growing population depends on.
The Lowcountry Landscapes & Views Never Get Old
From sunsets to enormous oak trees to marshes, the Lowcountry is not lacking in the unique landscape department. Some enjoy the sunrise from the connector or the Ravenel bridge on the way to work. Others may watch a vibrant sunset on one of Charleston’s beaches, or over a drink on the dock at Shem Creek. There are several rooftop locations as well that give amazing views of the city. As for our dog Kiki, she prefers the warm and grassy marshland; she says the pluff mud is good for her skin. While the Angel Oak is a stunning and iconic tree of the Lowcountry, massive oak trees are all over this city, beautifully lining the streets of neighborhoods and parks, creating a canopy of oaks. And let’s not forget the beauty on the outskirts of Charleston like Boneyard Beach on Capers Island. We love to Kayak out and camp on Capers; it makes a great weekend getaway.
The Charleston food scene is insane and there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. But this one is my favorite. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the beer selection, it stole my heart at first visit. The menu boasts seasonal and local ingredients, always keeping you on your toes with something new. I always try something new when I go and have never - I repeat, never - been disappointed. This is rare and probably why I like Edmund’s Oast so much. If you like watching the chefs prepare your meal you can sit inside at the Chef’s Counter which places you front and center of the open kitchen. Or if you feel like enjoying the beautiful lowcountry weather, sit outside at a community table and get some fresh air. And lastly, the beer. Edmund’s is one of the few brewery based restaurants in the Lowcountry and has 40 beers on tap at a time. My favorite Edmund’s beers are Circe and Farrago. And you gotta try the Peanut Butter & Jelly beer just once. They also feature guest taps from local brewers and the most recent was a phenomenal Belgian Golden Ale brewed with beets. Yep, beets. Beautiful color and earthy flavor.
I Can Commute by Bike
Why live downtown and not bike everywhere? This is a major perk for David and I since we both work at the College of Charleston. It takes us 15 minutes to get to work and we don’t have to sit in traffic or stress out about finding parking. When it rains we wear ponchos/rain jackets and when it’s 120 degrees outside we bring a change of clothes. We bike to friends houses, restaurants, bars, the farmer’s market and the Music Farm. The only thing we need now is a bike trailer to tote our groceries from the Harris Teeter :) And with all the hard work Charleston Moves is doing, we look forward to seeing other parts of Charleston become more bike friendly.
Ashley Thomas is a Registered Dietitian at the College of Charleston, teaches the Nutrition and Dental Health graduate course at MUSC, and writes her own food and nutrition blog, The Fresh Beet. She and her husband David Thomas live downtown with their spoiled fur baby, Kiki. In her free time, Ashley can be found brushing up on her pottery skills, doing yoga and spending time with friends in the lovely Lowcountry.