Wednesday, June 5, 2013

lowcountry living/life changes

Warning-wordy post ahead, not my usual!

              There are changes on the horizon for my husband and me. Our youngest child has just graduated from high school. Husband has been working from home the last year and loving it. We can now live anywhere as long as there is perfect internet connectivity. 

We live in a house that was purchased for a family of five and lots of pets (now down to just one dog and the fish and frogs in the pond...they don't know they are pets!) has felt too large since our oldest two flew the nest. Our entire second floor of four bedrooms sits unused unless we have guests. Youngest son has enjoyed a full walkout basement suite of rooms, a perfect teenage space to share with friends. 

We love where we live.  It is physically beautiful here in the Chagrin River valley of Northeast Ohio. The  village of Chagrin Falls and other neighboring towns are charming and quaint with Western Reserve architecture built by New England settlers. There are rivers and wetlands and maple forests everywhere. The people here are Midwestern friendly and kind. 

And we love our property. I share that love here on the blog. We have filled the lots of the three homes we have had with plants, lots and lots of plants. Even our little starter apartment when we were first married, had a beautiful balcony full of plants. 


We are outdoor people. We love the sun and warm weather. We are at the stage of life (pre retirement) where we want less of lots of things...less house, less stuff, less chilly grey days, less house maintenance. And more of other things...more year round outdoor activities, more travel, more discoveries and new experiences, more flexibility. 

So....after mulling over possible destinations all over the US and even the Caribbean (husband's company is based there), we decided that our hearts were in the Coastal South, where we started out thirty years ago. We used to explore the barrier islands of Georgia and South Carolina on weekends when we lived in Jacksonville, FL and fell in love with the beauty of the marshes and oak trees of the Lowcountry. And the people, warm, polite and so courteous, a slower pace of life.

So after touring different areas last week, we have made an offer on a lot that fronts the marshes that line the wide Broad River in Beaufort, SC. The lot is to the left of our rental car in this photo. The beauty of this lot is that the lawn that borders the water is protected green park space that cannot be developed. Our little lot, which the house will take up most of, receives the benefit of a big, beautiful and protected piece of property right in front of it. There will only be room for a long narrow house with a courtyard garden and plants and trees around the perimeter. It will be so much fun to discover Southern plants and plant in Zone 8b! 

View from the house.

The Broad River is in the background, past the island with trees, you can see the bluffs in the distance on the shoreline across the river if you look closely.

Across the park, towards the house.

The lot next door has this pretty house on it. We will be smack next to it and there will be an eventual home right next to us as well. Luckily we have oak trees and magnolias between us. We will have to look straight out towards the water but will have wraparound porches on both floors to help us do that. Most homes in this area have double porches for obvious reasons. They have ceiling fans and the ceilings are usually painted light blue.

These two pics were taken on two different days, check out the sky color. The neighbor's home has the advantage of a corner lot so they can maximize the view.

Our side windows will look onto this side of the neighboring house.

Enough about that for now as we have to settle the lot purchase first and then sell the home we are in now, which may take some time. Do other people want extensive gardens? We will see. We were able to sell our other homes relatively quickly with lots of plants, hopefully it will happen here. I worry that prospective buyers will see it as too much maintenance. 

Here are a few shots of the adorable Beaufort, SC that will be our  new stomping grounds once we are done with all the buying, selling and building.

Small town living but lots of good restaurants, even chic ones like this! Husband carrying my purse.

We saw kayaks being toted so many times, one of the most popular activities along the rivers and marshes. We will have our own and be able to kayak from our neighborhood.

Downtown is next to the Beaufort River, you can see the water down this alley.

One of the cute shops. This one, M Home & Garden, had lots of fun things for the house.

Isn't Luther's cute?

The ice cream parlor had perfect root beer floats and grilled cheese!

Another alley to the water, this one brick paved and lined with palms.

A storm was rolling in.

Cars waiting for the pivoting bridge as a sailboat went through.

The bridge pivots sideways to allow space for tall boats.

You can see the open position better here. I love bridges and find them fascinating.

So it is an exciting journey for us and I want to take you along with me! We were not intending to build a home so that task will take some time to figure out. I may be absent for periods of time while we prepare this house to sell and come up with a design for the new house but I will post along the way when possible.  

What do you think of our new journey? Do you think we are crazy for moving to the hot Deep South? By the way, it was perfect weather while we were there, balmy, breezy and not muggy but we know July and August will be difficult. We will try to plan travel to cooler climates (Colorado Rockies!) during those months. Also need to be here in Chagrin Falls for some of the summer so our son can see all his friends for the next few years while he is in college.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Oh my gosh, Cindy, you've made a great choice! I am very familiar with that part of the world, as our favorite vacation destination is Edisto Island, just north of Beaufort. However, I've never been to Beaufort because once we reach the beach, we don't want to leave! Yes, the summers will be very hot, humid and buggy. It might take some getting used to. And the threat of hurricanes can be a bit stressful, but you've lived in Florida so that's not new to you. The South is a great place to live and I know you'll love the people, the pace and the beauty of living near the water. What a fabulous view you'll have!! Can't wait to see your new home. Please take us along on your journey, and best of luck to you as you transition into this new, exciting part of your life.

  2. Wow, that is exciting Cindy, its sounds like you are about to embark on a great adventure. I can't wait to follow your journey with the new build. Goodbye snowdrifts, hello sunshine!

  3. Congratulations on your BIG lifestyle changing decision!! How exciting! I know you will miss your beautiful gardens at first, but you will thoroughly enjoy discovering all the 'new' plants that thrive in coastal South Carolina. I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences building a house and composing a courtyard garden. Best wishes, Cindy, to you and your husband!

  4. What an exciting new adventure, Cindy (and Arvind)! I've never been to that part of the country, it looks beautiful and the quaint town and lifestyle sounds like the perfect spot for both of you. I'm so anxious to get to follow along with the making of your new home, from the ground up! I have no doubt you'll create a gorgeous, charming place! Happy to hear CO will be on the vacation list! :)

  5. !!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!! I'll try to not let my envy getting in the way :) congratulations! Oh you get he Beaufort market every Thursday! I'll be down there in November. I'm totally going to drive around looking for the lot. This is really exciting. Again, congratulations on realizing a dream. I have many years until I can think about pre-retirement but it's really inspiring to see someone doing things I hope to do. You better not stop blogging!

  6. Oh Cindy: what wonderful news!!! It is a huge change. When we moved south three years ago I think some of our friends really, truly did not understand. These life changes are so different for each of us. We too could finally live anywhere...and had been dying toleave the Northeast for years.
    You've lived in Florida, so you know about the south! I happen to love the heat and humidity and the ability to swim many months, and bike ride all year, and the totally new gardening was a wonderful challenge.
    Oh, I can't wait to come visit you! We were in St. Simon's this spring, and go to Wilmington and Southport on the N.C.coast.
    Change is good...for those who are ready for it! I'm very happy for you, and cannot wait to follow along!!!

  7. I don't think you are crazy at all. I have never visited Beaufort, but have heard it is beautiful. I too have a fondness for the southern coast and the moss covered trees and swamps. I even like the smell of the paper mills that I used to smell in the Brunswick, Ga. area when I lived in St. Simons Island. I love that place. I can't wait to watch your journey. What fun. BTW, I would love to downsize.


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