Moving Across the Country: One Year Later
One year ago this week, we headed to the airport with one way tickets to South Carolina. Moving across the country was something JD and I had talked about hypothetically for years and years. We were finally doing it.
It was a bittersweet goodbye to Arizona. So many milestones happened for us in this place: JD's entire life, a solid 12+ years of mine. But the quest for adventure runs deep for both of us, and we knew it was now or never.
Our first year in South Carolina was a monumental one. Summer brought lightening bugs in our backyard and hydrangea bushes bursting with blooms. It also brought humidity like we had never experienced before. We spent evenings running through the sprinkler and took day trips exploring all around our new city. Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market and days full of making new friends. So many times JD and I looked at each other, pinching ourselves that this was home.
The air started to turn cool and we fell in love with our first true Southern Fall. Pumpkin patches all over town. Crisp air. Unreal red, orange and yellow trees. Piles of leaves to jump in (and rake!). Our first Clemson football game with sweet new friends. An unforgettable Halloween celebration in our neighborhood.
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Quickly the temperatures changed from chilly to cold, and the first winter was upon us. JD and I took a trip to Charleston (and fell head over heels for its charm). We were rear ended pretty hard on the wonderful (not!) Woodruff Road---further proof that the roads and drivers in South Carolina are frustrating! We had our first real snow day! It was pure magic---sledding down our yard, sitting by the fireplace, eating ice cream we made with the snow. Bliss. The days turned short — so short — dark by 5pm. Many of the days were gloomy with little sunshine and lots of rain. I felt it hard and ended up at the doctor struggling through anxiety/depression.
Slowly but surely the days started to get a bit longer. I could walk outside and feel the sunshine again. Everyone started to come out of hibernation. Spring was here. The flowers started blooming--oh the flowers! Whimsical wisteria, beautiful dogwoods, color was popping up all over. The temperature was perfection. And we found ourselves expecting baby #3!
And here we are at the beginning of Summer once again. A whole year has passed. All four seasons. 365 days as residents of South Carolina, and we are still pinching ourselves. There have been some obstacles along the way, but without a doubt this adventure has bonded our little family unit forever. To experience an entire year of firsts together. To see new sights nearly every weekend. To meet incredible new friends and community this past year. To be spoiled by true Southern hospitality. We would do it 100 times over.
I posted a little question box on Instagram a few weeks back with all of your moving questions. Answering them for you today!
Moving Q & A
Have you made friends? How?
We have been so blessed with the friendliness of Greenville. I fully believe if there's anywhere in the country where people will go out of their way to get to know you and introduce you to others, it's Greenville. Thankfully, this has made it much easier for us to meet people than we were expecting.
From my friend Katie, who reached out to me on IG before we even moved here, offering to drive by houses for us since we'd be buying sight unseen. Our realtor, Andreana, who planned a dinner with so many of her sweet friends for me to meet just a few weeks after landing in Greenville. To our neighbor who invited us to a neighborhood potluck mere days after moving in. To the sweet family in Brody's class who invited us to join them at a Clemson football game after just meeting in passing a few times. And so many more experiences like this. I'm truly tearing up thinking about how welcoming and kind people have been. I'll carry this attitude towards new faces with me my entire life. I've learned there's always room for a new friend.
The best places to meet people have been in our neighborhood--we spend A LOT of time outside in our front yard every day. We would wave, smile and introduce ourselves whenever someone walked by. A family that lives a few houses down have become some of our closest friends in Greenville thanks to their evening neighborhood walks that would lead them in front of our house where our kiddos would play, and we would all chat and hangout. It's the neighborhood experience we dreamed of.
Preschool has been another great spot to meet people. We try to go to every birthday party and school event. And let me tell ya, you really appreciate birthday party invitations when you are new in town.
Doing Kindermusik class with Isla every Friday for the past year has also been a wonderful way to deepen friendships. There's just something uniting about seeing the same faces on a regular basis. We went from Kindermusik class together to Chickfila every Friday. Grateful for that time every week.
Our first year in Greenville wouldn't have been the same without these people. It's scary moving to a city where you don't know a soul, but it's also an incredible experience meeting new people.
I'd love to know about the "boring" stuff! How was it finding new grocery stores, doctors, etc?
I've relied heavily on local recommendations for #allthethings! I joined a local Facebook mom's group right before we moved, and I love using the search function in there to stalk everything (schools, doctors, dentists, etc). I would just search the name of the practice/school and see what info came up. Once we started to meet people, they were always so gracious to give us recommendations. It was also a great ice breaker for conversation.
Picking a new grocery store was one of the tough hunts for us. We loved our grocery store in Arizona (Sprout's), but unfortunately the nearest Sprout's is quite a drive from our house. We were surprised by the grocery prices here--since we lived so close to California we must have been spoiled by fruit and veggie prices. Our bill went up by about 30% when we moved here, until we discovered Aldi!
Is this your forever home?
This is our for-a-while home :) We adore our neighborhood because it’s filled with kids. We've met nearly every house of neighbors up and down the street, some of them becoming wonderful friends. We have plenty of space to stretch out and welcome guests. The backyard deck with the sound of the creek flowing by is our little haven. It's the perfect spot for us for this stage of life.
What has been the toughest part of moving?
Winter was by far the toughest part for me. I missed the sunshine dearly. For JD, the toughest part was the job transition. For Brody, I know he misses seeing his aunts, uncles, gramma and family that live in Arizona.
Would you ever move back to Arizona?
I think there are only 3 situations that would lead us to move from our current setup — 1) A job opportunity we can't pass up 2) An opportunity to be close to the Atlantic Ocean, 3) An opportunity to live internationally for a few years. If any of the above became options, we would probably jump at it!
Does it feel like home?
Yes! Much to my surprise, it felt like home very quickly. We debated for many months whether to buy a house or rent a house while we got to know the area. I am so glad we decided to buy a house because that really helped us put our feet down. We painted the whole house the same color our house was in Arizona, unpacked fairly quickly and set-up the kiddos rooms exactly as they were in Arizona. This helped the transition. But don't get me wrong, a year in and I'm still Google mapping directions just about everywhere. Our living room and dining room are still completely empty. And when someone asks me for our zip code, our Arizona one still pops into my mind first.
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We color coded tape on every box for each room (ie: kitchen boxes all had an orange piece of tape across them, Brody's room had a blue piece) It was SO helpful with unpacking. I know everyone says it, but purge as much as you can before you pack. Also unpack immediately. Living in rooms of boxes is stressful. JD took our first week off when we moved and we unpacked nearly every box.
If you're moving far with young kids, I also recommend shipping your car instead of driving across the country. We went back and forth on what to do, but ultimately it was so much less stressful to hop on a plane and be at our new home vs. spend 3+ days driving there.
What do you miss about Arizona?
Lots! Many of the things I wrote about in this Farewell to Arizona post are still high on the list. Obviously our family and friends we left behind, the Arizona sunshine and sunsets, the roads + drivers (oh man are the roads here rough and confusing!), really good Mexican food, our nightly Bootcamp workouts. I have a list about a mile long of restaurants I crave.
I thought I would miss our house in Arizona for one reason or another, but truthfully there hasn't been anything I've missed about it other than the memories it held.
And I really missed Arizona winters. Have I mentioned that enough yet? Am I too young to become a snowbird?
Initially (and still on occasion) we have missed the fast pace of life in Phoenix. Here everyone has all of the time in the world for you, which is pretty awesome and genuine. But when you're ready for your check or food at restaurant, you really notice the difference in the pace of life.
In the Summer, I also miss the splash pads on nearly every corner of Phoenix.
And let's be honest, I miss Target being a mile from our house.
What surprised you most about Greenville?
Hands down, the genuine kindness and Southern hospitality of the people here. It has truly blown us away.
How much fun we have had living close to downtown.
The amount of fun cities that are within a few hours drive.
We've also been surprised by the mediocre food scene. For the size of Greenville, it's probably great, but I think we are still comparing things to the Phoenix metro where the population is 4.7 million vs 68 thousand. I really should give Greenville some credit, but we were a bit spoiled with the variety in Arizona due to its size. I'm still on the hunt for some authentic Mexican food, healthy food options, the perfect pizza crust, delicious cupcakes and a few other things :) But if you're looking for a brewery or a cool coffee shop, Greenville has you COVERED!
So there you have it. Our first year in South Carolina. It's been a wonderful one. If you have the itch to move and experience a new city, do it. It's an incredible, life-changing experience.
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I also received a ton of great moving advice from the sweet mommas in our private Momma Society Facebook group. It’s a great place for advice and encouragement, so head on over there and join us today!