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Old 01-20-2015, 09:05 AM
6 posts, read 6,133 times
Reputation: 12


It's so nice to see all the posts welcoming out-of-staters. Before lurking on here, I thought there might be a huge prejudice against us.

I am tired of so many things here in NJ and have been trying to find areas to which to move. I keep coming back to South Carolina and more specifically the Aiken/Columbia area. Yes, to me here in NJ, where everything just blends together, they seem close enough to be the same area.

I've grown tired of everything from the horrid winters to the economics here bleeding us dry, the lack of sense of community, the drugs (worst Heroin problem, kids in Middle Schools are using, and people dropping like flies from OD), the city influences creeping down to our suburban areas, high taxes, no room to move or breathe with everyone living on top of each other, etc. etc. etc.

My family is me, my husband, and our 7 year old daughter. Husband is a Certified Crane Operator, construction laborer, shop steward; I work in Buildings and Grounds at our Community College. He makes a good dollar with great benefits here, but we're still hemmorhaging cash thanks to good ol NJ.

I have friends that just "picked up and moved" out of state, one to PA one to AR. The PA friend is extremely happy. The AR friends are miserable. Didn't do enough research. I don't want to make that mistake.

My goals for the move:

My husband enjoys the construction industry and would like to have a job therein. He is passionate about cranes, and I found Wheco in Aiken, but, while he is very mechanically inclined, he has been primarily an Operator, not a mechanic. He is very intelligent and a skilled welder, but has not attended any tech training school. He'd need a good salary with benefits for him to feel good about the move.

I would like to work in the USC system. Actually found a dream job there in Columbia, Community Gardener, but its pay is too low to support the family if hubster doesn't have job or ends up unemployed. I do have a great resume, AS in Science, and experience not only in Landscapinig and Events, but also Construction and Social Work. Yes, I have a varied background.

Of course we want a great school system for my daughter.

I have a horse, and would love property so I could have him at home. We also have chickens, and dogs, and would be interested in other animals, as well a horse for my daughter. I have looked for months at properties around the area, and there are several that can accomodate that, and are reasonably priced.

I am active with Girl Scouts, my husband and I coach soccer, he has been active with Heroes on the Water, and we do want to have ways to participate in a strong community.

I not only want to work for the USC system, I would like to return to school and pursue further degrees. Living close to a campus is very desirable.

We are not church-going. We would stand out like evil, heathen sore thumbs in a very religious community.

Oddly enough, while not church-going, we are rather conservative. Trey Gowdy and the Pauls are favorites of ours. College towns can be more liberal, but I'm hoping not so much in SC.

While I have looked into Aiken/Columbia, I'm open to other possibilities. Hubster loves saltwater fishing, so we're open to the coastal areas, but I didn't find them as horse friendly or affordable in my initial searches.

What is the soil like there? Odd question, I know, but I'm an avid gardener. My unhappy AR friends were too, and moved to a place that they describe as rock covered in 2" of infertile top soil.

What are the obstacles out on a farm? Predators? Venomous Snakes? Bugs?

What is the water quality like for wells? Are there problem areas? Where would my water catch on fire or poison me so I know to stay out of there? (Don't laugh, friend in PA dodged a bullet when purchase of one house fell through, and found out about the water there was toxic)

I'm sure I'll come up with many more questions. I'm open to all advice. Thank you in advance for your advice and answers to these and all the ones to follow!

Last edited by kaitala; 01-20-2015 at 09:16 AM..
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:47 PM
Location: Lake Greenwood
693 posts, read 1,107,548 times
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Aiken is usually associated more with Augusta than Columbia, but it's not too much further of a drive to get to the state capital.

You can get acreage here for a horse farm for a reasonable amount, and the taxes are far less than you would pay in NJ. The soil is pretty good for gardening, but of course you'll have to adjust what times you grow what plants. There is a lot of red clay, which you'll have to get used to. It doesn't drain so good if it's heavy clay, but it's good for the plants otherwise.

My family is not church going, either, and we've had no trouble in a pretty religious, church-going community.

There is a lot of great fishing and boating at the nearby lakes and rivers, and the coast isn't that far, either.

I think coyotes would be the only real predator to worry about. There are snakes. I've almost stepped on a couple, but both were harmless black snakes.
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:59 PM
199 posts, read 205,844 times
Reputation: 132
I can't speak much for Aiken since I live in Columbia but pretty much everything you're looking for you can find in and around Columbia. The flagship campus for USC is here so there should be opportunities for employment there if that is where you want to look for work. Keep in mind that whatever job you or your husband get here y'all will most likely be making less then what you would make in NJ but the cost of living should offset that some.

There are some areas of Lexington county that are more rural so that's a possibility for y'all if you want look into owning land for horses, chickens, etc.

There are plenty of folks from all walks of life in the Midlands area so the fact that you're not overtly religious won't be a big deal. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the community if that is something that y'all are passionate about.

Two pieces of advice I can give y'all about moving. First is to make sure y'all secure jobs here prior to moving. Once you have a place to work you can start looking at where to live while factoring in commute times, schools, where the nearest grocery store is, etc. Second is to move to SC because you want to live in SC, not because you want to get out of NJ. There are 49 other states that aren't NJ that could be better suited for you and your family then SC. You even said it in your post, you need to do your research. I encourage y'all to come down and visit both Columbia and Aiken to see for yourself. Best of luck.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:22 PM
6 posts, read 6,133 times
Reputation: 12
Thank you for your responses! I do plan a summer visit.

True there are 48 other states that aren't SC and aren't NJ.

Maybe I should be asking who is NOT a fit for SC and see if I fit that description!!!!

Who doesn't fit with SC?
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Old 01-21-2015, 12:08 PM
Location: Lake Greenwood
693 posts, read 1,107,548 times
Reputation: 432
Originally Posted by kaitala View Post
Thank you for your responses! I do plan a summer visit.

True there are 48 other states that aren't SC and aren't NJ.

Maybe I should be asking who is NOT a fit for SC and see if I fit that description!!!!

Who doesn't fit with SC?
Haha, take this with a grain of salt. This is (mostly) meant in humor.

The person who would not fit well here is the one who cannot leave NJ (NY, PA, MI, etc) behind. By that I mean, leave the attitude, don't let anyone hear you say "we did it this way up North, and so should you". Learn to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Don't think that because you can drive on salted and plowed roads in the snow and ice in NJ that you can drive on unsalted, un-plowed roads here when it freezes. Don't bother ordering a soda or pop, it's a Coke -- even when it's not. And ya'll is a word, so just get used to it.

I was guilty of doing and saying some potentially insulting things when I moved back to SC after a couple of decades away, but quickly remembered my roots and realized the err of my ways. Down here we call that manners.
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Old 01-21-2015, 12:18 PM
Location: Charlotte, NC
226 posts, read 285,085 times
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I am from Aiken and you would be welcome there - the school system is hit or miss though. You'll want to check what schools you're zoned for prior to purchasing a property. There are some wonderful schools and some not so good ones too.
Don't worry about the 'heathen' thing, lol, my family has never been church going and we've never had problems. Aiken is very horse friendly, although you may want to look in more rural areas between Aiken and Columbia (Ridge Spring maybe??). There are many equestrian events throughout the year. Most of the people are 'English Style' in Aiken although you can find some 'Western Style' folks too.

Who doesn't fit with SC? People who come here and immediately want it to be just like where they left. Those people don't fit in. South Carolina is much slower as far as pace of life. People are friendly and use their manners - the clerk at the grocery store will say 'How are you?' and mean it. I've met some folks from the NE who are shocked and annoyed at that, and offended at being called 'ma'am' or 'sir'. No one here means offense by that, they're just trying to be polite.

I think most people fit right in, and we have transplants in Aiken and Columbia from all over the place. 99% seem happy that they made the move.

I do agree with a PP - make sure you WANT to move to SC, not just that you want out of NJ. Come visit a few times and do normal things that you'd do if you lived here - go to the grocery store, pharmacy, post office, check out the schools (visit them!), etc. Don't just do the touristy things. That will help. Drive in rush hour traffic and see if you can stand it. That kind of stuff.

Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:01 AM
581 posts, read 739,747 times
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With the amount of construction in the Columbia area, I would expect your husband won't be looking for a job for long. However, I'd expect that he will take a significant pay cut. Unions are non-existent in SC, so wages in those fields lag those in the northeast.

Like others have suggested, the areas outside of Columbia, particularly Lexington County and Northwest/Northeast Richland county would probably be of interest to you due to great schools and rural/suburban nature. However, I would focus on the side of town where your husband will be working, as commuting from one side to the other during rush hour would be unpleasant.

You will be fine, particularly if you're of the conservative mindset. Religious issues are overplayed, no one will care if you don't go to a church unless you're some sort of evangelical-atheist.

Soil is okay, not as fertile as the midwest but certainly workable. A few poisonous snakes and critters but nothing to be concerned about. Water is generally very good, surface water is plentiful so water-softeners aren't necessary.

Also as others have said, come down in the middle of summer and make sure you're ok with the heat/humidity as they're by far the worst part of living here.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:31 AM
3,146 posts, read 3,137,273 times
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Aiken will certainly support your love of horses and your husband can check for crane/welding jobs at SRS. On the coastal side, there are areas of James Island with decent schools along with Summerville. Aiken has USCA and the Charleston Metro has several schools too. Several cranes operating around Charleston these days, and there are the cranes that load and unload the ships. The ports are expected to expand, but those jobs may be pretty specialized.

Fair warning, this is a right to work state. You don't see a lot of union here if that's a big issue for your husband.

I'm not sure I would agree 100% with TXGamecock on the church issue. While no one is going to not be your friend for not attending church, it will come up in initial conversation until people know you don't attend. Most typically they wont try to convert you if you don't try to tell them their stupid for their beliefs. But it is common for people in the South to attend church, so while you may not, expect many of your neighbors to.
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Old 01-23-2015, 10:33 AM
Location: Aiken, South Carolina, US of A
1,767 posts, read 3,866,740 times
Reputation: 3576
If you haven't visited Aiken, or even Columbia, you must visit and vacation
If you like livestock and horses, well, both places are for you.
The wages are MUCH lower here.
No unions of any kind.
Benefits are hard to come by, seriously, unless you work for a huge
If you can get over that part, and learn to live a financially toned down
lifestyle, you will love it here.
Horses inhale a lot of sand in the areas, you will have to connect with some
horse people in Aiken to talk about all the aspects of having horses here.
The cost of living compared to NJ is much lower, but so will be your income.
Try to buy a home or rent below your means.
You will probably want to be somewhere between Aiken and Columbia, so that
you have good access to both places.
When you are visiting, contact a realtor, they can answer all the questions you have.
LOW real estate taxes, LOW car insurance, if you grow your own veggies, you can
really cut your food bill in half.
Grow your own chickens, free eggs, free chicken, grow your own veggies,
you can garden down here almost year round, the only months you can't are Jan.
and Feb. Our spring starts at the end of Feb. down here, so lettuce it is.
Gas prices are much lower down here all the time.
No State inspection, and you will have to pump your own gas here.
Use your horse dung for compost, you won't have to pay for that.
The only problem you are going to have is adjusting to low pay for your
hubby, I don't know if he will be able to handle that. You will see.
Good luck to you, and if you do decide you love Aiken, I would say to rent
the first year you are here, just in case you change your mind.
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Old 01-23-2015, 12:44 PM
3,146 posts, read 3,137,273 times
Reputation: 1404
Wow, I didn't know we had to do all those things to get by... guess I better get to building a chicken coup and turning my soil!
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