For this Thursday’s post about what inspires me, I’m going to tell you what already inspired me… how we ended up choosing Charlottesville as our new home.
Almost a year ago, when we started thinking of seriously leaving the DC area, a lot of our friends understood that sentiment and expressed a similar desire themselves. Then we decided on Charlottesville as our ideal destination, to which a lot of our friends said… “why?”
1. We wanted to stay in the South.
Cold weather depresses and frightens me. I like the Southern culture I grew up with on my dad’s side spending time in rural Virginia and David, having grown up in Charleston, South Carolina, likes it too. (Northern Virginia is admittedly NOT Southern. That’s hard for me to admit, because I take pride in my “Southern” roots, but really I can only do so based on my parents and their legitimate Southern roots.)
2. We wanted to be able to buy a house with some land or at least a really big yard.
In Northern Virginia, our tiny little townhouse was expensive. And it was tiny! 2.5 bedrooms (the “third” bedroom was really only big enough for a crib), 1.5 bathrooms (the half-bath was part of the mud room and laundry room), a tiny not-updated kitchen, and a very small yard for our very large dogs.
It practically required two full-time incomes (which are not too shabby in the DC area) just to pay the mortgage and live comfortably. I felt cramped. I gardened out of pots and we spent hours and hours of our lives at the dog park throwing the ball for Liesl or running around with Kaiser so they would get their energy out and be tired at home. We decided when we left the DC area, we wanted space for however many large dogs we could ever want AND for me to garden. (And, one day, a yard/ play area for our kids.) This required looking at areas with lower costs of living, which wasn’t too difficult coming from the high and mighty market of DC.
3. We wanted to be near the mountains.
Let me clarify that: I wanted to be near the mountains. I LOVE mountains. Every time I see them, my stress level instantly lowers and I just smile inside (and usually outside, too!). This is probably also attributed to spending time at my grandparents’ farm growing up and always seeing the Blue Ridge mountains across the fields.
4. We wanted a city that was not too big, and not too small…
…some place where there wasn’t horrible rush hour, like Atlanta, but wasn’t too small town where the big event was the annual lawn party. Charleston and Alexandria were both good sizes (125,00 and 146,000, respectively) but we were hoping to find a city that was a little less dense where you could spread out and have some room. At the same time, we didn’t want a city with so few people that there was no cultural life, like a restaurant scene or the arts. This made us start looking at cities with renowned universities…
5. We wanted an environment where our future kids would be intellectually stimulated.
Northeners would probably say you can’t find this one if you live in the South. 🙂 But this was important to us. We didn’t want to move from an amazing center of power and business like Washington DC and rob our future kids of the opportunity to learn, learn, learn. We started looking at cities with good school systems. I grew up going to public schools and David grew up going to private (but only after his public school experience was not… well, it wasn’t enriching his mind optimally). We both ended up at Wake Forest University, happily ever after, yadda yadda, but the common denominator– in my opinion– is that we thrived educationally.
6. We wanted to be able to get jobs.
This probably should be #1, but at the time we were developing our “criteria,” we weren’t totally serious about the idea of moving and it only figured into the equation later in the game when we started to think of leaving DC as a definite possibility. A lot of research went into figuring out where we could both work in fields relevant to our careers (and not take a huge hit professionally).
Only two cities made it to the short list– Greenville, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia– and then David got a job offer in Charlottesville and that was that! Charlottesville has exceeded every expectation we had. We have PLENTY of room with our big ol’ farmhouse on five acres, we have a view of the mountains from the house, it’s the perfect size because we’ve been here less than a year but we know our way around and know the major parts of the city (just not too intimately to be bored with exploring them!), we’ve been to a bunch of concerts already and there are so many around the corner, we’re in one of the best school systems– Albemarle County– in the U.S., and we’re both in jobs we love doing what we wanted to be doing.
And that, my friends, is “Why Charlottesville.”
We couldn’t be happier we moved here, flying squirrels and frozen pipes and all, and we both agree we would do it again in a heartbeat.
20 thoughts on “What Inspired Us to Move to Charlottesville”
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Thank you! We are relocating this month to Charlottesville from Ct. i’m so looking forward to it!
Oh welcome!!! I hope the move goes smoothly!
I enjoyed this article! Me, my wife and two sons moved to Albemarle county in 2011 from northwest Florida. I was offered a job in the area and had never heard of Charlottesville. I am from Seattle, my wife from NW Florida. We have lived in Kentucky, Hawaii, and South Carolina. We have come to love the char-albemarle area! We live in N. Albemarle and love the country feel. The public school system is great, our oldest graduated from Albemarle High and our youngest goes to Sutherland Middle School. Though we chose to build a new, modern home with all the efficiencies and conveniences of a new home, I still dream of owning an 1800’s farm house on a few acres!
Hi Rob! It’s so nice to hear you love it here, too. (And believe me, the grass is always greener… right now I’m really really envious of anyone with a new home who has dependable heating and water!) Once we have kids, we’re looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the public school system. Have only heard good things so far!
I always look forward to reading your blogs…. you have a wonderful way with words….. And David’s helpful hints at saving big bucks by doing it yourself is FAB… Do keep them coming…… Love em……. Connie
I agree 100% about the mountains. I travel to NOVA for work and every time I come down 29 into Madison and see the Blue Ridge in the distance, my stress level drops palpably.
It’s amazing how that happens isn’t it??
I’ve lived here my whole life and I am still loving it! Welcome to Charlottesville (well you’ve been here for a while now). Loved watching your HGTV episode!
Thank you so much!!! I can’t believe we’ve almost been here a year– it feels like only a few weeks! Charlottesville is amazing. How lucky you are to have lived here your whole life!
I am so happy to have stumbled upon this blog!!! My husband, two kids (4and 7), the family dog and I are seriously thinking of re locating from Palm Springs, CA to VA. We love the look and feel of Charlottesville. Here is the kicker……. I am so afraid of ticks and Lyme disease!!! Our purpose of moving is to have some acreage and enjoy seasons. I would love to see how you all handle ticks and if it is as serious as it seems. A girl in need of insider scoop!
Ashley– DO IT! Moving to Charlottesville is one of the best things we’ve ever done, if not the best thing. My sister lives in CA and she is always afraid to visit here too because of the ticks. I’m not going to lie– it was brutal last summer. This past winter was really cold so all of the ticks died, thank goodness, but before that we had 3 warm winters in a row so the ticks just multiplied throughout the year. I’m looking forward to this summer’s warm weather but hoping the ticks won’t be so bad. Our dogs get tick meds 2x/ month plus wear tick collars and that seems to work most of the time. And every time we take a shower after we’ve been outside, we do tick checks on ourselves. It’s really not too bad if you’re careful, and while Lyme’s is horrible, it’s totally treatable if caught early enough (which it usually is). It’s worth the ticks to live here in my opinion!
Is your dog Liesl at Flat-Coated Retriever? I saw the show and just got a glimpse. As a breeder, I have two other flat coats that live in Charlottesville.
No she’s actually a pure bred Hovawart! (But she looks almost exactly like a flat coat.) We thought about breeding her but ultimately I think it’s too much of a time commitment– lots of respect for you and your flat coats!
I wanted to know if you think a single mother could make it in Charlottesville? I have been wanting to move for the last year. I live right outside of Houston TX. I hear good and bad things about the job market there. Advise would be greatly appreciated.
Good question– not being a mom myself (yet!), I don’t really know to be honest. I would think so based on how many kids activities there are, how easy it is to get from Point A to Point B (lack of traffic, etc.), the absolutely incredible public school system, and how friendly the folks around here are. David and I got really lucky with finding jobs in Charlottesville– but I couldn’t guarantee we’d have the same luck if we tried to do it again. I definitely love it here and it fits for us but we are fully aware of just how much help (from above) it took to get us here… we refer to it as the “God-approved move.” If you ever have any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them! I should also add that our realtor, Bill May, is born-and-raised Charlottesville and knew everything there is to know about moving here. Can’t recommend him highly enough.
Thank you so much Lynne. I have been waiting on the God-approved move myself and I am waiting patiently. I cant get Charlottesville off my mind. I have a very close family and it would be very hard to leave but I think that my daughter and I would benefit with a new start and what better place to go then Charlottesville.
What do you and your husband do for a living?
We’re in IT. He works at SNL Financial downtown and absolutely loves it! Right now I’m staying at home with our baby girl and loving it, too… not sure if I’ll be going back to work or not yet.
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