Living over 3 years ago by Liz Adams

All About Our Move to Charleston

I can’t believe it has been almost 3 months since our move and I haven’t really talked about the process yet! I feel like you’re all well aware (thanks to my oversharing) that the move was somewhat emotional but it was also pretty seamless. Our decision to move probably felt pretty sudden although the idea of this move had been discussed since the early days of Liz and Dave (circa 2012!). I feel grateful that Charleston has always sort of felt like an extension of home to me, my grandmother lives here and I grew up coming here numerous times a year my entire life. It is a familiar place so there was/is a comfort in our move.

We feel more and more settled with every day that passes and truly pinch ourselves that we live here. We have met so many amazing people, are slowly getting more and more involved with the kids and really feel like this is home. I feel proud of us that we took this leap of faith in believing that living here would be a good choice for us. I would have happily lived in Chicago forever and there are parts of it that I really do miss. But starting this life for our family of five feels really special.

I had a lot of questions come through about our move so wanted to answer them here! Let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments. ALSO – I want to hear from you. Scroll to the bottom for my question and give me your feedback!

How did you decide it was worth the effort? Currently considering a move but struggling with the idea of completely starting over.

So this is something we had considered doing for YEARS but when we finally decided to do it, it happened really fast. I don’t think I had much time to “decide” if it was worth it or not. We knew that the process was going to be a transition and a shift but that if we truly wanted to do it, then we sort of had to just go with it. A big thing I tried to remind myself during the process was that nothing has to be permanent. If a few years down the road we feel like we are meant to be back in the Midwest, then we will go back. I moved in the third grade and I think maybe my first day of school was nerve-racking and after that it was totally fine! Starting over is hard. I’m still trying to find my groove but our reasons for moving were/are more appealing than the decision to stay at this stage in our lives.

How did you introduce the idea of moving to your kids?

Luckily our month of November sort of made this process easier for us (for those of you who don’t know, we rented a house here for the month of November to see if we could see ourselves moving – we bought our house during that month!). We have some great friends that lived across the street from us then and we used them as a way to introduce our move. The boys were so excited that they would get to leave near them, living near the beach, talk of our friends and family from Chicago visiting, etc. After 2020, our kids are so used to being only with us that they were excited!

How did you decide which moving company to use? Did they help you pack, too?

We used United Van Lines. Dave called around the 4 or 5 companies and United had the best customer reviews to price situation for what we were looking for. We did majority of the packing because we really went room by room starting in December, purging and packing what we could. We did hire them to pack our entire kitchen and dining room (basically all the fragile stuff) and they did a great job. They were quick and efficient and our stuff arrived in Charleston in just 3 or 4 days!

How long did it take you to pack? Where did you start?

Well we probably started really packing about 6 weeks out from our move and would slowly pack a few boxes a day. But the last week we moved the boys to my parents house so we could have free-range of all of our rooms and that’s when we really started boxing things up. We started with clothes, basement stuff, toys, miscellaneous items and then finished with kitchen, fragile pieces, lamps, decorative items and so on.

How did you stay healthy/positive during the moving haze?

Oh my gosh I didn’t. I legit don’t remember much from the 7 weeks leading up to our move and after having George. I would literally hide in our bedroom until Dave made me leave because we had to starting packing it. I think I tried to ignore it as much as I could and hold onto time in Chicago/with my family and friends. It was a lot of change all at once and needless to say if I can do it, you can too.

What did you decide to keep/purge?

I basically wanted to purge everything. Our house here in Charleston is so different from our house in Chicago and I knew our decor would be a different vibe living in a more coastal environment. We sold a lot of our old furniture to the buyers of our old house which was great! Then we brought furniture to basically be a place holder for new items that have a long shipping window. I purged a lot of clothes, a LOT of toys and just wanted to start fresh. I’m not one that holds on to sentimental value of things so it’s usually a quick decision if something stays or goes.

How did you get your old house clean + ready for buyers when you were moving cities?

So the timing of our home buy was kind of crazy. We put an offer on a house in Charleston while we were still here in November, had the inspection and once everything looked like it was going to be smooth sailing we called our realtor in Chicago to list our house (all while still being in Charleston for another week). Briana Murray is our relator in Chicago and she is a DREAM. She has an amazing eye for interiors and also offers staging services. So when we called her to put our house on the market I asked if she could get into our house, stage it, take photos and everything before we returned home. That way the kids weren’t destroying the house and everything looked good! She is so accommodating when it comes to scheduling showings and we ended up selling our house pretty quickly with few showings needed. She made it so seamless!

Did you have a system for organization? What did you send with movers vs. move yourself?

The only items we physically moved were Dave’s golf clubs, our coffee machine (haha it’s our baby) and Webster. Everything else went in the truck!

How long did it take you to unpack once you arrived in Charleston?

We are still unpacking! Physical boxes are all gone but all of our art/photos that should hang on the wall are all still bubble wrapped and stacked in our bedroom (the last step of decorating our rooms). Also, I desperately need someone to come organize our closets because we kind of just threw stuff somewhere to get it out of boxes. So I guess boxes are all unpacked but we are very disorganized.

How many boxes of sentimental things did you keep? We are moving and having a hard time giving things up!

So I guess sentimental means something different to everyone! Each of my boys has a box with their “sentimental” items. Things like their hospital bracelets, the first blankets they were wrapped in at the hospitals, special presents (like Tiffany’s sterling silver mugs with their birth stats), school art work that is actually good/special or has their hand prints on them (and not all of them) and birth certificates.

Where did you get the boxes you used?

Briana (our realtor) had some clients who had just moved and had a ton of boxes that we reused! Then United brought extra wardrobe boxes and enough packing supplies for our kitchen/fragile items.

Anything you would do differently the next time around?

Hm, honestly no! Our move was pretty organized from a tactical standpoint. I mean I maybe wouldn’t recommend the short time frame of our decision to move to welcoming George to then moving but also I don’t think I would have committed to doing it any other way. I think if we would have come back to Chicago and waited to buy, we would have had George and I would have been comfortable and happy where we were (I still would have been!). I’m such a creature of comfort that the fast change sort of had to happen for me.

So I want to know:
Did you make any drastic changes after 2020? Did you move? Change jobs? Choose a new path? I want to know!

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  1. Yes! We also decided to move to a new state and it all happened quickly for us too. First kid was arriving in April and we have jobs that we’re going remote so we started house shopping near where we went to college and had an offer accepted in Jan w an early April closing date. It was nuts. Fortunately Teddy arrived on time (!) so we closed April 1, Teddy arrived April 12 and we moved April 29.

    Would not recommend this to others but we knew we needed more space w a baby and we LOVE the area we moved to. Also feels like a dream (maybe just early morning feeds?) that we’re living here.

    Sometimes I worry it was a hasty decision but it was something we had considered in the past and wanted to do for awhile. I also think when things are right they flow – not necessarily easy but happen quickly.

    Had to remind myself that I can do hard things and that while it’s been very stressful and disruptive at times it has been in the service of good things for our family and lives. The things worth putting energy towards. And we’re so excited for this new chapter of life.

    So I can very much relate to you Liz!

  2. We are considering a move from the Philadelphia area to Charleston as well and the whole process seems so daunting. Our kids are also a bit older than yours (entering 5th and entering 1st) so we are nervous about the impact on them. We also honestly don’t even know where to start. But reading posts like this, let us know it’s possible and can be relatively painless.

    1. Kids are so adaptable! We have 4 children and my husband is in the Army so we move all.the.time. Of course it is hard initially, but they have always settled and thrived! Your kids will be ok, too! 🙂

  3. Currently planning a move and leaving a place we love for a place we have talked about for so long!! This post was so so helpful. Cheering you on as you start this new journey <3

  4. We moved states two months ago, so it’s a relief to me that you mention not being completely unpacked and settled. I was a stickler for the boxes being gone, but many rooms still feel “unfinished” to me without artwork hung and I have to keep telling myself that it’s normal.

    The only advice I can give is to first focus on the one space you spend the most time in–for us, that was the living room. So even if everywhere else was a complete disaster zone, we set it up, put Netflix on, ordered pizza, and ate at the coffee table. It was the one place where we could breathe and chill!

  5. I am moving back home to Colorado from New Haven, CT in three weeks. I came here for my PhD, and it is SO different. I am feeling super excited but also sad to leave this place because I really tried to make it work. But it never fit, not the way Colorado does. I’m hoping we settle in fast like you guys have! Thanks for sharing!

  6. We’re in your same boat, and almost neighbors! After the craziness of 2020, my SO and I decided to move from San Diego to Savannah, GA, and buy our first house! Felt so insane (still kind of does) but we both work fully remote, don’t have kids or pets, so when would there ever be an easier time?!

    Totally crazy, feels so random, but every day we wake up and find something else we love about living here. We were both raised in the South – him in Houston and me in NW Louisiana – so it’s very different but still feels like a sort of homecoming!

  7. I just moved to Charleston from California with my fiancé around the same time you did. It’s been really comforting to hear you share your feelings and experience!
    We don’t have any family and hardly know a soul out here! Haha feels pretty insane sometimes.

  8. We moved right before 2020 from Chicago western burbs to DFW area for work and a lifestyle change. Very similar approach to moving objects but a little less stuff to contend with as we do not have kids. In hindsight, the best thing I did while moving was to number boxes and keep a list with each box number and what was inside. This has helped so much as some things we really did not need to unpack right away and others we did. Love getting to see the Adams family happy and having fun in Charleston! : )

  9. We moved to Charleston and got pregnant in 2020, as well!! Neither were planned so it’s been a whirlwind year for us, too. But I’m like you – if it didn’t happen fast, it might not have happened at all (creature of comfort) so I’m happy with how it all went. Cheers to new things and getting out of our comfort zones in 2021!

  10. We moved from the city to the country! We were lucky enough to be able to go nearly 100% remote with our jobs permanently, and turn our holiday house into our actual home. We had always talked about wanting to do it one day but the pandemic and ensuing lockdown made us realize it was possible how. Now we live in the middle of farmland and forest, a ten minute walk from our nearest neighbour, and a ten minute drive from the beach and village. We have tons of bird life (including two chickens that we seem to have accidentally adopted), and we can see our neighbor’s cows, horses and alpacas. We sometimes miss the city but it’s easy enough to visit, and generally speaking we feel so much more at home in this amazing place with this amazing community. We haven’t regretted the decision once!

  11. We are also looking to move to the Charleston area this summer. We actually came down in May to explore neighborhoods in Mount Pleasant and it was very overwhelming! If you have any suggestions of neighborhoods to target, outside of Old Village and Ion, that are more established communities and not too far from downtown, I’d be forever grateful. Thank you!!!

  12. While I did not move in 2020 (and have no plans to) I did change jobs. It was not a sudden change as I had been working toward it since May 2019 (and did not start the new job until November 2020) but I am SO glad it finally happened. It was a good move re: salary, got me out of front line work and I’m now able to work from home + play with pets on my breaks. Major life changes can be wonderful- this one certainly was!!

  13. Yes! My husband got a job offer in Austin a month and a half ago, so we accepted, rented a house a week later, and are going to rent out / sell our house in Fort Worth. Happened so fast but so worth it! Like you guys, happening fast made us just go for it!

  14. Yes! We are expecting our first baby in June and moving to Chapel Hill, NC in August from Kansas. I know it’s going to be emotional at first especially since we are so close to our families right now. Bring on the new adventures!

  15. Hi Liz,
    I’m originally from Charleston but have lived in the Midwest most of my adult life. Ive always wanted to move back, and have finally gotten my husband to agree that we can move back when our third “baby” goes to college in 2 years. We’d love to rent a house for a month so we can decide where we’d like to live. How did you find the house that you ended up renting there?

  16. Ah! This was so timely! I needed this affirmation about the moving process. We are moving from Chicago to Charleston next month with two little ones. Thanks for an encouraging post! 🙂 love everything you share!

  17. We moved in the pandemic, but it was internationally (from Switzerland back to the states) and was delayed from May to September 2020 due to Covid. We bought a house sight unseen, which worked out quite awesome. We also going out we were expecting our first right before we closed on the house so I spent 20 weeks pregnant in Switzerland and 20 weeks in the states. Due to quarantine (we moved to a location that had very high cases and never locked down), we still don’t feel like we’ve fully embraced our new home. The process was long and we feel like we’re still in it, but I’m looking forward to embracing our new city as things start to get safer.

  18. Yes, we decided to go for a third baby and are excepting a little girl in October! Like your move, it was something we had been talking about for a while and after the last year we figured, why the heck not just go for it? We are excited but also nervous to have 3 under 5 (ps a post on transitioning from 2 to 3 kids would be awesome)!

  19. We left the city as well – see you later Chicago! We’re living the lake life up in Wisconsin now and are so much happier! Our new neighborhood consists of huge old trees, lakes, and wildflower fields. We have two little boys and they miss their friends in the city, but we all love having the outdoors at our fingertips. We moved to such a peaceful setting and it just feels right. We are so grateful!