Need advice - Best place to live GA/SC/NC/VA/DE

Hello everyone! Hoping to pull on the collective COTH wisdom. My husband and I finally are almost to a place we will get to choose where we live for the first time ever. I work remotely, and he is in the medical field so will be able to find a job in most locations. We are both from Maryland, but looking for a bit warmer and less populated option. Hoping you all can help shed some light on some possible options and help expand my list of locations to investigate? We are going to go visit each of these locations of course, but I don’t want to miss a potential option, and I know you all are much more traveled than I am!

List of wants

  1. Relatively close to one or more hospitals
  2. A bit warmer than MD
  3. A strong horse community - preferably with a local foxhunt, but if not then a good eventing community
  4. Small/mid-size town feel, with decent infrastructure
  5. Husband would like to be close to the ocean, but I can sell him on any body of water larger than a puddle
  6. Relatively affordable COL. MD is just a bit too expensive and a bit too congested

Places we are considering from most attractive to least

Aiken - Missing puddles of water, but everything else just looks adorable. I have never been there, but it looks like we could get a small farmet for a decent price? Any pros/cons of living their full time?

Southern Pines - Really don’t know much about this one

Somewhere outside of Charleston? I don’t know much about the area

Myrtle Beach SC - Doesn’t seem to be a lot of horse people there?

Fair Hill area/Christiana DE

Potentially eastern shore of MD/Wicomico

I also don’t know much about southern VA, but I assume it would be a similar climate to MD. Interesting in thoughts if anyone thinks somewhere down there would be a good option?

I appreciate any help or thoughts you can provide; I am crossing my fingers the COTH wisdom won’t laugh at me for this one :slight_smile: .

I lived in VA Beach. Very congested traffic. Slightly warmer than MD, wouldn’t recommend it for the horse side of things.

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Skip Myrtle Beach for your horsey dreams unless you go farther inland like Longs, SC it up to Brunswick Co in NC.

Southern Pines is amazing but $$.

Look outside of Southern Pines in Sanford and Pittsboro areas in NC. Lower cost and easy to commute between Raleigh and Southern Pines.

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That ^^^, I lived in SP and it is a great place to be with horses, would be my first pick.
The surroundings may not be as expensive, but you get what you pay for and SP, even if a bit remote from it, is worth it with horses, if you can make it work for you.

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Thomson, Georgia has a hunt club and is on I-20 so there is ease of access to Aiken.

Aiken is very nice. Check out Hitchcock Woods. I have been there once and had so much fun.

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I have friends that live in Windsor SC and they love it . Its outside of Aiken.

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You should consider property taxes, taxes in general and other cost of living differences when narrowing down places to live. I suspect all the places you have posted have taxes and cost of living that are very different and may impact where you choose.

If you are looking for horse properties there seem to be many listed outside of the Atlanta area, some are quite expensive but there are more affordable ones. Vet school is NE of Atlanta so guessing there are equine vets in the area.

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If you’re choosing between any cities in south carolina i would definitely go for aiken. Charleston is super nice if you’re not trying to own horses but I’ve seen it referred to as “horse hell” on here more than once and I definitely get why :joy: :sob: Land is expensive as hell and also poor quality, very muddy/flooded, mosquitoes/gnats galore, hurricanes are a constant source of worry from June - November, and it’s difficult to get any hay that’s not Coastal.

There’s not much of an eventing community down here, a little bit stronger on the dressage / hj side of things. There are a couple of fox hunts but I’m not sure how active they are.

Also I’m not sure if you’re planning on boarding or having your own place, but there are very few good boarding barns that don’t have a waitlist a mile long and almost zero that identify as “eventing barns”. There aren’t really any eventing-specific trainers, many people I know travel to Aiken for jump lessons, however there are a few great dressage trainers. Also there are like no good farriers that have room for any new clients, and if you have any sort of surgical emergency you have to travel 3+ hours to Tryon or UGA.

If you can’t tell I would move to aiken in a heartbeat if I wasn’t trapped here by other obligations!!! hahaha

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I have loved my trips to Aiken, SC. You have a ton of incredible show and event venues, the Hitchcock Woods, the charming town, all the pros who winter there…

I also love Southern Pines, but if I moved there, I’d want to be close to the Walthour Moss Foundation, and the closer you are, the spendier it gets.

I spent a couple of days in Camden, SC and it was delightful. Not as affluent or as full of cute shops and restaurants as Aiken, but a great horse community.

On previous trips, I had noted the lack of forage grasses that we have in MD/VA and the fact that you pretty much have to ship hay in from out of state year round and/or plant annual rye. However, this time I noticed that the majority of horses, including the hunting horses (!) are barefoot, year round, because of the incredibly lovely footing.

I could afford to ship a lot of hay in from out of state for what I pay for shoeing. Just sayin.’

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I live on the eastern shore of Maryland. I really love it here. I’m in the mid-shore area.

I will say, internet and cellular access are spotty at some places here. If you work remotely, you are going to be careful about that and make sure you have access. Definitely don’t assume! That shouldn’t be a deterrent, just an FYI.

I grew up in the Fair Hill area. That’s great too, but the weather is a little milder down here. Cost of living isn’t bad.

We still have a better horse scene than many places. Great horse community. We have a good variety of barns, small shows, trails, vets, etc. We could use some more farriers and tack/feed stores, but I’ve definitely lived in areas where there are less of those than here. We have plenty of hay and grass and pasture, not an issue at all. Maybe if you’re in a real sandy spot that’s different? Never heard anyone complain.

Wicomico Hunt is very welcoming. We have a few unrecognized events and a pretty darn good choice of instructors considering how rural it is. Driving to western shore recognized events is annoying, but it’s a straight shot up the road to Fair Hill and SE PA. Very easy drive.

We have plenty of water access, that’s for sure!

The hospital situation is kind of dicey and getting worse. If you need good medical care, you’re going to be frustrated. It’s kind of unreal how little access we have. For jobs, I guess it would depend what your husband does. We need medical professionals always, but if he is in a specialty field only found in major medical hubs, we probably don’t have it.

But all in all, I think this area is a wonderful mix of the good things about Maryland without the cost and congestion.

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There used to be a real estate site for Atlanta that listed the property taxes for each county. It was amazing to me how different the counties very near Atlanta could vary so much. I can’t find the site, but I’m sure any big real estate office could tell you the difference between the counties. In the Atlanta area, I would want to be as close to work as you can be, with barn or other places you go a lot in the same city too.

I grew up in Virginia, and the taxes would keep me from ever going back there again.

Last time I heard, fire ants were in a lot of states, here’s a recent article talking about where they are:

https://ant-pests.extension.org/geographic-distribution-of-fire-ants/#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20imported,Kentucky%2C%20Missouri%2C%20and%20Maryland.

The one good thing about them is after a rain, they build high mounds, so you can see them. I bought some granules at the big discount store, (Eliminator is the brand name) and I cover the mound with them, water it in, and make sure I get any secondary mounds (they travel downhill), and that usually takes care of them. When I say I cover the mound, not just a sprinkle, but a solid layer of granules.

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The Tryon area has several lakes nearby. I assume it is expensive in Tryon or right near the lakes, especially Lake Lure which is a big vacation area, but maybe closer to Hendersonville is more reasonably priced?

ETA: Although, since it’s in the mountains, I’m not sure how much warmer than MD it would be.

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I’d not recommend southern pines. I lived there and while I loved my time there, everyone I know in the horse world there is either moved or is getting out now. The writing is on the wall there.

Maybe between SP and Raleigh, in the Sanford area. Some people I know have just moved up so they are closer to the Raleigh horse scene.

Aiken is wonderful but it’s always warm or hot there so be prepared for that. There’s also some ongoing racism/class divide issues going on there, but that’s also prevalent in a lot of the south (including SP). They have 3? Hunts there, and a very strong eventing, dressage, and H/J scene.

Tryon is somewhere to look into. It will be warmer than Maryland but not as hot as Aiken or southern pines. They have a local hunt and there’s a nice horse community there.

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It’s considerably warmer. It was 7 degrees here last week. I think if it got down the 7 in tryon they would declare an emergency

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When I lived in Southern Pines (1973) the divider was just which country club you were a member, the more prestigious the club the higher up the ladder one was.

Aiken is true to its roots as a winter colony for the wealthy. You’ll notice that there’s a dearth of anything middle class. There’s either the wealthy horse people, or there’s people living in single wides and little pre-fab bungalows (who probably work for the horse people or in a service industry), and not much in between.

If you can afford to hang with the horse people it’s still probably a delightful place to be. Yes, I’m sure it’s oppressively hot in July and August, but so is most of the Eastern Seaboard and most horse people’s summer schedule is to do chores and ride early in the AM and late in the PM. They do have fire ants. Don’t know about other insects as I’ve only been in the winter.

@StormyDay, why the exodus from Southern Pines?

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Then you weren’t looking hard enough. There’s still a community right in pinehurst that’s being discriminated against. It’s actually pretty horrible.

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I can PM you about it, it’s kind of airing the dirty laundry. But essentially there’s been some issues with developers, the state, and some key individuals in the horse community there.

@StormyDay,

Please do

I live in the Fair Hill area in MD- if you think MD is congested and expensive, I would cross anywhere in New Castle County Delaware off your list for sure.

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