Plane flying through the blue sky Charleston International Airport just became “international ” by adding British Airways service with a direct flight to London beginning next spring!  So, given it seems that the Brits have finally been forgiven for bombarding, blockading and the early days of colonial rule, Charleston has indeed made the list of many well-heeled British travelers. And with non-stop flights now making travel to the Holy City easier than ever, what will be the first differences you notice should you want to set up a second home in this wonderful city? We have an insiders perspective to share, having done just that ourselves after leaving West Sussex, UK  seven years ago for downtown Charleston and Johns Island, SC.

The biggest mistake the Brits make when coming here is to assume the USA is a small country, as many in Europe are. It’s actually a vast swath of the North American continent, comprised of nearly 3.8M square miles, with 48 contiguous states, so a short hop to the next state can indeed be an 8-hour drive.  Best to consider each state as a country in itself.  South Carolina, for example, is 4 times bigger than Wales with coincidentally also 4 times the population and on its goes. 

What next? Let’s start with the streetscape. It’s been remarked more than once, that parts of Charleston’s downtown streets have a European feel, down to the cobblestone pavers.  Simply replace our Palmetto tree with Sycamore or Plain trees and you may as well be in Cheltenham or indeed any other Georgian market town or small city.  Perhaps the major difference though is if you are fined for parking it’s $14.00 US not GBP50! 

Being Welsh, I know the Brits like to complain about the weather.  To be truthful they do have lots to complain about given all the words they have for rain i.e. squall, torrent, mizzle, volley, onslaught.  It does rain here too, mainly in the summer and mainly in the afternoon.  We get thunderstorms in the height of the summer that are indeed quite impressive. That rain can also be torrential, way beyond an umbrella’s capability so best not venture out when it’s falling.  Winters aren’t much to write home about.  A bad frost is generally gone by 8:30 a.m. and it snowed here once last year! That was a bit of a surprise. You can plant lettuce in March and tomatoes in April – outside! The trouble looms when hurricane season arrives. The last one headed this way was 4 times bigger in size than Wales, and graded as a Category 4 before it blew itself to bits and became a torrential rainfall in the neighboring state of North Carolina. Oh, and it best be noted that air conditioning is mandatory in the summer – I kid you not, it gets very hot and humid in these southeastern US parts. And, as you are much further south than in Britain, so do you have much longer daylight hours.

London and Charleston Collage

Shops are pretty similar as are prices for most goods. Important to remember to tip please, those food and beverage workers rely on tipping so don’t behave as you do back in Blighty.  Now I’ll warn you, in general the dentists are much better over here in the States, though they do tend to charge a bit more, as do the hospitals – so stay healthy or insured is the best advice.    

And, should your time here be exceptionally memorable, then you might consider having a second home in the U.S. or more specifically, in beautiful Charleston. Compared to London and the home counties, real estate in this area is astonishingly affordable, beautifully historical and eminently obtainable, however there is a real difference in the systems and terminology.  The way they buy and sell, the way they obtain permissions and undertake the work is different. The building terms are so different we became consciously incompetent immediately upon leaving the airport.  However, all is not lost as it’s also easy to learn the ropes and it’s helpful if you have access to those in the know who can help you find, buy, build or rent. And, if all else fails, then there are a few of us Brits holding the beachhead and ready to help you all out (that’s “y’all ” in local parlance). 

And finally, should you want to live like a local, downtown or on the beaches if even for a short-term, we can help you out there also with an array of unique top-notch vacation rentals just for you. 

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