Another case of wanderlust…

I love to move about. I’m 25 and have lived in 9 different cities simply because I enjoy it so much. I currently live in California again and while I love my home state dearly I’m itching to try somewhere new when John graduates law school in a year and a half. My latest fixation? The South. I’m stuck on this crazy notion that I belong in Charleston or Wilmington or New Orleans… So my question to you dear readers, what cities do you love most in the South? I’m looking for somewhere with a more temperate climate (not too hot for the pugs, not too cold for me), some kind of city (doesn’t have to be huge, let’s say 40,000+), and of course, charming houses. I love the idea of buying a little fixer upper and having babies with southern accents! ;) Where would you recommend? Oh and I love specifics–cute neighborhoods, boutiques, etc. I’m a planner, can you tell?

P.S. The photos above were taken in Charleston of my darling friend Hanna by Charlotte Elizabeth for the May issue of Matchbook!

P.P.S. If I move to your city will you be my friend? Okay, phew! xoxo

60 comments on “Another case of wanderlust…

  1. Dancing Branflake

    Charleston South Carolina! I visited there and the people were absolutely charming. I so wish I could live in the South but, as many of my southern friends pointed out, I have to be careful where I chose. Apparently interracial marriages are not always welcomed. But I dream nonetheless!

  2. Annie

    My husband and I live in Tallahassee, Florida — a southern town of sorts, I suppose — but we dream of moving to Savannah, Georgia one day. The town has history, architecture, and local restaurans and shops that we love! I’ve also heard lovely things about Asheville, NC. And I’m with you — it’s always fun to dream ahead. :)

  3. maggie kay.

    charleston is one of the most charming towns i have ever had the pleasure of visiting, but trust me – it gets toasty there! the pugs’ll take time to adjust, but i’m sure they’d survive. plenty of fixer uppers, and PLENTY of southern accents to go around! lots of precious boutiques that would be right up a matchbook girl’s alley, and lots of culture!

  4. Maggie

    YESSS the south! Maybe not to move – but definitely worth a visit: Columbia SC, Macon GA, and Madison GA. All have beautiful historic districts and are actively growing their cultural and arts scenes with lively revitalization efforts. Since they’re not terribly well known – there are some great hidden treasures and you have the old families there who have been there forever and know everything there is to know about their towns. Macon and Columbia also have some fascinating music history and some great up-and-coming groups reviving their music scenes

  5. Emily

    I love to move too. I’m currently in DC but hope to move to Charlotte next year. I lived in Savannah after college. You’ll never regret living there, if even only for a short time! I can’t wait to see where you end up.

  6. Katie Armour Post author

    You are all so helpful! I’ve been to Charleston once and just loved it! I’m thinking we should go back though and perhaps do a road trip to several other potential cities! This is exciting…I’m making a list of places to see! :)

    Dancing Branflake — I fear it’s true of some backwards places. I read this on HuffPo this morning and it made me sick to my stomach.

  7. {be merry} kate

    You know my vote is Charleston! Those photos made my heart flutter for my sweet little hometown. Maggie Kay is right thought – it sure does get toasty! But don’t worry, porches with fans and the ocean breeze can help you out with that. I find the Old Village in Mt Pleasant charming. Also, there are some sweet areas in James Island and even downtown. Outside of Charleston, I do love Raleigh. It’s definitely a different feel, but North Carolina has such character about it. I love the hills and the climate. Oh, Asheville too. That’s such a fun little city!



  8. Holly

    Savannah is a wonderful town–full of secret gardens and ancient trees, cobblestone streets and historical cafes. I love it there for much! It get’s hot but it’s coastal, so there’s a nice breeze.

  9. Jo

    me and John are graduating from law school at the same time! hooray for 2Ls! and wish him luck from me for finals!

    I debated going to school in North Carolina–I found it really pretty and scenic and the research triangle is quite a hub of intellectual activity! There’s also some great architecture in the area. tres Matchbook. :)

  10. Kristin

    New Orleans! It’s got architecture, culture, food, and the most colorful residents! You will never be bored!

  11. Sarah

    My current town (I use the term “town” on purpose) of Savannah is great, but you really can’t beat Charleston for a true Southern city vibe. And watch out, Hanna and I are holding you to your promise of a spring visit!

  12. Angie

    I’m so with you. I, too, have a fascination with the South although I’ve never been We’ve been back in Northern California for 12 years now, and it’s definitely time to move!

  13. Lynne

    As a born and raised New Orleanian, I have to vote for my hometown. Gorgeous architecture, interesting people, great local shopping, an amazing cultural heritage, and above all else, a true sense of community.

  14. Christina

    I don’t live there, but I go to Charleston in the summer: Anson and Magnolia are great restaurants to try. There are also lovely roof decks. I love New Orleans. Haven’t been in a while though!

  15. Blair

    Darling you will adore New Orleans! Fantastical shopping, brilliant food, and an aesthetic unlike any other city South of the Mason Dixon. And let’s not fail to mention all the Southern Gentlemen ;)

  16. Brooke

    Don’t move out of SF so Matchbook can always be in my home city! :) But check out Chattanooga, TN! It is an incredible city that I went to boarding school in (Baylor School)! Tons of walking bridges, pretty mountains and amazing restaurants!

  17. Sara

    I think you (or Matchbook) should probably do city guides from all your research so even those of us who can’t move to the south, can go visit and enjoy it!

  18. Blue Hydrangea

    Are you kidding? Wilmington is by far the best!! River on one side beach on the other (what more could you want) and the most charming neighborhoods. My kids can even ride their bikes to school!! Come to town and I ‘ll show you’re in for a treat!! xoSissy

  19. Amy

    I’m a Texas girl, so I have to say Dallas! Move to Lakewood or the M Streets and you’ll love it. (Just make sure you have access to a pool in the summers and you’ll do fine.)

  20. Rachel

    I think Charleston and Savannah are great choices for sure. Durham, NC is lovely too, and you can’t beat New Orleans!

    If you want small town, Fairhope, AL is a truly magical place. It’s located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and was founded as a utopian society. It still very much is. The downtown is so charming—the flowerbeds and hanging plants change with the seasons but I’ve never seen gardeners (and I grew up in the area). There’s a public pier and tons of pet-friendly waterfront parks, the cutest cottages (there’s one area of town known as the fruit and nut district because of the street names), friendly people, GREAT food, and a very vibrant arts community. And it’s only about a 2.5-hour drive to New Orleans. I’m completely biased, but it really doesn’t get much better than this little coastal town.

  21. Allyson

    I’m equally fixated on the South, and I’m hoping to move down there when I graduate! Maybe we can be the new kids in the neighborhood together? I personally love Charleston. My parents lived their before I was born and we’ve always enjoyed visits down there. Savannah is also gorgeous!

  22. Kathleen

    I also suggest Chattanooga, Tennessee, my hometown! Very scenic with the Tennessee river and surrounding mountains and great schools (I went to the all-girls school GPS). If you do visit, I would suggest the following areas: River View, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain–very charming, lots of older homes with a lot of character. There are also some great law firms there for your husband. When I was in high school, I worked at one as a runner.

  23. Rebekah

    As a life-long native of North Carolina, Wilmington will always hold a special place in my heart. That said, Charleston is hands down the best city in the South, maybe even in all of the US (second only to New York). I’d move there in a heartbeat. Savannah is lovely and charming, but Charleston will always win for me. Read Rhett Butler’s People if you want to fall a little more in love with it. :)

  24. karlee

    Im obsessed with Charleston. Would move there in a heartbeat. I lived in Nashville for a while–loved it, but if we were to move back to TN- I would certainly buy a sweet little house in Franklin-just south of the city.

  25. Jessica

    I’m a Southern girl born and bred, a Georgia girl to be exact and I’ve just moved home from living in Jackson, Wy for the past 4 years. Before Jackson I lived in Charleston and absolutely LOVED it! Being a designer I found it so stimulating with it’s history, art and hip creative vibe! It’s calling me back as a matter of fact and I’m planning a move!!

  26. Tonya

    Charlotte, North Carolina!!! Big enough to have fun, small enough to be intimate. Temperate, four hours from Charleston and Wilmington, a short plane ride to Atlanta, DC and New York. Come on down!!!

  27. Hayley

    Birmingham, Alabama. Great Southern town with lots of charm, great restaurants(any of Chef Frank Stitt’s) and plenty of culture. Great lawyer town too.(I am married to one) Check out the “Over the Mountain” communities of Mountain Brook, Homewood and Vestavia Hills. FABULOUS public schools. We live in Mtn. Brook and love its villages(w/plenty of boutiques and restaurants). Also, 4 1/2 hours to the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast and 4 1/2 hours to the mountains. 2 hours to Atlanta. 3 to Nashville. In the middle of everything, if you ask me.

    If I didn’t live in B’ham, then my second choice would be Fairhope, AL as referenced above.

  28. Tina Fussell

    I absolutely understand your wanderlust! We moved overseas when I was 21 and have been moving around ever since. We’ve lived in three different countries, speak four languages (almost!) and LOVE moving to a new place. BUT I was actually born and raised in the South and if I had to move back I would choose only a few cities… Charleston or Savannah for the historic charm or somewhere like Roswell, GA for the charm but access to Atlanta. Well, if I could afford it, I would move to Virginia Heights or one of the charming downtown neighborhoods in Atlanta. I think I’m hooked on living in a big city now!

  29. Melissa

    I’m from Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s a cute little city and home of the University of Arkansas. Everyone lives and breathes for The Hogs. But there’s a lot of big businesses (Wal Mart, Tyson, Jones Trucking) that bring a lot of money to the area so there’s a lot of support for the arts and the schools are great!

  30. Susan

    Well I spent many years in the south, even though I’m a northern girl ay heart. I fell in love with New Orleans, and almost moved there! Must be the francophile thing. ;)

  31. Lori

    Savannah! Whilst I have never lived there, I have visited on numerous occasions–enchanting is the word that springs to mind. Watch “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” to see the streetscapes and some lovely old homes with stories to tell. There is an understated elegance with a undercurrent of crazy (good crazy though) that makes that town FUN. History, mystery and fab houses–amazing food–what more could one ask for? You also have a captivating beach nearby on Tybee Island. Happy trails! Love your blog!

  32. Alison

    Raleigh, NC! Only a few hours from the beach or the mountains. Plus the airport is nearby so you can catch flights easily.

  33. Amanda

    Charleston is a phenomenal place (my parents live there and we visit every chance we get), but if you and your great-great-grandparents aren’t native, it can be hard to find a community. Look into Greenville, SC. It’s a truly excellent town in which to raise a family, it has great restaurants, adorable boutiques (Augusta Road is THE place to shop), and they’ve totally redone the downtown main street in the past 10 years. It’s also very dog-friendly and has tons and tons of sweet older homes that are very reasonably priced. You’re an hour and a half from the mountains (Highlands & Cashiers, NC are a must-visit), 3 hours from the beach (and Charleston), and 2 and a half hours from Atlanta (and all its amazing shopping). Decatur, GA; Auburn, AL; and the above mentioned Roswell, GA are also worth a look. The South would love to have you!

  34. barbara

    Be careful down here in the south. I too have lived in several states. There is a different vibe here. Visiting some place and living some place is very different.

  35. Kelsey

    Oh! It’s like we’re meant to be best friends or something. I’ve been feeling the exact same draw, like I’m meant to be in Charleston or similar Southern town.
    I was actually born in Charleston, was raised in Jackson, MS and have since lived in the midwest and now in New York. My husband’s also in his second year of law school, and though he’ll probably begin his career in NY, I hope for us to move down South after a while. In my opinion, it’s an incredible place to grow up/have a family. The charm, traditions, manners… I could go on and on!

  36. Meredith Perdue

    I think you would certainly love Charleston & Savannah! My favorite place in the south, the only town that would lure me back from Portland, ME, is Chapel Hill, NC. It’s where I went to college, so I’m incredibly biased, but it really is the most charming town! Nearby Carrboro and even Pittsboro, a little bit further down the road, are just as cute. (There are lots of good potential job opportunities for John in the nearby Raleigh/Durham area.) Other towns to keep on your radar: Charlottesville, VA and Asheville, NC. You should start planning some scouting trips, using sites like Jetsetter to help you find good deals. Charleston is always on Jettsetter, Sniqueaway, etc!

  37. Megan Abigail Chandler

    I am a Charleston girl (friend of Hanna actually) and I say there is no other city than my own. From an easy night over a smooth beer at Closed for Business to my upcoming girls night out to see the Nutcracker, there is always something to do but the pace isn’t so face it’ll make you dizzy. We’ve got beaches and we’ve got a couple of seasons … it’s the best of all worlds.

  38. Erica Midkiff | Dearingford

    I second Birmingham, AL! I grew up in southern Virginia, moved to Boston for a few years, and then fled back to the south by way of Birmingham. There is GREAT shopping (I know someone who stops at Saks every time she’s here because there isn’t one in San Diego where she lives), and there are wonderful restaurants. Great way of life, wonderful people.

    Asheville, NC, is another great area.

  39. Katie Armour Post author

    Thank you all so much! You have no idea how helpful this is! I’m trying to plan a little road trip to all these cities when John finishes his finals in May… Fingers crossed :)

  40. Ashley

    Raleigh of course! The farmer’s market is wonderful and has an amazing breakfast restaurant. Can you say molasses on a biscuit?
    Oakwood is a beautiful old neighborhood with victorian style homes. Cameron Village shopping center is where Matchbook girls find their frocks.
    A couple hours away from charming beach towns like Emerald Isle or Topsail Island. Or if snow skiing is your cup of mocha, Boone and Asheville will welcome you.

  41. Emily Hazzard

    If you really are planning on raising little ones with a Southern drawl–an admirable pursuit!–, I recommend postponing your move to Charleston until you retire (though for the sake of my unhealthy obsession with Matchbook, I hope that is a long way off!). No offense to any staunch South Carolinians, the public school systems in SC aren’t too great, especially when compared to those in NC. As a Virginian myself, I can honestly say I’m not speaking from any kind of bias. I must confess, though–I’m moving to SF in a year and a half and I’d hoped to meet you! :)

  42. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    We live in Raleigh, NC in an area called Five Points! It’s brimming with bungalows from the 30’s and 40’s. Our bungalow was built in the 40’s. We have sidewalks where we can walk around and we really do stand outside and chat with our neighbors. We can walk to shops and restaurants and we can see downtown Raleigh from our house when the leaves fall off the trees in winter. Raleigh is full of creative types, great restaurants and music venues!
    I wouldn’t trade being southern and living in the south for anything, it is truly poetic: humidity included.

  43. Emily Aimone

    I’m born and raised in Savannah and it’s truly hard to beat. The shopping may be a bit better in Charleston (ok and maybe the music scene), but I think we’ve got the real charm! It’s where Southern hospitality originated – the Hostess City of the South :) don’t even get me started on the food…

  44. Hannah Maple

    You DO belong in Charleston!!! Oh Katie, you would just love it here. The art, the culture, the unbelievable array of delicious food…the beauty of the cityscape, the history, the waterfront, the charming, friendly people…the weather, the sunshine…the lure of the outdoor lifestyle. I moved here nearly two years ago, and my heart has been stolen–I’m staying! It’s really nothing less than amazing :)

  45. Monica Wooten

    You would absolutely love Charleston! While I was attending law school downtown, I lived across the bridge in Mount Pleasant. Next time you are in Charleston, take ten minutes and drive over to Mount Pleasant and visit the Old Village. There are beautiful homes, amazing restaurants, the best bakery in town and a fabulous boutique called Out of Time.

    However, if you’re looking for a great city with fabulous dining, fine arts, shopping and cooler weather, Greenville, SC is the place for you.

    Lastly, if you ever need a weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of Charleston, I highly recommend driving an hour north and visiting Georgetown, Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet (where Hannah and I grew up!).

  46. Veronica D. Martin

    I think you should move to Miami, Pembroke Pines. Nice scenary and everything. Also it’s always hot no matter what season.

  47. Roxy

    Despite shamelessly entertaining a torrid love affair with NYC and currently calling it my home, I’m a southern, Carolina girl at heart. You just can’t beat the smell of salt on a Carolina shore so my Mr. and I plan on moving to Wrightsville Beach, NC once we’ve gotten the city slicker out of us ;) Although we aren’t foolin’ anyone with our southern accents!

  48. Darlene Folger

    do you have any idea the colors used in the teal house with black shutters in Charleston? Struggling getting just the right shade. Thank you for any idea!!!

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