View Full Version : Charlotte or Aiken: Where to move to??
Feb. 2, 2011, 02:02 PM
I will try to keep this short. My husband was offered the job of his dreams in Charlotte, NC so of course he accepted. He loves it. We were both very excited, we love both NC and SC. We currently have a 12 acre horse farm in the St Louis area.
The trouble we are having is finding a suitable property in the Charlotte area. It appears that in order to find a property we like, we will have pay more than market value - properties on the market are overpriced for the current appraisals, given the existing housing market (Charlotte saw huge price increases during the housing boom and now many people owe more than the property will appraise for).
We would be interested in renting a property until we find something, but have not found anything to rent that can accomodate 4 horses/2 well behaved dogs. This is very foreign to us as we originate from the Toronto area (yes, we have been around-this is the last move for us) where you can rent a horse farm quite easily.
We have been to Aiken many times and love it. Rentals are available there. We are toying with renting/purchasing a property there for the long term and buying a townhouse in Charlotte.
Is it easy to find barn sitters/help in Charlotte?? in Aiken?? in order to be able to travel sometimes.
What is available as far as Dressage trainers and facilities in Charlotte vs Aiken?
We have been looking in the Charlotte area for 6 months and have not found anything yet, hence we are looking for alternatives.
Advice on each area would be appreciated. Not looking forward to another big move.
Feb. 2, 2011, 02:32 PM
Aiken and Charlotte are very different areas and life styles. Are you a urban city gal or a sleepy country town girl? Does your husband need a major airport?
Feb. 2, 2011, 04:17 PM
First off, post on the Charlotte craigslist that you are looking for equine rental properties. I've had good luck with that, being military and moving all over the place... It might help. Post it both in the housing section and in the farm and garden section.
Plenty more places to rent around Aiken with horse property, that's for sure. South/east of Aiken has a ton of horse properties (montemorenci/windsor area). I live in Augusta, 45min from Aiken. There is a small dressage community in the area, but it is small... There arent too many clinics here, but if you like schooling shows, you'll find a lot of those if not just for dressage but many combined training shows.
I'm a member of this and love their schooling shows.
I LOVE Aiken, downtown is really unique with thriving boutique stores, breweries, diners, etc... There are a couple decent tack stores. I love that you can be smack in the middle of town and residential and there's a horse crossing sign and houses with small barns and paddocks behind them. Hitchcock Woods is right in town and super nice to go hacking in (if there isnt a hunt going on)...
I wouldnt call Aiken dinky and quaint, cause it's a pretty largely populated area and they aren't lacking any of your favorite stores/restaurants or anything, but there isnt a bustling busy city feel to it, no sky scrapers and few long traffic jams if any... But it's not a dead city, i cant consider it sleepy when i cant find a parking place down town to shop...
The biggest equine sports in Aiken are Hunting, Driving, and Eventing, but that makes it neat that there is so much in one area really. Always something you can be doing, even if it's just watching. I started driving since we moved here and (GASP) like it more than dressage...
Trainers that i know of here:
http://jasminefarm.com/ Valerie Swygert (though i know they are looking for property near Lexington so not sure how long they'll be in the Aiken area)
http://amymcelroy.com/ Amy McElroy
http://thehomestedt.com/ Elly Schobel
North of Charlotte, sherrills ford area, you might find better horse properties. I know western horse people that way, i dont know if there is anything in the way of dressage that direction. But they have nicer properties, rolling hills, decent pastures, etc... and i dont think it's too high priced. You might have better luck finding rentals that way.
Would vote for Aiken, but i really love it there... However, that's a long trip from Charlotte if you need to do it on a regular basis. There are several equestrian communities in the Aiken area and probably a fairly easy bet you can find petsitters without too much hassle if in/near one of those.
Feb. 2, 2011, 04:31 PM
What about Camden SC--not quite so far from Charlotte and a horsey area.
Feb. 2, 2011, 05:01 PM
Have you looked in the Concord/Mt. Pleasant area (zip code: 28124 there are supposedly several Mt. Pleasants in NC)? Mt. Pleasant is a small town but there are a lot of affordable farms there. Im not sure of whats for sale there, but I know of a bunch of horse farms. Its a nice area and close to Pinehurst, Huntersville, etc for Dressage shows. www.ncdcta.com has a great calender of where dressage shows are.
Aiken is nice but travelling back and forth would get really old, really quick.
Feb. 2, 2011, 05:38 PM
I live in CLT and we have looked off and on for horse properties for 2 years. I am not sure what your budget is but ours is small. :( I dont know if you have a side of Charlotte that you want to live on but I do have several friends that are realtors and into trail riding horses on the west side. I would be happy to pass you their info. I saw online a beautiful horse property (would need a ring/some fencing) that I am still wishing we had the money for. Older beautiful home, pool, some pasture, some woods, trails cut.....ah.
It is hard to find the land down here. To me it seems big tracts 20+ acres or 3 acres and under. Also we ran into the McMansions which we do not want nor afford.
I only attempt dressage .... LOL....we are a big fat work in progress but quality trainers and barns are around the area. I find that the folks are very friendly too. Also several shows held within an 1 drive much more within 2 hours.
I love CLT and moved around a lot as a kid and young adult. If you are working and need big city convienence but want to live outside the hussle and bussle but have to commute daily it is totally do-able.
Feb. 2, 2011, 06:32 PM
While I have not lived in Aiken I did live in Charlotte for about a year and half and was very happy to leave :) From everything I have heard the equine scene is much better in Aiken as well.
Mar. 9, 2011, 04:17 PM
My husband and I currently have our farmette on the market. It is in the Monroe/Mineral Springs area, which turned out to be a good location as I trailered quite a bit to Waxhaw and Camden. There are some very affordable horse properties in our area, 160k for 3 acres/brick house/barn 300k for 10 stall barn/appartment/12 acres and for 500k you can get 20 plus acres with a barn and 2000 sq ft. home. And as far as listing prices, if you could see the prices these homes are actually selling for, they are as much as 30 to 80k less than LP. So I wouldn't let listing prices scare you off, it's a buyers market!
If you decided to hook up with a realtor there are several "equestrian" realtors in the area I have experience with, pm me for the gritty details.
As for farm sitters, I can personally vouch for several that I have used and are based in the Waxhaw area, but travel all over the Charlotte area. Rates are reasonable, pm me for information if you make the move!
Mar. 9, 2011, 04:26 PM
Tryon, Columbus, Landrum area is a very horsey area.
I live in Gaffney, SC I am 1 hour s of Charlotte, 1 hour north of Greenville, Sc, 30-40 minutes from Tryon, NC 3 hours to Aiken so I am kind of in the middle and 1.5 hours from Asheville, Nc.
A little further away is Southern Pines, NC also a very horsey area.
yes I have to travel if I want to compete, but there is always something going on in the Tryon Area from Jumpers, to eventing to dressage and driving.
Mar. 10, 2011, 12:31 AM
For those of you familiar with Aiken, what is Three Runs Plantation like? Can a West Coast liberal find happiness in SC?
Mar. 10, 2011, 09:52 AM
I looked at a bunch of real estate (horse farm oriented) about a month ago in Aiken.
Three Runs is quite lovely - reminded me in some ways of Ocala but with more roll to some of the available spaces/lots.
There are a ton of properties to look at in the Aiken/Windsor/Wagoner area - it would probably be a good idea to go and look at the area in person to determine if it would meet/ suit your interests & needs. I do have some photos of the TR's properties that I shot as well as Bridle Creek & a few others...
I had a super realtor who is a horse person (and has eons of experience in Aiken) Deirdre @ Meybohm. I can PM you her contact info if you'd like.
I didn't pick up on any political leanings while I was there FWIW...it came across as more of a 'live and let live' sort of vibe but I am a horse person first and political affiliation oblivious.
Mar. 10, 2011, 10:15 AM
This is their horse news:
Mar. 10, 2011, 10:31 AM
Just moved to Aiken area in September from expensive, rainy Vancouver, BC. I'm a liberal west coaster and I love it here. Live and let live is cool by me :)
I would pick Aiken over Charlotte any day. Lots of folks have mentioned all of the horse housing complexes here. All have fabulous offerings in my book. There is tons of horse stuff going on every week and just walking in Hitchcock Woods is magical. There are most of the chain stores if you need that kind of thing and lovely shops downtown. Last weekend I went to watch an event with over 400 riders. Was fabulous...all smiles and good vibes from everyone.
Mar. 10, 2011, 04:25 PM
What about Waxhaw? You would be about 45 mins outside of Charlotte. I grew up riding there and its a great place. Lots of farm properties and boarding facilities. I don't know about dressage trainers as I haven't been riding in that area for a while but there are plenty of shows. You'd also be close to the Mecklenburg Hounds.
Mar. 10, 2011, 04:29 PM
We moved down from the Northeast and found good help very hard to get. There is a huge difference in the work ethic.
I would suggest you pick one place and settle in -- barn sitters will cause you more grief then you can ever imagine!
Mar. 10, 2011, 05:29 PM
I'm in Waxhaw. My farm will be on the market here just this month. Very reasonably priced. I know the dressage scene here quite well, so feel free to shoot me PM is you have any questions. ;)
Mar. 10, 2011, 05:40 PM
Can a West Coast liberal find happiness in SC?
Advice to the OP, sell your current place and move to Charlotte and rent. Rough times ahead still a big risk in the real estate markets, and I highly recommend getting to know all the areas and doing a lot of travelling before purchasing any property.
Good luck. Almost moved to Charlotte twice in my life.
Mar. 10, 2011, 10:28 PM
I moved to Aiken from the Wellington area and I now live in Three Runs Plantation. I just love it here. The trails are super and we have a dressage and a jumping arena. It's a 25 minute to Hitchcock woods, which is lovely. There are some very good dressage instructors in the area and show interest is growing. Shawna Harding is five minutes away in Black Forest equestrian center. The town of Aiken is charming and poperty taxes in the area are reasonable. I did look in N.C. before moving here and I got more for my money here. That said, Charlotte is a very nice city (too big for me), but is more expensive. However, if you need to be close to a major airport, Charlotte is more convenient.
Mar. 10, 2011, 10:45 PM
Congrats on getting the dream job - hope it remains that way.
Suggest you look for a rental place until you can decide where you want to 'live'.
We live in Camden, SC and until last summer I commuted to Charlotte (CLT) everyday - that is a minimum of 1.5 hours one way. Aiken over 2+ hours.
Land immediately surrounding CLT is high, but very reasonable in SC. FYI - the center of CLT is just 10 miles from the from SC on I77. Of course those 10 miles can take 30+ minutes to drive in rush hour traffic. There is a commuter train that runs on the south side of town, with talk/plans of putting in a northern route. The train and bus routes can be found at http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/Pages/default.aspx.
As others have noted there is a lot of equine activity all around CLT, so it is a good central location. However you may chose to retire in one of the surrounding communities. PM if you want.
Good luck and welcome to the Carolinas.:)
Mar. 10, 2011, 10:48 PM
For those of you familiar with Aiken, what is Three Runs Plantation like? Can a West Coast liberal find happiness in SC?
If a dyed in the wool G.R.I.T.S. can find joy in San Diego and New England, you can find happiness in SC. :D:lol::winkgrin:
Mar. 12, 2011, 08:14 PM
I was going to post a new thread in regards to a potential move to the Charlotte area but thought I'd try posting here, first:
A move to Charlotte, NC (fairly near the UNC Charlotte) is a possibility for me this summer/fall. I currently live in a rural town in Indiana and know nothing of the area, etc. I’m looking for information about barns and boarding in the area--Are there any places you hear bad things about or would avoid? How far am I looking at as far as travel to the barn goes (we'd be fairly close to the UNC I'd imagine, but I know it depends on many things)? What about price? Is it hard to come by a barn with decent turn out? Any info at all in regards to boarding in the area would be appreciated--
I do ride dressage but really haven’t ridden much myself after my horse’s ongoing lameness. I’m flexible so an eventing barn or hunter/jumper barn would be fine. A safe environment and good care however, is a must, as is a good turnout arrangement. Providing ample hay and not skimping on bedding are important, too (I’d pay a little more if necessary and if the initial boarding fee wasn’t already too high / I could afford it). Having decent sized areas would be nice (eg. One that doesn’t have <100’ ends). Hopefully that’s not asking for too much…
Any info in regards to vet clinics, dentists, and farriers would be greatly appreciated, too. Are there any you’d avoid, etc.? Thanks so much. :)
Mar. 13, 2011, 09:14 PM
We moved to the Charlotte area 11 years ago. You will find that Union County is one of the fastest growing counties in NC. I have been to Aiken and find that it is very "horsey' especially for hunting but would never want to do that trip from Aiken to Charlotte on a regular basis! If you come to the Charlotte area I can help you find barn help; if you want to find property in the Charlotte area my husband is a Real Estate broker and has knowledge of barn properties...several with 30 acres or more. There are several good dressage trainers in the area [our own among them!]. Let us know when you are in the area and we can share info from the horseman's directory for Union County and help you settle in. Welcome to the Carolinas!