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The Good and Bad about Aiken

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  • The Good and Bad about Aiken

    I have never been there, haven't even been close. I've been here for four years, and while I really do love it here, wow the winters have not been so great!
    I've done my share of cold and snowy chores (Idaho for 27 years) and I don't want to do it so much anymore!

    So, looking around realtor sites etc, Aiken looks beautiful, but what is the reality of living there full time??
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
    www.dleestudio.com

  • #2
    There is a lot to love about Aiken, especially from December to April. Aside from the obvious horseyness that we all know about, it has a great little town, nice golf courses and pretty architecture.

    However keep the following in mind:
    It is really humid in the summer and "everyone" leaves after the winter.
    The cost of living is high compared to the average cost of living in SC (it is essentially a resort town).
    It can be hard or expensive to get there and it is remote.

    I've never lived there full time, but my boyfriend's brother and his wife (an equine vet) live down there and these are there qualms. No place is perfect, but there seems to be a high season that is pretty short. As a vet, she travels a lot to have enough clients in the off season.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant

    Comment


    • #3
      Go there several different times during the year and check it out. That is what we did and we ended up buying land and will be building and moving full time. We also considered Tryon and Southern Pines and other horsey places, but in the end, Aiken won out. I am SO DONE with the snow and ice and cold! I was in Aiken last week for the great blizzard (!) and what they consider bad weather is laughable considering what I've come from (and came home to). I'm told you usually only break ice on the morning water buckets a handful of days each year, and the story that hit last week was the worst weather they've seen in a many decades. So it dumped some snow on Monday and I was foxhunting again on Thursday on perfect sand footing in a lightweight coat.

      The horse scene in Aiken used to be winter only. Now there are a lot of horsey people there year-round. This has changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years. I have met people from all over who have moved to Aiken and are very happy with the decision. About the only two downsides that I've heard are (1) the heat/humidity in the summer and (2) the traffic on Whiskey Road. Both are relative. I've spoken to a number of people who have moved from places like FL and Chicago that say the heat/humidity is not a big deal and not as bad as what they dealt with before. The Canadians and the Vermonters, however, are justifiably horrified by it. Coming from KS, I expect to have some miserably hot and humid days in Aiken, just like we get in KS, but that there will probably be more of them. However, the other 3/4 of the year will be way better weather and footing wise. I did visit Aiken last July and it was, frankly, lovely and comfortable. So there can be breaks in the heat/humidty there, just like anywhere, and miserable times as well. My Aiken friends ride in the mornings or late evenings in the summer. One conditioned and moved her horse up to Prelim in Aiken in August a couple years ago.

      The traffic on Whiskey does get bad around rush hour. But compared the the traffic and commutes in much of the country, it is no biggy. People have to have something to complain about, and these two things are pretty much all Aikenites can come up with.

      The footing really is phenomenal. There is good support for horse people with vets, farriers, feed stores, tack stores, fence builders, barn builders, etc. Coming from KY as you are, that may not be such a big deal, but for me it is.

      There are not nearly the bugs in the summer as I've experienced in KS or Alabama (unless you are right on the water by a lake or creek). Lots of transplants from other areas make the town really friendly and inviting and easy to get to know people. There is always stuff to do, to the point that you have to pick and choose. And you don't spend your life in the car because it's all pretty conveniently located compared to what I'm used to. Good restaurants, plenty of chain stores for everyday shopping (yes, that IS a Talbot's right next to TSC—where else but Aiken?).

      What I've really liked about Aiken is meeting people in every age decade, a wide variety of disciplines, and from rank beginners to top riders, and they all are getting along and enjoying the place together.

      It is not a great place to find a job, though. People who want to live in Aiken often commute to August or Columbia or the SRS for work.

      You will need to form your own impression by visiting several times throughout the year. I can put you in touch with the excellent realtors that showed me around and will take you hacking in Hitchcock Woods or foxhunting, etc.

      A friend who heard me talk about Aiken last fall went down at the beginning of Jan and has decided to relocate there full time. The place sells itself if it's right for you.

      Also, you should look through issues of The Aiken Horse and you can get a feel for what is going on in the area year round: http://www.theaikenhorse.com/
      Hindsight bad, foresight good.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Wow, wonderful information, thank you!! I will be picking the brain of someone I know who moved there as well.
        Luckily both Mr.DL and can do what we do from wherever (as long as he can get online) so that is not a big deal.
        Will definitely make plans to visit, thanks!
        We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
        www.dleestudio.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Pros: Lovely farms. Lots going on.

          Cons: Very expensive. Very very expensive. It's SC, for goodness sakes, it's supposed to be cheap!
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
          We Are Flying Solo

          Comment


          • #6
            Might be $$ for SC, but is a hell of a lot cheaper than here in MD - for land and building ...
            http://www.cngsporthorses.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Dang, I've always wanted to live somewhere "horsey".

              With lots of transplants from other places, there is generally tolerance and broad-mindedness in terms of race, religion, politics, etc? Not that I live in such an area, (very constipated, right wing sort of bible-thumping town I live in) but if I moved, that would be a must.

              Imagine, having your town with its OWN HORSE PUBLICATION. *swoon* Any big hospitals down there?
              Click here before you buy.

              Comment


              • #8
                Couldn't agree with Badger more! Husband and I were also looking at Tryon and Southern Pines, but chose Aiken. We recently purchased 5.22 acres in Bridle Creek, and are hoping to build summer of 2013. Depends on the economy and what we can get for our farm here in Lexington, VA (which we love dearly but are getting older and won't be able to take care of it forever - thus the move. Plus the cold/snow has really gotten to DH the past couple years. ) Price is all relative to what you are accustomed to spending. Taxes are about the same as our taxes here, land was cheaper. There are ways to avoid Whiskey Road during the busy times, and there is always A/C for the hottest days. We have visited in the summer and winter - last summer was about the same as our weather here - HOT!!!! Winter was much better than here.

                We are planning a weekend trip in Feb or March - will probably volunteer at one of the horse trials. Hoping that the Olympic Gala was going to be held at Phillip Dutton's place in Bridle Creek again this spring and were hoping to come down to that, but haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. I did see that a driving fund raiser is being held, and am thinking that might be in place of the one at Phillip's this year? (If anyone has any info on the Gala, please PM me. TIA )
                stained glass groupie
                www.equiglas.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Dang, I've always wanted to live somewhere "horsey".

                  With lots of transplants from other places, there is generally tolerance and broad-mindedness in terms of race, religion, politics, etc? Not that I live in such an area, (very constipated, right wing sort of bible-thumping town I live in) but if I moved, that would be a must.

                  Imagine, having your town with its OWN HORSE PUBLICATION. *swoon* Any big hospitals down there?
                  MCG-world class academic medical center located just across the river in Augusta. Very prestigious medical community in Augusta. Pam Gleason does a great job with The Aiken Horse publication. You run into everything here because there are people from all over the country-conservative, liberal, religious, not. A very diverse group.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DLee View Post
                    I have never been there, haven't even been close. I've been here for four years, and while I really do love it here, wow the winters have not been so great!
                    I've done my share of cold and snowy chores (Idaho for 27 years) and I don't want to do it so much anymore!

                    So, looking around realtor sites etc, Aiken looks beautiful, but what is the reality of living there full time??
                    Additional Aiken info in the curent Moving to the Carolina's thread in the Off Course forum.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      DW, as Kachina said, it's a very diverse group and you'll run into all sorts of people. Aiken isn't the sterotypical small southern town that "everybody" warns you about when they hear you are moving to SC.

                      Check out the Augusta medical scene, I met several people who live in Aiken for the horsey stuff and they (or their spouse) commutes to Augusta for the medical jobs.
                      Hindsight bad, foresight good.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One of the few things on our relocation list that Aiken DOESN'T have is a nearby Costco...but one is being built in North August and will be open this fall.

                        Our lot is 30 miles from the Augusta airport. When I flew out of there on Sunday there was NO line whatesoever for check-in or security. None. The airport is like a country club, very comfortable and civilized and easy access to Aiken. For some weird reason, I can fly into Augusta on Delta cheaper than I can fly to Atlanta, Columbia, or Greenville.
                        Hindsight bad, foresight good.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I lived there full time for 3 years (minus my first summer when I came back to CO). I moved back to CO just before Halloween. Aiken has an awesome horse community, tons of horsey activities but that was it for me.

                          Pros:
                          everything horses, all disciplines
                          cheaper than Colorado!
                          winters are easy (though this year everyone is whining)
                          great vets, access to tack & feed
                          close to beaches, Atlanta, other regional opps
                          The Hitchcock Woods!!
                          excellent training facilities, especially for eventing

                          Cons:
                          Summer was hell, I have never lived through anything like that. My horse was miserable from skin problems from the heat and bugs and I was miserable too.
                          Gnats - suck!
                          Very hard to make a living, so go with a lot of $$
                          Gossipy town, big time!
                          It's S.C., flat and not much else to do except horses (but I personally love big mountains, skiing, running, etc)

                          My farm is for sale and being rented for the winter. I truly miss my barn, my land, the location I lived in & my girlfriends but I can't stand the backwards way of living that I witnessed...obesity, smoking, lack of education, pollution (like throwing trash on the ground, not the air quality which is good) and the horrible attitude towards cats and dogs (lack of neuter/spay=huge unwanted pet population). Most people are better at overlooking these things but I came from a very active, educated and outdoorsy community.

                          I gave it a go but it wasn't for me in spite of all the wonderful horse opportunities.

                          I have tons of friends that love it...I think if you are from the east coast it's easier but I am a western girl and am content with less horse opportunities and being in the rocky mountains (at 8,750').

                          good luck!
                          Ready ~ 1999-2009 ~ you were bigger than life!
                          Stickers ~ 1985-2011 ~ Cody's BFF
                          I miss you both very much!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            DW, less than 30 minutes from uga medical school
                            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by eventgroupie2 View Post
                              here.

                              I did see that a driving fund raiser is being held, and am thinking that might be in place of the one at Phillip's this year? (If anyone has any info on the Gala, please PM me. TIA )
                              Don't know about the Gala but the USET Foundation is hosting a Salute to Driving Dinner and Live Auction at Trout Walk Farm to benefit high performance combined driving. I do know Phillip is scheduled to perform a pas de duex with Shelly Temple on Monday February 21 during the lunch break of the combined test (this is all part of a three day driving clinic).

                              Badger we will be glad to see you all somewhat closer to us!

                              (and now back to our regularly scheduled programming)
                              www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                              www.pegasusridge.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I like this idea, because while I love having someone in Lex to visit, in Aiken, you will be about 6 hours closer to meeeeeeee!!!!

                                I have driven up to do Paradise once, and just loved the area. I vote that you go check it out and then let us do virtual shopping with you!!

                                Libby
                                I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
                                Higher Standards Custom Leather Care -- Handcrafted Saddle Soap

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I grew up in Irmo, SC (near Columbia) moved away and have lived in VA, IL, PA and FL, then moved back to the outskirts of Aiken. GREAT place to live.

                                  Yes, a major influx of equestrians is in the winter but we have more and more people staying all year round. Makes for a very close network of horse people.

                                  Money wise, if you are willing to look a little further "out" of downtown Aiken, the land prices drop considerably. I'm 35min from Whiskey road but instead of 5-10acres, I have 400..I can live with that! :-)

                                  Financially, you will save more on equine related products and services since it is all centrally located. At least I did! Many places I have lived, even the more horsey areas, had feed, hay, tack, vet, farrier all spread out so prices and gas money cost more. In Aiken, most everything you need can be found within 30min drive of one another.

                                  Honestly, the people in Aiken are so diverse that it doesn't really feel truly southern, at least to me ;-). So, I think it is easier for out of towners to adapt than if they were thrown into some other towns (come to my little town and you will see a whole other lifestyle, LOL!).


                                  Footing is perfect! It is amazing that if you go only an hour north it transforms to rock and red clay. Weather is hot/humid in the summer but people and animals adapt.Seriously, its not that bad unless you insiste at doing your gallop work at noon during the middle of summer! You learn to ride early and late as well as how to handle the bugs with lots of fans (I have 3 in each stall) and shaded run in sheds/barns. Really, all of the other places I have lived had comparable hot summers but more negatives than SC.

                                  Don't forget that if you tire of the Aiken scene you are very close to Columbia which is a very neat city with a lot to do. Plus, you are only about 2-2 1/2 hours from Charleston (amazing place to go),Edisto beach and within driving distance to Hilton Head, Isle of Palms, etc. For mainstream clothes shopping and more stores,hop on the interstate and go to Columbia. Harbsion Blvd has everything!

                                  Best of luck with your decision!
                                  Mollie Moss
                                  www.mossequestrian.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I can't help but laugh at those who complain Aiken is expensive. Compared to what?

                                    Depends on your point of view. Compared to NY I can not believe how cheap everything is. A house comparable to my NY house but with a lot more land is about 25% of the NY house price.

                                    Property taxes in NY are $15,000 for 1/3 acre. aiken less than 10% of that.
                                    Insurance is also about 10% of NY prices.

                                    Horse board in NY can be $3000 a month.

                                    Trafiic? Compared to Metro NY there isn't any.

                                    Motel prices are around 50% of NY prices per night.

                                    Gas is cheaper, the supermarket is cheaper etc etc.

                                    Easy to get to. Right off a major highway. Amtrak goes to Columbia. Less than an hour from there by car.

                                    Compared to NY winters anything is better.

                                    Augusta and Airport close by.

                                    Great Regional hospital.

                                    etc etc
                                    Fan of Sea Accounts

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Bensmom View Post
                                      I like this idea, because while I love having someone in Lex to visit, in Aiken, you will be about 6 hours closer to meeeeeeee!!!!

                                      I have driven up to do Paradise once, and just loved the area. I vote that you go check it out and then let us do virtual shopping with you!!

                                      Libby
                                      LOL, seems like we JUST did that moving here!
                                      Thanks so much for all the information, you guys are awesome! We really do love it here, everybody says the last four winters have been extra hard (exactly how many we've been here!), and certainly now is no time to really sell our little farm we have worked so hard on.
                                      But 5" more last night and it's 8 degrees this morning. Sigh. I hate hot summers too so I guess I'll just have to head to Jackson Hole to paint then!
                                      For sure we need to visit Aiken.
                                      How bad is the lightning? Is it as bad as Florida?
                                      We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
                                      www.dleestudio.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Someone mentioned UGA medical school is 30 minutes, maybe they meant Augusta? University of GA, Athens (UGA) is 2 hours away but has an incredible vet school. Unfortunately I had to take horses up there twice but it is a good place. MCG (med college of GA) is in Augusta and it is a leading med facility, however I was shocked to see a McDonalds in the basement of the place. McD's being eaten in the nurses stations seems just wrong!

                                        My first winter (07-08) was really mild, next winter was colder and this year does seem to be cold from what I hear but still mild compared to KY.

                                        When I went up for Rolex, I thought KY looked amazing!

                                        Yes, summers are horrible, the lightening is REALLY bad. I know horses that were struck and killed, my house was, business' were, fences, trees, etc. Gnarly storms. I would stand in the middle of my house and watch the barn and pray many times.

                                        Aiken in the winter and Jackson in the summer sounds IDEAL!!!
                                        Ready ~ 1999-2009 ~ you were bigger than life!
                                        Stickers ~ 1985-2011 ~ Cody's BFF
                                        I miss you both very much!

                                        Comment

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