Why Maine went from being “home” to “Vacationland”

By Kelsey Halm

Have you ever questioned your own sanity? I don’t do it frequently – but a couple of weeks ago my husband and I packed our entire lives into a 16′ moving truck and relocated 1200 miles South of Bangor  to Charleston, S.C.

In fact, within the past 365 days, we’ve done 4 of the 5 things recommended not to do all in one year: 

1. We got married

2. Sold our house

3. Moved out-of-state

4. Changed jobs (BOTH of us!)

The only thing we didn’t do is have a baby. (Sorry relatives, not happening!)

Personally I’d been ready to leave Maine for a long time but my husband wasn’t, so we spent several years talking about this idea. Although I grew up in Bangor, after living in Tampa for a year, the warmth of the sun and the sandy beaches continued to call my name.

So what influenced our decision: Here are 3 of the key factors:

1. As a kid I LOVED winter in Maine. Building snow forts in the back yard, snowboarding at Hermon Mountain (Sugarloaf, too, when we saved extra) and of course the excitement of a (usually) white Christmas – but as an adult the winters became one of our biggest reasons for moving. The fun of childhood quickly gets replaced with the very depressing realities of adulthood, in particular, home ownership. Buying fuel – trying to thaw frozen pipes – paying plowing bills – short days with no sun – we decided we’d rather vacation back to Maine from a warmer climate and enjoy the winter when it suits us, rather than struggling to survive it.

2. I am by no means making a political claim here – but c’mon, Maine isn’t doing so hot. Regardless of what “side” you support, the political and economic climate in Maine may be worse than Mother Nature’s climate.

3. Business. (Although tied to #2, it stands on its own.) Both my husband and I run our own small businesses and from that standpoint, we really needed a different environment. We looked at it from a lot of different angles, but when it came down to the simple population we knew we needed to relocate in order to thrive.

After debating this decision for a long time we finally decided moving away was our best option, but it was a bittersweet choice – and has been a bittersweet reality.

Turns out, moving is not fun in 10 degree weather with fresh snow on the ground. And to find out all your belongings weren’t going to cram into limited space … you can imagine our struggle.

If you’re planning a move, here’s some insight: when moving four adults (two of my sisters relocated with us), and you have a 3 bedroom house with a two car garage, plus a basement – your stuff will NOT fit in a 16’ truck.

Thankfully we had help from our family and a few amazing friends who we called in a panic last minute- and I’m talking 8:00 the night before we left.

Two friends drove our moving truck the WHOLE way. We drove 14.5 hours the first day – but it ended up taking us almost 18. Something else to consider when planning a move: if you’re caravanning 3 cars with a moving truck, everything takes longer – also, double-check Google Maps for a time estimate… I thought it was 12 hours from Bangor to Harrisonburg, VA – turns out it was 14.5

Once we finally made it to SC,  we then had to lug all of our stuff up to our new third floor apartment.

The moral of that story – and my greatest advice of all: if you can afford to: HIRE MOVERS. 

Most of our family still lives in Maine, and they are absolutely the #1 reason we will miss the state (we didn’t get to leave without promising frequent visits back) but there are plenty of other things that I’m sure we will long for from time to time.

Here are a few other “Maine” things we know we’ll miss:

  1. Awesome mountains to hike within a short drive
  2. Those few summer days we do get, with nights that actually cool down
  3. Being able to talk like a sailor and not have people within earshot all of a sudden stop talking and stare wide-eyed
  4. Real sports teams. (I don’t care that the Panthers are going to the Superbowl…we all know they should be playing the Patriots not the Broncos)

We love our new home in South Carolina and wouldn’t take back our decision to move for one second, but we will always be proud Mainahs at heart.

A South Carolina sunset ...

A South Carolina sunset …(Photo by Kelsey Halm)



Kelsey and her dog, Tango

Kelsey and her dog, Tango

Kelsey is a personal trainer in South Carolina and also works independently for Mary Kay. To keep up with her new adventures, you can follow along on Kelsey’s blog Chai and Orchids.




Each week I will be inviting a guest blogger to join me in sharing their story of living “unplugged.” Interested in being my +1? Submit a request with your idea! You don’t have to be a “writer” just passionate about your topic!

Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: www.erinnemagee.com