“I’ve got lots of friends who talk about doing what my wife I did, but they don’t seem to be able to make the leap.” George McGregor, head of planning in Sumter, SC was telling me about his move from Prince William County, VA, a Washington, DC suburb.
He went on, “I used to have to drive 2 ½ hours each day and I was only going 28 miles one way and staying in the same county. It was crazy, just crazy. I was only able to have dinner one night a week with my family. It was great to come from there to here. Now I’m only 2 minutes from home and it’s great to be able to be home by 5:05 pm.”
Nine months ago George and his wife Susan moved their three children (six year old twin boys and a 10 year old daughter) to Sumter. He was born in NY, his wife in NC. They met in grad school in SC and moved to VA in 1997. George had worked in Sumter as an assistant planning director right out of Clemson.
While Susan continues to telecommute to her employer in VA, working as a software consultant, George had to take a cut in pay to make the move to SC, “But I didn’t come here just to chill out. I wanted to get back into the public sector where I thought I could help to affect change and in an area that had great upside potential.”
The move was helped by the much lower cost of living in Sumter compared to VA, “We sold our track house for $590,000 that we had bought for $310,000 in 2001 and bought a wonderful 1896 house that had been completely redone in the early 2000s. And, it is a lot more house than what we had in Virginia. The increase in value of our house there, allowed us to pay off all of our debts and come down here completely debt free.”
The George and Susan McGregors are going to become more of the norm, rather than the exception. Those towns that can make themselves attractive with their quality of life and opportunities will be the winners in the 21st Century.