It started with an Internet search.
And although it was a five year process, relocating to Aiken is a decision Chris and Ashley Warren are happy they made.
The young professionals were living in New York City, were interested in starting a family and wanted to find a place where they could settle. The Warrens first visited Aiken on Memorial Day in 2009.
“We were looking for a bit of a change from New York City,” said Chris. “We had an apartment there, wanted to have a child, and were looking for change associated with that. Where as Ashley was born and raised in Manhattan, I was raised in a smaller town. So, I saw some attractions to it. Ashley started this whole thing with an Internet search for good, small towns to move to.”
Much to the Warrens' surprise, they found Aiken bereft of activity upon their arrival. However, they would find that the city of Aiken was special because of the people who lived there.
“I guess there was the Memorial Day Parade that afternoon or the next morning,” said Chris. “As a result, everyone was busy enjoying the holiday with family and friends, either here, the beach or the mountains.”
The Warrens had a very interesting first impression of Aiken. The city's beauty, the sense of fellowship and the downtown area made an indelible imprint on the couple. The Warrens found the free parking, the wide avenues that are one way streets, going in both directions and the simple traffic patterns were among the attributes influencing their decision.
It was a few years later that the Warrens would attend a church service, and the fellowship of the parishoners had the same powerful effect on the couple.
The Warrens have always been attracted to old homes. They purchased a 23-acre facility, with a home possessing the character and charm they had been looking for, that also had two barns, which they are now in the process of restoring, and several paddocks.
“What immediately impressed us about this town was that you could find wonderful old homes, some from the turn of the 20th Century,” said Warren. “They were fairly priced, and when you factored in the cost of living in the area, it seemed wonderful. That encouraged us to keep looking.”
The area's realtors played a significant role in making the Warrens feel comfortable during their search for what they considered the ideal home. The real estate agents not only helped the Warrens in their quest to find the ideal place, but went out of their way to accommodate them.
“They're wonderful people, who are very welcoming, knowledgeable about the activities in the area and were perfectly happy to include us in that to give us a taste and a better feel to what living in Aiken was like,” said Chris.
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.