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They up and moved to the Upstate

The Upstate is home to more than 1.4 million people and has seen nearly a 30 percent population increase in the last 20 years. Many of the area’s new residents came here in a job-related move, but what about those who – as we say in the South – just up and moved here?

Livin’ Upstate talked with a few of those up-and-movers about how they heard about the region and what made them want to live here.

Christina and Edgar Hopgood

A Chicago area native, Christina Hopgood attended college in Florida, but made her way back north after graduation. She and her husband, Edgar, were gainfully employed and living in a northwest suburb of the Windy City when they decided it was time to escape the cold weather.

“I started researching online about places in the South with distinct seasons – places where we could enjoy outdoor activities – and Greenville kept popping up as a Top 10 place to live in the South,” Hopgood said. “We knew about the Carolinas, of course, but had never heard of Greenville.”

Fate stepped in one weekend when the Hopgood’s were waiting to board a flight to Atlanta to visit friends. “We were on a standby flight with limited seating and we got bumped, so we changed our flight to Greenville instead.”

In Greenville, the couple spent the day along Main Street, visited Falls Park and ended the day enjoying the sunset on the rooftop at SIP Whiskey & Wine Bar. After one day, they were sold.

“Neither of us had jobs lined up here, but we’re both in marketing and sales and figured we could find something,” Hopgood said. And they did. Hopgood manages Ultratan in Greenville and Edgar is a wine sales rep for Breakthru Beverage Group.  When not at work, the couple enjoy the area’s foodie scene, kayaking at Paris Mountain and enjoying the area’s many state parks.

“We’ve never looked back,” Hopgood said. “We’re now trying to recruit family and friends to move to Greenville.”

Amy L. Robinson

Philadelphia native Amy Robinson had been living in Naples, FL for about a year when Greenville, SC appeared on her radar. A fellow executive coach in Houston, TX had just retired and was considering a move. Greenville, SC ranked first on a list of 12 cities recommended to him after entering his information at the website FindYourSpot.com.

“My friend visited Greenville, put in an offer on a house but he didn’t get it,” Robinson explained. “He stayed in Texas, but he called to tell me that the entire time he was in Greenville, he thought of me.”

Robinson had never heard of Greenville, so she asked her well-read, well-traveled mother about it. “My mother remembered that someone we knew in Philly had a kid who lived in Greenville,” Robinson said. That someone turned out to be real estate attorney Meredith Noon, a family friend that Robinson hadn’t seen in 34 years.

Robinson visited Greenville, staying about five days to study the area’s business climate and determine its viability as a location for her executive coaching business. “I stayed with Meredith and she invited me to a potluck dinner for women entrepreneurs,” Robinson said. “I learned about the area’s international community and that it had once been the textile capital of the world, so I knew business was in its blood.”

Almost sold but still a bit cautious, Robinson made a return visit to Greenville, bringing a friend from Boston along for a second opinion. They rented bikes and rode the Swamp Rabbit Trail, walked Main Street, then ended up at Soby’s for dinner one evening.

“The first 10 voices I heard were speaking another language,” Robinson said. “There was so much progressive energy and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

The executive leadership coach and performance consultant first lived in a townhome off Pelham Road in Greenville, and recently purchased a home in Taylors. “I travel quite a bit and I’ve never lived so close to the airport, and I love being close to Hendersonville and Asheville.”

Joe and Veera Gaul

Veera Gaul was Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island when her husband, Joe, decided to change careers.

“Joe was always traveling, flying all over the world for his job, and it was affecting his health,” Gaul explained. “He wanted to quit his job, but he didn’t want to retire.”

After the couple discovered Oil & Vinegar and purchased the franchise rights for stores in South Carolina and Georgia, Veera quit her job and the couple began researching locations for a move.

Owning a vacation home in Bluffton, SC, the Gaul’s were familiar with South Carolina’s Lowcountry. They originally considered Hilton Head and the tourist-rich cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA as sites for their first Oil & Vinegar franchise store. But none of them felt right, according to Gaul. “Those areas had a lot to offer, especially in terms of tourist traffic, but we wanted a place with community.”

Online research led them to Greenville where they spent a full day along Main Street talking with business owners and managers, as well as others they encountered along the way.

“That Thursday evening, we went to Roost for dinner and listened to the music outside the Hyatt,” Gaul recalled. “In less than 24 hours, we had made the decision to open our first Oil & Vinegar store in Greenville, and we’ve not regretted it for a minute.”

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