My husband and I are thinking about moving from NYC to SC and we've done a lot of research! We love Charleston, but the town we're seriously considering is called Aiken. It adorable. It's a horse town which I think is fun since I love animals. For a small town there's lots of culture - Juilliard visits every year, they have a community theater, and in the summer there's concerts and ballet in the public gardens. There's lots of old, beautiful homes. Lots of Northerners and Mid-Westerners have relocated there, which makes it very diverse and easy to fit in as a Northerner and make friends. We were in town for a few days and got an invitation to someone's home and to play tennis with someone we just met! It's a very active town. Something is always going on, and they have a real downtown area with all independent (non-chain) stores and restaurants. It's nice to have a real town and not just stripmalls (it's getting more and more rare in America....)
There's a small hospital right in Aiken. And 30 min away there are several hospitals in Augusta Georgia. And Columbia/Lexington is an hour away and more hospitals are there.
It's probably about 2 - 3 hours drive to a beach (depending on which beach).
Can I ask if you're single or married, how old you are, and if you have children (or plan to)?
Aiken is a great town for raising children (it has a few good not too expensive private schools) but it's probably not the best town to be single in since it is sort of small. (about 20,000 in the town).
What made you want to move from NJ to SC? For us it's mostly the weather (a big one!), lower cost of living, laid back lifestyle, less crowded, the beach etc. My husband is Southern and he just likes the lifestyle better. We may move in a few years too (after we have our first child is my plan) and we're both looking forward to it! It's a big move, especially for me since I'm from NYC and my family is here, but I think it will be a positive change!