5 Things I Didn’t Know About Savannah (until I moved here)

As is the case with any trip, vacation, or relocation, there are always surprises – things you did not expect to encounter or be forced to deal with. As a result, there is an adjustment period you go through that could last minutes, hours, or even days. The more drastic or permanent the change is, the longer you can expect this adjustment period to take. And, in time, you can expect to develop solutions to overcome and adapt to these unexpected surprises. When I moved to Savannah, there were a few things my wife and I were unprepared for… and (in no particular order) here they are:

BUGS.

Yes, bugs. I understand that in most parts of the country, and the world for that matter, insects and pests are common and expected. In my sheltered, dry, and season-less former home of Los Angeles, all we had to contend with were bees, spiders, crickets, and the occasional cockroach. Even mosquitos found the arid basin of my native land undesirable and rarely spent time bothering little old me. Yet, in Savannah, my sweet blood acts as a beacon for mosquitos and sand gnats (no-see-ums, biting midges, sand flies). Not only that but roaches (Yes, American Cockroaches – affectionately referred to as “Palmetto bugs” here in the South) are plentiful and seemingly unafraid of us humans. And there are still the bees, spiders, crickets, etc. etc. etc.

Pesky Sand Gnat

SOLUTION: Bug spray and pest control… simple. No Natz makes a DEET free spray that you can apply every couple hours you are outside. Peak biting times are in the early morning and late afternoon when the sun isn’t so powerful and temperatures are around mid-60s to mid-70s. And when it comes to protecting your living space from critters and bugs, nothing beats a pest control program. Companies like Arrow Exterminators charge a nominal fee to spray the perimeter of a home every couple of months and will take a look in crawlspaces and attics as well. Added protection against termites, mosquitos, and rodents is also recommended.

POLLEN.

Pine Pollen – No Joke

In Savannah, we have a different meaning for the term “yellow snow.” Here, it’s the heavy dusting of pine pollen that falls in late February or early March that coats all of our cars, windows, roofs, sidewalks, and other flat surfaces and colors them greenish-yellow. I was not aware that this would affect me in such a way because in Los Angeles the most effective allergen is dust and that never bothered me. But pine pollen rains down on this city with reckless abandon and takes no prisoners. Its effects tend to last about 4-6 weeks depending on one’s sensitivity, and usually presents with a stuffy nose, sinus pressure, headache, and post-nasal drip… hungry yet?

Seriously, I’d do this everyday.

SOLUTION: I wish there were fool-proof tips and tricks I could give you that ensured an allergy-free Spring season for all. However, if I did, I’d be lying. Truthfully, after three years I am finally having my first allergy season without allergies. I don’t know how I seemed to avoid the hayfever this year, but maybe I’m becoming resilient (or resistant – whichever one) to it and its effects. Every Spring before this one I put myself on a strict regimen of Claritin D with Flonase in the morning and a Neti Pot with Breathe Right strips before bed. My oldest son and I even shared an albuterol inhaler for a brief time. Still, it might be reassuring that after three years I may not be as affected as I once was.

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These tips are not a substitute for professional medical advice or care. I do not guarantee results.**

HEAT.

I am going to admit here that the heat in Savannah isn’t as big of an issue for me as it is for some people. Everyone has their own tolerance for it and their own ways of dealing with it. Coming from Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to endure four months or more of summer with temperatures in the 90s or higher. This heat, however, is different. It’s wet. Humidity is something I never really had to endure growing up in Southern California, so I was ill prepared for it when I moved here.

Charlie @ Hull Park

SOLUTION: The way you can adapt to this really depends on your situation. The basics include getting some good sunscreen, packing water with you wherever you go, and wearing light clothing. Duh. But where does one go on a day that’s 90 degrees with 75% humidity? Well, that depends on the time of day. As a dad, I found that my kids always wanted to do something outside when it was the absolute hottest… because they like to punish me. So we usually head to a park with a working water feature to play in. There are several around Savannah (Forsyth Park, Hull Park, Victory Heights Park, and more), so that would be the destination. Before we got hot and wet, however, my wife and I would like to start the day with an indoor activity at one of our favorite spots like Henny Penny or Monkey Joe’s. Another place that still never seems to get old is the Coastal Heritage Society’s Railroad Museum and Children’s Museum (there are misters!)

DRIVING.

They don’t call it “Slowvannah” for nothing. It was an absolutely foreign concept to me that a driver in the left turn lane, upon the light cycling from yellow to red, would choose NOT to turn left. Where I come from, this is the last opportunity for two or three cars to turn and get where they need to go… on time… because they’re in a hurry. Here, however, we aren’t really in a hurry. And the light may cycle from yellow to red without a left turn, and we may obey speed limits (or even go slower than they’re posted), and give wide births to cars double-parked on the right, or stop unnecessarily… even where there is no stop sign at all.

SOLUTION: Slow down, take a break, and adapt to this way of life. This is exactly why you move to Savannah. Take the edge off, stop white-knuckling the steering wheel, and recline in your driver’s seat. There’s no traffic and everything is 10 minutes away, so what are you really worried about?

TYBEE ISLAND.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with Tybee. It’s a great retreat from the city when you want to spend some time away. The few issues I have with it are accessibility and parking. During peak season (May through August), it’s common to find yourself on the island trying to find parking as close to the beach as possible with little to no immediate success. And when you do find a place to park, you’re constantly beckoned back to the meter every hour or two to keep your sacred space for $2/hr. All this is separate from the drive, which could take 15-45 minutes depending on where in town you live and at what time of day you travel.

Dom @ Tybee Back River

SOLUTION: Leave early, stay a while, leave late… and get the app. Since there is one way on and off the island (by car), travel times can vary wildly depending on the time of day you make the drive. Driving to and from Pooler or the Southside of Savannah can take nearly an hour if you aren’t careful, so budget your time accordingly. Plan for arrival sometime around 10:00am and you should beat most of the crowd. Also, you’ll have a good shot at a desirable parking spot. And thanks to the Park TYB app (Android or iOS), you can pay for parking and add money to your meter from your phone. How’s that for easy? Stay a while, find a spot on the back river where the water is warm and the crowd is small, and enjoy the day. There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and a drink, so consider Breakfast Club in the morning, Tybee Island Social Club for the afternoon or later, and Spanky’s if you are traveling with kids.

Want to learn more about touring Savannah like a pro or get some tips on relocating permanently? Give me a shout!

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