Michigan Family Finds Smooth Sailing On Daniel Island
In search of warmer weather, sailing and year-round recreational opportunities, it seemed only natural that Michigan natives Chad and Erin Dybowski might set a course for the sunny South Carolina coastline. The fact that their 12 year-old son is named Ocean is yet another indication of their affinity for water. It didn’t take long for their daughter, Paisley, 10, to jump on board for the relocation plan as well.
For Erin, the destination was set once she and Chad visited Daniel Island for a friend’s wedding in 2007.
“I had wanted to go to Charleston forever!” said Erin, who was growing tired of the cold Michigan winters. “We went and I said ‘Why are we not living here?’ It’s just the perfect place and I just became obsessed with it.”
Erin poured over the real estate listings on danielisland.com and researched all she could about the award-winning community. Meanwhile, Chad, an anesthesiologist, began looking for job opportunities in the Southeast.
“Up north, the weather is lousy,” he said. “You work hard, hope to save some money and eventually move south…. I started interviewing for jobs, everywhere from Myrtle Beach to Naples, Florida.”
Erin kept directing their conversations back to Daniel Island, a place she just couldn’t get out of her mind. They visited on several occasions, but there weren’t any job openings in the region for Chad…yet. Eventually, they enlisted the help of their Daniel Island Real Estate Sales Associate, who put them in touch with a an anesthesiology group affiliated with East Cooper Medical Center. They connected with the practice, but there were no openings at the time. Fortunately, within a few years, Chad was invited to join the group and their move to Daniel Island was secured.
Today, the family has completely settled in to Daniel Island life and couldn’t be happier. Their coastal-themed, custom-built house (expertly crafted by Southeastern Custom Homes) overlooks the Ralston Creek golf course in Daniel Island Park. Both Ocean and Paisley, students at nearby Palmetto Christian Academy, are fully engaged in a number of activities. They all enjoy riding bikes to swim, play tennis or visit island restaurants and shops.
“It really is resort-like living!” said Chad.
“It’s very family-oriented,” added Erin. “There’s never a dull moment. My family from the Midwest always asks if I watched this TV show or that TV show and I say ‘I don’t watch TV anymore!’ There is no time for television – we’re always outside doing stuff!”
Chad and Ocean have also gotten involved in a sport known as “Opti Sailing.” Ocean enjoys competing in a variety of regattas around the Southeast.
“The sailing here is definitely more challenging (than in Michigan),” said Chad. “If you can sail here, you can sail anywhere! Just the life lessons and the respect for the elements that you learn as a junior sailor, from the atmosphere and the weather to the channel markers and the tides, and the current and looking out for the big freighters…you get totally educated.”
As far as getting acclimated to Daniel Island, Erin said it didn’t take long before they felt part of the community.
“Everybody is kind of on the same page,” she said. “We’re all from a different place, and we’re all looking to make a friend. I’ve never been invited to people’s houses more in my life than here, and all within one year!”
Ocean admits he wasn’t sure what to expect when the family left their former home for Daniel Island in 2011, but he has been pleasantly surprised. “When I came here, I settled in pretty quick!” he said.
“The day we moved in, two boys came over on bikes to say hello,” added Erin. “Ocean is really into fishing, too. He saw all the ponds on Daniel Island and was very excited!”
Paisley has been equally impressed with her new island town. When not playing tennis or competing on the island swim team, she can often be spotted rolling around the neighborhood on her longboard with friends.
“We left all of our family in Michigan, and I think they thought we’d come back,” says Erin. “Everyone thought this was the craziest thing they’ve ever heard! But I just knew in my heart I wasn’t going back…All my dreams have come true!”