Sometimes a newcomer—defined as someone who’s recently moved to a city and has had several years to explore it with an unbiased eye—offers the best insights on a destination. For Charleston, that person is Robin Howard, author of Moving to Charleston, the Un-tourist Guide. Howard (a contributor to this magazine) was looking for a coastal home when she and her husband moved to Mount Pleasant from Indiana in 2012. The decision, she says, was made over a particularly fine crab cake at Magnolias.

Howard describes the joys of living in the Holy City with a convert’s zeal, then proceeds to give readers the 411 on a host of subjects—from the ambience of various neighborhoods to the importance of reading FEMA’s flood insurance map. She covers climate, history, shopping, recreation, arts, food, schools, community organizations and more—and backs it up with helpful charts and links to websites.

Howard, who manages to pack a lot into 130 pages, includes anecdotes and localisms to make the reading lively. For example, she points out that she is, in Gullah parlance, both a “come yah” (the word for a newcomer) and a “bin yah” (a local), since her 10th great-grandfather was one of the first cassiques created by King Charles II. Still, the author suggests that such distinctions are not important these days, since Charlestonians “make you feel welcome right away.”

Moving to Charleston, the Un-tourist Guide is available at major online booksellers and locally at Indigo, Art Mecca, Barnes & Noble and Blue Bicycle Books.

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