A local dishes on what it’s like to live and work in Advantage Valley.
Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in the Advantage Valley area of West Virginia? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked a Charleston, WV local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving community!
A fun, laid-back lifestyle collides with amazing career opportunities in Advantage Valley, making it a great place for anyone to call home. This section of West Virginia, which covers the Charleston–Huntington metro region, boasts welcoming, safe neighborhoods in urban, suburban and rural settings, a plethora of eateries, great outdoor recreation and much, much more. To get a more precise look at what it’s like to reside in Advantage Valley, we sat down with Aaron Clark, who was born and raised in the Charleston area, moved to Columbia, SC, for career opportunities in 1994 and then returned to the region in 1997. He’s been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, and he and his wife, Marie, opened 1010 Bridge Restaurant in 2020.
Q: Why did you decide to come back to the Charleston area?
A: I came back to go back to college and just never left. I went to WVU (West Virginia University) for 1.5 years, and I went to West Virginia State University for 1.5 years. I was a finance major.
Q: How did you get into the restaurant industry?
A: I got into restaurants just like everybody gets into restaurants. I was going to college at the time and needed a job to pay for it. I found out that I could make a decent living doing it — I managed restaurants for a while. My wife and I both managed restaurants for a while. (We) decided we didn’t want to manage, so we served at a small local restaurant for about ten years.
Q: How did you decide to open 1010 Bridge Restaurant in the Charleston area?
A: This is home, and we had worked when we were waiting tables at another restaurant, and it was in this area, so we made a lot of connections and friends in this area that we didn’t have before. When the opportunity came up to open a restaurant in the same area where we were already acclimated and knew a lot of people, it was something we decided to try.
We opened in July of 2020. The community support has been wonderful. There’s a fantastic team here.
Q: What do you love about living in the Charleston area?
A: It’s small. My wife and I have about a 25-minute commute (to our restaurant). Very easily you can be out in the country or another small town. There’s enough in Charleston — there’s usually something to do if you look for it.
Q: What was it like buying a home in the area?
A: A lot of my family lives down South, and in relation to other larger markets we’ve seen, it is very affordable. (In 1999), we paid $55,000 for right around 2,000 square feet. It’s a river lot. (Today), it would cost double, from what we’ve heard.
Q: What’s one of your favorite restaurants, and how much would dinner and drinks cost for two people?
A: Noah’s (Restaurant & Lounge) does a good job. It’s a really small restaurant downtown. It’s extremely chef-driven. He rotates his menu once a week/once every two weeks. (The menu) is fairly eclectic. He has the option to do different types of things. Dinner and drinks for two would probably be around $80-$100.
Q: What do you like to do for entertainment in the area?
A: We enjoy kayaking. Right outside of our house — it’s called Elk River Trail — the state’s put a lot of money into a rails-to-trails system. They’re converting old railroads that are no longer in use. It’s in process. There are 40 or 50 miles of it that they’ve already completed. Downtown, there are usually fairs, festivals. This evening, actually, is a thing called ArtWalk, where local businesses will support a local artist and open up past their normal time, so you can just walk through town and see different things that artists are doing.