By Greg Deal
Savannah Lakes Village
Jim Montgomery might have a cure for high blood pressure.
It’s called Savannah Lakes Village.
“It’s like your blood pressure drops 40 points being here,” said Jim, who moved here with his wife, Maureen, 11 years ago.
Jim was born in Detroit and joined the police force there when he was just 19 years old. “They kind of adopted me,” he said.
Jim worked with the Detroit police until 1986 before heading up security for a Detroit hospital and healthcare system. With the police department, Jim worked as part of the vice squad, the tactical mobile unit, and was a police academy instructor who rose to lieutenant. He worked on the narcotics force, and was tasked with putting together the security plan for the 1980 Republican National Convention.
He’s seen and experienced just about everything, but setting his eyes toward the South after many years living in Michigan helped him peer into a whole new side of life.
“You’re looking for an excuse to go anywhere South after a long winter in Detroit,” he said. “I would get depressed when the leaves went off the trees and you wouldn’t see them again until May.”
He loves the weather in Savannah Lakes: “Down here, you can stay very active 12 months a year.”
Getting “down here” is a tale of chance for Jim and Maureen. Jim was visiting Tellico Village in Tennessee on a discovery tour in 1996 when a man Jim was playing golf with mentioned he owned property at a place in South Carolina called Savannah Lakes Village. Jim investigated.
He looked on the map and noticed there was a big body of water (Lake Thurmond) – and it wasn’t on the coast. He didn’t want to move where you have to be evacuated often because of hurricanes. He knew he didn’t want to be as far north as Knoxville, and “Florida is for old people,” he said. So, the place called Savannah Lakes emerged as an appealing favorite. How appealing? He sent in his deposit for a lot on the No. 3 tee box at Monticello Golf Club without ever having visited SLV.
Jim recalls his wife noting, “You can’t decide where to park a car in a parking lot – and you buy property and you’ve never even been there.”
Jim said Maureen was skeptical. All skepticism waned, though, when the two decided to make Savannah Lakes Village their home. It is much different from what Jim experienced in Michigan. He said crime was a big issue there. Forty-seven police officers in Detroit were killed during the time Jim was with the department.
The couple has two children and four grandchildren. When they visit relatives in Michigan, Jim said he hears the “the constant drone of cars,” and going just about anywhere involves getting caught in traffic.
“Northern Michigan can be very pretty, but this (SLV) looks like the prettiest Michigan can look,” Jim said. He also feels secure knowing this area is virtually crime-free compared to what he experienced in Detroit.
Jim doesn’t want to see major retail shopping outlets and big-box stores near the Village. He’s plenty happy with knowing the things his family needs are just a short drive away. In fact, he said you spend just as much time on the road driving just a short distance in Detroit for goods and services – except you are in traffic instead of driving a scenic route.
“We don’t feel ‘shopping poor’,” he said. “When we go to Michigan to visit, we have a hard time getting out of subdivision traffic. Despite shopping being so close, you drive more. I drive more up there than I drive down here.”
The man who walks four miles five days a week talks about the serenity he experiences living in the Village. He doesn’t feel like that experience comes at the price of being disconnected from the outside world. He and his wife take their iPad out on the porch on nice evenings, and they also FaceTime with their relatives. It’s all because the state’s largest fiber-optic network is right here, with blazing-fast connectivity wired to the doorstep of every homesite.
“I have a beautiful, pristine environment to enjoy,” said Jim, who compares life here to being on cruise control.
He’s also enjoyed many of the Southern comforts here – particularly his relationship with the people.
“The friendliness of the people really captures you,” Jim said. “Service is very personal.”
He shared several instances in which Southern service professionals went out of their way to help him. “You get the genuine feeling no one is trying to take you to the cleaners,” he said.
He said people work hard at not being disagreeable in the South. “You can see it as you approach someone down here,” he said. “You are greeted with smile. People are genuinely more welcoming.”
He also said people are very respectful. He talks about how folks call him Mr. Jim or Mr. Montgomery. People “know who you are” and treat you with a certain kindness, he said.
The Montgomery family is simply in love with the authenticity of the South. They found something special in Savannah Lakes Village – and are happier because of it.