Dreaming of Savannah

For 20 years, West Coast couple Krista and Tom Penn dreamed of living in Savannah. It took a few side moves, several job changes and one unfortunate run-in with a deer to finally make it happen.

Krista and Tom Penn sold their Augusta house and bought a home in Savannah’s Historic District, where they reside with Rogue, a “very spoiled” Australian Cattle Dog. Photos / D. Paul Graham

There are 2,880 miles between Seattle, Washington, and Savannah, but coastal Georgia was never far from the hearts and minds of Krista and Tom Penn. Ever since they met and married in California over two decades ago, it was a shared dream that one day they would live in Savannah.

“We always felt it was a magical place.” Krista said.

Tom’s mother grew up in Millan, Georgia. His parents married in Savannah in the 1960s. With family in the area, they would visit as often as possible. Krista’s roots are solidly West Coast, but she was more charmed with every visit.

“Someday the stars will align, and we will live in Savannah,” was the couple’s longtime mantra. When Tom, a federal law enforcement professional, discovered an opportunity to work in Brunswick and Krista was offered a job in Augusta, they figured it was close enough.

Krista said they decided, “Let’s just do it.”

That decision started over two years of a commute between Augusta, where they bought a home, and Brunswick. One pre-dawn Monday morning Krista was leaving the coast and Tom for her work week in Augusta when a deer jumped across the highway in front of her car.

Krista joined Memorial Health as Director of Cardiovascular Services. Tom, nearing retirement as a federal officer, is fulfilling another longtime dream, of being an oil painter. His art is featured in shows and galleries in Savannah and Hilton Head. When Tom finishes a painting, the signature reads “BB Habersham,” for “Beauregard Bonaventure Habersham,” his Southern gentleman artist alter-ego.

She had no time to react. Krista was uninjured but the deer did not survive. Her car sustained significant damage. It was a turning point.

“Why am I risking my life with this commute?” Krista asked herself, “It’s important to be with the people we love.”

They sold the Augusta house and bought a home in Savannah’s Historic District, where they reside with Rogue, a “very spoiled” Australian Cattle Dog.

The stars finally aligned.

Krista joined Memorial Health as Director of Cardiovascular Services. Tom, nearing retirement as a federal officer, is fulfilling another longtime dream, of being an oil painter. His art is featured in shows and galleries in Savannah and HiltonHead. When Tom finishes a painting, the signature reads “BB Habersham,” for “Beauregard Bonaventure Habersham,” his Southern gentleman artist alter-ego. It was the most Southern-sounding name he could invent, and a playful reference to his Georgia roots.

Krista and Tom now spend weekends with friends, exploring, and happily eating their way through the low country food scene.

“We’ve met almost all our neighbors,” said Krista, “Definite difference from the Pacific Northwest. I lived in places in Seattle where if you said ‘hi’ to your neighbor they would look at you like you were an alien.”

“Even though we’ve been here since 2020, every day I feel like there’s something new,” said Krista. “I never get tired of it.”


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