Moving To Charleston South Carolina? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Charleston S.C. ranks as one of the top cities in the United States of America when it comes to travel and leisure, so moving to Charleston, South Carolina, would be a great decision. Rightly so, this city is filled with a blend of historical structures and modern architectural designs. But it’s not all man-made beauty as the area is also rich with nature.

It’s no wonder that an average of 28 people think about moving to Charleston, South Carolina, every day. Examining these reasons will show exactly why there’s such preference for the lively city.

Why Move to Charleston?

Charleston S.C. has experienced a significant infrastructural overhaul in recent years, with every area enjoying a touch of development. Charleston is also called the “Holy City”, because it has over 400 churches. It is known for its unique cobblestone roads and walkways, world-class restaurants, historic sites, and beautiful beaches.

Among the most notable landmarks in Charleston are the Ravenel Bridge, the Angel Oak Tree, Fort Sumter, Antebellum mansions, and Morris lighthouse. The Ravenel Bridge (also called the Arthur Ravenel Bridge) has eight lanes and holds two diamond-shaped towers where ocean freighters can access the port.

The Angel Oak tree is said to be between 300 to 400 years old, and with an incredible height of 65 feet it’s a beauty to behold. Morris Lighthouse is another beautiful landmark located towards the north of James Island. The lighthouse is surrounded by water and can be a pleasant sight for family gatherings.

Angel Oak Tree near Charleston South Carolina.

Charleston, S.C. is a business-friendly city, which in part has caused a rise in population over the years. The population of this city as of September 2020 was about 138,458.

The city also enjoys about 230 days of sunshine yearly, ensuring that the weather is warm during the summer and mild during winters.

Transporting yourself and your family around Charleston is pretty easy since several transport companies seem to favor this city. Companies like Uber, DASH, Tri-County Transportation, ACE Basin Express, Airport Limo-Taxi Association, and Charleston Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) are a few examples.

Finally, the people of Charleston are well known for their hospitality. The city ranks as one of the cities with the most hospitable locals in the U.S. If neighborliness is essential to you, you’ll have no problem living in Charleston, South Carolina, should you decide to make a move.

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What are the Neighborhoods in Charleston?

The population of Charleston is growing at about 3X the average rate of growth of the U.S. population. More districts are being developed to cater to this growing population, and previously neglected districts in the city are also undergoing renovations. Neighborhoods in Charleston are well known for their ease of living and friendly weather conditions.

Below are the best neighborhoods to live in Charleston, S.C., with their unique features:

1. Harleston Village

Harleston Village is home to the best attractions in Charleston, such as Charleston’s greatest historic hotel, the College of Charleston, and the Colonial lake. If you’re a quiet person planning on living in Charleston, South Carolina, you should consider Harleston Village as a choice destination because of its calm residential streets.

The neighborhood has some of the best bars and restaurants. Local spots like Caviar and Bananas offers a coffee shop, gourmet grocery, and restaurant all in one. This cuisine is the favorite lunch spot among Charleston locals.

Some of the landmark buildings in Harleston Village are:

  • Cannon Park
  • The Old Marine Hospital
  • William Blacklock House
  • Old Bethel United Methodist Church
  • The Old Jail

2. Downtown

Located right at the center of the Charleston area, downtown boasts of tons of historic and beautiful architecture, with fine gardens, cheerful window boxes, and elegant iron-fenced courtyards. The area is about 17 square miles, which means everything in the area is within walking distance; talk about the perfect place for a small family!

Downtown is also home to hidden alleyways, several church steeples, and cobblestones, which all lend it that elegant European feel. Downtown has a beautiful blend of traditional homes and modern houses.

The area is home to diverse cultures and cuisines. Living in Charleston South Carolina, you’d meet people from socially prominent Charlestonian families to tattooed college students and so many more people with varied backgrounds and interests.

Downtown Charleston is home to Charleston International Airport, which is the busiest passenger airport in South Carolina. There are also excellent public transportation services, ensuring that your movement around the neighborhood is smooth.

Downtown Charleston had a population of about 9912 as of May 2020. The median home value in the neighborhood is $694,083, and the median rent price is $1,485. There are also many schools within the neighborhood. Ensign School, Skyline High School, West High School, and East High School are some of the top schools serving downtown and the neighboring towns.

3. The French Quarter

Many art galleries are located in the French Quarter, and thus, host the bi-annual Charleston Art Walk. Although the area used to be a refuge settlement for people fleeing from religious persecution, it is among the most romantic places you can visit and live in Charleston.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA cityscape in the historic French Quarter.

The neighborhood is bounded by Meeting, East Bay, Broad, and the South Market streets. Historic churches like the French Huguenot and the St. Philip’s Episcopal churches are both located in this neighborhood. You’ll feel at home if you love to take leisure walks or love exploring historical sites.

Top landmarks in the French Quarter include:

  • The Dock Street Theatre
  • Philip’s Episcopal Churches
  • French Huguenot Church

4. Folly Beach

This neighborhood has some of the nicest and most eccentric people in Charleston. Locals are mostly young professionals, visual artists, musicians, and retirees who have settled there to enjoy the peace and calm of the surrounding beaches.

Just like most of the other Charleston neighborhoods, houses in Folly Beach are very historical, with a blend of some modern constructions making the neighborhood a beautiful one. The neighborhood is bordered by Sol Legare Road to the northwest, Lighthouse Creek to the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Folly Beach can get very busy during the high seasons. Several groups of tourists flood there to get a firsthand experience of the beautiful beaches and historic buildings. The Median home price in Folly Beach as of 2020 was $577,500, and the average rent price was $1,058.

Most labor employers in the neighborhood are Booz Allen Hamilton, Roper Francis Healthcare, The Citadel, Joint Base Charleston, and the U.S. Department of State CGFS.

5. Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is home to world-class shopping centers, restaurants, and golf courses. It has some of the best lowcountry homes in the entire South Carolina. It also has some of the cushiest resorts, which are located off South Carolina’s coast.

bohiket marina with boats near kiawah island

The golf courses in Kiawah Island have hosted tons of domestic and international competitions, and many golf lovers frequently visit the courses to play where some of their role models have trod. Kiawah is marked as a private resort; only residents and island guests enter the island.

However, if you’re able to gain entrance to the island, you’ll find that the atmosphere is relaxing and sophisticated, and you can be sure that you can have all the fun you want within its gates.

6. Cannonborough/ Elliotborough

The Cannonborough/ Elliotborough neighborhood is well known for its residential streets, relaxed atmosphere, and eateries. You can grab a bite at the 5 Loaves or head to the Trattoria Lucca for the best Italian Cuisine. Sugar Bakeshop is also around the corner if you’re an unrepentant sweet tooth.

If you’re looking to add some local threads to your wardrobe or do some shopping, then visit Rogue Wave Surf Shop or the Continuum Skate Shop on Spring Street. You can also check out J. Stark, Mac and Murphy, Indigo & Cotton, and The Contents Co. for your shopping.

7. Upper King

Upper King Street has the best modern community restaurants, bars, and shops in Charleston, SC. The neighborhood is also a choice destination for students, locals, and young professionals.

During the day, you can go picnicking or take a break by shopping at the 6.5 acres Marion Square City Park. The weekly Saturday farmer’s market, The Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Food + Wine Festival, and many fun activities are what await you in this sanguine neighborhood. Also, the nightlife in Upper King is always energetic.

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How’s the Job Market in Charleston?

The influx of travelers into Charleston, especially during the summer months, makes tourism one of the most promising industries of the city. A variety of jobs are available during the summer periods, mostly for the service and hospitality sectors.

Charleston is blessed with top industries that are responsible for improving its economy over the past few years. Interestingly, the unemployment rate in this area is below the country’s average, making it one of the U.S. cities with the best job market.

Some of the top industries in Charleston include:

  • Technology
  • Education
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Art profession, Advertising, and Marketing
  • Hospitality and Service Industries
  • Healthcare

Technology Industries

Charleston, S.C., has one of the fastest-growing tech industries in the U.S. The influx of new residents to the area has led to increasing demand for tech development, and many companies have seized this opportunity to move their operations here.

Blackbaud is a non-profit software company and was the first to move its headquarters from New York City to the Charleston area. Since then, many other tech companies have followed suit, and the area now boasts of over 400 tech companies with more than 11,000 workers.

Local colleges within the area have also taken advantage of the rate of growth of the I.T. industry. They have promptly improved their cybersecurity programs and increased the number of tech courses that students can offer.

Charleston’s tech industry may not have the recognition that those in New York, Boston, or the Silicon Valley have, but for whoever is willing to be a part of a fast-growing market, moving to Charleston, South Carolina, is a perfect choice.

Top Technology Companies to Work For

Top international employers in the tech industry in Charleston are:

  • Blackbaud
  • Phish Labs
  • Infosys
  • Benefitfocus

Local tech companies are not scarce either, as a new tech company is set to open in 2021, The Charleston Tech Center is about to be added to the long list of I.T. firms in the downtown area of Charleston.

Aerospace

The low business cost, skilled workforce, and government partnerships in Charleston have contributed largely to the area’s booming aerospace business.

The Boeing Company is one of the top aerospace corporations globally, and it is located right in Charleston. Aside from being the manufacturer of the Boeing 787-10, the company also has centers of excellence for I.T., engineering design, and research and technology.

Boeing Manufacturing Facility and Logo

Charleston is among the three places in the world where assembly and delivery of wide-body jets is carried out. There’s also an aeronautical training center in Charleston. The center offers training for the Boeing Company, its suppliers, and vendors across South Carolina.

Top Aerospace Companies to Work For

  • Boeing is the top private-sector employer of labor for the aerospace industry in Charleston, with about 6,800 employees.
  • The largest public sector employer in the aerospace industry in Charleston is Joint Base Charleston, with about 22,000 employees.

Automotive

Charleston is the base for over 65 globally recognized automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Mercedes-Benz is one of such top companies. The company has a Vans plant located in North Charleston, where Sprinter vans are assembled for the U.S. market.

Other automotive companies in Charleston include Behr Heat Transfer Systems and Cummins Turbo Technologies.

Top Automotive Companies to Work For

  • Mercedes-Benz Vans
  • Cummins Turbo Technologies
  • Mahle Behr

Healthcare

Charleston boasts numerous renowned hospitals as well as several medical centers that rank among the top centers in the nation. Commitment towards medical research and access to world-class healthcare professionals makes Charleston an area that cultivates a thriving health community.

The area also has numerous medical research laboratories, pharmaceutical manufacturers, service companies, and over 75 pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. The presence of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston also contributes to the quality of healthcare enjoyed in the area.

Top Healthcare Employers in Charleston

  • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
  • Roper St. Francis Healthcare
  • Trident Health System

Tourism

Charleston is well known for the friendliness and hospitality of its locals. This has enticed visitors for many years, and we believe you’ll find it fascinating, too. Its beautifully preserved historical structures give you a homely feeling from the moment you step foot in the city.

Several gardens, modern first-class restaurants, world-class golf courses, culture and art galleries, and a large expanse of beaches make it a center of attraction for tourists. There’s little wonder why the tourism industry in the region is one of the top industries providing job opportunities for the residents.

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How Is The Charleston Real Estate Market?

Charleston has a strong performance in the real estate market because of the relatively affordable housing, solid local economic growth, low level of unemployment, and consistent job market.

Charleston’s real estate market is rather competitive, with an average home selling about 2% below the list price and it remains on the market for an average of 61 days. Hot homes, however, go off the market around the 42-day mark and sell for roughly the listed price.

If you’re planning on a short-term real estate investment in Charleston, now may not be the best time. However, you can enjoy up to 11.21% profit on a 5-year investment in real estate. The current median listing price in 2021 is about $332,599, and the median listing price per square foot stands at $185.

It is, however, unlikely that the prices will fall in the coming years.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In Charleston?

The cost of living in Charleston is a little higher compared to the national average. Housing, grocery, taxes, transportation, utilities, healthcare, and medical expenses all contribute to the cost of living in any area and the same is true for Charleston.

The overall average cost of living index in the U.S. is 100, while Charleston is about 111.5. This index shows that the cost of living in Charleston is higher than the U.S. average cost of living.

Housing

On average, rent in Charleston is about $1,434/month. Four-mile Hibernian, Rosemont, and Air Harbor can run around $1,149/month, while Geddes Hall is the most affordable neighborhood with an average rent of $1,109/month.

Charleston’s most expensive houses are located in downtown Charleston, South of Broad and Harleston Village, with an average of $2,254/month each. Charleston’s overall cost of housing index is 136.9, which is much higher than the national average.

Food and Groceries

The price of groceries in Charleston is also higher than the national average, with a cost of living index of 105.6. A loaf of bread costs about $3.4, a carton of eggs costs around $1.85, and a gallon of milk costs about $1.98.

picture of Family with shopping cart in charleston south Carolina supermarket store

However, the cost of buying food and eating at restaurants within Charleston is surprisingly affordable. There are numerous restaurants around Charleston with a variety of foods, so it’s easy to find what suits your pockets.

Utilities

Charleston’s average utility index is about 101.6, which means the cost of utilities in Charleston is about 1.6% higher than the national average. However, utilities like electric costs in Charleston are lower than that of most neighboring states.

Transportation

Transportation in Charleston is relatively cheaper, with about 5.9% less than the average cost of transportation in the U.S. Compared to neighboring cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, transportation is also cheaper in Charleston.

As of January 2021, a liter of gas costs about $0.61, a monthly public transport ticket costs $48, and a taxi trip on a business day costs an average of $17.

Healthcare and Medicals

Charleston scores 98.1 on the health index, making it a bit lower than the country’s average cost of healthcare and medicals. The cost of healthcare in Charleston is much more affordable than in most surrounding cities.

Taxes

Property tax in Charleston is ranked the seventh-lowest property tax in South Carolina. With a property tax rate of 0.48%, the tax rate comes in lower than the national average rate, which sits at 1.08%.

Charleston’s sales tax is about 9%, slightly higher than the 7.3% average U.S. tax rate. The state income tax in South Carolina starts from 3% for citizens earning above $2,970 to 7% for those earning over $14,860/year.

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Is Charleston A Good Place To Retire?

Are you thinking of a peaceful and convenient place to retire after years of active service? Then you’re in luck as Charleston has all you need to enjoy your retirement years. If your retirement bucket list includes lovely beaches, beautiful weather throughout the year, low tax, and good food, you should settle right in here.

Charleston is a city with great history, and you’ll enjoy every bit of your retirement years waking up every morning to great historic structures. Of course, there are also modern sites in Charleston that will help you settle in faster.

The tax on Charleston properties is relatively low in comparison to other cities, meaning that you get to enjoy spending your hard-earned money without having to pay exorbitant taxes.

Do you love sports, especially tennis and golf? Then Charleston is a perfect destination for you. The dozen world-class golf courses in Charleston will keep you entertained.

Charleston is also filled with tons of beautiful and fun-filled parks, historic sites and streets, and numerous paths that will help you transition peacefully into your retirement years.

The art galleries here are top-notch because of the city’s historic nature, providing you with an awe-worthy cultural experience. You can also witness the bi-annual Charleston art walk, where incredible artistic talents are on display.

The surrounding beaches in Charleston will benefit you greatly as you experience the healing power of the sea. The Kiawah and Seabrook Islands are some of the quietest places in Charleston. Interestingly, these two islands are only about 30 minutes away from the downtown area.

Sporty mature couple training on the beach in Charleston South Carolina

In terms of good food, numerous world-class restaurants are within Charleston. Restaurants like Husk, The Granary, and Fig will treat you to infamous meals that will keep you asking for more.

Another top destination is the Darling Oyster Bar; they have some of the best seafood in the city. Locals consider Charleston as the food haven in the south. It isn’t too much of a leap when you consider the several farmers’ markets located in every part of the city.

Charleston has some of the best places for retirees, including  Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island, Sullivan Island, James Island, Mount Pleasant, and Folly Beach.

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People And Culture Of Charleston South Carolina

Charleston is a culturally rich city, with everything from art galleries, to local delicacies and historic buildings. If you’re an art lover, you should never miss the Spoleto USA festival, which is one of the biggest year-long art events. This features some of the best opera, theater, jazz, and dance performances.

You also don’t want to miss other renowned festivals like the Lowcountry Blues Bash, MOJA, Festival of Houses and Gardens, Wildlife Expo, among others. Charleston hosted the first opera performance in 1735, and the first theatre in the country was built in Charleston in 1736.

Charleston thrives as an art-loving community, with a symphony orchestra, a professional ballet company, and several other theatre groups.

Local dishes in Charleston are among the best in the country. Shrimp and Grits and She-Crab Soup are the top local dishes that you can’t afford to miss after moving to Charleston. Residents of Charleston also enjoy a sweet combination of backyard oyster roast with Frogmore stew.

Nightlife in Charleston is always eccentric, with live music playing almost every night of the week. The nightlife here has been famous since the Golden Age of Piracy. The fact that the population comprises of many locals within the 25 – 35 age range contributes to the fun and eccentricity experienced every night.

Popular Things To Do in Charleston

Charleston is a culturally rich neighborhood, and many have dubbed it a deeply romantic city. The city is filled with beautiful displays of artwork, food, culture, and beaches.

There are many fun things to do when you start living in Charleston, SC. The Bend, a 20-acre venue, uses its open space to host a series of fall concerts sponsored by the Charleston Music Hall. For lovers of live music, this is one place you’ll fall in love with.

There are several museums in Charleston where you can enjoy a quality vacation with your family. Walking the streets of Charleston itself feels like walking through a live museum because of the beautiful ancient buildings and the historical streets.

As you walk the streets of downtown Charleston, be sure to look out for the classic white signs displaying a historical event that took place in the very location you’re standing in.

The SC Aquarium also provides quality viewing pleasure with over 5,000 animals, including sea turtles, saltmarshes, and Piedmont, on display. The Aquarium, a two-storied Great Ocean Tank, houses 220-pound loggerhead turtles, and a sea turtle recovery center.

Downtown Charleston is home to “The Battery,” one of Charleston’s most visited tourist attractions. You can get an incredible view of the harbor from the sidewalk, which used to be the city walls. The area is also within close distance to White Point Gardens, with a park displaying old cannons and gazebos. Living in Charleston, you’ll never run out of things to do.

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Pros And Cons Of Living In Charleston

The Holy City is unarguably one of the best cities in the world. The landscapes, hospitable people, delicious cocktails, and surrounding beaches and waterfronts make Charleston rank among the US’s best cities year after year.

Here are the pros and cons of living in Charleston, South Carolina

Pros

  • High quality of life
  • Rich cultural and creative events all year round
  • Friendly and hospitable people
  • Cheap transportation within the city
  • Numerous outdoor activities to enjoy
  • Low taxes compared with other cities
  • Low crime rate
  • Unmatched culinary scenes
  • Proximity to other destinations
  • Dynamic food scene
  • Year-round warm weather

Cons

  • Flooding
  • Dangerous wildlife
  • Expensive rent
  • Hurricanes/Tornadoes
  • Constant constructions
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Fun Facts About Charleston South Carolina

While considering moving to Charleston, South Carolina, you should learn some interesting facts about this “Holy City” that makes it one of the best and most visited in the world.

  • The first public museum, college, and theatre in the U.S. were built in Charleston.
  • Charleston used to be a frequent target for pirates.
  • Charleston is home to the longest cable-stayed bridge (The Arthur Ravenel Bridge) connecting historic Charleston and Mount Pleasant.
  • Some of the top festive events in the U.S. are hosted by Charleston. Among these are the Spoleto USA, Southeastern Wildlife Expo, Spring Tour of Homes and Gardens, Charleston Christmas, and Cooper River Bridge Run.
  • Some of the top historical events that happened in Charleston are the founding of Charles Town (1670, now Charleston since 1783), Battle of Sullivan’s Island (1776), Firing on Fort Sumter (1861), Charleston Exposition (1901 – 02), and the Opening of the Cooper River Bridge (1929).
  • The provincial congress where South Carolina was created was held in Charleston.
  • The city is home to many world-class educational institutions like College of Charleston (1770), The Citadel (1842), Trident Technical College (1964), Medical University of South Carolina (1824), and Charleston Southern University (1964).
  • Charleston’s historical buildings include Joseph Manigault House (1803), the Dock Street Theatre, rebuilt in 1937, and Heyward Washington House (1772).
  • Charleston’s cultural institutions include the South Carolina Historical Society, the Carolina Art Association, and the Charleston Library Society.
  • The Sea Gulls (1886) was Charleston’s first baseball team, although the team has now changed its name to Charleston RiverDogs.

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Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To South Carolina Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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