If you’re a history nerd, you probably know how historically-rich the city of Charleston is. And just the thought of moving here would be exciting. The cobblestoned streets give off an old-world charm that’s hard to not be enchanted by. The many historic churches, the food that’s popular all over and the beaches make it a great place to be in.
But of course, before moving, there are a lot of things that you must be aware of: how expensive it is, which are the best neighborhoods, the weather and so on. Armed with this knowledge, you can decide if moving to Charleston, South Carolina, is for you.
What should I know before moving to Charleston SC?
With a population of 138,458 in 2020, it’s the largest city in South Carolina. Charleston is spread around 110.6 square miles and has a population density of 1,252.4 residents per square mile. To top it off, Charleston is among the fastest-growing cities in the US, as more people are moving here, thanks to the economy.
It’s impossible to talk about Charleston and not ever mention its history. The oldest town of South Carolina, Charleston was known as Charles Town and was founded in 1670. The city quickly became a bustling trading port city that primarily traded rice and indigo. By 1783, it was called Charleston. The city then played a major role in the subsequent historic events – the American Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the two World Wars.
The relics of Charleston’s rich history are in the form of the many buildings and monuments. To name a few, the Charleston Museum, which is the oldest in the United States and the Fort Sumter National Monument, which commemorates the first shot fired during the Civil War. Let’s not forget, the White Point Gardens is also one of the many that’s part of the list.
Charleston is a city which combines history, cuisine and faith. The Downtown residential area has many historic buildings, while the East End has a buzzing nightlife with many bars, nightclubs and restaurants. There are over 400 places of worship in Charleston, which has earned it the nickname of ‘Holy City’.
In Charleston you’ll be happy. You don’t have to believe us because the math and statistics actually prove it. According to a survey done by WalletHub, the Holy City is among the top 50 of the happiest cities in the US. These can be attributed to the residents’ wellbeing, income and the environment. You’ll come across smiling Charlestoners who live a slower and more peaceful life.
Crime Rate In Charleston
Unfortunately, the math and statistics also prove that crime in Charleston is on the higher side. The city has an average of 26 crimes per 1000 residents. You have a 1 in 324 chances to be a victim of a violent crime, which includes armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape and murder. As of property crimes, there’s a 1 in 45 chances that you’ll be a victim of burglary, larceny, arson and motor vehicle theft. To put it shortly, Charleston does have a crime rate that’s higher than the national average.
Charleston SC Weather
As Charleston is located on the south eastern coast, you can expect a subtropical climate. Between June to August are the summer months, which can get quite hot with temperatures ranging between 70-80° F. But what may really get to you is the humidity, which ranges from 50 to 65% throughout the year. It’ll be muggy, but you’ll get some respite from the near constant breeze from the Atlantic. You can also expect thunderstorms in summer.
The fall season from September to November is of course milder. The air gets crisp and the days sunny. The temperatures come down to between 60-75° F. Also, from September starts the ‘R’ seasons, which means that the time is ripe to relish oysters! This along with the pleasant weather is what makes this time of the year popular.
If you’re the one who doesn’t like bone-chilling cold, Charleston might be a good place for you. With temperatures between 47-52° F, you’ll discover that the winters are mild. But the winds may leave you wanting a thicker jacket. And that also means that it doesn’t particularly snow in Charleston. But in the colder months of late December and early January, you can expect snow flurries.
Spring is easily the best time of the year in Charleston, which is around early March to early June. The mercury is around 58-72° F, and the trees and flowers in full bloom are sure to get your spirits up! By May, the balmy weather would have you start looking for a pleasant getaway to one of the six beaches of Charleston.
Thanks to its coastline, however, the state of South Carolina has a hurricane season from June to September. This may be a cause of concern for you, but destructive storms aren’t all that common. In such an event, the government and news channels would ensure that you’re prepared for it. Another climatic feature of Charleston is that the city can be prone to flooding as it’s below sea level.
Is It Expensive To Live In Charleston?
No point moving to the Lowcountry if you can’t afford to live here or are compelled to live from paycheck to paycheck. Let’s do the math and find out!
Cost of Living In Charleston SC
Charleston is a fairly expensive city to live in, with a cost of living that’s about 4% more than the national average, according to Payscale. It’s also the 29th most expensive city in the US. If you’re moving out with a family of four, you’ll be set back by about $3,691 per month, and about $1,043 if you’re moving alone. These are excluding rent, which has increased by 12% from the previous year, according to Zumper. We will share more about that below.
Generally speaking, the housing and transportation expenses in Charleston is lower than the national average. But the higher utility, grocery and healthcare expenses are what contribute to the higher cost of living. Of course, your salary and the neighborhood you’re moving into are also factors that would affect your cost of living in Charleston, but in general, it’s higher.
Buying A House
As Forbes states, the city is one of the top housing markets. This can be attributed to the quality of life and the strong job market in Charleston. The median home price in Charleston SC is $338,672, and for a while, it has been a seller’s market and among the most expensive in the United States. According to Zillow, the home value of Charleston has increased over 4.9% from last year and can go as high as 7.3% next year.
Renting A House
Charleston has been seeing a strong renter’s market. This is because of the rapid growth of population in the city and a comparative deficit of houses that one can buy. The average rent for an apartment has increased by 2% from the previous year and is close to the national average. Just so you have a clearer idea, the average rent in Charleston is $1,500 for a studio apartment, $1,535 for a 1-bedroom apartment and $1,713 for a 2-bedroom apartment.
Whether you buy a house or rent one, you’ll be shelling out a significant part of your income on utilities, which is a whopping 24% above the national average. You’ll be spending about $208.23 and $221.97 on electricity and phone bills respectively per month. But the lower transport expenses and gas price ($2.45 per gallon) can be something to cheer about.
Charleston Economy And Employment Opportunities
We mentioned above that the population in Charleston is increasing, with about 30 people moving in each day. One of the factors responsible for them is the lower rate of unemployment here (2.6% compared with the 3.7% of the US), which has attracted the youth for jobs and starting their businesses. The biggest industries in Charleston are aerospace and automotive industries, with the Boeing Company employing nearly 7,000 people. Close behind is the Roper St. Francis Healthcare. The other large industries are the military and the ports.
According to Zippia, physicians are among the highest paid, with an average yearly salary of $211,550. Also, there’s a growing demand for nurses, IT specialists, engineers and in the aviation sector. If you’re one of the mentioned, consider moving here. The city certainly has opportunities for people from these industries to take the next step in their careers.
The residents of Charleston value education, as evidenced by the low dropout rate (5%). Also over 53% of the Charlestoners have graduated as well. The Charleston County School District, which is the second largest in South Carolina, has over 80 schools. If you’ve little kids, there are many elementary schools too. The schools in Mount Pleasant are particularly ideal.
For those seeking higher education, Charleston also has a number of colleges and universities. The College of Charleston, Trident Technical College and The Citadel are just some of the many options that you can choose from.
Getting Around Charleston SC
With all the people moving to Charleston, it’s a given consequence that traffic will get worse. Particularly if you’re in Downtown Charleston during the tourist season, you’ll find yourself stuck in traffic. As long as you know where to go and what to look for, you can drive around the city with little trouble and also find enough parking spots. Charleston has over 1000 metered parking spots, but they are only for a couple of hours. For a full-day parking, you can look for parking garages that run 24/7.
If you’re more health conscious and would like to reduce your carbon footprint, Charleston is also an ideal place for biking. You can either invest in a bike or even rent one from Holy Spokes, the bike-sharing service that is in 27 spots across Charleston. But at the same time, keep an eye out for fast-moving motor vehicles. Charleston has a public transport system that’ll help you get around the city without any trouble. Ironically, less than 1% of the residents use it, preferring their personal vehicles.
If you don’t have a personal vehicle, there’s no need to worry as you can commute using the CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) service. This bus service has 17 fixed routes in Charleston County and Dorchester County. You can check out the CARTA website to get more information on the routes it covers. Or you can download the Transit app in your smartphones. Speaking of phones, students aged above 6 can also get free Wi-Fi aboard a CARTA bus!
What’s particularly interesting is the DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) service. You’ll want to avail of this service if you wish to have a leisurely day and visit all the major attractions of Charleston, which is covered by the DASH route. And what’s more? It’s completely FREE! But you have to note that there aren’t any late night bus services. So if you’ve been out late, better book an Uber.
Charleston Water Taxi
Charleston is surrounded by water on three sides, and sometimes it makes more sense to travel in a boat than a car. In such a scenario, hop aboard one of Charleston Water Taxis and get to where you want to be faster and drink in the scenic views of Charleston as you sail across the Cooper River. The taxis sail between Patriot’s Point and City Market, parallel to the Ravenel Bridge. If you’re lucky, you can even spot dolphins along the way!
Uber And Lyft
The regular taxi service would be a little difficult to get, so if you want to get around Charleston in a cab, services like Uber and Lyft are available. Of course, you can choose between standard and luxury cabs.
Best Neighborhoods In Charleston SC
By now, you must have decided that Charleston is a place that you want to move into. But where exactly in the city do you go? Charleston offers locations that are along the beach, right in its heart and also in the quieter places. Below are some of the best neighborhoods of the Holy City.
1. Mount Pleasant
If you intend to settle down with a family in Charleston, Mount Pleasant is among the best places here. An analysis of FBI crime rankings by Security Baron revealed that Mount Pleasant is the second safest in South Carolina. The place would offer you a great suburban feel and is popular among families. The most notable aspect of Mount Pleasant is the presence of great public and private schools here. However, the cost of living is considerably higher with the median home price around $476,083.
2. Downtown Charleston
This is the neighborhood you want to move to if you admire the old-world European charm and the many steepled-roofed churches. The biggest advantage of having a house here is the central location. A history nerd can even get a house in the historic district, which have 18-19th century houses fitted with modern amenities. Property rates here range between $400,000 to over $10 million.
3. West Ashley
This is a neighborhood for those looking for affordable housing and is the oldest suburb of Charleston. The median home price here is $299,000. Like Mount Pleasant, West Ashley also has some great schools (without the price tag) and is thus ideal for families. The Citadel Mall and the Bon Secours St Francis Hospital are located here, which employ a significant part of the West Ashley population.
Is Charleston SC A Good Place To Live In?
If you’re a person who loves history, you won’t think twice about moving to Charleston. But even the others would love the charm and liveliness of the city. Charleston has seen rapid development over the recent years and thus draws a huge influx of youth who seek jobs here.
The city is surrounded by water, and while that means the summers are muggy, the rest of the year is quite pleasant and may not take much getting used to. The upside is getting to enjoy the beach and the waters around Charleston, where you can even go fishing and kayaking.
Top Realtors in Charleston Share their Thoughts
1. Pam Bass
“Of course, I am partial to Charleston because I was born and raised here. This amazing city has lots to offer, from the rich history and Southern charm to beautiful beaches and award-winning restaurants. Charleston is a walkable city with arts and culture, cobblestone streets, and quaint boutiques. The climate is pleasant all year, so you can enjoy boating, playing one of the many golf courses, tennis, or walking the Ravenel Bridge. We also have wonderful festivals throughout the year that draw people from all over the world – the Spoletto Festival, Wildlife Festival, Food, and Wine Festival, to name a few. The lifestyle is laid back, and the people are very friendly. Why wouldn’t you want to live where others vacation?”
2. Amy Bolan
“I can’t begin to count the endless reasons to move to Charleston! One of the most beautiful historical towns in the nation, from plantations, beaches to the architect and cobblestone roads. Great weather with endless sunny days for those long walks on any one of our five beaches. An economy that is not only strong in tourism (over 20 billion dollars generated) but also the SC Ports contribute over $63 billion in revenue, and South Carolina’s manufacturing industry is estimated at around $200 billion. That is a strong economy where I would want to invest my money.”
The food in Charleston is renowned to be phenomenal, and you can almost never go wrong by visiting one of the many, many restaurants and bars here. The one major drawback is the heavy traffic that accompanied the rapid development of Charleston. Also, the cost of living here is also considerably higher, but the higher average income makes up for it somewhat. But all the same, it remains a great place to move to. If this has steeled your resolve about moving to Charleston, take a look at some moving companies with our help and get some quotes.