Navigation Jump Links
- Charleston at-a-glance
- What it’s like to live in Charleston
- Economy and job outlook in Charleston
- Real estate, cost of living in Charleston
- The top neighborhoods in Charleston
- How to get around in Charleston
- School and education snapshot
- Weather and climate in Charleston
- 10 can’t-miss things to do in Charleston
Chucktown. Chas. Silicon Harbor. The Holy City. Charlestown has earned several fun nicknames over the years, each reflective of unique aspects of the city. Whatever you come to call it, this mid-sized metro has become a hot destination for travelers and for those looking to relocate.
We’re not surprised.
Charleston is brimming with rich history and charm, from its cobblestone streets to pastel-painted homes. With nearby beaches, temperate weather, a healthy art scene and growing economy, it’s no wonder Charleston was named one of the fastest-growing places in the U.S. in 2022!
Read on for more about why living in Charleston may be the right move for you.
A Slow Pace of Life with Plenty to Do
Ready for better work-life balance? Charleston promotes a slower pace of life, with very few folks chasing the hustle culture here. Maybe that’s why there are so many great things to do around the city, including gorgeous parks, a hot culinary scene and amazing festivals.
The city is actually renowned for its festival scene. Given the great weather here, festivals and events happen year-round celebrating history, music, art, culture and more. Not sure where to start? Check out world-class performing artists at the Spoleto Festival USA, enjoy tastings at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival or celebrate African American and Caribbean arts and culture at the MOJA Arts Festival.
Foodies who enjoy comfort food and Lowcountry cuisine will have plenty to check out. In fact, travelers ranked the city the second-best food destination in the U.S. This is because Charleston has several iconic dishes to check out, such as she crab soup, fried green tomatoes and hush puppies. If you love oysters, here’s another event for you: Charleston hosts the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the world’s largest festival of its kind.
Charleston’s New Job Creation is Impressive
The Charleston region has been thriving over the last couple of years. At the start of 2023, new numbers were released noting that the metro area had the second highest job growth in the U.S., with nearly 25,000 new jobs added between November 2021 and November 2022. As of May 2023, its unemployment rate was just 2.4 percent.
The city’s diverse employment landscape offers a variety of options to those moving to Charleston in search of a new job. You’ll find opportunities in hospitality, life sciences, automotive, tech, defense and aerospace, with North Charleston being one of only three places in the world that assembles and delivers wide body jets.
Major employers include Boeing, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Joint Base Charleston, with over 400 tech companies and more than 50 research and development labs in the area.
Save on Housing, Spend on Utilities
At first glance, Charleston can appear to have a high cost of living when compared to the rest of South Carolina. The city’s biggest costs, much like the rest of the state, come from utilities. South Carolina has some of the highest utility bills in the U.S., due in large part to cooling-related electricity consumption.
But on a national stage, Charleston’s cost of living isn’t so bad. It’s actually 2 percent lower than the national average, and the median household income is more than $7,500 higher than the national average at $76,556.
Housing is where you’ll see some of that savings. Charleston’s housing costs are 3 percent lower than the national average, though its market is competitive. As the city’s popularity grows, so does demand for housing, and the city hasn’t seen the same dip in home costs that some large metros have. The median sale price in June 2023 was $550,000, a near-12 percent increase above June 2022. Thankfully, there has been a slight uptick in how long homes are staying on the market—great news for buyers.
For those looking to rent, you’ll find a mix of housing options available. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment was just $1,499 in July 2023, with a two-bedroom only slightly more at $1,711.
Worth Looking Into Neighborhoods in Charleston
Although it is known for its history and southern charm, Charleston has its mix of historic neighborhoods, hipster hangouts and modern fast-paced living. Check out these highly recommended neighborhoods for those moving to Charleston:
As Charleston’s largest and most affordable suburb, West Ashley boasts modest starter homes alongside large mansions. Although mostly residential, the neighborhood has plenty of parks, shopping and dining options.
This Charleston suburb is a favorite among young professionals and families, with excellent schools, good vibes and a healthy dose of food and nightlife.
The historic heart of the city, Downtown Charleston is highly desired for its excellent restaurants, shopping and cultural attractions. You’ll enjoy proximity to festivals, museums and waterfront parks.
HAMPTON PARK TERRACE
Tiny and recognized on the National Register, this early-1900s neighborhood is known for its hip vibe and great neighborhood shops, coffee stores and restaurants.
Those who love diving into their community and attending local events will love this neighborhood. It is well-known for its annual barbecues and potluck lunches, as well as its quality bars and solid cuisine.
Other neighborhoods to include in your Charleston home search:
- James Island
- Park Circle
- South of Broad
- Daniel Island
- Upper King
A Car-Centric City with Light Public Transportation
While those living in Charleston’s dense downtown should be able to walk or bike to get around, if you’re going outside of that area, you’ll want to have your own car or—for the times when traffic gets high—familiarize yourself with public transportation.
The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) offers a variety of bus routes around Charleston proper and its surrounding areas. The free Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) also has three routes in the historic Peninsula. Unfortunately, the region’s layout has restricted its ability to build a railway system.
If you decide to stick with your car, make sure you plan your commute around traffic. Although Charleston is a smaller city, it is located near the coast and is prone to beach traffic and a high number of visitors during its busy tourist season (March through June).
Education Opportunities in Charleston
If you’re moving to South Carolina with a family, you can’t do much better than Charleston. You’ll find some of the best public and private schools in the state. The city ranks in the top 20 percent of K-12 public schools in South Carolina. One of North Charleston’s high schools, Academic Magnet High School, was even recognized as number two in national rankings.
When it comes to higher education, there are several great colleges and universities to choose from, including College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University and the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.
Charleston’s Weather is One of the Perks
Although Charleston is a four-season city, its weather is considered pleasant and mild year-round. Winters may see a few flurries of the white stuff, but not much more. You may even find yourself strolling on the beach in the “cold” months! Summers are hot and humid, but air conditioning is common here and locals promise that you’ll adjust quickly.
January brings lows of 43 degrees Fahrenheit. July is the hottest month with highs averaging a scorching 90 degrees.
10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Charleston
Full of southern charm, a robust history, great dining and quite a few well-known haunts, Charleston seems to have a little of everything going on. Here’s a list of 10 must-dos in Chucktown:
- Stroll down King Street. Charleston’s main drag is full of antique shops, high-end boutiques and great dining.
- Take a selfie in front of the iconic Pineapple Fountain as you enjoy Waterfront Park.
- Get your spook on and explore the city’s graveyards, haunted alleyways and the Old Charleston Jail on one of its many ghost tours.
- Learn about sea turtle rescue at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center.
- Check out a nearby beach—downtown is just a short drive to Folly Beach, Isle of Palms Beach and Sullivan’s Island Beach.
- Experience the beauty of Rainbow Row, famous for its bright, pastel-colored homes.
- Escape the city hustle with a visit to the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard, a beautiful hidden gem surrounded by history.
- Enjoy live music and great food at the Charleston Pour House’s Sunday Brunch Farmers Market.
- Visit one of the most beautiful trees in the world—Angel Oak is between 400 and 500 years old, and many visitors believe it to be otherworldly.
- Connect with the state’s history at Charles Towne Landing, an 80-acre park that is considered the birthplace of South Carolina. Today, it’s full of gardens and trails.