With its stunning architecture, rich history, and miles of gorgeous coastline, Charleston, South Carolina, is widely known as one of the best places to live in the United States.
For the past decade, this charming city has been named among the Top Cities in the US by Travel + Leisure Magazine and was recognized as one of the top cities in the world by Conde Nast Traveler – the only US city to make the list.
It’s not hard to see why so many people love Charleston, SC. From its old-world charm, laidback lifestyle, and friendly locals, Charleston attracts visitors year round and convinces many of them to stay for good.
So what makes Charleston, SC, such a wonderful place to visit and an even more ideal place to live? We’ll take a closer look at the South’s favorite city, what it’s like living there, and what to do in Charleston, SC, today.
A CLOSER LOOK AT CHARLESTON, SC
With over 300 years of history, Charleston, South Carolina, also known as the Holy City, is a beautifully preserved historical and architectural treasure. Many have described this city as a “living museum” coupled with modern charm.
Charleston, SC Overview
- Charleston is the largest city in South Carolina, located southeast in the seat of Charleston county. The city sits on a peninsula between the Cooper, Ashley, and Wando rivers. It’s a major Atlantic port and the center of Southern culture and history.
- The city was originally founded as Charles Town in 1670 in honor of King Charles II. It was located initially at Albemarle Point and eventually relocated in 1680 to its present location.
- Charleston’s history predates the arrival of English settlers by thousands of years. It was the traditional territory of one dozen distinct groups of Native Americans who developed complex systems of agriculture, hunting, and fishing that enabled them to thrive in the Lowcountry environment. When the settlers arrived, natives freely bartered with them, until laws, expanding plantations, and cattle herds encroached their land.
- As a colony, Charleston was instrumental in the slave trade, saw key battles in the American Revolution, and struggled to rebuild itself following the end of the civil war. Today, it has become a vibrant city with a roadmap for the future that focuses on “action areas” like affordability, infrastructure, quality of place, talent, global fluency, and innovation and entrepreneurship.
- The weather in Charleston is pleasant year-round. During winter, temperatures don’t usually dip below the 50s, except during snowstorms. While it can get hot in the summer, there are many beaches and pools to beat the heat.
- The current population of Charleston in 2023 is around 159,000, while the population of the Charleston metropolitan area is over 813,000 and growing as many more move to this beautiful Southern community.
HOMES FOR SALE IN IN CHARLESTON, SC
While Charleston is a fantastic place to visit, it’s an even better place to live. The city offers beautiful home options, good schools, reliable transportation, a reasonable cost of living, and plenty of employment opportunities.
Real Estate in Charleston, SC
As the population in Charleston continues to grow, the real estate market grows too. On average, Charleston home prices increased by 20% in 2022 and sold for the median price of $540,000, with an average appreciation rate of close to 9%.
There are also abundant rental options at approximately $2,700 per month. Statistics show that the homeownership rate in the city tops 50% with rent coming in at just above 40%.
Because the demand for homes in Charleston remains steady and strong, it’s important to commit when the right property becomes available.
Types of home for sale s in Charleston, SC
You can find several types of homes and properties for sale in Charleston. The most prevalent are single-family homes, followed by apartment complexes. Smaller apartment buildings and townhouses are also available.
While most currently available homes are newer properties, heritage homes with updated amenities do appear on the market. It’s worth noting, however, that many of the newer houses still adhere to the charming architectural designs for which the Lowcountry is renowned.
These styles include Colonial, Classic and Gothic Revival, Georgian, Victorian, Art Deco, Italianate, and Federal. Basic layouts of these historical homes include the Charleston single and double houses.
TOP NEIGHBORHOODS IN CHARLESTON, SC
The best way to enjoy the best of Charleston is to choose a home in a neighborhood that mirrors your aspirations.
Some of the most coveted neighborhoods in and around the Charleston area are:
- Mount Pleasant. Located over the iconic Ravenel Bridge, this growing suburban community is the home to Sullivan and Palms island beaches.
Read the blog: Explore new construction homes in Mount Pleasant, SC
- West Ashley. A naturally beautiful area, West Ashely boasts a mix of historic and modern homes.
- Summerville. Known for its exceptional school districts, Summerville is the epitome of southern charm as well as being conveniently located near several beaches.
Read the blog: Your guide to buying a home in Summerville, SC
- Downtown Charleston. This is one of the most sought-after places to live, a historic district of cobblestone streets, incredible architecture, waterfront parks, and a vibrant shopping and dining scene
- The Islands. Charleston’s islands and beaches aren’t just fun vacation spots but also residential communities with gorgeous homes
While Charleston is a city of young working professionals, it is also family friendly and home to a thriving senior community.
LIVING IN CHARLESTON, SC
Now that you know more about Charleston and the homes and residents that make up this coastal community, your next question probably is, “What is it like to live in Charleston?” Here’s some of the basic information you need to know:
Charleston has a growing economy and robust job market with an unemployment rate that’s consistently lower than the US national average. The strength of Charleston’s business community is its economic diversity, and many industries support the job market in the area.
Over 86% of the workforce in the area is employed as professionals such as office managers, and specialists. Industries found in Charleston include aerospace, automotive, healthcare, hospitality, and technology.
Some of the companies that are the major employers in the area are Boeing, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Joint Base Charleston, Mercedes-Benz, Robert Bosch, and Trident Health System, to name a few.
Charleston is a highly educated community, with over 54% of adult residents having a college or professional degree. The Charleston County School District (CCSD) is one of the largest school systems in South Carolina and has a unique blend of educational institutions.
There are schools for every level in the area, with over 50,000 students attending public schools in the district. Some of the top-rated primary education schools include:
- Ashley River Creative Arts
- Buist Academy
- Moultrie Middle School
- Daniel Island School
- Wando High School
- West Ashley High
- Academic Magnet High School
- Charleston School for the Arts
There are also fantastic colleges and universities to choose from too. Some of the most popular ones include:
Charleston is a beautiful city that begs you to walk its charming streets. However, if you need to go greater distances, you can drive or choose from transportation options, such as:
You can even look into renting a bike through Holy Spokes, the Charleston, SC bike-sharing company.
FUN THINGS TO ENJOY IN CHARLESTON, SC
Because of the wide range of activities available in Charleston, there is always a good answer to the question, “What to do in Charleston, SC, today?”
Whether you’re a history buff looking to explore Charleston’s rich heritage, a foodie interested in the city’s diverse restaurant scene, or an avid surfer, there is always something here for everyone to enjoy.
Culture and heritage
Charleston has plenty of well-preserved historical destinations. Here are some of the top must-dos and must-sees:
- Go on a historic walking tour.The city offers free guided tours about Charleston’s past and present. Tour options range from beautiful Charleston architectural landmarks to Civil War history.
- Visit Museum Mile.The city’s museum mile is along Meeting Street, starting from the Charleston Visitor Center. There are six museums here, including the Charleston Museum and The Children’s Museum. As you walk, you will see notable churches, structures, and beautiful parks.
- Explore historic homes. There are gorgeous historic houses on Church Street and Elizabeth Street. Many have retained their original decorations and furniture, offering a glimpse into how people lived during a bygone era. Enjoy a self-guided tour through the Charleston Preservation Society.
- Check out Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum. This museum in Mount Pleasant includes former naval ships along with the Cold War Submarine Memorial.
Ride a ferry to Fort Sumter. One of the original fortifications of the 1912 War, Fort Sumter was a pivotal location that began the Civil War. You can take a ferry to the fort and enjoy the grounds, which include a museum, a tour, and more.
Food and drink
If exploring culinary delights is what you enjoy, Charleston won’t disappoint. It offers Southern favorites like grits, shrimp, lobster, and stews. You can feast on the best of Lowcountry cuisine at fresh seafood cafes and high-end restaurants.
Be sure to check out these restaurants:
- Charleston Grill is a fine-dining restaurant specializing in contemporary Southern cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
- Husk is the pioneering stop for Southern comfort classics like fried chicken, burgers, and sandwiches.
- Middleton Place Restaurant serves Southern culinary favorites using ingredients from their organic farm.
- Bowen’s Island Restaurant specializes in the catch of the day, oysters, and traditional Southern favorites like frogmore stew or Lowcountry boil.
- Bertha’s Kitchen is the local go-to for fried chicken and collard greens.
Art and entertainment
Charleston’s flourishing art and entertainment scene has attracted artists and creatives from all over.
One of the city’s biggest annual events is the Spoleto Festival, which showcases new and emerging artists in the performing arts. Founded in 1977, the festival runs for 15 days and features theater, dance, opera, and other performances.
On ordinary days, residents and visitors are just as spoiled for choice. There are concerts, theatrical performances, bar gigs, comedy shows, and so much more happening throughout the city.
When answering the question, “What to do in Charleston, SC, this weekend,” the answer is: anything and everything all at once. If you love live entertainment, you shouldn’t miss shows at the Dock Street Theatre, the Riviera, or the Charleston Performing Arts venue.
Many of the charming shops in Charleston lean into the vibe and culture of the area, with unique finds fashioned by local artisans. For modern shopping options, head to Charleston’s shopping centers and malls.
For an awesome shopping experience, King Street in Downtown Charleston offers contemporary and high-end stores and fun antique shops amidst historical buildings. There are a myriad of options found in three shopping districts: Upper King, Middle King, and Lower King Street.
Other places to shop include:
- Quadrangle Shopping Center. Has a unique collection of shops and services, including a bakery, deli, and supermarket.
- The Shops at Belmond. For global brands, high-end fashion stores, and fancy chocolate boutiques.
- Tanger Outlets. This outdoor mall features hundreds of stores offering brand-name clothing, footwear, and more.
- Charleston Farmers Market. Held every week from April to November, the market sells fresh produce and artisanal goods.
Mount Pleasant Towne Center. With over 65 stores featuring high-end brands and casual clothing.
Whether you enjoy relaxing picnics, water sports, or golf, find your kind of outdoor fun in Charleston.
The Charleston County Park System currently operates over 11,000 acres of regional parks, beach parks, plantations, fishing sites, and waterparks. Local favorites include:
- Charleston Waterfront Park. Home to the Pineapple Fountain, the symbol of southern hospitality, the park is perfect for enjoying the view, sitting by the fountain, and people-watching.
- Palmetto Islands County Park. This expansive park offers visitors a closeup look at Charleston’s natural flora and fauna. You can also enjoy the boardwalk, go biking, and kayak in the marsh.
- James Island County Park. Enjoy rock climbing walls, paved bike paths, and a Splash Zone waterpark. You can also rent a bike or go fishing.
If you prefer the beach, you can enjoy three public beaches in Charleston, including:
- Folly Beach. Nicknamed “The Edge of America,” this beach is a favorite of surfers.
- Sullivan’s Island. Great for paddle boarding, biking, and relaxing.
- Isle of Palms. Perfect for the whole family and a good place to spot sea turtles at night.
Other fun activities include:
- Boat tours and charters that allow you to enjoy sweeping views of the city from the water while visiting the city’s landmarks. Contact Adventure Harbor Tours or Morris Island Boat Tours.
The South Carolina Aquarium is home to turtles, otters, and 5,000 other animals, including those that live in the mountains of South Carolina. The highlight of the visit is the two-story ocean tank, one of the largest in the US.
DISCOVER WHAT TO DO IN CHARLESTON, SC TODAY
Are you interested in visiting Charleston for a vacation or to look for a new place to live? We can help you explore great homes in the best neighborhoods to give you a taste of what’s in store for you in this community.
Our team’s vast knowledge of local homes and neighborhoods in Charleston, along with our customized approach to helping you find your best options in the area makes our brokerage, ChuckTown Homes Real Estate, one of the best in the Charleston area.