Cost of Living in Charleston, South Carolina

Posted by Lee Keadle on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 10:29am.

charleston south carolina

Most people who consider moving to Charleston, South Carolina ask about the cost of living in order to compare our city to where they currently live. When you look at other coastal communities who are also thriving, Charleston’s cost of living is very reasonable. The ACCRA Cost of Living Index compares quarterly relative living costs for middle-management households in the United States’ cities and metropolitan areas. The South Carolina state and local tax burden is significantly lower than the national average for property taxes, sales and use taxes, and individual and corporate income taxes.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina overall is less expensive than the average city or metropolitan area in the United States. When using the 2011 U.S. Cities Baseline Index of 100, the ACCRA Cost of Living Index shows that Grocery Items are 107.5, Housing is 90.1, Utilities are 107.5, Transportation is 98.3, Health Care is 109, and Miscellaneous Goods and Services are 101.8. When all items are combined, the composite is 99.7, which is just under the national average of the 100 Baseline Index. This shows that the overall living expenses in Charleston are less than the national average, and housing expenses are significantly less than the national average.

According to TaxFoundation.org, income taxes for 2012 were $617 for individuals of South Carolina as compared to the national average of $886 per capita. Corporate income taxes were $55 in South Carolina per capita and $151 for the national average. Personal income tax in South Carolina is on a graduated scale from 0% to 7% for individuals that make over $13,150. There are six income brackets that adjust annually for inflation. Corporate income tax is 5%, which is among the lowest in the entire United States.

Only local governments collect property taxes in South Carolina. For example, in Charleston, the county levies the property taxes for real and personal property. A local millage rate is applied to the assessed value of your property to determine the tax owed. Real property (or real estate) is assessed at a 4% tax rate if it is the owner’s primary residence. If it is a vacation home or investment property, the assessment rate is 6%. Personal properties (such as boats and vehicles) are assessed at 10.5%.

Charleston, South Carolina’s cost of living is significantly lower than the national average. If you’re considering relocating to our lovely city, you may find peace of mind knowing that you are not just moving to a wonderful city, but you’re also transitioning into an affordable area that offers a high quality of life with long term value.


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