Reasons to Live in Charleston, SC
When we talk to clients about living in Charleston, we're always interested to hear the different reasons they have for moving to (or remaining in) Charleston. Over the years we've heard hundreds of reasons, but we've managed to narrow it down to the top reasons to live in Charleston, South Carolina:
Charleston, SC Beaches
One of the most popular reasons people move to Charleston is that they want to live near the beach. With all the beaches Charleston has to offer, we have to ask clients what kind of beach they're looking for. Folly Beach is popular with surfers, and it has a more laid back feel - some people have likened it to Key West for its funky and shabby atmosphere. If you're looking for seclusion, then a private beach like Kiawah, Seabrook, or Wild Dunes will be the best areas to start looking. Isle of Palms has an upscale and newer feel, even though it's a highly popular public beach. Sullivan's Island is one of the most historic beaches on the East Coast since its Fort Moultrie dates back to the Revolutionary War.
Charleston's Culture and History
Charleston's role in history has paved the way for a lot of tourism. Since tourism is one of Charleston's biggest industries, you'll find plenty of things to do. Visitors and residents alike enjoy taking carriage tours of downtown Charleston, touring plantations, and visiting the many museums downtown. Charleston is also known for its shopping and dining. Outdoor activities include going to the beach, kayaking, and boating (which we'll discuss later). Charleston also boasts some of the nicest golf courses and tennis facilities in the southeast. Most of the entertainment that is tourist driven is in historic downtown Charleston. However, you'll find a range of activities throughout the Charleston area.
Students and Young Professionals
Since Charleston has several colleges and universities, there are a lot of students in the area. And, you'll find that there is truth to that saying that once you go to College of Charleston (or any other colleges in the Charleston area) you never move away. The two owners of this website are perfect examples! Many of the students who attend the Citadel, Charleston Southern, and College of Charleston choose to stay in the area after they graduate. Charleston is also home to the state's medical university, which is MUSC (the Medical University of South Carolina). A lot of these graduates also opt to live in Charleston because it's considered one of the state's major medical areas.
Retiring in Charleston, SC
AARP has named Charleston as one of the top five Dream Towns in the United States for retirees. Home buyers looking to retire in Charleston are very pleased to learn that the city has some of the best medical care in the state. This is in large part due to many offices and other patient care facilities associated with the medical university. Although Charleston is a top destination for retiring, there are very few true retirement communities. Del Webb's community in Summerville and the Liberty Cottages section of Park West in Mt. Pleasant are the only adult communities with age restrictions. If you look at Charleston's demographics, you'll find that there are a lot of retirees, but most don't choose to live in a neighborhood solely geared towards retirement. Since Charleston has such a wonderful mix of people, they generally base their decision on which community or location they like the most. The neighborhood that best suits their lifestyle may have other retirees as well as younger and older families.
Charleston is a wonderful place to raise a family. Buyers will find a great selection of homes and neighborhoods to meet their families' needs. Also, Charleston has some of the best public and private schools in South Carolina. We've devoted an entire page our website to Charleston schools so that you can get all the information you need in one place. Charleston has tons of kid-friendly places, too, like the SC Aquarium, the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, beaches, and county parks. There are also various kids' organizations and sports teams associated with neighborhoods, schools, and entire communities.
Employment and the Charleston Economy
A lot of buyers relocating to Charleston do so for jobs. Charleston's economy continues to grow - in the past two years, over $1 billion has been invested to create new businesses and expand existing ones. Perhaps the biggest recent additions Charleston's economy are Boeing and Google. So far, Google alone has spent about $600 million and will create about 200 jobs for Charleston. The city's economic diversity is a major reason for its long-term success.
The biggest industries involve tourism, the ports in Charleston's harbor, the military, and the medical field. Tourism is Charleston's biggest industry, with an estimated 5.1 million visitors annually who bring Charleston about $5.4 billion each year and create about 78,000 jobs in the area. In the past, Charleston has been more a top destination in the country. However, we're seeing a lot more international tourism in Charleston. As Charleston's reputation in travel magazines and such increases, Charleston is expected to become a more prominent international destination.
As the fourth biggest container port in the United States (and one of the top ports on the southeast coast), Charleston relies heavily on this industry for the local economy. The Port of Charleston contributes about $3.3 billion annually to the economy. Charleston is an international port city that interchanges with about 150 countries worldwide. Approximately 2100 ships sail into Charleston's harbor each year to reach the five terminals located throughout the harbor's waterways.
The military also brings a lot of jobs to the Charleston area. The city has over 27,000 military jobs. Most of these jobs relate to the Navy, but the Charleston Air Force Base also makes up a good percentage. One estimate shows that the military accounts for about $3.28 billion. Besides tourism, the port, and the military, Charleston also relies on large corporations like Bosch and Amoco to continue to expand its economy.
Below we've included a list of the major employers in Charleston:
- US Navy - 16,200 employees
- Medical University of South Carolina - 8,200
- Charleston Air Force - 5,500
- Charleston County School District - 5,100
- Roper St. Francis Hospitals - 4,000
- Berkeley County Schools - 3,400
- Bosch Corporation - 2,100
- Charleston County- 2,000
Boating in Charleston
As one of the oldest port cities in the south, Charleston is a favorite boating destination. There are quite a few regattas each year, including regional and international competitions. The picture to the left was taken at this year's Charleston Race Week, which is one of Charleston's annual, corporate-sponsored boat races.
And for the boaters who also like to fish - Charleston is only 60 miles from the Gulf Stream, so it hosts many fishing tournaments. Charleston boasts more than a dozen marinas and more than 20 public boat landings throughout the area!
Residents of Charleston enjoy a subtropical climate with mild winters. From December to February, normal temperatures range from about 36 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit. It rarely snows during Charleston winters, and outdoor activities slow down only a little for residents. People who like taking a daily jog or a walk can still enjoy their routines, even in the middle of winter. In the summer's hottest months (May through August), normal temperatures range from about 62 to 91 degrees. The hottest weather peaks around the middle to end of July. On the very hottest days of the year, temperatures soar to just over 100 degrees! Only a handful of days each year reach these temperatures, but the warm weather in general attracts both residents and visitors to the local beaches.
Charleston's mild weather appeals to many buyers, especially those relocating from northern cities. We talk to a lot of clients in the Michigan and Ohio regions of the country, and they often tell us that they're tired of shoveling snow! In fact, I think we've worked with clients from almost every northern state. For most of those clients, the weather in Charleston was on the top of their lists for moving here (lower taxes and real estate prices were usually also ranked highly as reasons to move).
Current weather conditions in Charleston, SC:
Charleston Metro Area Quick Facts
- Population: 603,178
- Total Area (including land and water): 3,163 sq. miles
- Median Household Income: $50,289
- Median Age of Residents: 35.4
- Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Charleston is a great place to live. The reasons to live here are as varied as the people who give them. Charleston attracts all kinds of people - singles as well as families, Northerners and native Southerners, younger and older people (and all the ages in between).