Reasons to Live in Charleston, SC
When I talk to clients about living in Charleston, I am always interested to hear the different reasons they have for moving to (or remaining in) Charleston. Over the years I have heard probably hundreds of reasons, but I've managed to narrow it down to the top reasons to live in Charleston:
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 is popular with surfers, and it has a more laid back feel - some people have likened it to Key West (it's a little more funky and shabby). If you're looking for seclusion, then maybe a private beach like Kiawah, Seabrook, or Wild Dunes is a good start. Kiawah and Seabrook are a good 30 minute drive from downtown Charleston. If you'd prefer a private beach with a closer proximity, Wild Dunes would be a good place to start looking. Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island fall somewhere in between, and they both have public access areas. Sullivan's is one of the more historic beaches in Charleston, and it has a nicer feel to it - it's mostly houses with only 2 or 3 condo buildings. Isle of Palms is also a popular beach for Mt. Pleasant residents.
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
The AARP named Charleston as one of the top five Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dream TownsÃ¢â‚¬Â� in the United States for retirees. Home buyers looking to retire in Charleston are very pleased to learn that the area has some of the best medical treatment 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 not many true retirement communities. Del Webb in Summerville and Frankie's in Mt. Pleasant are some of 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 mix of people anyway, they base their decision on which community they like the most. Or, they decide based on location. The neighborhood that best suits their lifestyle may have other retirees as well as younger and older families.
Charleston is a great place to raise a family. Buyers will find a great selection of homes and neighborhoods to meet their families' needs. Also, some of the public school districts and private schools in Charleston are the best in the state. 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 lots of kid-friendly places, too, like the SC Aquarium, beaches, and county parks. There are also various kids' organizations and sports teams associated with neighborhoods, schools, and entire communities in Charleston.
Employment and the Charleston Economy
A lot of buyers relocating to the Charleston area 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 news for Charleston's economy is Google's decision to move to Charleston. So far, Google has spent about $600 million and will create about 200 jobs for Charleston. Charleston's economic diversity is one of the major reasons 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. 's large and varied job market will ensure a strong economy in the future. 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 along with a further breakdown of Charleston's job market:
- US Navy - 16,200
- 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 right 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 fishÃ¢â‚¬â€�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.
Also, Charleston gets almost half of its yearly rainfall in the summer. This rain comes mostly in the form of thundershowers, which usually occur in the afternoon and last only briefly. These showers generally take place about 3 days a week during the summer months.
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 about Charleston:
- Population (as of 2006): 603,178
- Growth Rate (from 2000 to 2006): 9.9%
- U.S. Population Rank (as of 2004): 84
- Total Area (including land and water): 3,163 sq. miles
- Average Household Income (2006): $57,711
- Median Age of Residents (2006): 35.4
- Annual Retail Sales (2005): $16.4 billion
- Total Civilian Labor Force (2006): 303,704
- Unemployment Rate (2006): 5.2%
Charleston is a great place to live in. The reasons to live here are as varied as the people who give them. Charleston attracts all kinds of peopleÃ¢â‚¬â€�singles as well as families, Northerners and native Southerners, younger and older people (and all the ages in between).
Learn More About Charleston, SC
- Population (as of 2006): 603,178