Photo Credit: James Willamor
Charleston has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US. Whether it’s due to the great beer scene, the amazing historic downtown, or the Citadel Military College, there are plenty of aspects of the city appealing to a wide variety of people.
Due to the city’s popularity and long history, it can be a bit daunting when it comes to making the move to Charleston. There’s so much information and a lot to consider.
Fortunately, our guide has all the vital bits of info you’ll want to know when planning a relocation to Charleston.
- Which Charleston neighborhoods are most affordable?
- Which neighborhood in Charleston is the best fit for me?
- How long is the commute in Charleston?
- How’s Charleston’s walkability, bikeability, and public transportation?
- How dangerous is Charleston?
- Where can I find apartments and houses in Charleston?
- How much will it cost to move to Charleston?
- Don’t forget, all of these things need updating!
- What’s fun to do in Charleston?
And if you’re looking for more info on moving to Charleston, check out our Charleston move cost guide.
Charleston is a city that offers a wide variety of vibes, styles, and amenities ranging from historic architecture, laid-back suburbs, and up-and-coming hotspots.
When exploring the neighborhoods of Charleston, you can start by looking at places like the Peninsula/Downtown, West Ashley, Johns Island, James Island, Daniel Island, and the Cainhoy Peninsula.
Your first and foremost concern when picking a place to live is going to be whether or not you can actually afford the area.
A quick consultation of Trulia’s rental hotspot map of Charleston can help you get an idea of what each area will cost.
As you can see, rent prices are fairly consistent throughout the city, with the most expensive areas being near Downtown, historic districts, and along the coast.
Here’s a general breakdown of pricing by area
- If price isn’t really an issue for you, the most expensive areas include Mazyck – Wraggborough, Eastside, and Hampton Park Terrace which all have average rents ranging from $1,500 – $2,000 per month.
- In the middle-range, you’ll find places such as Parkdale, Queensbourough, and Laurel Park with rents ranging around $1,000 – $1,500 monthly.
- And if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find places with rents closer to $700 – $1,00 per month in areas like Edgewater Park, Sandhurst, and Village Square.
Still, affordability doesn’t mean much if you don’t end up liking the area you’re living in…
Affordability is important, but it’s always good to actually enjoy the area you’re living in. One fantastic resource for getting a feel for different neighborhoods is the Zip Tapestry tool from Esri.
The process is quick and simple! All you do is plug in a Charleston zip code (29401) and the site will show you the three largest demographic subsets in the area along with a bunch of other useful stats. Pretty sweet, right?
Once you’ve found a place that fits your lifestyle and budget, you’ll need to think about how you’ll be getting around.
An often overlooked aspect of the apartment hunt is considering how easy it’ll be to get to and from work. Fortunately, most locations in Charleston have a pretty decent commute.
As many will attest, average commute times throughout Charleston tend to fall below the national average.
The majority of Charleston residents drive to work in their own cars, making up 76% of the commuting population.
Overall, the average Charleston commute clocks in around 20-24 minutes which is slightly below the national average.
If you’d prefer not to drive to work though, there are a few options to explore.
The city of Charleston is fairly pedestrian-friendly, has some public transportation options, and offers decent bicycle infrastructure.
The walk score is 40 in Charleston, which is fairly solid for a city of its size.
Recently, the city has implemented a new Pedestrian Safety program designed to help residents to feel saver traversing the city on foot.
Along the same lines, the City of Charleston Century V Plan has been implemented to help encourage and strengthen alternate forms of transportation throughout the city.
That plan also includes efforts to improve infrastructure for cyclists.
Bicycle transportation in Charleston is being further developed
While still in their early stages, cycling around Charleston is quickly becoming an extremely viable form of transportation.
Along with improvements to bike paths and pedestrian safety included in the Century V Plan, Holy Spokes has recently begun offering bike sharing throughout Charleston, and it appears to be a very successful program.
However, if you don’t want to work up a sweat on the way to work…
Charleston has viable public transit options too
Right off the bat, if you’re looking to take the bus to get around in Charleston, you’ll probably be using CARTA.
CARTA offers around 17 routes along with some express routes, and their DASH free trolley service which offers rides throughout the historic downtown area.
While these offerings aren’t quite as robust as other cities of this size, Charleston’s Department of Traffic and Transportation is always working to improve the reach and efficiency of the city’s public transportation system.
But no matter how you get around the city, you should probably be aware of the crime rate.
In any major city, crime will be something of a factor. But, even though you shouldn’t ignore it, it’s important to have some context for what an area’s crime rate is.
With that said, NeighborhoodScout gives Charleston a crime score of 12 (with 100 being the safest).
So overall, not phenomenal, but it’s definitely above many other major cities throughout the country.
Generally, it’s good to know about crime rates, but you’ll panic if you don’t put them into some sort of context.
Basically, crime exists everywhere. It can be a problem, but generally you can stay safe as long as you remain aware of your surroundings, avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations, and know when and where to avoid certain areas.
And now that we’ve gotten all this out of the way, let’s move on to the important part of putting a roof over your head.
Okay, so, the first thing you’ll want to think about when finding an apartment is amenities and utilities.
As far as climate is concerned, you’ll find fairly mild tempereatures in Charleston.
Generally, summers don’t get too hot and winters typically don’t drop below “chilly”. While you’ll be more comfortable with air conditioning and heating, it might be possible to do without them.
You’ll also want to think about what your average cost of utilities is going to be as you start budgeting for rent.
Also, since Charleston isn’t super easy to navigate on foot, you’ll probably want a place with a washer/dryer so you can avoid long hikes to the laundromat.
Where to look for apartments in Charleston
Nobody likes looking for apartments, but there are some fairly decent sites out there that’ll at least help you narrow things down to the best available candidates.
Below you’ll find a selection of sites we’ve found to be the most useful in filtering places by price, amenities, location, and any other specification you have.
The Rental Market in Charleston
As of the early months of 2018, the rental market in Charleston appears to be fairly stable.
The average rent in Charleston has decreased by 0.3% between 2017 and 2018 after having hovered around the same general price throughout the previous year.
The vacancy rate in Charleston is pretty high too, sitting at 9.84%. That’s higher than both the national average and the overall average for the state of South Carolina!
South Carolina Rental Laws
Even though the rental market is in pretty good shape, you’ll still want to keep an eye out for bad landlords and shady business practices designed to scam you out of money.
The best way to avoid being taken advantage of when renting is to know your rights as a tenant in the state of South Carolina.
- South Carolina Required Landlord Disclosures
- South Carolina Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- South Carolina Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent
- South Carolina Landlord-Tenant Laws
Now, if you’re in the market for a more permanent housing arrangement, Charleston has plenty of options there too.
With all of its historic architecture, seaside views, and Southern charm, it’s easy to find a suburb in Charleston that’ll satisfy anyone looking to settle down outside of the city.
The current median home value in Charleston is sitting at $379,900, with a generally warm seller’s market projected to continue throughout the coming year.
While there are a ton of neighborhoods to choose from when buying in Charleston, we’ve picked out a couple we like to give you an idea of what’s out there.
The town of Mount Pleasant is a solid choice for a Charleston suburb based solely on the variety of housing styles available, including historic homes, modern condos, and wooded cottages. With plenty of great parks, shopping centers and restaurants, you won’t even have to commute to Charleston proper.
Hanahan, on the other hand, is a much more wooded suburb that is ideal for young families. Fans of the outdoors may not have easy beach access, but Hanahan offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and kayaking. And, with a good selection of solid schools, lots of available land, and an easy commute into the city, it’s an all-around great place for all types of lifestyle.
Use our moving cost calculator to estimate your moving costs to Raleigh.
Also, if you are coming from out of state, be sure to have a look at our long distance moving guide for more info and tips.
Parking Permits for Moving Vehicles in Charleston
Before making the move, you’ll want to ensure that you have permission to park moving vehicles near your new residence.
Check with the Charleston Parking Operations Division for more info on parking guidelines throughout the city.
Moving is a big job and it’s tempting to call it a day as soon as all your stuff is in your new place, but there are a few logistical tasks that you should probably take care of before you get too settled in.
- Register to Vote: Look, you’re going to forget about this by the time November rolls around so just get your Charleston voter registration out of the way as soon as you move to be safe.
- Driver’s License: You’ll want to get a new driver’s license with an updated address on it as soon as you can.
- Out-of-State Vehicle Registration: Along with getting a new license, you’ll want to update your license plate once you get settled.
- Trash & Recycling: As soon as you move in, definitely get ahold of Charleston Environmental Services to set up trash collection so that your garbage doesn’t just pile up on the street.
- Meet New People: One of the hardest parts of relocating is connecting with new people, but there are great online resources like Meetup and r/Charleston for finding people and keeping up with events around town.
The easiest way to get a sense of what a new area has to offer is to have a look at what they’re pitching to visitors. The things to do in Charleston page of the city’s website has a decent rundown of the area’s general vibe.
Being an area with a ton of natural attractions such as beaches, rivers, and hiking trails, the parks in Charleston have a ton to offer to all types of nature-lovers.
And if you’re looking to experience some of Charleston’s finest food and drink, there are a ton of great options with restaurants like Wild Olive, Roadside Seafood, and Charleston Grill. And if you’re looking for bars and late-night hangouts, check out The Royal American, Seanachai, and The Recovery Room.