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Moving to Charleston SC: Everything You Need to Know

Pastel houses and a horse-drawn carriage in Charleston, South Carolina

Are you thinking of moving to Charleston, Summerville, or Mount Pleasant? It’s South Carolina’s most populous urban center. Charleston regularly captures the hearts of locals, tourists, and newcomers alike. Known for its stunning coastline incredible culinary scene and Southern charm, Charleston has much to offer.

Maybe it’s the cobbled streets and pastel-colored homes that caught your eye. Maybe it’s an unbeatable job opportunity in a coastal town with amazing food, a vibrant culture, and friendly locals.

It could be the lengthy history of the city or the Spanish moss hanging over the streets.  

Or maybe you’re just thinking about moving to Charleston. Why wouldn’t you want to? After all, in 2016 Travel + Leisure rated Charleston the best city in the world. That’s the entire world we’re talking about.

Winning the title of the best city in the world doesn’t happen to just any city. Let’s look at all Charleston (and its suburbs) have to offer and what makes it so great.

Why Move to Charleston, SC?

Moving to Charleston means coastal destinations. Rich history. Unique architecture and countless restaurants. Charleston has no shortage of things to do, places to see, or shopping to enjoy.

Its incredible culinary scene, vibrant nightlife, and endless opportunities attract tourists and newcomers to Charleston from all over.

Oh and let’s not forget that UniMovers also has some pretty great movers in Charleston, SC too.

Charleston’s Rich History

The city of Charleston now sits upon land that was inhabited originally by the indigenous Cusabo or Cosabo tribe. Settlers arriving from England soon declared war on the Cusabo tribe and displaced them from the area.

Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, the city was relocated to its current location in 1680. The original location is now Charles Towne Landing. Since its founding, Charles Town became the first planned settlement in England’s thirteen colonies in North America.

Within ten years, the population of Charles Town had bloomed, making it the fifth-largest city in North America.

Charles Town changed its name to Charleston when it earned the title of “city” in 1783. Charleston remained one of the largest cities in the colonies and later in the United States until the 1840 census.

Famously, Charleston played a major part in the start of the Civil War. Fort Sumter took fire from Confederate forces until the US-held base surrendered to the Confederate army.

Any history buff or new Charlestonian will have plenty to learn about the city they want to call home.

Charlestonians are Great

The South is renowned for its mannerly culture. But politeness and friendliness are not necessarily the same thing. Where politeness can seem overbearing or stilted, friendliness can be inviting and comforting.

Charleston has even been rated one of the friendliest cities in the U.S. People smile at each other on the street, hold doors open for others, and help each other out. If two Charlestonians know one another, expect them to stop and talk to one another. This might be a culture shock for people from faster-paced cities.

And that’s something else: Charleston’s pace of life is slower compared to a place like New York. People walk through downtown in strides, not with the quick pace of a Manhattan sidewalk.

When you move to Charleston, don’t be afraid to meet the locals! Expect Charlestonians to offer to help you get acclimated to your new home and all it has to offer!

The Weather in Charleston

Warm weather by the beach? What more could you ask for…heaven?

Winters may cool the city down—by Charleston standards, that is—but the temperatures rarely dip below the 50s.

Even though the summers bring extremely hot and humid weather, the beach is only steps away. You can find yourself at Folly Beach, the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, or sitting in your friend’s pool in no time.

This desirable weather helps keep Charleston bustling and vibrant year-round. No need for the indoors when you can be outside almost all year round.

Opportunities for Employment and Education in Charleston

For young professionals seeking a place to launch their career or college students looking for a welcoming city, Charleston offers plenty of opportunities.

With a thriving tourism and hospitality industry, there’s no shortage of jobs in hotels, tour guiding, etc. Charleston also has strong industries in the military, the medical field, and shipping surrounding its well-placed ports.

As of recent years, there’s also a growing tech presence. Companies like Boeing, Bosch, and Volvo have supported numerous jobs in the Charleston area. Starting in 2021, Boeing concentrated its 787 Dreamliner production in South Carolina. Now, even more, jobs will come with this change. 

For education opportunities, you can find the College of Charleston in the heart of historic Charleston. With its beautiful campus in the city’s heart, the college offers an amazing higher education experience in a lively city!

Charleston’s Thriving Social Scene

A cultural and tourist hub, Charleston has innumerable social opportunities to keep its citizens and tourists busy and entertained. With local concerts, plays, ghost tours, festivals, and more, Charleston can entertain anyone.

The city also hosts events like the Charleston Wine and Food Festival or the Spoleto Performing Arts Festival.

With all the historic sites in Charleston, there’s always something to explore. You can keep yourself busy with one of the many walking tours Charleston offers. There are antebellum architecture tours, food tours, famous Charlestonians tours, and ghost tours.

There are also plenty of parks tucked into the city. You can find a quiet place to sit down and enjoy the sun. Or you can lay out on the grass and enjoy that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Accessibility in Charleston

Charleston is a flat and walkable city. However, to get far distances, you’ll have to drive. Luckily, there are plenty of parking meters and parking garages around the city, making travel much faster and easier.

On the other hand, you can take advantage of Charleston’s scenic and walkable streets by purchasing a bike! With Charleston’s warm climate, you can bike year-round.

When you have a bike to travel, you can also save money on gas. Plus, know that you’re living a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious lifestyle!

Charleston’s Food

Are you a food-lover too? Well, you’re in luck in a place like Charleston. With a myriad of options around the city, Charleston has a restaurant, a pub, a hole-in-the-wall for any craving!

By the sea, you’ll find no shortage of great seafood options in Charleston.

Charleston offers a host of restaurants at different price values. You can splurge at a star-reviewed restaurant or find a $2 taco joint.

Apartments and Rent Costs in Charleston

Of course, when you’re moving to Charleston, you have to be conscious of living expenses.

As of June 2021, the average rent in Charleston is $1570, according to Rent Cafe. Charleston’s rent prices are slightly higher than the national average of $1482. 

The average square footage for an apartment in Charleston is 961 sq. ft. However, this is average, and apartments offering more generous spaces (with more bedrooms) are readily available as well.

Of course, living standards vary among Charleston’s sprawling neighborhoods. Within each subset of Charleston, you can find a micro-town, a little city with its own culture. Let’s look at what some of them have to offer:

Best Neighborhoods Near Charleston

A city as big as Charleston has many different neighborhoods within its limits. Each one feels like its own little place and also a part of Charleston at once. Making the move to Charleston means you’ll want to find which neighborhood you want to call home.

  • Downtown Charleston: Who doesn’t love being in the center of it all? With cobblestone streets, restaurants wherever you look, venues and people all over the palce. When you’re in downtown Charleston, there’s always something to do, someone new to meet, and more food to try!
  • Harleston Village: The Harleston Village offers quick and easy access to the College of Charleston. There’s plenty of great housing for students or professors. Harleston, like Downtown, also has plenty of options for food, drinks, and outings with friends.
  • “Gateway to the Peninsula”: Also known as Cannonborough-Elliotborough, this neighborhood is quieter and has fewer nightlife options. However, there are still plenty of small businesses to frequent. From local restaurants to art shops and bookstores, there’s plenty to do in this quaint neighborhood.
  • Wagener Terrace: A great spot for young people and families to buy affordable homes. This is a cheaper area that is still in close proximity to downtown Charleston.

Of course, Charleston has many more neighborhoods to check out!

Sunset on bay in Summerville, South Carolina.
Sunset on the bay in Summerville, South Carolina.

Moving to Summerville, SC

Situated 25 miles outside of downtown Charleston sits Summerville, South Carolina. It is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area.

The city boasts access to South Carolina’s coastal beaches, the area’s growing economy, and affordable, spacious residences outside of Charleston.

For anyone looking to move to Summerville, you’ll find the city has plenty to offer.

Real Estate in Summerville

When moving to Summerville, people find real estate surprisingly affordable. Summerville offers cheaper options for people looking for less expensive real estate.

In fact, Summerville’s average home price hovers at about $275,000 according to Zillow. Even better, the cost of living in Summerville is 8% lower than the average cost of living in the U.S.

That means you can save money on your home and enjoy your money going farther than it might somewhere else.

Summerville’s real estate includes smaller condos and townhouse options. There are also older, Victorian-style, modern, or coastal homes for whatever your tastes are!

Summerville's small-town, intimate downtown area.
Summerville’s small-town, intimate downtown area.

Summerville’s Small Town Charm

Moving to Summerville, you’ll find a quaint downtown area. Locals regularly come and enjoy the downtown area of their city.

If you’ve been living in a bigger city, Summerville might be a nice, quiet change for you. The laid-back culture allows you time to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of your new town.

Moving to a town like Summerville can make the world feel a bit smaller. You’ll find it easy to get acquainted with the town and all its familiar, friendly faces.

Summerville’s History

Moving to Summerville means another city with another long history!

Founded as Pineland Village in 1785 after the end of the Revolutionary War, Summerville attracted small groups of settlers.

In 1847, Summerville passed a law that penalized people with a fine for cutting down trees of a certain size. Now, in line with the town’s history, Summerville’s official seal says, “Sacra Pinus Esto” or “The Pine is Sacred.”

With settlements dating back to the end of the 18th century, Summerville has plenty of historical buildings where you can step back in time or learn about the town’s story.

Summerville’s Flowertown Festival

If you move to Summerville, you will certainly hear about the Flowertown Festival.

Since 1972, Summerville has hosted the Flowertown Festival to support and promote health and wellness programs at the YMCA.

The Flowertown Festival owns the honor of being the largest arts and crafts festival in all of South Carolina. The festival occurs annually during either the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April in Azalea Park.  

In fact, the Flowertown Festival often attracts nearly 200,000 visitors (almost four times the population of the city)!

Of course, you have to feed a bunch of hungry tourists and townies, too, don’t you? Not to worry! The festival often sports a “Taste” section where visitors can buy tickets to try featured restaurant’s offerings.

Food in Summerville

What’s a place to live without great places to eat? Luckily, Summerville has no shortage of amazing options (and, also, you’re so close to Charleston with all its offerings).

When you move to Summerville, you’ll be in the nest of three amazing cuisines. There’s Southern cooking, South Carolina Lowcountry cooking, and Gullah cuisine.

With Lowcountry cooking comes delicious mixtures of rice and coastal seafood dishes.

Gullah describes both the Black Americans who hail from the Lowcountry region and their creole language. With the Gullah cultural influence on the region comes a distinct addition to the culinary scene.

Summerville and its surrounding areas offer no shortage of local treasures as far as food is concerned. Find your favorite spots or discover a new place, a new cuisine. It’s all at your fingertips.

A Mount Pleasant park with signature live oaks and Spanish moss hanging from them.
A park in Mount Pleasant with signature live oaks and Spanish moss hanging from them.

Moving to Mount Pleasant, SC

Situated in Charleston County, South Carolina, Mount Pleasant is a suburb on the cusp of Charleston’s border.

Moving to Mount Pleasant means easy access to Charleston, stunning beaches, endless cultural activities, and amazing restaurants. This fast-growing town has much to offer to whoever resides there.

Apartments, Rent Costs, and Living Expenses in Mount Pleasant

When you move to Mount Pleasant, know that the cost of living is higher than the average city in South Carolina. But the cost of living in Mount Pleasant is lower than the US average as a whole.

According to Rent Cafe, the average rent in Mount Pleasant is $1,712. However, the vast majority of living spaces in Mount Pleasant are owned by their inhabitants. In fact, 66% of residences are owner-occupied households as opposed to renter-occupied.

Mount Pleasant’s rent prices hover slightly above the national average. When everyday living costs are factored in, though, the cost of living in the city trends below the national average.

Real estate in Mount Pleasant is more expensive, but it can be a smart investment! With its growing population and tourism industry, real estate in Mount Pleasant will gain value.

Mount Pleasant’s History

Like Charleston and Summerville, Mount Pleasant also has a history that spans centuries. The Sewee tribe lived in present-day Mount Pleasant before European colonists arrived in 1680 and stole their land.

Mount Pleasant grew from a former plantation and became a popular getaway for Charlestonians in the 19th century. The town also played part in South Carolina’s eventual secession from the United States during the Civil War.

Now, the city shows remnants of its long, troubling, and fascinating history. After moving to Mount Pleasant, take a stroll around the town and learn about the city through its architectural evolution.

Explore the “Old Village,” Mount Pleasant’s oldest neighborhood. The oldest home in the neighborhood dates to 1755. 

A nighttime picture of the Arthur Ravenal Bridge which connects Mount Pleasant to Charleston.
A nighttime photo of the Arthur Ravenal Bridge which connects Mount Pleasant to Charleston.

Proximity to Charleston

Moving to Mount Pleasant means you get to enjoy your proximity to Charleston.

As a fast-growing suburb of Charleston, you only need to cross the Arthur Ravenel Bridge to get to Charleston. While you’re there, why not park your car and take a hike up the bridge?

From the bridge’s summit, you can see Charleston and the surrounding area. While you’re up there you can also appreciate the impressive architecture of the bridge.

Mount Pleasant provides access to Charleston (a 20-minute drive). Other satellite towns which each offer their own unique Lowcountry flare and amenities are also right around the corner.

The Beaches in Mount Pleasant

How could you not take advantage of the gorgeous beaches at your doorstep? Popular destinations for Mount Pleasant locals include the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.

The Isle of Palms is a quick drive (5-15 minutes), especially short for those who live in north Mount Pleasant.

Historic Sullivan’s Island was named for the Englishman who brought the first European settlers to Mount Pleasant. The island attracts beach-goers from all over, and the same goes for Mount Pleasant locals.

Moving to Mount Pleasant puts you within biking distance of either the Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island.

So should you move to Charleston, SC?

Beaches at your fingertips. Amazing food options on every street. Budding opportunities for young professionals and college-aged students. Affordable housing and a welcoming community.

With all the above, Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Summerville are great places to move. You can enjoy a year-round vacation and build a career.

There’s no shortage of entertainment for you. And there’s plenty of history-related activities.

So move to Charleston or Mount Pleasant or Summerville and enjoy all they have to offer!

If you decide to move to the area, know our movers in Charleston, SC, Mount Pleasant, SC, and our movers in Summerville, SC have got you covered.

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