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14 Things to Know About Living in Charleston

Thinking about moving to Charleston? The Holy City is considered one of the best mid-sized cities in the U.S. and a top place to live on the East Coast, thanks to its beautiful year-round weather, incredible food, outdoor recreation, and more. Check out these 14 things to know about living in Charleston!

Affordable Cost of Living in the South

With median home prices around $269,400 and an average monthly rent of $1,052 across the city, you’ll easily be able to find safe, affordable neighborhoods in Charleston that fit your lifestyle and budget! Although the cost of living is 10% higher than the national average, this South Carolina city is still an attractive option because of its booming economy. And residents can find even more ways to save through South Carolina’s low tax rates—especially if they’re retired since Charleston is one of the best cities for retirement because of its minimal taxes.

Find a Steady Job Market in Silicon Harbor

One of the main reasons residents love living in Charleston is its thriving job market. The city’s unemployment rate sits below the national average at 2.8%, providing jobs in major industries in Charleston include aerospace, automotive, defense, logistics, life sciences, and technology. With several hundred tech companies in the area and significant growth in IT jobs over the last five years, Charleston certainly earns its nickname as “Silicon Harbor.” For careers in tech, consider employers like Benefitfocus, Blackbaud, or Technica. If you’re interested in other fields, Charleston is home to big employers like Joint Base Charleston, Medical University of South Carolina, The Boeing Company, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Volvo, and more! This South Carolina city also has several Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Grainger. Or you can find jobs at the Port of Charleston, which ranks as the eighth-largest port in the nation.

Learn at Quality Charleston Schools

Looking to pursue higher education in the Holy City? Charleston is home to several top-rated universities and colleges! Enroll in the world-famous business program and develop leadership skills at the best public university in the South, The Citadel military college. Live on a beautiful campus, take part in popular programs like speech communication and rhetoric, or join NCAA Division 1 athletes at the College of Charleston. Earn a hands-on education in business, information technology, or media and visual arts at Trident Technical College. Or choose from over 15 graduate programs in athletic training, biology, nursing, and more at Charleston Southern University.

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Utilize the Top-Notch Transportation

The CARTA bus stop located in Charleston. Photo by Instagram user @ridecarta

Photo via @ridecarta

Residents can expect lower-than-average commute times when traveling around Charleston. Trying to avoid rush hour traffic in Charleston? Consider jumping on the Charleston Water Taxi at the Charleston Harbor. Stay on land and take bus routes throughout the city with Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). If you’re getting around downtown, hop on the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH). Or quickly reach major cities like Atlanta or Charlotte by catching a flight at the Charleston International Airport.

Enjoy Good Weather in Charleston

Averaging 230 days of sunshine a year in the Holy City, it’s no surprise that some of the best things to do in Charleston are outdoors! While living in Charleston, you can experience all four seasons but still have year-round recreation outside. Average temperatures in Charleston rarely exceed 90 degrees in the summer and barely dip below 50 degrees in later months, so you can expect mild winters in this Southern city!

Bask in the Great Outdoors

Giant Angel Oak Tree. Photo by Instagram user @dwfrey2017

Photo via @dwfrey2017

Charleston is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise! Walk along the harbor and dip your toes in the pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park. Explore Chucktown’s flora and fauna with a swamp ride at Cypress Gardens. Admire one of the oldest living things in the country, the must-see Charleston attraction Angel Oak Tree. Tee up at world-class golf courses like Wild Dunes, Charleston National Golf Club, Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, or Osprey Point Golf Course. Take in the picturesque views of Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbor from The Battery at White Point Garden. Sail, kiteboard, or try other water activities at Sullivan’s Island. Travel just south of the Holy City to The Washout in Folly Beach, one of the best beaches in Charleston for surfing. And have even more fun in the sun at nearby Kiawah Island, Isle of Palms, or Seabrook Island.

Enjoy Family-Friendly Charleston Activities

There are all kinds of kid-friendly things to do in Charleston! Watch river otters flip around in their tank, feed cownose rays, or admire loggerhead sea turtles at the South Carolina Aquarium. Zip through rope courses 35 feet in the air at Wild Blue Ropes. Explore the Kids’ Garden or try splatter painting in the Art Room at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Learn more about a firefighter’s lifestyle and see the evolution of the firetruck by touring the North Charleston Fire Museum. See well-known musical artists—like Leon Bridges and Lord Huron—while enjoying drinks and a seafood boil at the High Water Festival. Or take a trip to see locally-made bowls, paintings, and toys at one of the most popular Charleston attractions for families, the Charleston City Market.

Explore History in The Holy City

Large college building in the background with a clear pond and trees in the foreground. Photo by Instagram user @draytonhall

Photo via @draytonhall

While living in Charleston, you’ll be deeply rooted in American history. Discover archaeological collections and artifacts at Drayton Hall. Learn about Gullah Geechee culture, wander through the butterfly pavilion, or pick out fresh produce from one of the oldest working farms in America, Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens. Take the trolley through the thousands of tea bushes at America’s only tea factory, Charleston Tea Garden. Explore the location where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter. Walk among pastel-colored rowhomes at Charleston’s iconic Rainbow Row landmark. Or tour one of the first African-American museums dedicated to education on the history of enslaved people in America at the Old Slave Mart Museum.

Let the Arts Scene Move You

Anyone can enjoy Charleston’s flourishing art scene. Marvel at Contemporary paintings of Southern landscapes or Neoclassical sculptures at The Gibbes Museum of Art. Let the Charleston Symphony Orchestra—conducted by world-renowned Andrew Litton—serenade you with their performances at the Charleston Gaillard Center. Attend the 17-day dance, theatre, opera, and choral event at the Dock Street Theatre during Spoleto Festival USA. Head out to the Charleston Museum, where you can Find exhibits like Becoming Americans: Charleston in the Revolution or the Bunting Natural History Gallery. Celebrate art on the first Friday of every month at First Friday Artwalks. Or grab tickets to live performances or classic movies like Hocus Pocus and Sibling Rivalry at the Charleston Music Hall.

Walk Down King Street

Initially built in the 1700s as a path for travelers and port trading, King Street has developed into a hub for shopping and dining. Ready to go shopping in Charleston? Located in the heart of historic Downtown Charleston, King Street’s districts are your one-stop shop for all things fashion, food, and fun! Hunt for lost treasures at places like at George C. Birlant & Co in King Street’s micro area, Lower King Street Antiques District. Find a mix of locally-owned boutiques and major national brands in Middle King Street, often called Miki by locals. Add a few sundresses and shirts to your closet from WORTHWHILE in King Street Fashion District. Check out Contemporary oil paintings at LePrance Fine Art. Or find great places to eat in Charleston along Upper King Street—like Le Farfalle for dinner platters like Rigatoni Verde or Squid Ink Spaghetti, and Charleston Grill for desserts like Chocolate Caramel Tart, or Cherry Tiramisu.

Cheer on Charleston Sports Teams

While Charleston doesn’t have professional sports teams, fans will still have plenty of local favorites to root for while living in the Holy City. Take the kids out to The Joe to see the Charleston RiverDogs (MiLB) hit home runs. Show support for the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) at North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center. Cheer on the Charleston Battery (USL) as they take the pitch at Patriots Point. Attend a Citadel Bulldogs (NCAA) football game at Johnson Hagood Memorial Stadium. Sign up for race day to participate in the 6.2-mile Cooper River Bridge Run. Or compete in a deep sea fishing tournament in Charleston.

Don’t Miss Out on the Amazing Seafood

Multiple types of seafood piles on a multi-tiered serving tray. Photo by Instagram user @hanksseafood

Photo via @hanksseafood

The best food in Charleston comes from under the sea, and you can find it around every corner! Fill up on Little Neck Clams, Oven Roasted Oysters, or the Lobster Tostada Tuna at 167 Raw. Try an upscale take on seafood favorites like Steamed Mussels, Sauteed Lump Crabcakes, or Grilled Swordfish at Hank’s Seafood Restaurant. Chow down on Blue Crab Bisque, Blackened Catfish, or Jambalaya for lunch at Magnolia’s. Find more of the best seafood in Charleston and crack into locally harvested oysters and hushpuppies while the sun sets during dinner at Bowens Island. Or shuck and eat 60,000 pounds of oysters with participants from all over the world at the world’s largest oyster festival, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival.

Fill Your Belly with Delicious Eats

Server pouring syrup over fruit-topped panckes. Photo by Instagram user @millersallday

Photo via @millersallday

While Chucktown is known for having delicious seafood, it’s not the only food Charlestonians enjoy! Tuck into breakfast favorites like Biscuits & Gravy, Frittata, or Steak & Eggs at any time of day at Millers All Day. Indulge in Bavarian-inspired Southern food like Jagerschnitzel, Freaky Tots, or an Oktoberfest Sausage Platter on the outdoor patio at Bay Street Biergarten. Order Pad Kra Pow, Green Curry Fish, or Mapo Tofu Vegan for lunch at Xiao Bao Biscuit. Choose items off the ever-changing daily menu that features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients at Husk. Devour Pork Spare Ribs with a side of Green Chile Corn Pudding and Chocolate Dirt Pie for dessert at Lewis Barbecue. Savor Italian dishes like Veal Scallopine, Grilled Mountain River Elk Loin, or house-made pasta Lasagna Bianca at Wild Olive Restaurant. Or go on one of the many Charleston culinary tours to find your next favorite lunch spot or sweet treat!

Check Out Charleston Nightlife

Bartender pouring a pint of beer from a tap. Photo by Instagram user @thealleychas

Photo via @thealleychas

Whether you’re looking to bust a move on the dance floor or grab a few cocktails, the list of fun things to do in Charleston at night is endless. Sidle up to one of the three craft beer bars or compete in a friendly bowling match, retro arcade game, or trivia night at The Alley. Sip specialty cocktails like a Sunset Spritz or Caught In The Rain while taking in breathtaking views of Charleston Harbor at The Rooftop Bar. Rock out to live music in Charleston with local bands like The Reckoning or Neighbor at the vibrant Pour House. Move your feet to the electric beat spun by a new DJ every night at DECO Nightclub. Listen to live bluegrass and jazz music after ordering inventive cocktails like the Castle Sour or Bacon Maple Old Fashioned at Prohi. Try new brews like the Blueberry Cobbler Milkshake Sour or Strawberry Peach Tang at Snafu Brewing Company. Or stop into one of the best breweries in Charleston, Holy City Brewing, for beers like a Pluff Mud Porter, Overly Friendly IPA, or Washout Wheat.


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Charleston, SC - 14 Things to Know


About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.