Is Charleston, SC, a Good Place to Live? 10 Pros and Cons to Help You Decide

Charleston, SC, often captures the imagination of those seeking a charming coastal city with a rich history. However, as with any location, there are pros and cons to consider before deciding to move. Whether you are looking to rent an apartment in Charleston, SC, or purchase a home in the city, this Redfin article presents ten compelling factors to help you evaluate whether living in Charleston is the right place for you. Let’s get started.

Getty - The Ravenel Bridge crosses the Cooper River and connects Charleston with Mount Pleasant South Carolina. It is 13,200 feet long (2.5 miles) and is the third longest cable stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Pros of living in Charleston, SC

1. Great weather

Charleston is renowned for its exceptional weather, which combines elements of a subtropical climate with coastal influences. The city enjoys long, warm summers and mild winters, making it a great place to live year-round. Summers in Charleston are characterized by abundant sunshine. Cooling sea breezes from the nearby Atlantic Ocean offer relief from the heat. Winters in Charleston are relatively mild, with temperatures averaging in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit. While occasional colder spells occur, they are typically brief and followed by milder periods. 

2. Delicious food

Charleston, SC, is celebrated for its vibrant and diverse culinary scene, offering a delectable array of dishes that showcase the region’s rich history and flavors. The city is renowned for its fresh seafood, with shrimp, oysters, and blue crab being local favorites. You can savor a mouthwatering Lowcountry boil, a hearty dish featuring shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage, and potatoes seasoned with Old Bay and other spices. 

Another iconic dish is she-crab soup, a creamy and rich bisque made with crab meat, crab roe, and a touch of sherry. For those with a sweet tooth, Charleston offers delectable desserts like the classic Huguenot torte, a layered almond cake filled with raspberry preserves and iced with buttercream. 

Creole Style Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo in a cast iron pot with White Rice and French Bread.

3. Small-town charm

Despite being a city, Charleston exudes a captivating small-town charm. Its picturesque streets are lined with historic homes, cobblestone walkways, and quaint shops. The city’s rich history is visible at every turn, with beautifully preserved architecture and landmarks that tell the stories of its past, such as the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter or strolling along the iconic Rainbow Row. From lively farmers’ markets to cozy neighborhood eateries and boutique shops, Charleston offers an intimate and inviting ambiance that makes residents feel like they are part of a tight-knit community.

4. Beach access

Charleston, SC, offers unparalleled beach access, making it a haven for locals. Folly Beach is a popular destination because of its laid-back atmosphere and sandy shores. Isle of Palms is equally beautiful, with its pristine shoreline and gentle waves. Sullivan’s Island, a quiet and less crowded option, provides a peaceful retreat with natural beauty and historical landmarks. For nature enthusiasts, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island offer unspoiled stretches of coastline, where visitors can enjoy scenic walks, birdwatching, and dolphin sightings. 

Historic Morris Island lighthouse on Folley Beach, Charleston, South Carolina.

5. Diverse neighborhoods 

Charleston has a ton of diverse neighborhoods, each offering a unique character and charm. Downtown Charleston is a treasure trove of history, featuring beautifully preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and iconic landmarks such as The Battery and Rainbow Row. The French Quarter is known for its art galleries, boutique shops, and fine dining establishments. 

The West Ashley area offers a mix of suburban and rural charm, with neighborhoods nestled among marshes and oak-lined streets. Mount Pleasant, located just across the Cooper River, boasts waterfront views and a thriving community, complete with shopping centers and parks. These are just a handful of wonderful neighborhoods that bring charm to Charleston.

6. A rich history

Charleston is steeped in a rich and storied history that dates back centuries. Founded in 1670, Charleston played a significant role in the early days of American colonization and was a major port for trade and commerce. The city witnessed pivotal events during the American Revolution, including the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776, where the fort was successfully defended against British naval forces. 

Charleston’s role in the Civil War was equally significant, with the first shots fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor marking the beginning of the conflict. The city’s historic district, often called the “Holy City,” is home to beautifully preserved antebellum homes, churches, and landmarks that serve as tangible reminders of its past.

A historic building

Cons of living in Charleston, SC

7. Bugs … a lot of them

Charleston is not immune to its fair share of insects and bugs. The warm and humid climate of the region provides an ideal breeding ground for various pests. Mosquitoes, for instance, can be quite prevalent, especially during the summer months. Additionally, biting gnats, known as no-see-ums, can be bothersome, leaving itchy welts and disrupting outdoor gatherings. While efforts are made to control and mitigate these pests through mosquito abatement programs, their presence can still detract from outdoor experiences.

8. Flat landscape

The city is characterized by a relatively flat landscape, which, while offering its own unique beauty, can present some drawbacks for those seeking varied topography or dramatic scenic vistas. The predominantly flat terrain of the area lacks the rolling hills or towering mountains found in other regions. So if you like a varied topography, Charleston may not be for you.

Giant oak trees draped with spanish moss line a scenic road in the South Carolina lowcountry on Edisto Island near Charleston. Charleston is the oldest and second-largest city in the State of South Carolina. Charleston is known for its rich history, antebellum architecture, and distinguished restaurants

9. Humidity

Charleston experiences a notable downside in the form of high humidity levels, which can be a source of discomfort for many residents. The city’s warm and humid climate, particularly during the summer, creates an environment where moisture hangs in the air, leading to a persistent feeling of stickiness and heaviness. 

10. Potential for hurricanes and flooding

Charleston experiences extreme weather conditions as the region is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, which can bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, and potential flooding. These weather events can disrupt daily life, damage property, and pose risks to personal safety. The hurricane season typically lasts from June to November. In addition to hurricanes, Charleston faces occasional periods of intense heat during the summer months, with high temperatures and high humidity.

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