Charleston is truly unlike any other city on earth. With that being said, many newcomers flock to this wonderful city each year in order to get a taste of Charleston’s award-winning sights, events and restaurants. An astonishing number of people love Historic Charleston, SC so much, they end up making a permanent move to the Holy City! As a result, Charleston has seen growth in many areas, both downtown and within one of many unique neighboring towns and suburbs.

Are you thinking of making the move to Charleston as well? No matter the distance between Charleston and your current home, it’s important to think about how this change might affect your budget and overall lifestyle. Prior to your move, consider the potential changes in your current cost of living when compared with Charleston.

In a nutshell, cost of living embodies the overall basic expenses one might need in order to live in a certain place over a specified time period. These costs include food and groceries, health needs and doctor’s visits, housing, utilities, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses like clothing, entertainment and various repairs.

Our team of experts at Dunes Properties can assist you in finding your ideal home if you are looking to move to the Charleston area. Before you move, however, here’s what you need to know about the cost of living in Charleston, South Carolina.

I'On neighborhood, Mount Pleasant SC

Analyzing the Term: You might wonder why a calculated cost of living is helpful or if the number is even technically accurate based on different lifestyles. While it’s true any city’s cost of living might be higher or lower based on a specific person or family, a general cost of living can create a realistic look at monthly or yearly expenses in relation to other locations and help in forming a budget for those looking to relocate or simply compare.

Knowing the cost of living for potential new home cities like Charleston can aid in the budgeting and overall planning process to prevent surprise costs and other unforeseen issues. To learn more about the breakdown of living expenses, be sure to do your online research prior to your move and familiarize yourself with the different costs that are generally included in the cost of living, including food, housing, transportation and more. Next, put these costs into realistic ranges and even specific numbers based on your personal situation.

To see what this might realistically look like on paper, use a family budget calculator like this one from the Economic Policy Institute that helps you calculate a moderate but adequate monthly or annual cost of living based on your intended area and family size.

Knowing what exactly makes up the cost of living and what yours or your family’s might look like can set the tone for your intended relocation. It can give you a realistic view of what your budget could look like for larger costs — like a new home — and even help you to decide on which neighborhood or suburb would be best for you.

Living in Charleston: When generalized, the cost of living might seem like a far-off idea or something that is hard to grasp in terms of real numbers. However, digging deeper into the actual cost of living in Charleston, South Carolina will give you a better idea of what it costs to live in this beautiful port city.

In general, the cost of living in Charleston is higher than the national average, 11 percent higher to be exact, according to economic research experts. While health and transportation costs are about average when compared nationally, housing, grocery, utility and other miscellaneous costs are a bit higher when compared with both the state and national average. Housing sets the city of Charleston apart in a greater sense when it comes to cost. Thankfully, there are neighborhoods, suburbs and areas within Charleston’s reach that can fit most any budget.

When you think of Charleston, you might envision the bustling downtown area filled with church steeples, college buildings, hotels and horse-drawn carriages. While this beautiful setup accurately depicts most of the Historic Downtown scene, there is so much more to Charleston than this area. In recent years, the upper peninsula of Charleston has evolved to include beautiful parks, eclectic restaurants and art studios, breweries and a number of new homes and apartment buildings.

Speaking of up-and-coming neighborhoods, north of the peninsula sits the North Charleston area, which is home to a coveted and buzzing neighborhood called Park Circle. This area has sprung up as a young people’s hotspot and includes a variety of cool restaurants, bars and outdoor spaces that are perfect for young professionals, families and pups!

Due to its proximity to downtown and overall curb appeal, Park Circle is generally considered a higher-priced neighborhood outside of Charleston’s traditional downtown area, though it would still generally save you some money in relation to downtown costs.

Another popular Charleston suburb, West Ashley, is an option if you’re looking to move to the area. Like most Charleston suburbs, West Ashley is a bit more spread out, lowering real estate costs. Having said that, a downtown commute would be longer, possibly causing your gas and transportation costs to rise. West Ashley is generally known for lower rent and real estate prices, proximity to department stores and other local retail and the feeling of being close to downtown without having to pay downtown prices.

The question of “How far is Charleston from the beach?” has a few different answers! Of course, Charleston is known for being a city close to the beach and, as a result, the beach towns in the Charleston area have become popular places to rent long-term and even invest in some beach-oriented real estate. Between Folly Beach via James Island and Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island near Mount Pleasant, there are a few options when deciding on a Charleston beach neighborhood. As with most any beach town, the real estate prices rise the closer you are to the beach.

There are also great neighborhoods just a short drive from the beach as well. James Island and Mount Pleasant are both towns that neighbor Downtown Charleston and are easily accessible from Historic Charleston via bridge or connector.

Deciding on a neighborhood within the Charleston area may seem like a tricky task, but visiting residential areas in person, as well as researching rental and real estate costs, can help you narrow down your choices. In addition to living costs, it’s also about what feels right to you!

Signing Real Estate Contract

Buying vs. Renting: While the current housing market in Charleston is showing a lower than normal inventory level and a rise in sale prices, the median cost of homes in the Charleston area are not too far above the national average. However, rental prices are relatively high when compared to other American cities. For this reason, consider investing in a home when planning a move to Charleston.

Of course, real estate prices in Charleston are relative to what you are used to or where you are coming from, so it’s important to consult a professional whether you’d like to buy or rent a home, apartment or condominium. Because of the numerous options you are presented with in terms of suburbs and neighborhoods within the Charleston area, making a decision can seem overwhelming at times.

Our team of experts at Dunes Properties can help weigh your options and provide you with professional feedback and guidance in order to help you find your ideal purchase or rental.

An Affordable Lifestyle: While Charleston offers many options in terms of fine dining, luxury shopping and world-class accommodations, there are plenty of ways to live a more modest lifestyle in the Holy City. In terms of traditional cost of living elements, this can be applied easily.

For example, while there are a number of gourmet and upscale grocery stores and markets, there are also more affordable options for food and groceries like farmers markets, discount grocery stores and bulk food markets. When it comes to transportation, many find it easy and even pleasurable to walk or bike downtown. If you have your own vehicle, it’s good to know the city is not too spread out, making commute times shorter than in larger cities. Rideshare options like Uber Pool are available in the area as well.

When thinking about bigger costs like utilities, housing and health care, it’s nice to know you have options. Saving in smaller categories can allow you to take care of other areas like medical bills, mortgage payments and more. If you’re concerned about Charleston’s elevated cost of living, know it might just be more affordable than you think.

A Priceless Quality of Life: Charleston exudes an enchanting vibe that is heightened by friendly residents, breathtaking views and unbeatable culture money simply cannot buy. Life in Charleston means taking in the fresh Lowcountry air and enjoying a cold drink on the front porch during the summer. It’s engaging with and befriending neighbors who have come from near and far to live their lives in this exceptional city. It’s embracing the vibrant and bustling way of Charleston life one day and reveling in the awesomeness of the city’s quiet and still beauty the next.

The Charleston lifestyle is indeed one you can make very much your own. If the beach calls your name and a sense of time is relative, join the Folly Beach community where surfing, sun and sandals are a way of life and the rain never lasts very long.

If city life with a southern twist strikes your fancy, consider creating a home for yourself downtown right in the middle of it all, where you can enjoy the perks and convenience of a more metropolitan lifestyle while still taking advantage of Charleston’s history and charm.

Looking for something in between? Peruse Charleston’s traditional suburban areas like Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, Park Circle or James Island, where there’s truly something for just about every taste and budget.

Your Forever Home: With Charleston’s overall cost of living being close to average, it is the perfect place to call home, no matter what stage of life in which you find yourself. Young professionals are flocking to the Charleston area for college and staying to build their careers. Young couples and families are also finding their homes in the Holy City, especially in blooming neighborhoods around the city.

Furthermore, Charleston is a great place to stay. Many residents love it so much they choose to retire in the area as well. Between closeness to the beach, an array of activities and golf courses and the overall Lowcountry lifestyle, what’s not to love?

A Good Move: Life in Charleston is unlike any other place. It presents an interesting conglomeration of unique charm and big-city style. Charleston is home to so many fantastic businesses, cultural traditions, landmarks and, of course, southern hospitality. With added perks like proximity to the beach and multiple marinas, it’s no secret why so many people are making the move to Charleston.

The idea of a big move can be extremely exciting, but it can also quickly be met with apprehension and a whole lot of questions. In addition, a big move can also mean certain adjustments need to be made based on your current cost of living compared to that of Charleston. However, planning, research and conversation with local professionals can help you make it work.

Knowing the cost of living in Charleston, South Carolina can help you plan your move accordingly, and our team at Dunes Properties is here to help you find your perfect home here in the Holy City.