The Best Place to Live in Charleston…
Welcome to my blog! I hope you find exactly what you are looking for in the paragraphs to follow. My intention isn’t to tell you the best place to live in Charleston, but to guide you in making that determination for yourself. The feeling of self discovery can be very rewarding, however, I will not leave you to this on your own. As such, I hope to be informative enough that you will understand where each of these communities sits in relation to downtown Charleston, and to provide a description of each for you to determine if they merit a further look. Let’s get started…
Among the first things you’ll notice when visiting Charleston, is the majestic downtown skyline. The view of the historic church steeples and colorful colonial and antebellum architecture set over a backdrop of a cotton candy colored sky. It can be quite breathtaking. Next will be the Charlestonians (local residents). You’ll likely experience that quintessential southern charm. A kind smile or a respectful nod as they pass you on the street is usually how it happens. Then, as you continue your stroll, you’ll likely catch the faint scent of jasmine and magnolias. The aroma is quite pleasing and surprisingly relaxing. Alas, you are bombarded with the smells of good ole’ southern cooking as you approach the French Quarter. By this time, you’re hooked…
It’s no big surprise that 4.51 million people visit Charleston annually. Travel and Leisure magazine voted Charleston, SC the #2 city in the world in 2017. What’s more, Southern Livings voted Charleston, the South’s Best City.
Charleston really is a wonderment of experiences. Especially if you happen visit one of the award-winning restaurants or roof top bars. No need to be in a hurry while you’re here though, most people aren’t. If you sit in one place long, you could look around and notice that your fellow dining companions are Bill Murray, Darrius Rucker, or maybe even, Stephen Colbert. They each have homes in the Holy City. From what I’ve seen personally, Bill can be quite a hoot. He can usually be found crashing a wedding photo shoot or some other gathering like this bachelor party. Speaking of dining, you can find a great resource here for details on dining, tours and entertainment.
Charleston is a wonderland for history buffs. It provides many opportunities to learn so much about how our great country began. If you get a chance, I highly recommend taking a few tours. It’ll be worth it! You can find this site to be a fantastic resource.
From the real estate perspective, there is more to Charleston than the downtown peninsula. Just outside of the downtown district, nestled between the marsh lined rivers and Inter Costal Waterway, are some pretty amazing communities. West Ashley, James Island, and Johns Island are just a few. Portions of those communities are in the Charleston city limits with other portions in the unincorporated Charleston County and Berkeley County. The price of real estate is a lot easier on your wallet and you’ll still be very close to downtown. So where is the best place to live in Charleston? Lets find out… In the paragraphs to follow, I’ll break down each community for you and hopefully give you an understanding of their geographical locations as they relate to Charleston’s downtown district. I’ll also include pertinent real estate facts that will guide you if you’re contemplating moving to Charleston, SC. These areas are Charleston’s downtown peninsula, West Ashley, James Island, and Johns Island. Now these aren’t the only communities in Charleston, but rather the most diverse. I will be detailing Mt. Pleasant and Daniel Island in a future blog.
The atmosphere I described above I believe, is a good representation of the downtown area. In the interest of not bombarding you with too much info, I’ll get straight to the real estate details. The Peninsula consists of approximately 8 square miles of the 112 square miles of Charleston City proper. This is where you will find Charleston’s finest shops, restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and art galleries.
Perhaps the most exclusive neighborhood is located at the southern tip of the peninsula. It’s known as South of Broad. Simply put, the homes are located south of Broad Street which separates the lower tip of the peninsula from the rest. Some of these homes are historic mansions with prices ranging from the low millions up to the 20 million range. Furthermore, several of the historic buildings have been converted into luxury condominiums with units priced in the low millions. A lot of these homes have the very best views of the Charleston Harbor and the French Quarter that I mentioned earlier is just a short walk away.
To the north of Broad Street, you will find many variations of real estate with varying price ranges. Although still pricey, they are much more affordable and in my opinion equally as beautiful. This is where you will find the most touristy part of Charleston and the majority of shops and restaurants. Along King Street are high end boutiques and businesses, many that have apartments available above them. The College of Charleston, The Citadel, The Medical University of South Carolina and The Charleston School of Law have campus facilities stretched throughout this area. The vast majority of people here commute via bicycle or simply walk to nearby destinations. Essentially, what you would expect in most major cities.
Additionally, there are still opportunities for water front homes North of Broad along the banks of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. You can have your choice of single family homes as well as luxury condominiums. Home prices North of Broad range from the low $300,000’s up to 16.5 million range.
Next there is West Ashley, one of my favorite Charleston communities. It’s called West Ashley, well, because it’s west of the Ashley River… How’s that for a geographical point? The Ashley River separates West Ashley from the downtown peninsula allowing access via the Ashley River Bridge. It’s just a short 5-minute drive to downtown. The Stono River separates West Ashley from Johns Island on its southern border. Both rivers are connected at the lower tip of West Ashley by Wappoo Creek. This enables access to Charleston Harbor that allows any boater access to the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.
The main arteries allowing access to and from West Ashley are SC HWY 61 (Ashley River Road), SC HWY 7 (Sam Rittenberg Blvd) and SC HWY 17 (Savannah HWY).
West Ashley’s original neighborhoods were established in the 1950’s, with the majority of the development taking place throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Avondale is one such neighborhood. It has become very popular with younger families who have sought out the older brick homes to renovate.
Furthermore, these homes are very well built, have original hardwood flooring and large lots. Avondale’s recent boom in popularity has resulted in a hip new social scene, sprouting new breweries, bars and unique restaurants. The neighborhood has an artisan feel and its popularity grows daily. You can purchase homes in Avondale from the mid to upper $200,000’s to just under one million for waterfront property, with the median price range of homes coming in at the mid to upper $300,000’s.
Many opportunities exist to purchase new construction throughout West Ashley as well. You can find beautiful homes right on the banks of the Ashley and Stono Rivers that provide beautiful panoramic views of Charleston’s estuaries and marshes.
James Island is a sea island community with that small-town atmosphere. Just like many other communities through Charleston, it has historical sites and remanence of times past. It is just across the Charleston Harbor from the downtown peninsula. You can access downtown Charleston in approximately 15 minutes via the James Island Connector. James Island is separated from West Ashley by the Wappoo Creek on its northern border. Beachgoers will appreciate James Islands proximity to Folly Beach which is about a 5 to 10-minute drive south via Folly Road. On the western border, the Stono River separates James Island and Johns Island another sea island town.
Like West Ashley, James Island is an area of Charleston where neighborhoods began development in the 1920’s-1940’s. Similar to West Ashley, many of these neighborhoods consist of brick homes, with beautiful trees and large lots. One observation you will make is that nearly everyone on James Island owns some sort of boat. There is plenty of access to the local waterways from James Island which is ideal for fishing and pleasure boating a like.
Perhaps the most popular neighborhood on James Island is Riverland Terrace, a well-established neighborhood decorated with massive beautiful oak trees. A boat launch near by golf course add to the great features of this neighborhood. Furthermore, Riverland Terrace home types range from smaller starter homes in the $200,000 price range as well as homes that have deep water docks on the Wappoo Creek. Those homes have magnificent views of the Charleston Harbor and can be purchased for right around 2 million.
James Island has a county park that is the site of many festivals and the annual Holliday Festival of Lights held every year around Christmas. You can find details regarding future and annual events here.
Finally, we have Johns Island, the largest island in South Carolina at 84 square miles located just across the Stono River from James Island. Having a much more rural feel, Johns Island is teaming with wildlife such as deer, raccoons, bobcats, wild turkeys, owls and much more. Here you will find that many of the old plantations on Johns Island have been converted to equestrian riding and boarding facilities. Others are farms which are extremely popular with locals for their fresh produce, especially those local favorite Johns Island tomatoes! Most likely the reason Johns Island has possibly the best farmers market in the lowcountry.
Johns Island provides plenty of opportunities to buy homes with spacious lots. Even better, there are many opportunities to buy acreage to custom build your ideal home with waterfront and marsh views. Remember, Johns Island is growing, so make sure not to waste any time if you are in the market to buy real estate in Charleston, SC.
For families that prefer the neighborhood environment, Johns Island has plenty of new neighborhoods, most offering new construction and great amenities. This is a great opportunity to work with Charleston’s finest builders to design your new home.
Finally, for folks that enjoy condominium living, Johns Island has those too. This is another great opportunity to have picturesque views of the aforementioned rivers and marshes from the private docks. You can launch your boat or just sit and enjoy the peaceful marshlands and beautiful the sun sets.
The opportunity for outdoor activities are abundant at the Johns Island Park. Visit when you can and check out the fishing pond, tennis courts, disc golf, baseball and soccer fields. Whats more, the Angel Oak park which features, the Angel Oak is an absolute must see with a 65-foot-tall Southern Oak tree believed to be between 400-1500 years old. A truly amazing site.
For the boaters, Johns Island has two marinas. The St. Johns Yacht Harbor across the Stono River from Johns Island and Bohicket Marina on Bohicket Creek just before Seabrook Island. Both marinas are beautiful and have every amenity a boater could need.
I hope you found this blog informative and helpful in discovering the best place to live in Charleston. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you have considered moving to Charleston and have questions about Charleston, SC real estate, please post your question below or give me a call at 843-860-6403. I’d be honored to help you reach your real estate goals.
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For more options and information on the best place to live in Charleston, see my other blog, Moving to Charleston?