Is Charleston SC a Good Place to Live?

aerial photo of bridge during daytime

If the food is good, the city’s good! Charleston SC is an excellent place to live, and this is not just because it’s a foodie’s heaven. There is real value in the city. Are you considering living in Charleston, SC?

In this article, I’ll discuss the top pros and cons of living in Charleston, SC. If this sounds like what you’ve been searching for, then let’s dive in!

What’s Life Like in Charleston, South Carolina?

Charleston is a major Atlantic coast port. It is also a hub of historic culture and urbanization. Life in Charleston is relaxed yet very active. Little wonder it’s one of the top destinations in the US for tourists.

According to the US News, Charleston, SC ranks #7 on the list of Best Foodie Cities in the United States. The city brims with good food and industries offering matchless varieties of beverages and food.

Even more, to live in Charleston is to get acquainted with their love for yoga. Charleston residents enjoy water sports like fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing when not in a yoga class.

With a population of 734,000, Charleston offers tons of entertainment options to go around.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Living in Charleston, South Carolina

Pros of Living in Charleston, SCCons of Living in Charleston, SC
Best city for Nature LoversHigh Chance of Hurricanes
Great Transportation SystemHigh Cost of Living
You can Enjoy Top Attractions for FreeTax is High
Availability of Fresh, Local FoodsLots of Floods
Charleston Thrives in Hospitality and TechnologyTraffic is Horrendous

Pros of Living in Charleston, South Carolina

1.   Best city for Nature Lovers

If you just want to sit and stare at the sunset over the water, you’ll love Charleston. In fact, there’s a popular spot called the Bridge to Nowhere. It’s an incomplete platform that stretches across the Wagener Terrace neighborhood. It’s located in one of the secluded spots in Charleston.

2.   Great Transportation System

The Charleston Regional Transport Authority (CARTA) is a free trolley that runs in the historic area of the peninsula.

You’ll find green CARTA signs along Charleston Streets. The trolley has three major routes and you can converge at Marion Park, Charleston Museum, or Visitor Center.

There’s even a printable CARTA map available. You can also take advantage of Uber and local taxis. Ubers are more affordable than local taxis, however.

3.   You can Enjoy Top Attractions for Free

It can be really expensive to have fun in Charleston. However, there are top sightseeing spots that are free. Some of these freebies include:

  • Touring the Charleston Tea Plantation
  • Admiring the flowers on Hampton Park
  • Visiting the age-long Angel Oak
  • A walking tour with Free Tours by Foot
  • Visiting the Splash Fountain at the Waterfront Park

4.   Availability of Fresh Local Foods

If you have a stickler for fresh, local produce, the Charleston Farmers Market will serve you! Every Saturday between 8 am – 2 pm at Marion Square. Residents gather to pick up fresh foods.

It’s thrilling to see such a quantity of fresh foods on display. And oh! It comes with a street performance and a live band experience. Happy shopping!

There are other Farmer’s Markets, however. They include

  • Sea Island Farmers Market at John’s Island (Saturday, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm)
  • Holy City Farmers Market (Sundays, 11 am – 3 pm)
  • Sunday Brunch Farmers Market (Sundays, 11 am – 3 pm)
  • Goose Creek Farmers Market (Saturdays, 9 am – 1 am)
  • West Ashley Farmers Market (Wednesdays, 3 pm – 7 pm)
  • Downtown Charleston Farmers Market (Saturdays and Sundays, 8 am – 2 pm)

5.   Wonderful Weather

With Charleston’s subtropical weather, it’s pretty warm most of the time in Charleston. The city experiences sunshine about 230 days every year.

In Spring, you’re sure of perfect weather coupled with the blooming of colorful azaleas and dogwoods. If you’re moving to or visiting Charleston, SC, it’s good you plan toward Spring.

Summer is warm too, but the coastal breezes have some cooling effect. Autumn brings even cooler temperatures.

If you can’t visit or move in Spring, your next best session is Autumn. That way, you’ll experience temperatures and fewer crowds.

6.   Lots of Festivals

Besides being a top travel destination, Charleston is also home to some of the best festivals in the United States. Some of them include

  • The MOJA Arts Festival
  • Spoleto Festival
  • Wine and Food Festival
  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • Front Beach Fest Isle of Palms
  • Charleston Bluegrass Festival
  • Festival of Houses and Gardens

7.   Charlestonians are Friendly

You’ll love Charleston when you get there, and you find everyone smiling at you. They’re quite an accommodating bunch. However, a resident says that when someone says “Bless your heart,” they mean it as an insult. LOL. This shouldn’t even bother you. Just enjoy yourself!

8.   Nice Beach Spots

Charleston, SC is not all about history and ports; you’re in for a real treat! Do you love biking, strolling by the shoreline, or simply soaking in water? These beach recommendations are just perfect for you!

  • Burkes Beach
  • Edisto Beach
  • Sullivan’s Island Beach
  • Folly Beach
  • Isle of Palms
  • Seabrook Island

There are even more! Feel free to check them out.

9.   Charleston, SC has Great Schools

You’ll find some of the top schools in Charleston, SC. According to US News, Academic Magnet High School ranked No 2 in the National Report for Best Public High Schools in South Carolina.

The school also has a track record of dedicated administrators and teachers. In fact, Charles County Schools were reported to have a graduation rate of 84% as of 2021. This percentage was above the city average.

10.                Charleston, SC Thrives in Technology and Hospitality

Imagine a city where the hottest field is hospitality and tech. In the past 10 years, Charleston, SC has experienced a 20% boom in job growth. Thanks to the influx and partnership of multinational corporations.

Hospitality jobs are also increasing, given the influx of tourists in Charleston, SC. The top employers in the private sector include Trident Health System, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, and the Boeing Company.

Cons of Living in Charleston, South Carolina

1.   High Chance of Hurricanes

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the city has a 79.7% chance of yearly tropical hits.

Between 1851 and 2020, 255 tropical systems have impacted South Carolina. If you’re going to live in Charleston, SC, this is something to consider.

However, you can keep track of the months more susceptible to these hits. The research says August, September, and October have experienced the strongest storms.

While these storms may not directly affect Charleston, the city is still impacted by high winds, coastal surges, heavy storms and rains, and tornadoes.

2.   High Cost of Living

Charleston is one of the most expensive cities to live in South Carolina. However, it’s still relatively average for the US.

According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, the cost of living in Charleston in 2020 was 11% higher than the national average. However, Payscale reports that the cost of living in Charleston is currently 0% lower than the national average.

You can use the Payscale calculator to check your cost of living in Charleston, SC tailored to your individual needs.

3.   Traffic is Horrendous

Traffic in Charleston, SC is not for the faint-hearted. On the bright side, it’s still nothing in comparison with California.

4.   Tax is High

When moving to Charleston, SC, you’ll have to consider tax too. Taxation on clothing is as high as 8.5%. Let’s not even talk about alcohol and food tax. Those go as high as 15% and 10.5%, respectively. If Charleston is your dream city, be prepared for add-ons on all purchases.

5.   You’ll Have to Deal With Floods

This is a rising concern among Charlestonians. You must keep off major flood zones if you just live in Charleston. When it’s the rainy season, take extra measures to stay safe. Get adequate drainage systems and maintain flood insurance if necessary.


Generally, Charleston is an excellent place to live. However, the decision to live anywhere is deeply personal. The pros and cons of living in Charleston, SC boils down to preferences. I hope it helps you decide.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living in Charleston SC

Where are the best places to live in Charleston, SC?

There are many great places to live in Charleston, SC. However, residents have tagged these places as the best. They are

  • Downtown Charleston
  • Mount Pleasant
  • John’s Island
  • Summerville
  • West Ashley
  • Kiawah Island
  • Hanahan
  • James Island

Does South Carolina tax Social Security?

Not at all. Benefits from railroad retirements and social security taxed federally are not made subject to tax in South Carolina.

Are there a lot of bugs in South Carolina?

Not bugs per se, but roaches. South Carolina has a fair share of pest infestation. They differ depending on the time of the year. Get ready to encounter ticks, mosquitoes, ants, and so on. However, you can always fumigate your apartment to keep them away from your home.

What is the most tax-friendly State to retire in?

There are many of them, but Delaware is the most friendly. The city charges city tax within the range of 2.2%. The median property tax rate is $568 for every $100,000 assessed home value.

The average tax rate for a combination of local and state taxes is 0%. It’s the best place for retirees. Other places include

  • Wyoming
  • South Carolina
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Colorado
  • Arizona
  • Tennessee

Is it better to move to South Carolina or Florida?

It all depends on the life you want. South Carolina is for you if you’re a retiree and love affordable tax and warm weather. Florida is mainly for the young and free kinda lifestyle.