Get to know the sophisticated Southern city and find out why locals are proud to call the historic area home.
Charleston, South Carolina, is a hard city to leave. With its historical architecture, mild temperatures, amazing restaurants and sophisticated culture, it's no surprise that people come from all over the world to purchase a little slice of Southern charm and live the Charleston lifestyle.
Charleston is also home to the College of Charleston, the Citadel, the Charleston Art Institute and the Medical University of South Carolina, which blends a young energy and college atmosphere with the city's history and sophistication.
So what's it really like to live in Charleston?
If you want to avoid parking altogether, you can always hail a cab or rickshaw (a fun way to get around when the weather is good, and when it’s not, most provide blankets).
Best to Bicycle. During the last few years, more locals and students have been riding their bikes to get around. Due to more bike traffic, there has been a large public push for cycling safety and cycling lanes. Recent construction has added bike lanes to the bridges that connect the island, and there's even a project in the works to connect neighborhoods off the peninsula to the downtown area with a bike path.
Carriage rides, cabs and rickshaws are easy ways of getting around the city without having to pay for parking.
Where to live
Getting Away From Downtown. While Charleston is best known for the historic downtown area, there are plenty of areas just a few minutes away that are beautiful. James Island, Johns Island, West Ashley, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant are all within a 10-minute drive from downtown.
Beautiful Beach Towns. Easy access to numerous beaches is another perk of living in Charleston. There are several beach towns in Charleston County that are all within a 20-minute drive of downtown. Folly Beach is laid-back and most popular for those looking to surf, and with the summer months draw the biggest crowds due to renters and local traffic congesting Folly Road — the only road on and off the beach. There are plenty of restaurants, local surf shops and unique stores along Center Street, which makes Folly Beach a great area with plenty to see and do.
Bridges, bike lanes and short commutes make visiting the more expensive peninsula easy and convenient.
Fishing. Charleston is surrounded by water, and you can spot sailboats out in the harbor on any day of the week. There’s a large sport-fishing community as well, where some do it for fun while others make their living on the water running charter boat fishing trips. There are still families of shrimpers and fishermen who provide their catch to markets and restaurants — and have for generations — but cheap imports have decreased their numbers. Serving local seafood is a point of pride for Charleston restaurants, and they do their part to support the local economy. Besides, fresh seafood just tastes better.
Getting Active. Charleston is a great place to run or ride your bike with great views of the water — from the Battery to Waterfront Park. When the new Cooper River Bridge was built in 2005, a pedestrian and cycling lane was added and is now used every day by locals and tourists alike. The bridge connects the city of Charleston to the town of Mount Pleasant with a 2.7-mile route each way over Charleston Harbor.
A Golfer's Paradise. The mild climate in Charleston is perfect for playing golf and tennis all year, and there are many public and private golf courses and tennis courts. In 2010, Charleston was even named the USTA’s “Best Tennis Town,” beating larger cities such as Atlanta and Richmond.
In Charleston, there is always something going on. World-class festivals like the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, the Wine and Food festival, Charleston Fashion Week, the Family Circle Tennis Cup and the Spoleto Festival, USA, attract thousands from across the U.S. and other countries. In Charleston, there’s really no “off” season. Easy waterfront access makes fishing a way of life for many Charleston locals.