Where else can you enjoy all four seasons and mild temps year-round? Snowbirds from the north flock to Charleston to escape the harsh winter weather. In Charleston, winters rarely see freezing temps and average at a low of 38 and high mid 50’s. Summers get hot and humid, but that’s why we love having a beaches! Average high in the summer months is mid 90’s. Spring and Fall are the best with average highs in the mid to low 70’s.
Just pay attention to flood zones. Charleston weather may be pleasant year round, but be prepared for water—and lots of it. Being a peninsula, the city is heavily affected by tides and localized flooding. Pay attention to the flood zones when you’re moving in and even if you’re not in a FEMA flood zone area, consider getting flood insurance anyway just for peace of mind.
Photo credit: Sandy Bostick
When the weather gets hot, folks run to the beaches. But, honestly, even during the winter months, people run to the beaches here. The weather is nice enough year-round that the beaches are a major attraction anytime. Three beaches to choose from, all within a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston. Sullivan’s Island. Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island. Charleston was also recently named to the top 10 best cities for water activities.
3. Historical Haven
Charleston was founded in 1670, almost 350 years ago! It is the oldest city in South Carolina and has history dating back to the beginning of the Civil War.
In the Holy City, as it is nicknamed, a story can be found in just about corner of the Peninsula –– from the churches and cobblestones to the iron gates and forts. Whether you’re a history buff or not, you can’t help but adore Charleston and feel the past all around you. A great way to hear these stories is by taking a horse carriage ride, a walking tour, or visiting a local plantation. Other ways to learn about this city’s history is by going to Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, visiting the Hunley in North Charleston, or the International African American Museum which is coming soon.
Charleston also landed the top spot for 10 best cities for historic preservation. The city prides itself on having the oldest community-based historic preservation group, The Preservation Society of Charleston.
Photo Credit: Jon Whitbeck, WhitbeckWeb.com
4. The Arts
Charleston is home to the first theater in America (Dock Street Theatre, 1736) and the oldest community theater troop in the state (the Footlight Players). Charleston’s art scene is most notable for its annual Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto both held in late May. Some popular arts groups include the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Jazz Orchestra, the Charleston Men’s Chorus, and a professional ballet company (Ballet Evolution). Numerous downtown restaurants/bars offer jazz entertainment into the wee hours of the night (High Cotton Restaurant, Charleston Grill, Henry’s House. Shagging under the moonlight on one of the Charleston County piers during the summer is always a crowd pleaser (Cooper River Pier or Folly Pier). And, museums like the Charleston Museum and the Gibbes Art Museum are great afternoon pleasers.
5. Lower Taxes
wallethub.com recently ranked South Carolina 11th in the U.S. based on cost of living. The effective state and local tax on a median household is 9%. Property tax rate is 1.91% (U.S Rank 7th) while income tax is 2.29% (U.S. Rank 23rd). And, retirees love The Homestead Exemption which is a complete exemption of taxes on the first $50,000 in Fair Market Value of your Legal Residence for homeowners over age 65, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind.
6. Southern Food
If you’re a foodie, then Charleston is your place for delicious cuisine. Seafood, she crab soup, barbecue, locally grown produce, peach pie –– you name it, Charleston has a plethora of restaurants with renown chefs that will put you into a gastronomical coma. The Food and Wine Festival, which began in 2006, is held in early March and is a popular event that draws in thousands of people. And, brunch is a must-have meal with choices like shrimp ’n grits or chicken and waffles. Some fav restaurants are 82 Queen, Poogan’s Porch, Magnolia’s, Lewis Barbecue, and Rutledge Cab Co.
7. Southern Hospitality
Southern hospitality is second nature in Charleston—so much that it recently ranked as the top friendliest city in the world. If you’re a newcomer to Charleston from other areas of the country, prepare for a slower pace of living. The locals here are so gosh darn nice and go out of their way to help each other, smile, or strike up some friendly conversation. Don’t be shy! Sit a spell, and have some sweet tea while you’re at it.
Photo Credit: Sandy Bostick
8. Economic Growth
Last year, the Charleston region’s economy grew at 3.1 percent, nearly double the national average. The largest industries in the Charleston region involve the medical field, military and the ports (Charleston harbor ranks as the fourth largest port in the entire U.S.). With companies like Boeing, Volvo and Medical University of South Carolina adding thousands of new jobs to the region, it’s no surprise that the area continues to grow.
9. Activities for All
Photo Credit: Jon Whitbeck, WhitbeckWeb.com
Beautiful parks. In addition to Charleston’s natural beauty and idyllic views, this charming city also boasts beautiful parks for all to enjoy. A few of the favorites are: Cypress Gardens – Charleston Waterfront Park – Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park and Pier – Hampton Park – Alhambra Hall and Park – Shem Creek Pier – Pitt Street Bridge – Charles Town Landing – Audobon Swamp Garden – Colonial Lake – White Point Garden – Palmetto Islands County Park – Marion Square – Audobon Center at Beidler Forest
Sports. If you’re a golfer, you have endless courses to play near Charleston. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Rivertowne Country Club, Wild Dunes Golf Resort, Dunes West Golf Club, Patriot’s Point Links, Seabrook Island Club, Stono Ferry, Shadowmoss Plantation . If you need your baseball fix, the minor-league Charleston Riverdogs have you covered. If you love the water, there’s plenty of activities to get you moving in the rivers and creeks like boat rentals, jet-ski rentals, paddle boarding, canoe/kayak rentals, and fishing excursions. And if you like walking/running, make sure to walk over the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge. The CooperRiver Bridge Run is an annual event held in early Spring that draws thousands of walkers/runners to the area who want to “Get Over It”.
Shopping. Charleston has unique shops around every corner. King Street in Downtown Charleston, Charleston City Market, Mount Pleasant Towne Center, Tanger Outlets. And a favorite addition to any Charleston home is the sweetgrass basket, which has been around since the early 18th century. You can pick one up from any one of the talented basket makers with stands located along the Charleston sidewalks, the City Market, and Highway 17 North in Mount Pleasant headed toward Awendaw.