Welcome to Charleston! Lesson one: how to pronounce the name of your new city. First, pull a chair up onto your porch and lean back in it slowly. Kick your feet up, then sip on a sweet tea or a lemonade. Now take several slow, deep breaths until you are so relaxed you're almost asleep. Okay, now you're ready. Repeat after me, "Chaaaahlestun." Now let's find you an apartment!
Charleston is truly a Southern city. Developed by plantation owners, ravaged by the Civil War, rebuilt during the antebellum period, Charleston is well-regarded as a cultural and architectural gem on the Atlantic coast. Though many of its original buildings have been destroyed by earthquakes, the city has a thriving arts and cultural scene and a family-friendly vibe.
Downtown Charleston, situated on the bay of Charleston Harbor, is home to not only the city's industry, but to its French Quarter and the surrounding regions which are all on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Walking through this area of town, one feels a part of Southern history, as placards dot the sidewalk pointing out historical landmarks.
Charleston also has a great mix of culture and outdoor activities, with a number of city parks and public green spaces, numerous music festivals throughout the year, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean that allows boating and watersports enthusiasts to get out on the water nearly every weekend.
Summerville, located in the far northwest portion of Charleston, remains the premier destination for young families looking for semi-affordable housing with a friendly neighborhood vibe. Here the rental market has a variety of housing options, including single-family homes and new developments. Nearby Mt. Pleasant is also a family-friendly neighborhood with similar rental types to Summerville. Mt. Pleasant is more posh than Summerville, and also closer to the city, so prices are generally higher. Expect to pay $950-1200 for a two bedroom in Mt. Pleasant, while similar rentals in Summerville go for $750-900.
For the Young (and the Young at Heart)
Even though Charleston is a haven for families, there's plenty of room for the young and single around town. Single professionals thrive in the downtown and James Island regions. Downtown has a score of historical buildings for rent that are within close walking distance to shopping and trendy restaurants and bars. James Island has new developments with community centers, pools and other amenities that allow for young residents to socialize without leaving the complex. The Island also has the added benefit of being close to the beach!
Even family-friendly Mt. Pleasant has something for young singles. The Old Village area has a number of new rental developments with several amenities including private pools and tennis courts that help draw in young families and singles.
The most expensive area for singles tends to be downtown, with two bedrooms ranging from $1400-1800, depending on amenities. Second in cost is Mt. Pleasant, with two bedrooms costing from $1300-1450. James Island is the best for cost-conscious singles, as affordable two bedrooms can be found from $850-1000.
North Charleston is generally considered the least desirable area of town. Higher instances of crime and a lower income rate make this neighborhood more affordable, but more maligned in the general psyche of Charleston natives. If you're in a pinch and need to settle in this region, focus on Whitehall and Cedar Grove. New developments in these regions make it slightly safer than the surrounding areas. Prices for rentals in North Charleston reflect the dangers with two bedrooms going for $750-800.
Charleston's rental market is generally as friendly as its residents. Start your apartment hunt up to 60 days in advance.
If you're not totally sure what you're looking for, go through a real estate agent. Every Charleston resident is also a Charleston expert, and real estate agents in the area will have plenty of opinions for you about location, rental type and neighborhood. If you feel fairly decided about your future residence, there are a number of online apartment listing services that won't run their mouths about your decisions.
Be prepared to pay between $30-50 for credit and background checks in the greater Charleston area. Depending on the property type and owner or manager, deposits can range from $300 to two months rent, once you've secured your property.
Commuting from the suburbs to downtown Charleston is a standardly unpleasant experience. Rush hour along the main arteries, including Interstate 26 and Route 17-A can double the commuting time at best, and make it up to an hour at worst. But, in these situations it's best to do as the Charleston residents do and try to enjoy the inevitable delays and the slower pace of life in the low country.
Charleston is also serviced by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation System. CARTA operates several bus routes throughout the city. Recent improvements to the bus lines have made them faster and more efficient than in the past. Additionally, there are a number of water taxis that offer a fun and scenic form of transportation from the downtown area to many of the water-bound suburbs, including Mt. Pleasant and Patriot's Point. Only in Charleston can your daily commute include a dolphin sighting!
So welcome to historic Charleston! Enjoy the slow-paced, but ultimately enjoyable life around town!
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