Charleston: Pro’s, Cons and Why We Moved On
If you’re considering relocating to an east coast city with an historic appeal, walkable downtown and great restaurants, Charleston should absolutely be on your short list. While it took us four spreadsheets, months of research and weeks of travel to find our perfect place (hint: it wasn’t Charleston), this is a city that is well worth your time.
Starting with the positives, Charleston does not have such oppressive summers as some of the southernmost cities- ie, New Orleans and Florida. Unlike other towns with a walkable, historic downtown, our experience (make sure to do your own research!) was that urban Charleston was significantly less affected by violent crime than, say, Savannah. The employment options are also somewhat better.
Price wise, the trendy historic homes are affordable if you are bringing equity from a major metropolitan area- case in point DC, NYC, LA. Although we had both lived in these areas, we were looking for 2,000 s/f or more in an historic home (not a condo) for less than $500k and ideally less than $400k. You would need to double and likely triple those numbers to find what we would have wanted in Charleston. If you’re prepared to live in suburbia, however, those numbers will be far less- but with all the traffic, that wasn’t for us.
Much like Old Town Alexandria and Annapolis MD, Charleston SC is now a waterfront city filled with higher end boutiques and services. Gone are so many of the whimsical artistic shops and cafes that used to define downtown. You will find galleries, high end antique shops, restaurants... and you will pay the corresponding prices.
Ultimately, we were searching for a fun and funky downtown but we wanted great locally owned restaurants cafes and shops that were affordable. Walkability was a big priority for us, and we have lived in Wilmington NC for almost a year now. Carolina Heights, Carolina Place, The 4th St Corridor are areas in our city with stunning historic homes that have been featured in many films and series. The artistic flair of Wilmington, the diversity of the people who live here... those were big draws. A port city, we are 20 minutes to the beach and our airport has direct flights to NYC, where one of us is based out of.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a more refined historic city and less of a hippie /small business /artsy vibe, Charleston is a good option. The traffic may be frustrating, but there is enough entertainment that you will not be bored. If budget is a consideration and you have a preference for the more eclectic, diverse neighborhoods, Wilmington NC is where it’s at!
Samira | Wilmington, NC