City Guide / Charleston

Your Complete Guide to Moving to Charleston

By Bri Hand | Feb 23, 2022
View of Charleston, SC, over the water.

Are you thinking about moving to Charleston, SC? That’s great! Charleston is a city steeped in history that also offers modern restaurants, shops, and apartments that have attracted a young, urbanite crowd over the past few years.

Before moving to Charleston, it’s worth getting a sense of the city so you’ll be prepared to enjoy everything your new location has to offer. This guide will go over: 

  • Charleston’s history
  • What you can expect from the weather in Charleston
  • The demographics of Charleston’s residents
  • How best to get around Charleston
  • Cost of living in Charleston
  • Tips before you move to Charleston

The more you know about the so-called “Holy City,” the more confident you’ll be when you arrive. With that in mind, it’s time to get acquainted with what it’s like moving to the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina.

The history of Charleston, SC

Before jumping into what you can expect from moving to the current version of this South Carolina city, it’s worth looking back on the town’s history. And it is quite the history! First established in 1670, Charleston has been an integral cog in the story of the United States. Some historical facts about the Charleston area include:

  • Naming: Coming up with a good name can be tough. It took Charleston 113 years to settle on its name. While always intended to be named after Charles II, the city was called Charles Towne, Charles City, and Port before Charleston was settled on in 1783.
  • Capital city: Charleston was the first capital of South Carolina. However, it was decided that a more centrally located capital would be beneficial. As such, in 1786, the capital was moved to the city of Columbia, where it remains to this day.
  • Civil War: This South Carolina city sits on Charleston Harbor, which was the location of Fort Sumter. Civil War buffs, which populate the city, can tell you that the confederates’ attack on Fort Sumter was the first battle of the American Civil War.
  • American golf: On a lighter note, Charleston also claims the first golf club in America at Harleston Green. While this “first golf club” claim is disputed depending on who you ask, Charleston has a long golfing history and many beautiful courses.
  • Port city: The city is located at the intersection of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which lead into Charleston Harbor. This location made this South Carolina city an important naval location during World War I and II, and during the Cold War. While the navy’s interest in Charleston greatly decreased in 1993 with the closing of bases and the shipyard, it remains a bustling trade port for a variety of goods.

This is just a taste of the Holy City’s historical roots. If you’re looking to explore more of the city’s historical treasures after moving, visit The Charleston Museum, which houses numerous exhibits and historical houses, King Street, Waterfront Park, and the Naval and Maritime Museum at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, where guests can book an overnight stay aboard the USS Yorktown. 

Weather in Charleston, SC

Now that you’re more acquainted with the city’s past, it’s time to focus on its present—and there’s no better place to start than with Charleston’s temperate climate. The city’s good weather is a major part of its appeal, but since it’s still an East Coast city, you can expect changing seasons. Here’s a breakdown of Charleston’s weather: 

  • Precipitation: While this area certainly doesn’t have the reputation of somewhere like Seattle, you can still expect a good amount of rain. The wettest months will be in the summer, with August averaging over six inches of rainfall. Drier months include the end of fall (November) and early spring (April and May), where average rainfall will drop to just under three inches. No matter what time of year you’re moving to Charleston, be sure to pack your umbrella!
  • Temperature: The worry that it might rain on your parade can be tempered by how easy it will be to reschedule. The temperature stays relatively mild year-round, with many days in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. Summer will start reaching the upper 80s (making it a great time to cool down with some sweet tea), but Charleston winters will generally only sink to the lower 40s.
  • Daylight: While this is a coastal area, it’s worth remembering that South Carolina is still a good deal further west than some of the New England cities that may come to mind when you think of the East Coast. This means sunshine stretches later into the day, with sunsets in July arriving no earlier than 8:30 p.m.

Demographics in Charleston, SC

This city features fantastic neighborhoods to choose from, whether you want to hit the surf on Folly Beach or James Island, relax by the water in Mount Pleasant, explore the shops and restaurants of downtown Charleston, or soak up the natural beauty of West Ashley.

You can get an overall sense of your future Charleston neighborhood by learning about the city’s demographic makeup. Here’s what to expect, according to the US Census Bureau:

  • Age: The city is mainly populated by adults under 65, with children under 18 making up just over 15% and people over 65 making up just under 15% of the population.
  • Sex: There’s a near-even split among the sexes, with women making up the slightly larger share at about 53%.
  • Race: The city is primarily white, with three-fourths of the population identifying as white. Slightly over 20% of Charleston residents are black, and the Hispanic and Asian populations each make up single-digit shares of the overall population.
  • Education: Unsurprising for an area with numerous colleges, people tend to be well educated within the city boundaries. Over half of city residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and almost 95% graduated from high school.
  • Overall size: While it is the biggest city in South Carolina with over 150,000 residents, as far as major American cities go, Charleston is still manageable. Its population ranks it around 200th in the most populated cities in America.

How to get around Charleston, SC

Depending on where you’re trying to go in the city, you may be able to walk (or bike) to your destination. In the more densely populated downtown areas, walking is definitely a viable option. That said, to truly navigate the city and the surrounding Lowcountry area, you will most likely need a car, which will mean familiarizing yourself with the city’s parking policies.

For those moving here who are determined to stay off the road, public transportation does exist, although it is limited compared to some other major cities. Public transportation offerings in Charleston include:

  • Buses: The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (or CARTA) runs numerous bus routes. Fare is $2.00 per ride, and passes can be bought online or at multiple locations throughout the city.
  • Shuttle: The downtown area also provides a free shuttle service called DASH (short for Downtown Area Shuttle). This is a great option to avoid the hassles of parking while exploring downtown’s many shops and restaurants.
  • Water taxi: This option won’t get you around the whole city, but it can be fun if you want to spend a day on the water or see the city from a new perspective. All-day passes cost $12 and the water taxi serves four locations:
    • Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina
    • Aquarium/Maritime Center
    • Patriot’s Point and the USS Yorktown
    • Waterfront Park

Cost of living in Charleston, SC

Since Charleston is a major city situated on the water, the cost of living must be pretty high, right? Well, yes and no. The cost of living in Charleston is above the national average, but much of that comes down to housing. Assuming you can afford a house or rental unit, the city is at or below the national average in most other categories. 

When planning your move to Charleston, keep the following expenses in mind:

  • Rent: The median rent in this South Carolina city clocks in at an average of $1,061 a month.
  • Utilities: You can expect your average monthly energy bill to cost around $208.23.
  • Gas: If you choose to bring your car with you, the average gallon of gas will ring up at $2.45.

Charleston moving tips 

As a digital nomad or all-around adventurer, you already know that exploring your new city is the best part of a new move. However, before you hit the streets, it’s important to figure out a few logistics. To that end, keep the following in mind:

  • Change any necessary car registration and notify your auto insurance company of your move.
  • Notify financial institutions, like banks and credit card companies of your move to maintain access to your accounts. 
  • Familiarize yourself with essential services like nearby hospitals, urgent care clinics, dentist offices, and vet facilities if you have a furry friend in tow.
  • Set up your utilities before you arrive. After all, you want to explore your new area with a sense of fun, not because you need to find free Wi-Fi.
  • Take a breath and have fun. Moving lends itself to overthinking, but starting a new adventure shouldn’t be worrying. Plan what you can and tackle the rest as it comes up.

Find your new home with Landing

To streamline your move, check out Landing’s fully furnished apartments in Charleston. We take the stress out of finding a new place with flexible leases, no upfront fees, and 24/7 access to a team fully dedicated to your comfort. 

Remove the pain points of moving to Charleston with Landing and find your new home today!

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.