Charleston’s 18 cities can be overwhelming when it comes to finding the right area to live. Preference is a huge factor in determining where to live in Charleston, but price is equally important. After all, everyone (it seems) wants to live at the beach! Who wouldn’t? Charleston’s beaches and downtown area are the most sought after areas to live, but few buyers can afford them. Because of Charleston’s range in real estate values (from $20,000 to over $10 million), price is the best way to initially start narrowing down your home search.
Below is a guide to help you narrow down areas by price range. These values are intended for houses. Of course, you can get condos or townhouses in areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. However, for simplicity’s sake, this guide is for buyers considering houses only!
Under $150,000: The best areas for houses in this price range are Summerville, North Charleston, Hanahan, and Goose Creek. If the quality of public schools is important to you, Summerville is the best option because it has some of the best public schools in all of Charleston.
$150,000-200,000: Although it is possible in this price range to find houses in areas closer to downtown and the beaches (Mt. Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley), you will find that most of these houses are simply not very livable. They may look great in the listings online, but they need more work and repairs than most buyers in this price range can afford. And, the resale for these areas is less than ideal. So, I would recommend still looking in the Summerville, Goose Creek, North Charleston, and Hanahan areas.
$200,000-250,000: You’ll find good starter homes in areas like Mt. Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island, and West Ashley. Mt. Pleasant has excellent public schools, and James Island is also quite good for schools. Both of these areas are also the closest to downtown Charleston and the beaches. West Ashley and Johns Island are slightly more affordable, and they’re still a great location in the Charleston area. If you’re willing to live further out (in the Summerville, North Charleston, Goose Creek section of Charleston), you will be able to find a much nicer home in this price range.
$250,000-400,000: This is an ideal price range if you are considering houses in the main Charleston County area. In James Island and Mt. Pleasant, this is the average home price, so you will find a large selection of homes for sale. In West Ashley and Johns Island, this is slightly upper priced, and you will get a little more home for the money in these more affordable areas. In the cities further inland (like Summerville, North Charleston, and Goose Creek), this price range is reaching the top of the market. So, you’ll be able to find homes overlooking golf courses and community lakes with lots of upgrades.
$400,000-600,000: Most buyers in this price range prefer Mt. Pleasant and James Island. You will even be able to get marshfront homes in the upper part of this bracket. And, of course, West Ashley and Johns Island are also good options. However, you will also find more areas available to you after you reach the $400K mark. Daniel Island and downtown Charleston have good homes in this price range, but you certainly will not be able to get waterfront or any other especially good location (since these 2 markets are more expensive). Although you will find houses in Summerville, North Charleston, and Goose Creek in this price range, you will really be at the top of the market if you buy in those areas. For resale, it would be better to consider the areas mentioned above because those markets easily support home values in this range.
$600,000-800,000: In addition to finding waterfront or fully upgraded homes in Mt. Pleasant and James Island, you will also find options on Johns Island and West Ashley. In Daniel Island and downtown Charleston, this price range is considered pretty average, so you will find nice homes in the middle of their markets. The beaches will have some houses under $800K (or you can get waterfront townhouses or condos in this price, too). Folly Beach and Isle of Palms are the most affordable beaches in Charleston, so they will be your best bets in this range. However, it would also be worth considering Wild Dunes, Seabrook Island, and Kiawah Island for that occasional house that is listed under $800K.
$800,000 plus: For resale value, it is important to be in a market that can support million dollar homes. In James Island and Mt. Pleasant, you will find the very best homes that are available in those areas. Almost all of these will be either on deep water or overlooking the Charleston Harbor. The beaches also support million dollar homes very well. In addition to Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, Wild Dunes, Kiawah, and Seabrook, you will also find homes on Sullivan’s Island. Daniel Island would also be a good investment because its strict community rules ensure that homes are well cared for. Downtown Charleston is always a good market, too. It has always been in high demand from home buyers, but only a percentage can actually afford living downtown. In this price range, however, you will find a good selection of historic homes in the most desirable neighborhoods, like South of Broad.