People moving to Charleston, SC often have questions about where to live (or where to invest). As a real estate agent, I always ask them, “What are you looking for?” In order to help people who are relocating to the Charleston area, I have organized my suggestions into 7 answers.
1) Folly Beach is a great investment because there will pretty much always be a great demand of people who want to live at the beach. Folly Beach is the most popular beach in the Charleston area, especially for college students and young professionals. Add this popularity with its proximity to downtown Charleston, and you will find that Folly Beach is a great rental area.
2) James Island is a little more affordable than Folly Beach, and it is even closer to downtown Charleston (about a 5 minute drive). James Island is mostly a residential area, but there are some restaurants (most of which are independently owned). James Island is very laid back, and many students from College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina live here. The young population and proximity to Folly Beach makes James Island a great rental area for investors.
(3) Johns Island is ideal for people who want more space – larger yards, less traffic, and fewer neighbors. Also, land in Johns Island is a great investment because there are plans to extend the Interstate to the area. Johns Island will slowly become less rural and more developed.
4) West Ashley is more affordable compared to James Island, Johns Island, and Mt. Pleasant. And, it is still very close to Folly Beach (about a 20 to 30 minute drive) and to downtown Charleston (about a 10 to 15 minute drive). West Ashley has more commercial real estate compared to James Island and John’s Island – there are lots of chain restaurants and shopping centers.
5) Downtown Charleston is a highly desirable place to live because it is so rich in history and culture. Downtown Charleston has beautiful old houses, but they are much more expensive than some of the other areas in Charleston. Also, taxes have soared over the past few years – so take the taxes into consideration when comparing prices of homes in Charleston.
6) Mt. Pleasant has the best public schools in Charleston County. There is also plenty of shopping and restaurants in this somewhat upscale area. Mt. Pleasant also has a great location – about 10 minutes to the beaches and about 15 to 20 minutes from downtown Charleston. The main drawback is price – Mt. Pleasant is more expensive compared to other non-beachfront real estate in Charleston.
7) Summerville rivals Mt. Pleasant when it comes to public schools, but Summerville is much more affordable. It has a small town feel, but real estate there has grown rapidly in the past five years and will continue to grow. The biggest drawback to buying a house there is location. Summerville is about 45 minutes from downtown Charleston and a little less than an hour to the closest beach. Summerville is less of an investment area compared to James Island or Johns Island simply because of appreciation. However, if you are looking for a place to live and have a tighter budget, Summerville would be a good area to consider.
Charleston has so many communities to choose from. The seven I discussed are some of the most popular. If you are buying real estate as an investment, be sure to get statistics on appreciation and possibly rental history. If you are buying real estate as a primary residence, be sure to talk with someone who has lived in the area so that you can learn about real estate specifically in the area you will be buying.