Thinking of moving to Charleston, South Carolina? Here’s what you need to know. Many people picture Charleston, South Carolina, as a historic city of cobblestone streets, friendly locals, historic homes and horse-drawn carriages. While all of this is true, Charleston is a lot more than just an homage to the past; it is a swiftly growing city of progress and opportunity.
People joke about the “blue bloods” of Charleston—and, indeed, many families have been in the area for generations—but nowadays, locals range from “Yankee transplants” to hip college students and everything in between. A host of large companies have found a home in Charleston's metropolitan area in recent years, including Boeing, Google and Volvo. As of 2014, the Charleston county population hovered near 400,000. The College of Charleston, one of the nation’s oldest public institutions, keeps downtown Charleston humming, along with a bevy of locals and tourists from around the globe.
The “peninsula” is what some people call the city itself, but many refer to the metro area collectively as Charleston, the Low country or the tri-county. Communities to the north of Charleston such as Summerville and North Charleston boost the area’s economy by providing a home to larger companies. Meanwhile, the peninsula and surrounding affluent areas, including Mt. Pleasant and the beach communities, are known for an array of independent businesses and unique restaurants. You’ll probably want a car in Charleston, unless you happen to live and work downtown. Navigating Interstate 26 can prove challenging, and while CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) offers bus routes, most locals prefer their own automobiles. In recent years, however, bike paths have become more common; local groups such as Charleston Moves are popular among bike activists who want to make their voices heard.
What Do You Do?
Some of the city's most popular events take place in the spring: the Cooper River Bridge Run, Spoleto Festival USA and The BB&T Wine + Food Festival all kick off the season of tourism and warm weather. But Charleston’s calendar is stocked year-round with cultural events, festivals and reasons to get the gang together. Locals enjoy outdoor activities such as boating, beaching and hanging out in numerous parks. And the culinary scene, which has recently gained national attention, boasts a wide variety of cuisine from award-winning chefs.