Back in 2009 I wrote a blog post on the top 10 reasons some people may not like Charleston, SC (read below) which got more than 17,000 views! Ten years later, it's time to update this list. What would I change now?
1. Charleston is now a larger "small" city (pop. est. 850,000) and it has become a little more diverse, although it is experiencing growing pains that are reflected in increased traffic issues.
2. Hurricanes have become more common (a common issue in Florida, the Gulf and the East Coast of the US)
3. Employment opportunities and salaries have improved, with the arrival of Boeing, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plants, and the growth of technology companies like Boomtown, Blackbaud, Benefit Focus, Sparc and others.
4. Air travel is still expensive, but with the airport remodel and expansion, and the addition of many additional direct flights, air travel to/from Charleston has become easier.
Charleston, SC is very often in the news, as our city has won MANY ACCOLADES in the last 10 years, as listed by the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. These include:
- Charleston ranked one of the "12 Best Places to Live in the U.S." by Outside Magazine
- For the 7th consecutive year Travel + Leisure named Charleston the #1 city in the U.S. and ranked the 12th best city in the world!
- Charleston | SC | USA ranks #16 in 2018 Best Performing Cities Index Milken Institute
- Charleston | SC voted #1 “Best Small City in the U.S.” for the 8th consecutive year by Condé Nast Traveler Readers
- Charleston | SC ranks 4th on “America’s Biggest Boomtowns’ list by MagnifyMoney
“Boomtowns” are defined as cities where “Americans are gathering now to take advantage of growing prosperity and improved lifestyles to achieve the American dream.” The Charleston metro ranks high on attracting workers, business growth, and workforce & earning.
- Fastest Growing Mid-Sized Metro Economies of 2017
Charleston’s economy just ranked the 9th fastest growing among mid-size metros by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Charleston named a “Best Place to Start a Career” by WalletHub
Using 27 metrics ranging from the availability of entry-level jobs to monthly average starting salary to workforce diversity.
- Charleston | SC recognized as a top U.S. community with the most green spaces by National Geographic.
- Charleston voted the South's “Best City," "Friendliest City," and “Prettiest City" by Southern Living readers.
- Charleston metro ranks 25th in U.S. for “Where the most educated millennials live” by The Brookings Institution.
- Charleston ranked #1 City in America for Economic Opportunity by Yelp Local Economic Outlook, a program to rank U.S. metro areas by the pace of local-business population growth to reveal the health of urban economies around the country
- National Geographic Travel names Charleston, one of 29 Best Small U.S. Cities Continue reading
- Charleston | SC ranked #16 (out of 100 U.S. metros) in share of jobs in high digital skill occupations by The Brookings Institution Continue reading
I echo all these publications and agree that all in all, although far from perfect, this is a pretty great place to live in!
Questions? Comments? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is my blog post from 2009:
Top 10 Reasons Some People May Not Like Charleston, SC
1. It's a Small Town - let's face it! With a population close to 600,000, Charleston is not a large metropolis and cannot offer NFL franchises or major league baseball teams, big rock concerts or high profile international visitors like a large metropolis does. Charleston still feels provincial, although you can find people from all over the world. In comparison to cities like New York, Paris or London, Charleston's cultural, ideological and ethnic diversity is still limited. IMHO, Charleston was probably the "forgotten jewel" along the East Coast that only hit the international "radar screen" after the Internet became ubiquitous. This exposure to the world is changing the makeup of this area, and Charleston is becoming more cosmopolitan every day
2. Charleston's Pace of Life is Slow - while for many people this is a plus, many others who are used to fast-paced lifestyle never get used to this, and feel that "things don't happen" the way they are used to. This doesn't necessarily mean that things don't get done on time here, it's just that locals are not as "high strung" as people in other areas of the country.
3. The Humidity - during the summer, the high humidity can make those of us coming from dry areas feel heavy...and sweat it out while we do just about anything outdoors.
4. No-Seems - these annoying tiny insects appear out of nowhere to torture B-B-Q lovers, sports enthusiasts and concert goers. Fortunately they don't last for a long time. But these pesky critters also tend to arrive hand-in-hand with our hot and humid weather - double whammy!
5. Conservative Ideology - While this can be a real plus for some people, it may make others feel uncomfortable. Without getting into politics, people who come from more liberal and diverse places may find the Low Country quite conservative and religious.
6. Cliques - Old Boy Network - like any other small city in the South, outsiders may quickly learn that there are a handful of traditional families who still control a large chunk of the real estate, law and banking businesses. Although this is changing rapidly, these families still exert a big influence over politics and business in Charleston.
7. Limited High-Paying Professional Employment Opportunities - Charleston does not (yet) enjoy the abundance of corporate headquarters that other Southern cities such as Atlanta or Charlotte have. Consequently, high-paying professional opportunities are limited. Most of the professional employment is generated by the public sector (local area governments, higher education institutions, the Port of Charleston), service industries (tourism) and the federal government (mostly Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard). The recent arrival of Google and Boeing as major private sector employers to the area signals a big positive change on this front.
8. Air Travel is Expensive - because Charleston is not a major business destination, there are few low-cost carriers servicing it, and consequently air travel in and out of Charleston tends to be more time-consuming (more connections) and expesive than from other nearby cities like Jacksonville and Myrtle Beach. This is a demand-driven variable, so prices will probably see substantial drops as new businesses relocate to Charleston and the demand rises.
9. The Paper Mill - When it was built, the Mead Westvaco (now Kapstone) paper mill in Hanahan was probably in the outskirts of the metro area and did not bother many people. Today it is located right in the middle. The foul smell of the paper mill can be an annoying problem for those who choose to live or work nearby, and the direction of the wind will determine which area is affected.
10. No Mountains - this is the LOW COUNTRY - the nearest mountains are 3 hours away on the other side of the state. Although there are many outdoor activities that can be perfectly carried out on flat terrain (and Charleston has the very large Francis Marion National Park next door), some mountain lovers can experience withdrawal symptoms by not having mountains, and not being able to orient themselves visually.
So what's the balance? In my opinion, the overall (plus/minus) balance for Charleston is overwhelmingly positive. Charleston routinely makes the "Top Ten" lists of smaller cities to retire, visit, or relocate to.