After working with dozens of out-of-town clients who have relocated to Charleston from different parts of the U.S. and overseas, areI wanted to share some of the pro's and con's that I have heard from them about Charleston. Charleston (deservedly so) has been consistently named one of the top 10 small cities to live and visit in the USA. Today I will write about the things people rave about, tomorrow I will share some of the not-so-good aspects of this "Holy City"...
1. The Weather is (mostly) Great! In the Winter, when most of the country is under snow, ice and sleet, Charleston's mild climate allows for year-round golf and tennis, while still providing seasonal changes. Except for the humidity during the peak of the Summer (and the occasional storm), Charleston's sub-tropical temperatures are comfortable and manageable throughout the year.
2. Charleston's pace is SLOW and relaxed! If you are coming from a high-stress area and you are used to New York-type fast pace, it may take you a year or two to realize that not everything needs to be desperately urgent. Lower your blood pressure, move to Charleston. Traffic jams are rare - normally you can get anywhere within 20 min. (except during commute time).
3. Charleston is a Great Place to Raise a Family - this is a small city that has many parks, recreational facilities, organized sports and family events that facilitate and encourage family life. It is a reasonably conservative environment (compared with other areas of the country), where family values play a big role in the day-to-day life of the community.
4. Real Estate is Affordable - especially if you are coming from overpriced markets on the Pacific Coast or the Atlantic Northeast (the median home price in October 2009 for the Charleston Metro Area was $170,000).
5. Easy access, Low-key Beaches & Waterways - no highrise apartment buildings, easy parking, clean, natural beaches, and a myriad of rivers, creeks and marshes provide fantastic setting for boating and fishing enthusiasts, kiteboarding, water skiing, kayaking, or just plain beach going.
6. Charleston Has a Diversified Economy - unlike other beach towns, Charleston's economy has five different pillars: The Port of Charleston (logistics), medical research (MUSC), the military (Air Force Base, Naval Weapons Station, SPAWAR), tourism, and now aeronautics (Boeing).
7. Great & Unique History and Character - Charleston is one of the premier historic tourism destinations in the U.S. It is regularly featured in travel magazines as a great destination that provides unique architecture, character and history. Charleston has done a great job at preserving historic neighborhoods, and preventing the character change that unrestricted development can bring to any city.
8. The Food! - Charleston has a great variety and quality of restaurants in all price ranges. From Southern traditional foods (Cajun, shrimp & grits, fried okra) to French, Thai, Japanese and other international foods. For a small city, Charleston has a very high index of restaurants per capita, and great quality food.
9. Charlestonians love festivals and events. There are many events throughout the year, from an annual local charity concert with Hootie and the Blowfish, to national and international events like the Spoleto USA (music and theater), the Cooper River Bridge Run, the Charleston Wine and Food Festival and the Family Circle Tennis Cup at Daniel Island.
10. Southern Hospitality and good manners - if you are not originally from the South, you will be surprised, delighted and charmed by the genuine friendliness and politeness of most Charlestonians. This is not just a trait developed for tourists!
As with any place on earth, not everything is rosy in Charleston, SC. Tomorrow I will talk about those things some people DON'T like about Charleston... I would also welcome your comments and contributions on this topic!