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Downtown Charleston Home Buying Neighborhoods

Charleston Peninsula – Neighborhood Spotlight

Are you thinking about moving to the Charleston, SC area? If so, one of the first decisions to make is where in the area you want to look for homes. This blog will give an overview of the downtown Charleston area so you can see if it’s right for you and your family.

Are you thinking about moving to the Charleston, SC area? If so, one of the first decisions to make is where in the area you want to look for homes. This blog will give an overview of the downtown Charleston area so you can see if it’s right for you and your family.

Charleston Peninsula Location: The Heart of Charleston

“Charleston” can refer to the City of Charleston, the 156.6 square-mile city that encompasses West Ashley, Daniel Island, parts of Johns Island, and more. Or it can refer more broadly to the wider area, which also encompasses nearby towns and cities including North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

However, when people say “Charleston” they are often referring to downtown Charleston, or the peninsula. It is a truly unique place that draws visitors from all over the country and all over the world due to its exceptional architecture, important historical ties, and incredible culture.

Downtown Charleston is the heart of the area. Across the Cooper River to the east lie Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant. Across the Ashley River to the west are West Ashley and James Island. To the north is North Charleston and to the southeast, Charleston Harbor opens up into the Atlantic Ocean.

The peninsula is easily accessible, quickly connecting to other neighborhoods via I-26 coming in from North Charleston as well as the main east-west thoroughfare, the Septima Clark Parkway, a section of Highway 17. This means it’s a short drive to many attractions in the greater area. From Marion Square downtown, the approximate drive times in good traffic are:

  • 15-20 minutes to the Charleston International Airport and Tanger Outlet
  • 20 minutes to Folly Beach
  • 20 minutes to the beach on Sullivans Island
  • 10 minutes to the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant
Life on the Charleston Peninsula: Be a Part of History

Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the US, having been established in 1670 on a site in present day West Ashley, then moving to the peninsula in 1680. Its long history is reflected in the buildings themselves, many of which are from the Colonial, Revolutionary, and pre-Civil War eras. The city is also famous for the Charleston single house style, characterized by narrow frontages and long side porches.

No fewer than seventy-one properties on the peninsula are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, some of which are designated National Historic Landmarks. Take a walk from Spring Street down along cobblestone streets to the Battery at the southern tip of the peninsula and you’ll be transported back in time.

Downtown Charleston offers much more than stunning architecture. Living on the peninsula means having the best of the city’s culture at your fingertips. Nationally recognized restaurants such as Husk, Slightly North of Broad (SNOB), Charleston Grill, and many others are all downtown, serving up haute cuisine and Southern specialties like shrimp and grits.

You’ll find numerous shops, bars, and cafes, many along East Bay Street and King Street. Historical sites include the Charleston City Market (still a working market and a fun place to browse), the Old Slave Mart Museum, the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, and a number of historical houses that are open for touring. Fort Sumter, which was bombed in 1861, thus setting off the Civil War, is a short ferry ride away in the Charleston Harbor.

Regular fun events on the peninsula include the Art Walk, where you can pop in to one of the many galleries in the French Quarter and sip on wine while admiring the art; Second Sundays on King Street, when the street is closed off to cars and vendors set up booths for pedestrian traffic; and outdoor movies in Marion Square. (Note that the current pandemic has impacted many of these events for the time being.)

Finally, three major institutions draw many people to the peninsula. One is MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), the area’s big teaching hospital, which U.S. News & World Report ranked as the #1 hospital in the state five years in a row. The other two are colleges. The College of Charleston’s campus is integrated in the city around the Calhoun Street area, while the military college The Citadel, with its distinctive architecture, is situated a little further north.

Homes in Downtown Charleston: Paying for a Piece of History

Living in downtown Charleston is something very special, and the real estate market reflects that. While the price per square foot for the City of Charleston – which includes not just the peninsula, but West Ashely, Daniel Island, and more – is $211 per square foot, according to Zillow, the price per square foot for properties on the peninsula tends to run significantly higher. Depending on location, age, and condition, homes here go for anywhere from $350 to $1,300 per square foot.

In general, the further south you go on the Charleston peninsula, the more expensive the homes become. You may hear the phrase “South of Broad,” which refers to Broad Street, and this phrase indicates a part of the peninsula with the highest concentration of old and expensive (and incredibly beautiful) homes. The homes down on the Battery, at the very tip of the peninsula, are exceptionally beautiful and well-preserved multi-million-dollar mansions.

Further up the peninsula, homes become more affordable and the architecture styles more diverse. Here you can find 1920s bungalow-style houses, late 19th century Victorian homes, and more classic Charleston single houses. In the past decade, an increasing trend has seen buyers purchasing and renovating older homes around and above Spring Street, bringing them back to their former glory. There are still deals to be had if you’re looking for an old home to call yours and you’re prepared to put in the work.

Keep in mind that if you do buy an old, historically significant home, you will likely be bound to many rules and restrictions regarding upkeep, renovations, and additions. The purpose is to preserve the iconic look of these old homes and keep them intact for the future. If you’re not prepared to maintain the property to those standards, or you prefer more freedom, then a historical house may not be the right fit for you.

If you’d prefer something newer, you can find some newer homes, including condos. As Charleston has grown in population, builders have seized on opportunity to build elegant condo buildings featuring open layouts and modern amenities that appeal to today’s buyer. You’ll find a number of condos along the east of the peninsula close to the Harbor and in the upper peninsula around the Ravenel Bridge. Renters will find apartments and houses for rent on the peninsula, too.

What Makes Downtown Charleston, SC Special

The Charleston area is a great place to live. It’s right on the water, with wonderful beaches nearby and ample opportunities for boating and water sports. The climate means mild winters and hot summers with plenty of sunshine. The Southern cuisine is unbeatable, the people are friendly, and the quality of life is high.

Yet downtown Charleston is one of a kind – truly nothing compares to it. The peninsula is the center of life in the greater Charleston area and the reason it’s been named the #1 City in the US and #1 City in the World! It draws people from near and far due to its sheer beauty, great culture, and unique past. To live here is to be a part of American history.

Looking to Buy in Downtown Charleston?

If your heart is set on living in downtown Charleston, I can help you find the property that’s right for you. Give me a call at 843-806-7222 or mail me here. It would be my pleasure to help you find your next home here in beautiful Charleston, SC.

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