Charleston, South Carolina oozes with southern charm. The port city was first founded by English settlers in 1670, making it one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and retains quite a few old-world touches, like cobblestone streets, elegant Federal and Victorian architecture, centuries-old churches (Charleston is nicknamed "Holy City," thanks to the city's founding principles demanding religious tolerance), and historic spots like Fort Sumter, where Confederate soldiers fired the Civil War's first shots.
Charleston residents also enjoy gorgeous, mild weather, in addition to three lovely beaches within about a half-hour's drive. The city's culinary scene is growing; there are lots of seafood and oyster eateries here, like hotspot 167 Raw and mainstay the Ordinary, along with iconic soul food spots (Nana's Seafood & Soul, Bertha's Kitchen) and other cafes and restaurants serving up classic southern fare. Charleston's beer scene is booming, with breweries like Holy City Brewing and COAST Brewing Company offering craft beers in fun taprooms, and there are plenty of cocktail bars, hip rooftops, and live music joints in town.
Best of all, Charleston's cost of living is much lower than New York's—about 40 percent less expensive, in fact—and a recent Wallethub ranking concluded Charleston was one of the best cities in the U.S. for first-time homeowners, thanks to its thriving real estate market and overall quality of life. If any of that sounds appealing to you, here's a taste of what's out there.
133 Congress St., Westside
This four-bedroom, three-bath house on Charleston's Westside, also pictured top, is a former church, retaining some original touches like a custom double medieval door, vaulted ceilings with exposed wooden beams, arched windows, pendant lighting, and bamboo wood floors. Other highlights include a chef's kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a French door refrigerator, a master suite with a walk-in closet, a private patio, and an incredible master bath with a dual vanity and tile tub and shower combo. The Westside, located in Charleston's downtown, is a thriving historic neighborhood full of bustling businesses and hot restaurants. The house is priced at $749,000.
4667 Oakwood Ave., Park Circle, North Charleston
North Charleston is actually it's own city, and it's a bit like Charleston's Brooklyn, boasting more affordable housing appealing to young professionals and hip new businesses. North Charleston's Park Circle neighborhood is the hippest of the bunch, thanks to its funky independent businesses and frequent festivals/food truck hangouts. This four-bedroom, three-bath house was constructed in 2015, and features modern touches like Energy Star appliances and central air. Other highlights include a massive backyard with a with a fire bowl, lighting system, and porch swing. The house is priced at $395,000.
216 Coming St., Cannonborough/Elliottborough
Cannonborough/Elliottborough is another historic downtown neighborhood, this one known for its residential atmosphere and low-key local shops and cafes. This three-bedroom, thee-bath tri-level house, located two blocks from bustling N. King St., features big windows, multiple porches and balconies, and hardwood floors. Other highlights include a spacious, airy kitchen outfitted with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances; floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bedroom, and dual vanities in both full-sized baths. The house is priced at $849,000.
812 Saint Dennis Dr., Avondale, West Ashley
West Ashley is a largely residential part of Charleston, one that feels relatively suburban despite being located within the city limits. This three-bedroom, two-bath house, built in 1960, sits on a 0.32 acre lot, and features exposed wood-walled rooms, funky tiled floors, a fireplace, and an expansive yard and built-out deck. The house is priced at $375,000.
14 Queen St., French Quarter
If you've got a little more cash on hand, this romantic-looking four-bedroom, three-bath house was built in 1830, and features period touches like a brick patio, multiple fireplaces, high ceilings, and vintage mantles. The house was also recently remodeled, hence its high-end appliances and pristine marble baths outfitted with spacious tubs and glass-walled showers. The house is located in Charleston's French Quarter, located in the original walled portion of the city, which is full of beautiful churches, classic eateries, charming gardens, and historic alleyways. The house is priced at $1,820,000.
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