Coming from up north myself, I get a lot of questions from people also looking to make the move down here to South Carolina. Charleston has many attractions – the great weather, location right on the ocean, charming architecture, friendly people, great food, and the list goes on. But some people, understandably, also want to know about the potential downsides of moving to another city that’s so different from their own. Hurricanes, snakes, the slower pace of life, and more – how bad are these things for people moving from other parts of the country? Is it still a good idea to move to Charleston?
In Part 2 I’ll answer other frequently asked questions about beaches, golf, art, and more, but today’s FAQ addresses concerns that some people having over moving to Charleston.
How Long Did It Take You to “Slow Down”?
The pace of life is famously slower in the South. That’s why I often get this question from people moving here from faster-paced cities in New York, New Jersey, and California. While the more easygoing lifestyle is usually one of the draws of life in the Lowcountry, it can also be a challenge to adapt to the pace when you’re used to getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Speaking from my own personal experience, it took me about a month to adjust, and it wasn’t long before I was on a first name basis with everyone from my mail carrier to my banker. That doesn’t mean it will be the same for you; I had the benefit of having grown up in a small town so moving here was like “going home.” If you’ve always lived in places that go at a faster pace, just be prepared to practice patience and understand that speed and efficiency aren’t the most important values here. Connection with other people and quality of life are.
Is It Difficult to Make Friends in Charleston?
There’s a common perception that Charleston society is closed off to outsiders, especially to “Yankees,” and that it’s hard to make friends here. In my experience, that’s not true. People who are newer to the area (and there are many, thanks to the incredible population growth over the last decade) are eager to put down roots and make new connections, and people who have been here a long time are often warm and welcoming in typical Southern fashion. Charleston was voted one of the friendliest cities in the US, and you can make friends here by joining a local Meetup group, finding a church, or following your interests, whether that’s water sports, history, music, art, or the food scene, all of which Charleston is known for. Plus, here in Charleston, unlike in many big cities, it’s normal to actually talk to your neighbors!
Is Flooding a Problem in Charleston?
Charleston is in an area called the Lowcountry and it is indeed low, meaning that flooding is an issue in some areas. You might have seen images in the news of people kayaking in the streets here after heavy rainfall. These photos are taken in downtown Charleston, which is the most prone to flooding. Other places that tend to flood are those close to beaches, marshes, rivers, and other waterways.
However, many homes in the greater Charleston area are at little risk of flooding. Deciding how much flooding risk you’re willing to accept is something to consider if you’re planning to move here. Are you willing to accept a higher risk of flooding if it means being on the water with your own private boat dock? Or do you want to live further inland and farther from the water to enjoy the peace of mind of a lower risk of flooding? These are issues to discuss with your real estate agent when buying a property in the Charleston area. Not only does a property’s flood zone give you an idea of the risk, but it has a big effect on whether you’ll need flood insurance and how much you’ll pay for it.
What About Hurricanes?
Due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is subject to hurricanes. Hurricane season runs every year from June 1 to November 30 officially, but the months of August, September, and October tend to be the most active. When a system becomes strong enough, that’s when it gets a name (like Hurricane Hugo in 1989 or Hurricane Irma in 2017) and people start paying attention.
In the past few years, a number of hurricanes have threatened to cause significant damage to the area, including Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Hurricane Dorian (2019). When it looks like a hurricane could make landfall and cause significant damage, residents in coastal areas are urged to protect their property and evacuate the area in plenty of time. South Carolina officials have erred on the side of caution in recent years, not wanting to risk human life, and have called for evacuation. Fortunately, these hurricanes weakened before hitting the Charleston area and the resulting damage was less than some people (and the media) were predicting. But you never know when “the big one” will strike.
Should you worry about hurricanes if you move to Charleston? You should be aware that it’s a potential issue and do what you can to prepare. That may include installing hurricane resistant windows or boarding up windows, using sandbags to prevent flooding, evacuating the area when advised to do so, and maintaining good insurance on your property in case disaster strikes.
Are Snakes a Problem?
You’ll find snakes in Charleston but I wouldn’t characterize it as a “problem.” Of the 38 species found in the state, just six of those are venomous, and the odds of being bitten by a venomous snake are low. If you know how to identify those six species and take normal precautions when out in the yard or by the water, you’ll be fine.
Buy Your Dream Home in the Charleston, SC Area with Kenton
If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Charleston, SC area, call me. My name is Kenton Selvey and I’m a Realtor® who helps families buy and sell homes in the greater Charleston area. I can advise you on which area is right for you and your family, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have about what life is like here in the Lowcountry! Call me today at 843-806-7222 or email me here and let me know how I can help. I look forward to hearing from you.