Are you thinking of buying real estate in Charleston, SC but aren't sure where to start? Charleston is a big city with a vibrant culture, lots of historic buildings, great southern cuisine, and famed parks dotted with palmettos. But every city including this one has its different districts, neighborhoods, and suburbs, and you'll want to have an idea about them before you think about actually moving. In order to narrow your field of research, here are three major things to consider:
Do you want a historic home, or a new one?
This is a big question here because, unlike most cities, Charleston has a lot of both to offer. At first glance, the idea of owning a historic home sounds expensive, but bear in mind that you don't need to own a giant plantation house to live in a historic home. Charleston offers a wide variety of historic properties, including many smaller homes from the 1800s and early 1900s. Expanding your search to the outlying communities will only increase the number of historic structures available, and many of them will bear a lower price tag.
Of course, there are drawbacks to older homes. Many may need substantial renovations or repairs, and the maintenance on a home from the 1800s can simply be costly. The advantage is that you get not only the charm, but also the durability of these old buildings. For instance, plaster walls are sturdy, look nicer, and hold sound and heat better than more modern walls—plus they're more resistant to water damage.
To keep within your budget, you could also split the difference with an early 20th century home from the 1910s to 1930s. These homes have many of the advantages of older homes in general without the massive upkeep.
Do you want to be close to the night life?
There's a small amount of coveted real estate near Charleston's very active downtown. Increasingly, this consists of condos, lofts, and townhomes. These options can be a great choice for someone who truly enjoys being "in the thick of it" and being able to walk or cycle to work, restaurants, shopping, and cultural events like concerts or gallery openings. Bear in mind, however, that you're paying largely for location and image: the same price tag could get you something much bigger in a different neighborhood.
Do you prefer the suburbs?
Charleston may be the ideal city for the couple or family who want the security and quiet of the suburbs with the close proximity of city life. There are numerous mid-range and high-end suburbs surrounded by rivers, streams, and tidal marshes, often with historic downtowns of their own.
What sort of Charleston area home are you interested in?