What is the Real Cost of Living in Charleston?

What is the Real Cost of Living in Charleston?

  • Andy Bovender
  • 05/7/23

Charleston serves as the historical, cultural, and political center for much of what goes on in South Carolina. The historic city remains critical to the state’s development and stands out as one of the top destinations on the East Coast. New residents favor Charleston for its rich history and increasing amenities. Besides those constants, the cost of living in Charleston fluctuates with the times. Continue reading for detailed information on the cost of living in Charleston in 2023.

Housing: home purchase price

Generally speaking, Charleston residents will be happy to know that their city ranks slightly below the national average in several cost of living categories. For example, consider the cost of a home in Charleston.
If we put together the cost of buying or renting a home in Charleston, we find that the average is about 3% lower than the national average. As of March 2023, the median price for homes in Charleston was $615,000. That figure reflects the South’s significant uptick in migration from other states, notably California and New York. The luxury market in Charleston is alive and well, as average sales prices eclipsed $900,000 in March 2023.
From month to month, the average rent for Charleston residents is approaching $2,000. That’s about 19% higher than average in South Carolina. Together, this data tells us that Charleston remains one of the most livable cities in the South, especially when we compare it to the cost of living in the neighboring cities of Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Miami.

Utilities cost

Next, we’ll go over the average cost of utilities in Charleston. The total cost of utilities in this survey will include the cost of energy, phone charges, and internet use. Both owners and renters alike have to pay these utility charges in the cost of living in Charleston.
Utility charges in Charleston are marginally higher than the national average. Energy and phone bills can accumulate hundreds of dollars monthly for Charleston residents. Still, utility costs in Charleston are modest compared to other categories on this list.

Food cost

In recent months in early 2023, the cost of food has inflated quite a bit since the same time in 2022. Since food is the most vital necessity for homeowners and renters, it’s crucial that food costs remain inexpensive. The cost of food in Charleston is slightly higher than the national average and noticeably higher than the state average in South Carolina.
Per PayScale, these are the average costs of several staple foods in Charleston:
  • A gallon of milk: $2.49
  • Carton of eggs: $2.31
  • Loaf of bread: $3.98
  • A bunch of bananas: $3.44
Put together, those costs make Charleston the most expensive place to buy groceries in the state of South Carolina. When we compare Charleston to other, smaller cities in the state, it’s the most expensive city to buy food in.
For reference, the most expensive places to buy food in Charleston are Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island. Food costs in the more inland communities of Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Meggett, and Goose Creek are in line with the state average.

Transit cost

Transit costs fluctuate every year. That’s true whether you’re estimating the cost of driving, taking a train, or commuting to and from work. In Charleston, a large proportion of the community lives outside the city center and depends on inexpensive commuting costs to maintain a stable budget.
The transportation costs in Charleston depend on factors like the cost of gasoline, regular visits to the mechanic, and infrequent operations like a tire balance or oil change. As of April 2023, the gas price in Charleston is less than $3/gallon — lower than the rolling average gas price of $3.23/gallon. Altogether, transit costs for Charleston residents are 5% lower than the national average.

Average salary

Charleston has always had a healthy mixture of low-wage earners and high-salaried employees. That blend of incomes makes the city thrive and supports a diverse worker network. As of early 2023, the average salary of a Charleston resident was in the ballpark of $65,000. While that figure isn’t noticeably higher than the national average, it is the highest in South Carolina.
Remember that the average Charleston salary was calculated using the data of every taxpayer. Charleston is home to many luxury real estate earners who can expect to bring in considerably more. This fact is especially true given that the city of Charleston takes in the majority of the high-end earners in the state. Plus, it’s also home to most of the high-end real estate in the state.

Ready to find your next home?

With that, you now have an accurate idea of the cumulative cost of living in Charleston. If you have any questions or comments about the cost of living in South Carolina or would like to learn more about real estate in Charleston and the surrounding area, reach out today! Our team has hands-on experience throughout the city — from North Charleston to James Island and beyond. Contact the Andy Bovender Team today for more information.

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