So you’ve decided that the “Holy City” is the place you want to call home and you planning on moving to Charleston SC. This city offers the chance to have that life you’ve “always dreamed of,” but before you pack up the U-Haul and move, make sure you’ve hammered out a budget and, more importantly, stick to it. Sure the downtown Peninsula is super trendy and bustling, but rents or home prices might be double what you’re looking to pay. Your Realtor is a great resource on neighborhoods that suit your budget and your lifestyle, as well as the impact of local taxes, distance for commutes, schools etc. Once you’ve settled on where to live, you still have all the day-today details of how to live – finding the closest grocery store, drugstore, dry cleaner or whatever else you need. Before you send out those change-of-address cards here are some things that will keep you busy as you start to call Charleston home.
Seek out the Visitors’ Center
So you’ve made the move, now what? You may only have a small idea of all that Charleston has to offer. Not to mention that as the “Number 1 City in the US”, voted by Conde Nast Traveler you’re bound to get friends and family in town who want to check out all the great Charleston sights. Where should you take them for that local must-have meal? What are the easiest routes to the top destinations? The Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will have all the answers.
Use the Internet
The first thing that probably popped into your head is to check out places like Google Maps, Yelp, or Citysearch to find some of the best places to eat, hang, see movies, and so on. There’s a reason for that: it works pretty well. If you want to grab a cup of coffee or some lunch, hit up one of those sites and look at reviews of nearby spots. Of course, there’s no substitution for trying something out, so don’t be afraid to hop around, either. If you find a movie theater that has the highest rating on Google Maps, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one or the best one for you—so plan to “shop around” a bit before settling into a routine too quickly. That said, the internet should give you a good start.
An especially neat trick, if you’re looking for stuff that’s near you, is to just bring up Google Maps, center it on your place, then search for *. The wildcard search works on Maps and will pretty much show you everything that’s nearby, which is pretty handy when you’re just trying to get a sense of what’s close.
Ask Real People
Of course, there’s no substitute to the advice of a real live person that you can ask questions and interact with. Conde Nast Traveler and its readers have voted Charleston the “Friendliest City in America” for a reason. The locals can be very helpful and usually happy to share advice on some of their favorite places and events. Chances are, you may even have at least one or two people you know that live or have lived in Charleston. Ask them for advice. Go out to lunch with them, or just email back and forth and pick their brain. Ask any and all questions you have, from where are the good spots to eat to where are the parts of town you might want to stay away from, or how bad the traffic is at rush hour.
Plan a day trip
A day trip will help you get oriented to the Charleston area and give you a good look at all the sights has to offer. Taking the time to explore the outskirts of town will help you gain insight into the history and culture of your new spot. Day trips from Charleston can help you discover quaint small towns that line the coast on either in either direction, including Georgetown, McClenllanville, and Beaufort. You’re a local now and being “in-the-know” will add to your feeling of being settled and boost your confidence.
Find a doctor
Planning ahead of time and nailing down your new MD is important. Check with your health provider for a list of doctors and dentists in the area and schedule an appointment within your first month. They will be a great resource if your healthcare needs include chronic care, or the services of specialists. Making the connection before anything actually goes wrong will save you a major headache.
Support the Mom and Pops
There’s nothing like giving back to your community and shopping at local stores is the best way to do so. Starbuck’s is great for the Monday morning rush but Normandy Farm Bakery on Broad Street has more character and makes a delicious cappuccino. Whether you visit Gwynn’s, located in Mt. Pleasant or Berlins, located downtown on King Street, locally owned boutiques usually provide additional shopping services and often will recommend other nearby boutiques if you’re looking for something special.
NOTE: The best thing about moving to Charleston is the same as the best thing about moving to any new city ... discovering the shops and cafe's for yourself and finding those little things that make it your own. Visit our "Buying Charleston" resource page, filled with helpful checklists and guides - and find out some of the key things you need to know before making the move.