NZK

Charleston, SC - advice needed

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Hey Anarchists – I’m looking for advice on the Charleston, SC area from those that know. I’m going to give a little background on my position as I think it’ll be relevant to some answers and then hit you with the questions….;

 

Me (British) and wife (Texan) are currently based in Europe but at some point in the future will be moving West across the pond to the US. We’re both 34 and do not have kids.

I work in the marine industry and will likely be bringing my current business across with me (rather not say what it is right now to keep things simpler and anonymous) and my wife is a chef. For this reason Charleston is on the shortlist as it has a lot going on for both of our careers.

We are going to be visiting Charleston later this year and want to use this opportunity to do some good recon of the city and surrounding area. The main questions we have are;

 

1.       Neighbourhoods – I don’t think we’ll have the budget for downtown Charleston and we live in the centre of a city right now and will probably want a change when we move so we are looking for neighbourhoods/nearby towns that have more reasonable rental/purchase prices and can offer yards/garages but still have a good amount going on in terms of restaurants/bars, decent grocery stores, sporting facilities within a close distance. Ideally they’d be within public transport and/or reasonable cab/uber rides from downtown and double bonus if they are close to the water – but we’ll look at anything.

 

2.       Marine industry, are companies based in specific areas? I won’t need to be based within a marina but it would be good to be surrounded by people in the same game. Also, where are the marinas used by the majority of the race boat fleets?  I’ve had an attempt at figuring both of these out via Google but not had much luck.

 

 

3.       General feel of the city and surrounding area. OK – this is where it gets a little more delicate; my wife is 4th generation Texan but her fathers side has a very strong Lebanese heritage so she is mixed race (and clearly so). There’s no point pretending the Carolinas don’t have a chequered reputation when it comes to racism so we would like to get peoples opinions of just how prevalent this may be within Charleston itself and the surrounding area. Is it similar to Austin (as my wife explains this the city is quite fiercely liberal but the change in political climate is pretty steep as you move into the surrounding counties)? Are there particular counties/areas nearby that are known for being worse than others? Or is it all actually pretty stable in the greater Charleston area and you have to venture further into the country to find the more narrow minded individuals???

 

4.       I do also need to do some research on costs of health insurance so if there any websites that may give me an idea of costs (without requiring all of my personal and financial information first) or if people are willing to volunteer rough figures for annual/monthly costs that would be fantastic (and probably shocking to someone who has grown up with the NHS). As I understand it this varies by state so local info would be awesome.

 

Any help is greatly appreciated – I’m happy to answer any questions that may help provide better/more accurate advice,

 

NZK

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Charleston is one awesome town,

I have a crew member that works in the marine industry that seems to be doing pretty good and lives on Daniels Island , he races a J-105 there.

Seems like racing there for both big and small boats is good , and they have a race week that's pretty well attended .

https://www.charlestonraceweek.com/

The actual city is probably expensive to live but area's like Mt Pleasant are pretty nice and a a quick trip over the the bridge,

There are also others good and bad ,get with a real estate broker.

I have a couple of friends that bought town house that they rent out,  

Definitely a lot of american history ,first thing to do is take a horse and buggy ride down town , as the drivers have a ton of local knowledge of the area.

good luck think you'll love the town

 

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The West Ashley area is the best as far as price of homes and travel times with traffic. Room for growth in value as well. Plenty of older neighborhoods and nearby shopping areas.

As far as number 3 Charleston is no worse than any other place in the USA. The good news is that it is still a place where good manners and acts of kindness are expected of everyone.

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The airport has rocking chairs...

thats all I know about Charleston...

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In the first steps of moving to Charleston this summer.   

However I am about 15 years older and Kids are not in the future.  Is this an issue you?   If so you may want to take into consideration Elementary schools. 

Areas I am looking at.  1. James Island 2. Johns Island 3. Upper Mount Pleasant (Due to traffic)    West Ashley - There are deals, I am concerned as to why.  Crime rate and cost of the property seem to go in opposite directions outside of Downtown. I completely agree about the Real Estate Agent.  You will have to be completely honest with them.  The best bet is this honestly should be face to face and outside of their office.   My opinion for what it is worth is that location is a very high priority.  A garage is not.   Your wife should feel completely safe in her home.  

Sailboat Dockage - This HUGE for me -  Ideal boat is an Ultimate 27 but would be happy with anything from J-27 to more modern sportboat.   However cheap dockage or storage has become difficult.   

Marine Business - I worked for Volvo North America in their Marine Division and have some very strong opinions.   The Sailboat biz is extremely difficult while power can be a breeze.   If you are not already in the Powerboat / Yacht biz what is your back up plan...… I see a lot of businesses with a Van, Cell phone and laptop.   The Marinas, Clubs and homes of owners are scattered.   

Race , LGBTQ -  The US is set to go into a two year election cycle and Race is going to be front and center.  This is going to be wherever you go.  However keep in mind that South Carolina just recently had an Indian American woman as the Gov.   and has a Black Senator who was just re-elected. ( Both Republican and moderately conservative)   Further if Trump does not run Nickki Haley likely becomes the front runner or at least a Vice Presidential Candidate.   So for your wife the issue will likely surface.   My take is that a lot of prejudice in Charleston will be based on whether a person identifies as liberal or conservative.  Republican or Democrat.  Her age group is extremely accepting of people however they may not be as accepting to those whose opinions radically differ from their own. 

To sum it up, her appearance is likely not an issue.   Her voiced opinions might be.  Your media does not portray what I have seen on the ground.  

Feel free to pm me,  I am looking at a July move.  So am not very far along in this. 

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5 hours ago, Kent H said:

To sum it up, her appearance is likely not an issue.   Her voiced opinions might be.  Your media does not portray what I have seen on the ground.

Well she is Texan, so most of her opinions get voiced.....

This topic was always going to be interesting and likely a make or break one for the wife - the feedback so far is very positive. I know she misses the Southern politeness and friendliness and that is an attraction for Charleston.

5 hours ago, Kent H said:

If you are not already in the Powerboat / Yacht biz what is your back up plan...… I see a lot of businesses with a Van, Cell phone and laptop.   The Marinas, Clubs and homes of owners are scattered.  

I am part of a solid business running here in Europe that has quite a niche in the market - we already supply a number of US clients and would be looking to expand. To

be honest a lot of my business would be outside of Charleston but I have to base myself and the manufacturing facility somewhere...

New England is also on the cards but we're struggling with the idea of the winters and Cali would be an option but it just seems insanely expensive (and it's that much further from Europe for my family and business trips). 

 

8 hours ago, olaf hart said:

The airport has rocking chairs...

This seems to be a Carolinas thing - Charlotte has them too!

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Charleston SC - for Biz = Yes on all counts.   Good choice.

Home Purchase = You might want to give a general amount you want to spend or a no more than amount. There are some oddities.  Some Home Owners Assoication fees are large. Some do not exist. Yes or no to Condo / Townhouse. There are some exceptional post 1980 and more recent builds that have garages.  

Price matters as there are some very nice homes from $150k on up. Folly Beach inland side has very nice homes and you can walk or golf cart to the beach, parks and commercial establishments. If you can afford either waterfront or otherside of the street price the inland side of Folly is nice.  But if all you want to spend is sub 200k James Island almost always has two bedroom townhouses available from $138k.   Wildly different price ranges just blocks apart is common. 

Fresh potable water was in short supply such that in the early 2000’s we were metered in and out of the house. It likely is not an issue but something that surprised some.  

West Ashley interests me. I just do not have enough information.  I was not overly impressed but that was 15 years ago. I find the Charleston Real Estate market somewhat odd and intend to be very firm with an agent on exactly what I want.  

Children make a huge difference - From schools, to spiders, snakes etc on where to live.

Other issues concern me do to potential for storms. So roofs and flooding become more important. I was at a $5 million home and was very unimpressed.  Then at a$400k home that looks like it could take 100 knots of wind. Just an odd place for some things. 

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As a Brit my experience of HOA fees is limited to reading shit on the 'Best of Nextdoor' Twitter page.

Snakes and spiders - yep, something new to add to the list...

Storms - this is a solid point. At the moment we're renting (which is far more common as a long term solution in Europe) but the more I deal with lazy owners that won't fix shit, the more I want my own place and I'm thinking the move across the pond is the best time for this. Guess it's going to entail more considerations than I originally thought...

Realistically I'd probably put a purchase cap at around $300K but that may have to come down depending on the capital needed for the business side of things - I'm still very much in the spit-balling stages of this!

Neighborhoods - I think I may have underestimated the percentage of newer developments as you get outside of the city. I think we were ideally looking for older neighborhoods that had grown over time rather than purpose built suburbs. This is primarily because we don't have kids and want to be close to a level of independent restaurant/bar/cafe culture - have I missed the mark here by looking outside of the city?

 

Thanks for all the help so far!

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All I know of Charleston was summed up at the VW dealer.  Faced with a 16hr drive back to Canada with one headlamp , I stopped at the VW dealer on a Saturday aft just as they were closing. Salesman says , service is all closed up but there is a tech back there finishing a 'project' . Tech came out carrying a bulb, insisted on installing it, said it was on his bench from a car that just upgraded to HID. Said he wouldn't take money for a 'used bulb' .  We insisted he take his next date for cocktails on us. 

Southern hospitality is real. 

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Snakes and spiders are not a problem compared to fire ants.

I'll be glad to give you my agents name if you are interested. He is a friend, long time agent, and very good at his job. I told him I was looking for a home for the rest of my life. It took a bit but he found it. An older home with a garage, well built in the 1950's, large yard, and high enough to not need flood insurance.

Most of the new planned subdivisions are being built in areas prone to flooding if the retention ponds and pumps fill/or lose power.

 

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If it gets to the serious buying phase, my daughter is a real estate agent in SC, and she does a lot of work with people coming in to the area from far away ( usually overseas ).   I've got friends who teach in the Charleston school district, and some who work w/the Navy down there.  If you have specific questions - please, PM me, I'll be happy to help you find answers.  

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7 hours ago, NZK said:

As a Brit my experience of HOA fees is limited to reading shit on the 'Best of Nextdoor' Twitter page.

Snakes and spiders - yep, something new to add to the list...

Storms - this is a solid point. At the moment we're renting (which is far more common as a long term solution in Europe) but the more I deal with lazy owners that won't fix shit, the more I want my own place and I'm thinking the move across the pond is the best time for this. Guess it's going to entail more considerations than I originally thought...

Realistically I'd probably put a purchase cap at around $300K but that may have to come down depending on the capital needed for the business side of things - I'm still very much in the spit-balling stages of this!

Neighborhoods - I think I may have underestimated the percentage of newer developments as you get outside of the city. I think we were ideally looking for older neighborhoods that had grown over time rather than purpose built suburbs. This is primarily because we don't have kids and want to be close to a level of independent restaurant/bar/cafe culture - have I missed the mark here by looking outside of the city?

 

Thanks for all the help so far!

be very careful with HOA's   homeowner associations..   sometimes nazi's are more accommodating..      in texas , there was a hoa that sued a homeowner over his brand new chevy pickup parked in his driveway because the brand wasn't good enough..   not kidding..        research is very important,  look at crime statistics for any neighborhood you're interested in..       also you must pick a color    orange or garnet    

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I have lived and sailed in Charleston for 25 years. Great place to do both. Dockage has started to be come more difficult as there is just not enough spaces and thy have never really gotten into the mooring thing like they do up North.  That said the 3 major marinas where there will be sailboats is the Harborage (Ashley river Marina), City Marina and Patriots point. All have sufficient depth and services. We keep our J 105 at the Harborage, this facility is actually condo based so you can buy a slip from someone or sub-let, which is what we do.

As far as Neighborhoods I live out on Daniel Island which is 20-30 min from downtown. Nice neighborhood (newer) but getting pricey. In your range, I would look at West Ashley and James Island, many nice areas close to downtown with older established neighborhoods. Not sure if kids are in the equation but that seems to be a big driver in real estate market here. I think there is a noticeable difference between some of the school districts. 

As far as South Carolina is concerned, Charleston is a melting pot. Not sure I would live anywhere else in the state. If your wife is a Chef she'll love this town. More great resturants than anywhere else I've been

 

Matt

USA 239 "Ruckus"

 

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Given your descriptions so far, I would give serious consideration to the Avondale / Byrnes Downs / South Windermere parts of West Ashley.  These were the original Charleston 'burbs, with solid brick houses approaching 80 years old.  As none of the houses are huge, the prices are generally affordable, and many are on fairly high ground.  Many folks in their 20s and 30s set up there with starter homes, and some stick around through raising kids.  Avondale has a nice neighborhood center / high st feel on Savannah Highway, with good local restaurants and bars, and South Windermere Shopping Center is also about as appealing as a mid-20th century strip mall could ever be (and also has good neighborhood restaurants).  Downtown is just over the bridge, no more than a mile or two away from anywhere in these neighborhoods.  They are also a bit closer to the airport than downtown, and much closer than all of the beaches and Mt. Pleasant.  There is a long history of racial integration in these and neighboring subdivisions.  You should be able to get to the airport in about 15mins most times of day.  The main marinas (City, Ashley, Ripley, Bristol) are *right there* on that side of town.  They would be biking distance if the Ashley River had a safe way for bikes to cross it; motor-scootering would be easy though.  You won't be getting a dock (but honestly, even the houses 45 minutes from town with docks start in the $400s), but if you can brave the crowds, the Wappoo Cut boat ramp is in the neighborhood.  I would give these neighborhoods a long look.

Another neighborhood that has attracted young families is Uptown / north of the Crosstown.  Prices here are higher than West Ashley, but still much better than downtown.  Like inner West Ashley, these neighborhoods span a broad racial spectrum as well.  The housing stock is also mostly early 20th century, with some older and some contemporary houses too. They are also very close to the marinas - and since you're on the peninsula, you can bike to them.

Many have offered agents, and I would happily connect you to a good friend who is both a native and a sailor (we taught sailing together almost 25 years ago at the main yacht club downtown). 

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4 minutes ago, jewingiv said:

Many have offered agents, and I would happily connect you to a good friend who is both a native and a sailor (we taught sailing together almost 25 years ago at the main yacht club downtown). 

^^^ this,   you want an agent who knows the neighborhoods that you are interested in..   an agent from the other side of town is useless  

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On 1/27/2019 at 4:46 PM, olaf hart said:

The airport has rocking chairs...

thats all I know about Charleston...

That's Charlotte, N.C. 

 

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