Cost Of Living In Charleston, SC (Taxes, Housing & More)
South Carolina is most known for its amazing food, coastal views, great weather, and culture. One of the most recognizable cities within South Carolina is Charleston, and it is home to 133,762 residents right now. With all that Charleston, SC has to offer, it makes you wonder just how much it costs to live there.
Owning a home in Charleston, SC can be expensive, and the median home value is $343,243, and 61.1% of residents own homes. Luckily, property taxes are incredibly low in Charleston at a rate of 0.48%, plus exemptions for those that qualify. Renters generally pay $1,370-$2,700 in rent each month in Charleston, plus an additional $147 a month in utilities costs.
There are countless housing options and many neighborhoods that vary in price. Charleston is known as a safe city, and while it does face hurricane risks, it has proven to be resilient. Let’s take a look at the cost of living in Charleston, SC.
Housing Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
The median home value in Charleston SC is $343,243, but it varies from year to year. South Carolina as a whole has a high homeownership rate, and Charleston’s is 61.1%. Residents of Charleston pay an average of $1,700 each month in homeownership costs and mortgage payments.
|Location||Median Home Value||Homeownership Rate|
If you choose to build your own home in Charleston, expect to pay roughly $175 per square foot. Builder-owners in Charleston, SC generally pay $350,000, and that gets you 2,000 square feet of space.
Just like anywhere else, you could spend over $3,000 a year in repairs on a home in Charleston, SC. Besides mortgage costs and repairs, property taxes are another factor in Charleston, SC housing costs (more on this below).
Comparing Home Prices Across South Carolina
|Location||Median Home Price||Homeownership Rate|
Rental Prices in Charleston, South Carolina
Rent prices in Charleston can range from $1,370-$2,700, but it could cost less, and even much more. The cost of renting an apartment in Charleston is based on location and floor plans. You can expect to pay more for an apartment near the city center in Charleston, and less for apartments that are further out.
|Charleston, SC Apartments||Average Rent Cost|
Floor plans are not the only cost factor in Charleston rent prices, and the neighborhood plays a big role. Charleston, SC is spread out across 156.6 square miles, and there are dozens and dozens of neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods, such as Stiles Point and Riverland Terrace, are better than others, and it’s reflected in rent costs.
|Charleston, SC Neighborhoods||Average Rent Cost|
Utility Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
Utilities are roughly $33 higher each month than the national average, and Charleston residents pay $147 a month. That bill could be smaller or large based on energy consumption, and large homes can have $195 utility bills. You can expect to pay another $50-$60 each month in internet bills in Charleston as well.
Electrical utility costs alone are 14.81% higher in Charleston than the national average in America. You pay $0.13 per kilowatt-hour for electricity in Charleston, and that contributes to high utility bills. Water bills cost $13-$49 for your average renter or owner and up to $600 or more for large businesses.
Another recurring cost that goes hand in hand with utilities is trash collection. Many trash pickup services in Charleston charge quarterly rates between $30 and $45. However, if you need to haul large garbage and waste in Charleston, that could cost between $75 and $600.
Taxes in Charleston, South Carolina
Taxpayers in Greenville enjoy some of the lowest property taxes in the country, but the sales tax ranks as one of the nation’s highest. In terms of income tax, South Carolina has one of the highest top marginal rates in the U.S., but the bottom rate is the lowest. Overall, Charleston taxes are above the national average in every category except for property taxes.
|Charleston, SC Tax Rates||Cost & Rate|
|State Income Tax||0% to 7%|
|Gasoline Tax||$0.28 Per Gallon|
Property Taxes in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston has the 7th lowest property taxes in South Carolina at an average rate of 0.48%. You can also qualify for exemptions from property taxes in Charleston, but there are stipulations. Charleston residents that are 65 and older can receive exemption on $50,000 of their home’s value.
There are 3 counties and 27 cities within the Charleston area, and they all carry the same property tax rate. Compared to the rest of South Carolina, Charleston has a much lower property tax rate. South Carolina’s state average property tax rate is 0.86%.
The United States has a national average of 1.08%, and that’s more than double Charleston’s rate. It is worth noting that Charleston also offers tax exemptions for residents who are disabled or blind.
Income Taxes in Charleston, South Carolina
Like the federal income tax structure, South Carolina has a progressive income tax system. This means that taxpayers in Charleston are subject to marginal tax rates based on income brackets. As the income goes up to higher brackets, the percentage of income you pay in taxes also goes up.
There are six income tax brackets in total, with rates ranging from 0% to as much as 7%, with individuals making over $15,400 paying the most. The following brackets apply regardless of your filing status.Charleston Income Tax Brackets and Rates for All Filers
|Income Tax Bracket||Income Tax Rate|
|$0 – $3,069||0%|
|$3,070 – $6,149||3%|
|$6,150 – $9,229||4%|
|$9,230 – $12,309||5%|
|$12,310 – $15,399||6%|
|$15,400 and over||7%|
Sales Taxes in Charleston, South Carolina
The base sales tax rate in South Carolina is 6%, which is about average for the country. South Carolina counties can also levy a “local option tax” on general sales. With Charleston County’s additional rate of 3%, the combined city, county, and state minimum sales tax for Charleston, South Carolina, is 9%.
Alcohol & Tobacco Taxes in Charleston, South Carolina
The alcoholic beverage excise and sales taxes in South Carolina are some of the highest in the country. In addition to the state and local sales taxes, the state also collects an excise tax of $2.72 per gallon of liquor, 27 cents per gallon of beer, and 93 cents per gallon of wine.
The cigarette tax in South Carolina is only 57 cents per 20 pack – one of the lowest rates in the nation.
Gasoline Tax in Charleston, South Carolina
The gas tax is low in Charleston but was recently increased in 2022 to 28 cents per gallon, adding $26 a year for the average driver.
Food & Grocery Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
If you choose to eat out in Charleston, SC, factor in at least $14 per person for lunch and dinner. A dinner for two at a higher-end restaurant could cost $60 or more, including drinks. You could save money with fast food at $7 per person, but buying groceries is the cheapest option.
You can find essentials, such as a dozen eggs, for as little as $1.80 per dozen. Other essentials like milk cost $3.20 per gallon, but produce costs are lower. Apples and tomatoes cost $0.75 and $2.30 per pound, respectively, in Charleston.
Alcohol is on par with the national average, and a 12 ounce imported beer at a restaurant costs $2.00. Your average bottle of wine costs between $8 and $14 in Charleston. Be sure to buy alcohol before Sunday because in some areas alcohol isn’t sold on Sundays.
Education Costs in Charleston, SC
The College of Charleston is a great education opportunity and costs $32,848 a year for non-residents, and $12,518 for residents. Another popular college is the College of Charleston, and it costs an average of $19,000 a year for students.
Private education is expensive in Charleston, and averages over $6,700 a year for elementary and high school. High school can often cost between $7,000 and $8,000 for private tuition in Charleston, and as much as $17,000. The cheapest private education option in Charleston, SC, is $1,100 a year at the Goddard School.
Public schooling is also available in Charleston, and there are currently 16 public schools. There are also free enrollment options for some preschools within Charleston. If you need a daycare service in Charleston, you may have to spend as much as $860 a month.
Transportation Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
The transportation cost index in Charleston is only marginally lower than the national average of 94.1, and slightly higher than the state average of 86.8. Transportation costs are another important factor that you must consider in order to determine the overall cost of living in a particular location. These include expenses such as gas prices, public transportation costs, annual car insurance premiums, and flight prices.
Driving Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
Gas prices are quite low in Charleston, and that accounts for low driving costs. Right now, gas is no higher than $1.80 per gallon in Charleston, but prices change often. Most drivers use 656 gallons of gas annually, and that would cost between $1,049 and $1,180 per year.
Car insurance costs are below the national average in Charleston and comes out to $1,360 each year. However, you can find car insurance plans for as low as $853 per year if you live in Charleston. The most expensive option is Progressive, and that costs $1,380 per year for Charleston residents.
|Charleston, SC Driving Costs||Prices|
|Gasoline||$1.60-$1.80 Per Gallon|
|Gasoline Tax||$0.28 Per Gallon|
|Car Insurance||$1,360 Per Year|
Public Transportation Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
Public transportation is a viable option to keep the cost of living low in Charleston, SC. Charleston has Amtrak access, buses, and taxicab and rideshare services. However, it’s worth noting that cab fares are quite high in Charleston at $5.00 per mile with a $6-$7 start fee as well.
Riding the bus is a great way to save money, and a one-way bus pass costs $3.50. Your best and most cost-effective option in Charleston is the $57 month pass, and weekly passes cost between $15 and $25. If you don’t regularly take the bus and simply need a single day pass, you will spend $7.
You can access Charleston via 90 different cities through Amtrak, and the cheapest ticket is $10. Trains are not the best public transportation in Charleston unless you are commuting from outside the city. Amtrak can cost as much as $579 for 12 segments in a month, and that adds up fast.
Flight Prices in Charleston, South Carolina
The Charleston International Airport is well known and averages 324 flights each year. You can fly directly to Charleston through American Airlines, Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines Flights. Right now you could fly from St. Louis to Charleston for $153-$520, or as low as $89 roundtrip for tickets bought far in advance.
Another option is the Charleston Executive Airport in John’s Island, South Carolina. It is 7 miles outside of Charleston but is still within Charleston County. However, it is quite expensive and starts at $1,350 per hour for flights.
Entertainment Costs in Charleston, South Carolina
Expect to pay $13 per person for entertainment, on average, in Charleston. That average comes from movie tickets, theater admission, museums, and various tours. Movie tickets alone cost $11 each in Charleston, SC, before additional costs like food and drinks.
|Charleston, SC Entertainment||Average Cost|
|South Carolina Aquarium||$21-$29|
|Historic Charleston Sightseeing Walking Tour||$21|
|Charleston Ghost & Graveyard Guided Walking Tour||$30|
|The Charleston Museum||$12|
Historical tours make up a lot of the entertainment options in Charleston due to the historical significance of the city. Museums are also quite popular, but the most fun option for the kids would be the South Carolina Aquarium.
Is Charleston, SC a good place to live?
Yes, Charleston, SC is a good place to live, and it has a low crime rate as well. There are 16 public school options, many bars and restaurants, affordable groceries, and low rent. The majority of Charleston, SC residents are homeowners, and it is known for being a comfortable, family-friendly city.
Does Charleston, SC get hurricanes?
Charleston, SC does get hurricanes, and they generally occur between June and November. South Carolina is considered one of the most vulnerable states to hurricanes due to its number of coastal cities. Sometimes, when hurricanes miss Charleston, the city still experiences high winds and heavy rainfall leading to flooding anyway.
Is Charleston, SC safe?
Yes, Charleston is safe, but there is still a 1 out of 39 chance of a crime being commit against you. Due to the population density, crime is higher in Charleston than the rest of South Carolina by 43%. The most dangerous areas in Charleston are Meyers and Dupont Station, but those are small parts of Charleston and it is mostly safe.
Does Charleston, SC get snow?
No, Charleston does not get snow, but it makes up for it in rainfall throughout the year. You can expect up to 48 inches or more of rain each year in Charleston. Winter is considered mild in Charleston and rarely falls below 43 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is it Expensive to Live in Charleston, South Carolina?
Charleston, SC is an affordable city with a relatively low cost of living. The median home value is $343,243, and over 61% of residents are homeowners. Rent costs an average of $1,370-$2,700 in Charleston, with additional costs of $147 a month at least in utilities.
Gas is cheap at $1.80 per gallon in Charleston, SC, and you could spend between $1,049 and $1,180 each year on gas. There are also several public transportation options in Charleston, SC, but the most cost-effective choice is bus travel.
You can save money on education through public education in Charleston or pay $6,700 on average for public education. Prestigious colleges such as the College of Charleston are great education options and cost $32,848 a year for nonresidents. Living in Charleston, SC is affordable, fun, and full of great opportunities for entertainment and education.
Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.
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