With Charleston named one of the top moving destinations in the U.S. at the beginning of 2019, we were curious about our city’s future. How fast is Charleston growing, and how many people are moving to our city?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Charleston County’s population change from 2017 to 2018 was 4,167 people – a 1.04% population increase from 401,738 to 405,905. To put that in perspective – imagine filling the North Charleston Performing Arts Center twice (at its max capacity of 2,341 people).
Charleston County population growth from 2010-2018 | Chart by CHStoday Team
Charleston County is a wide range to consider, so let’s break it down a little.
While the county grew by thousands, the City of Charleston itself only saw a population increase of 463 people (a 0.34% increase from 135,745 to 136,208).
James Island actually saw a decrease in population, going from 12,113 residents to 12,068 (a 0.37% decrease).
On the other hand, Mount Pleasant saw an increase of 2,591 people (going from 86,747 to 89,338) – a 2.99% increase – and is currently ranked as the fastest-growing city in S.C. + the second fastest-growing city in the U.S.
So, why do these cities’ growth rates drastically differ?
For cities like Charleston + James Island that have either significantly slowed in growth or have begun to decline, one factor could be that many are flocking to counties like Berkeley and Dorchester, which are in proximity to Charleston, but offer more affordable housing.
Another factor is the availability of developmental land. The City of Charleston has placed restrictions on land development over the years, making it less appealing to residents + businesses seeking to build.
If that’s the case, then why is Mount Pleasant booming with new residents?
According to WalletHub’s analysis of growth data, Mount Pleasant ranked second-highest based on factors such as sociodemographics, job growth, median household income growth + more.
Because of the drastic population increase, Mount Pleasant began limiting the number of building permits it will issue, and is now operating under a Residential Only Building Permit Allocation System.
So, what do these growth rates mean for Charleston’s future?
Recent data seems to anticipate continued population growth for our area. The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office has estimated that Charleston County’s population will reach ~470,000 in 2025 + ~509,000 in 2030.
The 2020 census will provide a more definitive look at how Charleston has grown over the last 10 years + how on-track we are with growth projections for years to come.