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Cost of living in Charleston

Let’s dive into the data.


We’re talking about the cost of planting some roots in the Holy City.

Photo by Cody Silver on Unsplash

Table of Contents

With Charleston ranking No. 1 on Travel + Leisure’s list of the Top 10 U.S. Cities 2022 and undertaking multiple high-profile developments this year, we figured it was time to talk about the cost of planting some roots in the Holy City.

The median household income in Charleston County is $67,182 according to the US Census Bureau. State-wise, South Carolina is 41st in the country for median income at ~$54,864 per household.

Chart explaining the cost of living in Charleston versus the state and the country.

The overall cost of living in Charleston is higher than the national average.

Screenshot via

The overall cost of living in Charleston is higher than the national average and higher than the rest of the state.

In Charleston, the cost of healthcare is lower compared to other parts of the state + the US. The cost of transportation is also lower than the national average. However, the cost of groceries, housing, and other miscellaneous expenses in the city have higher average costs than other cities in South Carolina and the country overall.

Breaking down the numbers

Hypothetically speaking, if you live in a household that brings in $50,000 annuallyaccording to experts — you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly gross income on rent and utilities. Don’t worry, we did the math for you — your max monthly rent budget would be $1,250. The average monthly rent for an apartment in Charleston is $1,872putting you over budget.

According to a recent study by ATTOM Data Solutions, it’s actually more affordable to rent a home in Charleston County than to buy.

Take a look at the chart below to see how Charleston’s cost of living compares to that of the Soda City.

Screenshot comparing the cost of living in Columbia to Charleston.

Charleston has more affordable health care than Columbia.

Screenshot via

Interested in seeing Charleston’s cost of living compared to cities in other states? We played around on nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator, where you can put in any city along with your current pre-tax household income to find out what other cities are affordable for you to live in.

We also took a look at the cost of living in Charleston compared to Greenville. Hey, GVLtoday. Here’s what we found:

  • The cost of living is 4% lower in Greenville.
  • To maintain our standard of living, we’ll need a household income of $48,146 in Greenville.
  • The median cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,053, which is $302 less than Charleston.

The city also has the Department of Housing and Community Development, entities such as the Palmetto Community Land Trust + other government-funded programs to help develop more affordable units.

There are also a number of local organizations working on apartments seemingly all the time — from the renovation of the former Archer School on Nassau Street, expected to be converted into affordable housing for older adults, to the affordable housing planned for Lowline Park for those earning 30-70% of the area median income.

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