Waterfront Living in Charleston

The lowcountry of South Carolina is a beautiful place to live, and if you like me have watched tons of Netflix lately and got amused by the beautiful scenery of series like Outer Banks and Reckless, all filmed in Charleston area, you know there’s a ton of that waterfront lifestyle.

Charleston is a port city on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers characterized by several barrier islands such as Folly Beach, Edisto, Sea brook, Wadmalaw and many others. The Sea island such as Wadmalaw, John, James and Kiawah which are located in the Southwest county part. This combination of marsh, sandy beaches and creeks are the main characteristic of this area in mid coast South Carolina and allow for tons of homes with access to the water. Even if the deep water for boats is a few feet away accessible by long pier docks.

Waterfront properties are sought after by buyers from all over the country, looking for a little bit of that lowcountry waterfront lifestyle, with many buyers using them as vacation homes. Lets now look at the most popular area and cities where people have waterfront properties in Charleston.

How to find affordable waterfront properties in Charleston

These are some of the best neighborhoods of Charleston, South Carolina and their access to water front life. For waterfront homes in Charleston below 300k in 2020, most will be condos inside gated communities with a common dock as you can see on this realtor.com search.

In this map of Charlestons neighborhoods by MLS Express, you can see downtown in yellow in the center, it’s proximity to the airport and the main waterways.

1. West Ashley: On the other side of Charleston across the Ashley River, West Ashley and James Island are the old standbys – established communities in close proximity to Charleston but without the rapid growth. Generally affordable and family friendly, the Majority of the property owners have private docks, facilitating movements from around the inter-coastal waterway. West Ashley has from multi-million-dollar waterfront homes to moderately priced single-family households. There’s tons of marsh so you need a long, long dock to get access to deep water.

A search for below 300,000 U$D water front property on Zillow in the West Ashley area does not bring a lot of options, but one step up and you start getting some great options such as this beauty below for Sale By Owner.

Gorgeous below 500k waterfront property in West Ashley for sale by owner.
Gorgeous below 500k waterfront property in West Ashley for sale by owner.

2. Hollywood/ Ravenel/ Megget: Located southwest Charleston, between the Stono Rivers and Edisto, the Hollywood, Ravenel and Megget area features a rich wetland with a very, very green landscape.

Larges estates with tons of land are available in this area of Charleston metro therefore bringing the price up a little. Redfin has nothing below 300k in Megget area, and 500k brings very little options. But just look at this beauty of waterfront living with 1.24 acre lot on salt water Flounder Lake! Gorgeous views, surrounded by nature and wildlife in Megget area.

Waterfront living with 1.24 acre lot on salt water Flounder Lake! Gorgeous views, surrounded by nature and wildlife.
Waterfront living with 1.24 acre lot on salt water Flounder Lake! Gorgeous views, surrounded by nature and wildlife.

3. James Island: Surrounded by many rivers and creeks and other neighborhood offering boat ramps, many clients prefer to have a property in this area because of its proximity to place people love going such as Folly Beach and Downtown. Some newer properties due to its location.

4. Mount Pleasant: Located across the Arthur Bridge away from downtown shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Mount Pleasant is convenient to both downtown and the beaches and offers a range of older established neighborhoods and new subdivisions. Good public schools make it a desirable place to raise a family; however, fast growth brought traffic.

5. Kiawah Island: Home to renown shopping centers, restaurants and golf centers. Celebrities acquired their summer homes on this Island.

Waterfront and Dock Home Services in Charleston.

There many certified dock builders in Charleston but, before building or modifying an existing dock, you must seek a permit from the local authorities. There are critical areas also known as tidelands in South Carolina where the DHEC-OCRM (Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) is mandated to give the go-ahead in any dock alteration. The critical area permit covers any activities that pertain the dock.

As a waterfront property owner, living in a newly established subdivision, the first place to get information is from the developer. Any developers are mandated to submit a Dock Master Plan (DMP), clearly stating the eligible lots for private docks. The DHEC-OCRM has a record of all the approved dock master-plans and encourages any current and prospective property buyers to consult them before deciding on erecting a dock. Beware that, DMP is not an assurance of a dock permit. It’s just a guideline.

To apply for a new dock, homeowners are asked to contact the DHEC-OCRM offices to get a packet of the permit application. The document usually has a process before it is valid. There is also an application fee included which jerks from $ 150 for private docks. Also, permit applications can be downloaded online. Once your permit is approved, the DHEC-OCRM sends you one copy of the license together with an original copy with instructions to adhere to once you are ready to start constructing the dock. In case of a denial, the homeowner receives a formal letter outlining the basis of the denial.

There are several companies in Charleston offering dock repair and waterfront services because of the abundance of water, and sensitive environment, but also because the area is constantly under attack every summer by powerful hurricanes.

Dock repair services include repairing the roofing, painting, staining, pressure washing, decking, walkways and step repair. Some of companies offering the repair services also deal with installation and any routine repair services on the jet ski lifts and boats installation and repair. There are many other waterfront services, such as sea walling.

Low country lifestyle: from live-aboards to millionaries

The low country lifestyle is attractive to many and Charleston is the ideal place simply because everything is readily available and even if you don’t live in a waterfront property, you can still have access to public boat ramps and still take advantage of boating, fishing, crabbing and eating fresh seafood.

The cost of living in Charleston is 4% higher than the national average and the suburban feel and tourism attractions are responsible for that. We didn’t mention it in this article but Charleston has a lot of history dating back to the slavery times and is often called a Living Museum. The strong tourism appeal and the good colleges keep the bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks alive.

Back at the turn of the millennium, the median price for a home in Charleston, South Carolina, was just $152,100. By 2015, that number had spiked 77.5 percent to $270,000 making Charleston one of the fastest gentrifying cities in the nation, similar to what happened to Austin, TX and Portland, OR, but a with a southern feel, humidity and super rich folks instead of tech young people.

But amid the super-yachts on vacation in the Charleston harbor, there’s another kind of watercraft floating in Charleston Harbor: those that double as a permanent home. They’re called the live-aboards of Charleston, and are men and women who live here year-round, but choose to do so off dry land on a boat at the countless marinas of the area.

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