Cost of Living in Charleston, SC


Charleston is a popular and fast-growing metropolitan area in South Carolina for so many reasons – its subtropical climate, world-famous cuisine, miles of sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets, and stunning architecture, to name a few. On average, the metro area welcomes 38 new residents every day. With an estimated population of 120,000, Charleston is the 231st largest city in the United States.

Moving to a new location can be a very exciting adventure, but it can also mean having a higher cost of living. If you are considering relocating to Charleston, SC, we recommend that you check the cost of living in this city and compare it with that of your current residence. It will be beneficial for you to know whether this city is more affordable or more expensive than your present location.

What is Cost of Living?

Simply put, the cost of living is the amount of money necessary to cover an individual’s basic expenses in a particular location and time period. This would include housing, food, taxes, and healthcare. Cost of living is often used to compare the affordability of living in one city compared to another. A cost of living index is particularly helpful if you are considering moving to Charleston, SC, and  you want to see if moving here would be beneficial for you and your family given your projected income.

Cost of Living in Charleston, SC

  • The cost of living in Charleston, SC is 11% higher compared to the national average.
  • The average cost of living in Charleston is $2071.
  • The estimated monthly costs for a family of four amount to $3,596.24, without rent.
  • The estimated monthly costs for a single person amount to $1,033.94$, without rent.
  • The median after-tax salary in the city is $4344, which is sufficient to cover living expenses for 2.1 months.
  • Charleston ranks 282nd (top 3%) in the list of best places to live in the world.
  • The Holy City ranks 89th best city to live in the United States.
  • Charleston ranks 1st as the most livable city in South Carolina.


Cost of Food and Groceries in Charleston, SC

  • On average, families in Charleston spend around 4% above the national average on groceries.
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $20.00
  • A three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant: $56.00
  • A McMeal at McDonalds (or equivalent combo meal): $8.25
  • Cappuccino (regular): $4.99
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33-liter bottle): $2.04
  • Water (0.33-liter bottle): $1.79
  • Milk (1 liter): $0.79
  • Loaf of fresh white bread (500g): $2.69
  • White rice (1kg): $3.85
  • Eggs (1 dozen): $1.88
  • Chicken fillet (1kg): $12.49
  • Beef round (1kg): $12.26
  • Apples (1kg): $4.84
  • Bananas (1kg): $1.38
  • Oranges (1kg): $7.48
  • Tomatoes (1kg): $4.43
  • Potatoes (1kg): $3.56
  • Onions (1kg): $3.73
  • Lettuce (1 head): $2.50
  • Water (1.5-liter bottle): $1.83
  • Bottle of Wine (mid-range): $12.50

Health Care Costs in Charleston, SC

  • A visit to an optometrist costs $81.87 on average – 24.6% lower than the national average of $108.57.
  • An appointment with a general practitioner costs $131.23 on average – 13.0% higher than the national average of $116.17.
  • A routine checkup with a dentist in Charleston costs $102.76 on average – 3.7% higher than the national average of $99.13.
  • Overall, health care costs in Charleston are 1% below the national average.

medical equipment

Costs of Basic Services in Charleston, SC

  • Monthly gym membership fee: $27.00
  • Simple haircut at a salon: $16.70
  • 1-month daycare or pre-school fee: $1,000
  • 1-hour rent at a tennis court (on weekends): $20.00
  • Cinema ticket (international release): $12.00

Housing Costs in Charleston, SC

  • The median home price in Charleston, SC is $386,600.
  • The median home price in South Carolina is $223,400.
  • The median home price across the nation is $291,700.
  • More than 40% of Charleston residents are renters.
  • Average monthly rent is $1,000 for a studio apartment.
  • Average monthly rent is over $2,000 for a 4-bedroom home or apartment.

Utility Costs in Charleston, SC

  • The average monthly electricity bill in Charleston amounts to around $228.13. This is 36.1% higher than the national average which is $167.67.
  • The average monthly phone bill in Charleston amounts to around $187.31. This is 6.6% higher than the national average which is $175.64.


The Costs of Education in Charleston, SC

  • There are 55 public and private schools and 14 universities and colleges in Charleston.
  • The tuition fee for a private kindergarten ranges between $1,100 and $4,500 a year.
  • The average tuition fee at private elementary schools is around $6,000, but this ranges from $2,000 to over $20,000, depending on the school you choose.
  • With higher education, the average tuition fee is around $7,000, but this ranges from $2,000 to almost $28,000, depending on the institution you choose.

Transportation Costs in Charleston, SC

  • More than 70% of Charleston residents drive their cars on a daily basis to go to work and conduct their everyday tasks.
  • In terms of gasoline, maintenance, and car insurance costs, Charleston is below the national average.
  • Gasoline costs around $1.85.
  • Car insurance rates range from $1,000 to $1,500.
  • Car maintenance expenses will vary depending on the type of your car.

Taxes in Charleston, SC

  • One of the financial benefits of moving to Charleston is having lower property taxes.
  • South Carolina has the 7th lowest average property tax rate in the United States.
  • The effective real estate tax rate in South Carolina is 0.57%.
  • Retirees don’t have to pay state tax on Social Security retirement benefits.
  • Seniors who are receiving additional retirement income outside of Social Security are given a $15,000 deduction in taxes.

The Holy City is indeed an amazing place to live in. If you are considering relocating to Charleston, South Carolina, we hope that the information in this article has helped you assess if the move will be beneficial for you. And if you are planning to buy your new home in this location, feel free to get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help you find the perfect home for you and your family given your lifestyle, personal preferences, and budget. Give us a call today at 843-400-3032 or send us an email at if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment.