Size-wise, Charleston is a pretty small city, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get really confusing. Questions like these may have you scratching your heads: Why on earth are there doors leading to open porches? I can live north of what? How many rivers are there? Fear not, the City Paper is here to lay it out for your man-baby sized brains. Read on for our descriptions of the area’s neighborhoods (why are there so many islands??).

1. Harleston Village

Harleston Village is definitely the most sought after area of town for college students. CofC’s campus dominates this area along with dozens of great restaurants. Persimmon Cafe has became a staple amongst students because of their delicious paninis and incredible delivery service. If you live in this part of town and are unfortunate enough not to have a washer/dryer, you probably also frequent this location for the College Laundry service. Harleston Village is home to a number of other signature college hangouts such as Norm’s, where quick pizza and cheap beer is plentiful, and Caviar & Bananas, a bit pricier locale that offers an expansive array of food options from sandwiches to sushi.

2. Radcliffeborough

Radcliffeborough is the chunk of town that runs from Calhoun to Morris between Rutledge and King. Infamous for causing headaches and tardiness to Friday morning classes, some of the most patronized bars on King Street dwell in this part of town. A.C.’s and Midtown are two of the most populated spots in this area, and for good reason. A.C.’s offers tasty late-night food and Midtown always has great live music during the week and a kickass DJ on the weekends. If you’re living in this borough, you are sure to have a good time, but you may need to visit the Addlestone Library to get any school work done.

3. Cannonborough/Elliotborough

Cannonborough/Elliotborough is a rapidly growing part of town. Although it’s a bit of a walk to campus, this neighborhood offers an abundance of eatery options including Five Loaves Cafe, Taco Spot, Fuel, and Xiao Bao Biscuit. Veggie Bin is also in the neighborhood, making your fresh grocery shopping that much easier. Beware of heavy construction areas — the one-way streets in this area will eventually become two-way and we’re not really sure what happens after that.

4. Ansonborough

Color me swanky. Ansonborough is a heavily residential part of Charleston, and we’re just super envious that you get to live there. The quiet tree-lined streets are just a stone’s throw from Harris Teeter and one of the best places in town to grab a lobster roll, 167 Raw. There are two nearby liquor stores, too, so you’ll have plenty of friends asking you to go on the next vodka run.

5. Mazyck-Wraggborough

Located near Marion Square and King Street, this neighborhood also butts up against the upper part of East Bay, offering the best of both worlds. Jog to the Ravenel bridge and grab a pint at Bay Street Biergarten on your way home. You’re close to both Starbucks and the Main Library of the Charleston County Public Libraries, so you’ve got at least two places to study. We prefer the one with caffeine, but free books are also a welcome answer to your required reading lists.

6. East Side

This area of town isn’t super college-kid friendly, with fewer apartment buildings and more long-time residential areas. If you’re looking to rent, stick to Nassau and Columbus streets. As with any Charleston street, travel in pairs at night for safety. The Palace Hotel is a funky, fun place on the East Side, and Hannibal’s Kitchen serves up yummy Gullah food, which you should check out if you want to learn a little culinary history. You’re also near all of Upper Meeting Street’s offerings, like Bi-Lo, Burris Liquor Store, and Rev Cycle, if you’re feeling sporty.

7. West Side

Right next to the Joe Riley baseball stadium and the Citadel, this neighborhood hosts young families, students, and downtown lifers. The neighborhood is a little far from campus, but that often translates to lower rent prices, so grab a bike and take advantage of it. You’re also pretty close to the waterfront here and Brittlebank park is a lovely place to hang out or attend one of the city’s many festivals like Yoga Pop or the Charleston Beer Garden.

8. North Central

North Central is home to some of our favorite eatin’ haunts, like Moe’s Crosstown and Rutledge Cab Co. Both serve up juicy burgers which you’ll need for fuel if you’re walking or biking to CofC. This area is pretty far from campus, but it’s got that quaint neighborhood vibe that makes up for it.

9. Hampton Park Terrace

Living near Hampton Park is like having a really big backyard that you don’t have to take care of. The park hosts multiple club activities, so even though you’re a little bit away from the hub of downtown, you can make tons of friends through flag football and ultimate frisbee (unless, of course, you aren’t very good at either one of those). All of your hungover brunch needs can be satisfied at The Park Cafe, which serves up reasonably priced yumminess in a picture-perfect spot.

10. Wagener Terrace

Man-babies cover the streets in Wagener Terrace, knocking their strollers into other man-babies, cute dogs, and fit-looking runners. This is starter-home heaven for young families, so try to keep the rowdy parties to a minimum — that’s what your King Street friends are for. The neighborhood is relatively safe, but big trees and few lamp posts make it dark, so make sure to carry a light.

11. South of Broad

If you’re lucky enough to make it into one of the studio apartments or carriage houses South of Broad Street, you’re lucky enough. These gorgeous streets are what people talk about when they talk about Charleston. High rents and persnickety neighbors make this area less college friendly than most others. But a stroll down art-gallery lined Broad Street usually helps you forget that.

12. King Street Historic District

If you live above a shop or restaurant on King Street, you’ll either need to love loud music, sirens, and constant street chatter, or you’ll need to invest in some earplugs. The rent can be steep in these places, but if you search hard enough you can find some decently priced spots — although they may not be in the best condition. Flaws aside, living on King Street is a pretty sweet gig. You’ve got access to campus and a thriving downtown city, and you will always look cool sitting on your window ledge, waving to passersby below.

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