Photo by Chris Robert on Unsplash

A new study by online real estate firm StorageCafe named Charleston at No. 11 in the U.S. for inbound rental moves across 257 markets with a population greater than 100,000.

The organization analyzed 3.4 million rental applications as a part of its study. The report showed 2.4 people moving to Charleston for every renter who left in 2021. Roughly two-thirds of apartment hunters in the Lowcountry are transplants — the biggest sources being Charlotte, New York and Atlanta.

“Charleston is no longer a secret any more than Austin,” said local real estate agent Dennis Fassuliotis. “With rising housing prices, renters are looking for the most bang for their buck with over 50% of the top rental markets being in the Southeast and southwestern states.”

But Charleston hasn’t been immune to high rental prices either. Median rent in Charleston in April 2022 was at $1,459 for a single-bedroom apartment, according to online rental firm Apartment List. Neighboring Mount Pleasant boasts the state’s highest rental prices with $1,869 for a one-bedroom. Both are above the national average of $1,319. 

Local real estate agent Trish Bender said Charleston’s rental rates are still much more affordable compared to other major centers. Even the hottest spots in West Ashley, Downtown and even Mount Pleasant offer rates much lower than New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, she said. 

Most of our new arrivals are young professionals — 44% being millennials. According to StorageCafe, this can most likely be chalked up to a move to a more desirable city to raise a young family, and the second being the move to a career they can pursue from home. 

“Emerging technology hubs are where the action is and the ‘gig’ workforce is on the move,” Fassuliotis said. “As a technology geek myself and president of South Carolina Emerging Tech Association, we see their pattern in investments differing from their boomer parents.

“This generation is also more bullish on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin,” he continued. “They can take their asset ‘on the road’ and have a source of capital to borrow against in just minutes if they need cash for a security deposit and moving expenses without the burden of a mortgage and fixed asset like a house.”

Bender also points to what she calls “the COVID effect.” 

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that personal wellbeing is paramount,” she said. “As we were given the opportunity to take a step away from our 9-5 working norms, many people discovered that home took on a greater depth of value. Working from home, engaging in the world through virtual connection from home and navigating a new way of interacting with the outside world from a grounded personal space allowed people to reconsider what was most important.”

Bender said she is not surprised at all that Charleston is the 11th best destination for rental migration. Over the course of the last 20 years, she explained, the city has steadily gained notoriety for its beauty, mild climate and small-town vibe.

“It would naturally follow that given the new trend to work from anywhere, more people are choosing to call Charleston home,” she said.

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