Charleston rental prices rise as millennials move in

Charleston rental prices rise as millennials move in

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The housing market in Charleston is booming, as dozens of new faces move to the Holy City each day. However, finding an affordable place to live is getting competitive.

Local commercial real estate agents say rentals are in demand, as a large number of millennials look for a place to settle - with no strings attached.

"They're not stable yet in their careers, they're not sure where they want to live and they don't necessarily want a picket fence," said Chris Fraser, managing director of Avison Young, a commercial real estate firm in Charleston.

A large number of millennials, considered anyone born 1980s and early 2000s, are moving to the Holy City for opportunities in the growing technology industry.

"We're seeing a huge boom in the tech sector, where you've got a lot of starts-ups that could be anywhere and they just want to be in Charleston," said Fraser.

Fraser says rent has been steadily increasing across the Lowcountry, because people moving here are willing to pay it.

"People have decided that they would rather live here and pay the extra because of the quality of life, there will come a point though where that's a problem," said Fraser.

Fraser says Charleston salaries can't keep up with rent prices. For instance, people working in the hospitality or food service industries in Downtown Charleston aren't getting paid enough to live where they work.

To avoid losing half of their monthly income to a rent check, many have opted to live in more affordable areas around the Lowcountry.

Most of the rental properties, surrounding the peninsula, are large developments often include amenities like patios, pools, gyms, washer/dryers and parking.

According to, it'll cost around $1,000 a month for a one bedroom/one bath in West Ashley. It's closer to $1,200 a month on James Island, Johns Island, Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant.

"I've lived everywhere, I've lived in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Downtown - so I've seen it all," said Ellen Schmedinghoff, a College of Charleston graduate who decided to stay in Charleston.

The peninsula is most expensive, on monthly rent for a one bedroom ranges from $1,400 to $3,000. Mant of those don't include amenities like a washer/dryer or parking.

Peninsula rentals have gotten so expensive, they're pricier than apartments in most cities across the country. According to, the median monthly rent for a one bedroom in Downtown Charleston is $1,600 a month.

Compare that to a one bedroom apartment in these bigger cities: Chicago, IL : $1,556, Atlanta, GA : $1,200, Charlotte, NC : $1,155 and Cincinnati, OH : $1,015.

Fraser says while Charleston's peninsula is the most desired location for renters, despite it's costliness, it's close to capacity.

He says more rental properties will be built North, in the Neck of the Peninsula to fill demand. The urban, modern Magnolia Project is already set to be built in that area, with the intention of being attractive to young tech workers.

"You're going to see a lot more of these urban, taller buildings with structured parking associated with it," said Fraser.

Development is also expected to move inland.
"I personally predict 50 to 60 percent of the growth of the next ten years is going to occur in the Summerville, Goose Creek area," said Fraser.

Boeing, Mercedes, Volvo and Bosch are helping drive that projected growth, by bringing people to the area for high-paying manufacturing jobs.

According to, a one bedroom one bath in Goose Creek or Hanahan for below $700 a month. A similar one in Summerville and Ladson will cost around $900/month. However, with more development expected for the area, Fraser says those prices will eventually have to go up.

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