We don't blame you for wanting to live off campus, but when you're new to the Charleston area, you might feel like you're in the World of Waldos — there are a million different places that all look like good options. We're here to weed out the posers from the real Waldos for you, and by Waldos, we mean awesome houses and apartments. Here's a neatly organized list of the pros and cons of all your favorite downtown neighborhoods (and let's face it, when you're a student, you want to live downtown).
Classier students may prefer Harleston Village (1). This area has a great happy medium in pretty much every aspect. It's definitely one of the most beautiful neighborhoods, perfect for scenic bike rides or strolls, and even though it's central in relation to the College of Charleston (and to downtown nightlife), a good chunk of the east side of the neighborhood is tucked away just enough to avoid the loud parties and craziness. Some houses on Coming Street and King Street are obviously pricier, but with a little hunting, it's not hard to find a great deal.
You're lazy, and that's all there is to it. Don't worry, we're not judging. If you can afford it, Radcliffeborough (2) is by far the most convenient neighborhood in downtown Charleston. The western border is a hop and a skip away from MUSC, while the center to the eastern border is closer to CofC. You'll never have to walk more than 10 minutes to campus, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or convenience stores, and when you're rolling out of bed five minutes before class, that really comes in handy. Plus, you're right in the center of the party scene, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on what kind of student you are. If you're rolling out of bed five minutes before class, we can guess what kind. Go a little bit farther north and you'll be in the fairly hip Cannonborough-Elliotborough (3) neighborhood, which has a more skateboarding, PBR-drinking vibe than closer to campus.
Living on the Eastside (4) will save you a lot of money. There are some newly renovated houses here that are inexpensive. If you're a student at Trident Tech's Palmer campus, this is obviously the most convenient area to be in. But if you don't know your way around the town yet, and you're getting around just by your legs, don't even bother. The con to this neighborhood is the safety factor, and there are definitely some sketchy areas. Mention streets like America or Nassau to anyone who's lived in Charleston, and they'll tell you not to walk alone at night. If you're the kind of student who gets stupid wasted and fumbles around with their iPod on the way home, stay far, far away from this area.
Does your sense of direction get compared to that of Indiana Jones? We suggest a look at North Central (5), a strange little strip along and off of Upper King, and we're not talking the Midtown-Ho¯M-Belmont part of Upper King. It's a neighborhood that's a bit out of the way, but it's quiet and nice. Here you can find some seriously awesome deals on stand-alone houses. Normally you'll see families and young professionals in this area, but the student population is growing rapidly. Plus Moe's Tavern is here, and you can't achieve local status until you stand in line at the bar's half-price burger night.
Miss the suburban vibe back home? Hampton Park Terrace (6) is your new neighborhood. Think cute, two-story houses with front and back yards. Most of these structures were built in the early 1900s, which means they're newer than a lot of the ones downtown (take our word for it, that's a plus). While it's a bit far from College of Charleston, it's certainly manageable with a bicycle. Parking is easy to find in the area, and if you're a Citadel or MUSC student, the location is extremely convenient. Families tend to live in this quiet area, and you're right up against Hampton Park, arguably the prettiest green space in downtown.
And if you want to stay far from the student-centric hustle and bustle, that's OK, because there's always Wagener Terrace (7). This is about as far away as you can possibly get from the center of downtown and still be on the peninsula. If you have a car, that's not such a problem, but if you don't, expect a longer bike ride or some brutal daily walks. Still, you're near Santi's, a college favorite for their strong margaritas and charming outdoor patio, as well as the Tattooed Moose and a new restaurant that may or may not be co-owned by Bill Murray.