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Charleston area Charleston - North Charleston - Mt. Pleasant - Summerville - Goose Creek
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Old 05-28-2015, 02:31 PM
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Possible retirement in Charleston area - many questions

I'm from the north and had always thought I would retire in my home state. I don't mind winter/cold/snow but I do dread the months of gray days and I'm now about out of family so I can go anywhere.
I don't like hot weather. If I had to say Michigan fall weather is perfect.

I will not have much money and was initially wondering about the possibility of an inexpensive property for snowbirding.
Something that might do if I felt I needed to transition south as I aged. Or vice versa, primary residence in the south with a small RV/camper in the north for a few summer months. I haven't really figured out the feasibility money wise but I'm thinking and researching.

I'm looking at the Charleston area fo
1) there is a base and a VA medical center (I am a vet)
2) FL just seems so...full
3) The area seems to have a lot of bird watching opportunities

Many questions

1) SC taxes for retirees. From what little I've read it seems sort of mixed?
2) Property taxes for primary and secondary homes
3) How is the area for retirees and all their problems? I.e. say as I age I need to rely on public transportation to a Dr. or hospital?
4) Don't care how cold the winter is - I'm just hoping its sunny. How much heavy overcast is there during winter?

What I'm looking for:
I'm more of a small town person that likes some breathing space. Charleston is very big for me. I do not participate in urban activites much but am more of a wildlife and bird watcher. The more nature the better, without being so remote that I become a total hermit. Not into shopping other than trying to eat fresh requires fairly close easy access to a good grocery store. I do not like driving in fast traffic, lots of highways (hate merging and lane changes). I can but who knows for how long. As a retiree I'm not concerned about schools or neighborhoods per se.

So I'm looking for more of an outskirts sort of place. I like putzing to enhance a place for wildlife; native plants, water features, bird houses and feeders, wood piles.

1) It gets harder to make friends as you age, especially if you are single and I'm already sort of an introvert. So it will be hard for me but I don't want to get too isolated so I'm concerned. I had thought to target areas where there is always an influx of new people either resort areas or retirees as new people are also looking for new friends vs. areas of predominantly locals who already have friends and family.
Is the Charleston area an easy friendly place? Are there lots of active newly planted 60 year olds?

2) What areas are less expensive for a little bit of property with privacy but not to far out? Looking on Zillow I found the Ravenel Caw Caw Interpretative center. Being close to a nature area like this would be a big plus. Would the occasional trip to the base or VA be a bad commute from this direction? Other recommendations?

3) All the houses I've lived in had basements. The apt I've been living in the last few years is on a slab and is terrible! for a back injury I picked up in 2004. I've never lived in a trailer but I don't think a nicer trailer is out of the question? Honestly I have no idea, but my living requirements are just something decent which is of course very subjective I'm more about things like structural soundness, well maintained etc. than fancy. I think if I want that bit of space in my price range I may have to go there. Not being a slab seems like a plus to me. Not sure about the rest.
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Old 05-28-2015, 05:25 PM
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
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For all that you seek, the biggest thing that stands out as most difficult is the public transportation in a quiet, natural setting. Need to think a while on that one.
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Old 05-28-2015, 05:59 PM
Location: Charleston, SC
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If you don't like hot weather it wouldn't be wise to move here. It's very oppressive in the summer months. Also Charleston may be less expensive as far as property taxes but Charleston overall is not inexpensive. Housing prices continue to rise here and apartments are moderately expensive. All of what you seem to desire doesn't really seem to fit living here.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:52 PM
Location: Summerville SC Historic District
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It gets hot here. It's hot now. It will get even hotter.
It doesn't bother me, but if you don't like this climate, don't even think about it.

No basements here, either.
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Old 05-29-2015, 12:34 AM
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What about something in North Carolina where they have 4 seasons and more public transportation options? Also, what about the Greenville, SC area that is close to the mountains and nice outdoor nature options? Plus, Greenville's housing is much more affordable than Charleston's and is usually a few degrees cooler than coastal South Carolina.

I live in Columbia, SC and we've had a number of 90 degree days already in May. Not many basements here either, but our house is on a crawl space instead.
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Old 05-29-2015, 01:09 AM
Location: Bishkek/Charleston
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Only a couple of things I can remark about; transportation is bad, 2nd homes are taxed like crazy, but S.C. doesn't make you pay taxes on your So. Sec.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:51 AM
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Well I wasn't planning on staying for summers. It can't be hotter than FL. Not sure why anyone would mention apts being expensive, I'm not going to live in an apt. I think nature/bird watching would be better than the Greenville mts.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:33 AM
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It can be more oppressive here than in FL. In FL, you have cross-peninsula breezes that help moderate the state. You don't have that here.

You say you don't have a lot of money. I would make a decision on what matters most to you, then move based on that. You say Michigan fall temps are perfect for you. I would suggest looking at Roanoke, VA. Not as cold, milder climate, nowhere near as oppressive as Charleston, affordable, homes with basements & a VA medical center is based in nearby Salem. It's about as affordable & Southern as you're gonna get.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:42 AM
Location: Charleston, SC
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I've seen exactly two basements here. One is in a house in Northbridge Terrace that someone recently bought. It has a real, full basement. The other one is the Provost Dungeon.

Neither of those two are for sale, unfortunately.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:54 AM
Location: James Island, SC
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If you're not staying for the summers then Charleston might fit the bill. Public transportation is pretty bad here but most of the rest of what you're looking for can be had. Targeting the Caw Caw area is not a bad idea though you don't really need to be that far out. Traveling into the VA will be a little bit of a drive but if you can avoid rush hr, it won't be bad time wise.

Second homes are taxed relatively heavily here. Your property taxes tend to be nearly triple if it's non-owner occupied. Just for rough numbers, a $200k owner occupied home might be $1,000 per year in taxes while the same home non-owner occupied might be $2,800.

Hospitals are good here.
Winters can have some overcast dreary spells but they're never too cold and usually have some beautiful weather thrown in on occasion.

As for bird watching... it is very good here. Being along the coast, we're a flyway for migrating birds. The Caw Caw area is really nice and I think there's still 2x a week bird walks lead there. A bit farther out and you get into the ACE Basin with the Donnelley and Bears Bluff Wildlife Management Areas. They are really nice bird watching areas. If you go up to Magnolia Plantation you will find great bird watching as well and they have the Swamp Garden that you can tour. I know there are bird walks there too.

It sounds like you might do well to stay here for most of the year and go to the Asheville area for the hotter summer months. Maybe the second half of June to the second half of Sept. The Asheville area also has some nice birding opportunities. A brother of mine has lead bird walks and Christmas counts up that way.

Here's some pics from a recent trip to the Magnolia Swamp Garden. Herons, Egrets, Anhingas, etc are nesting there now.

I always have to re-research how to post pics in this forum. I'll figure out how to make these full size...
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