A Guide to Your PCS to Charleston, SC

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

If you are a military family or a government employee, there’s likely a chance that you’ll have to move to Charleston, South Carolina, for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) at some point. Charleston is a beautiful city with a rich history, excellent schools, and many exciting things to do. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to make your PCS to Charleston, South Carolina, as smooth as possible.

Introduction to Charleston, South Carolina

map of the charleston sc tri county area

image via Google Maps

Charleston is a historic city located on the coast of South Carolina. It’s a popular tourist destination with its charming cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and beautiful beaches. However, Charleston is more than just a tourist attraction. It is also home to a thriving business community, top-notch schools, and an excellent quality of life. Whether you are a single active-duty member, a military family, or a military veteran, Charleston has something to offer.

Getting to Charleston, South Carolina

charleston international airport runways

Image via Charleston Internation Airport website

Getting to Charleston is a breeze, thanks to its accessibility by various modes of transportation. If you prefer flying, the city is served by the Charleston International Airport, situated approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Charleston. While direct flights to Charleston may be limited, connecting flights are readily available through larger airports such as Charlotte Douglas International Airport or Atlanta International Airport.

For those who enjoy road trips, Charleston is conveniently located just off Interstate 26, which connects the city to Columbia, South Carolina, and other major cities. This makes driving to Charleston a convenient option, allowing you to enjoy the scenic journey and explore the surrounding areas at your own pace.

Alternatively, if you prefer the charm of train travel, Charleston has an Amtrak station located downtown. The station provides daily service to major cities like New York and Miami, offering a relaxing and scenic way to reach your destination while enjoying the comforts of rail travel.

With multiple transportation options available, getting to Charleston is hassle-free, allowing you to choose the mode of travel that best suits your preferences and needs. Whether you opt for a convenient flight, a memorable road trip, or a relaxing train ride, the journey to Charleston sets the stage for an incredible experience in this captivating city.

Housing and Real Estate in Charleston, South Carolina

Home for sale in summerville, sc

Charleston, with its wide variety of housing options, including apartments, townhouses, condos, and single-family homes, is an appealing destination for military families and newcomers alike. The city's population has seen significant growth in the past decade, attracting a diverse influx of residents. 

Consequently, housing competition is fierce across the peninsula and the cities along the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. While downtown Charleston and its surrounding neighborhoods may not be the most suitable choice for those commuting to JB Charleston due to traffic congestion, several suburbs have emerged as popular options among military families. Summerville, North Charleston, Ladson, Hanahan, and Goose Creek conveniently cater to JB Charleston's proximity and are home to a significant military population. 

If you prefer beach access, areas like West Ashley, James Island, and Mt. Pleasant offer desirable coastal living, although commuting to JB Charleston from these locations may involve longer travel times, particularly when crossing the various bridges in the area, such as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the Ashley River Bridge. 

Despite a slightly higher cost of living compared to the national average, Charleston's housing market offers a range of options at different price points, with the average home price hovering around $300,000.

Schools in Charleston, South Carolina

Fort Dorchester Elementary School entrance

Image via Fort Dorchester Elementary School website

When it comes to education, Charleston boasts an exceptional school system that encompasses a wide range of top-rated public and private schools. The Charleston County School District, the largest school district in the state, serves over 50,000 students, providing a comprehensive educational experience. In addition to the public schools, Charleston offers a variety of private school options, catering to different educational philosophies and preferences. From religious schools to Montessori and international schools, there is a diverse array of choices for families seeking alternative education pathways.

While the quality of public schools in Charleston can vary, it is crucial to conduct thorough research into the schools assigned to your housing preferences. Some families opt to compete for admission to highly regarded magnet and charter schools, which can offer specialized programs and enhanced learning opportunities. Alternatively, homeschooling and private schools are also popular alternatives for families seeking more personalized education for their children.

When evaluating school options in Charleston, it can be helpful to consult resources such as Niche.com, which rates Charleston schools with a respectable B grade. This rating provides a valuable starting point for understanding the overall quality and performance of the schools in the area. By considering the available public and private school options, families can make informed decisions regarding their children's education during their time in Charleston.

Military Bases in the Charleston Area

joint base charleston airplanes

Image via: Tech. Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III

Joint Base Charleston (JB Charleston) is the primary military presence, resulting from the merger of Charleston Air Force Base and Charleston Naval Weapons Station. Alongside these bases, the Coast Guard Charleston Base also contributes to the military community. Additionally, you may encounter Cadets from The Citadel, a nearby military college, who can be seen in uniform around downtown Charleston.

Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

rainbow row homes in charleston sc by ella de kross

Image via Ella de Kross

Charleston is a vibrant city with many exciting things to do. Whether you enjoy history, outdoor activities, or cultural events, Charleston has something to offer. Some popular attractions in Charleston include:

  • The Battery: A scenic park with beautiful views of Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter.
  • Charleston City Market: A historic market that sells souvenirs, crafts, and local food.
  • Waterfront Park: A beautiful park with fountains, gardens, and walking paths.
  • Fort Sumter National Monument: A historic site where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: A beautiful plantation with gardens, tours, and a petting zoo.

This doesn’t even cover the wide array of dining options you’ll have at your disposal when living in the area. We’ve even published a guide to dining options near Joint Base Charleston that has a ton of great options to start with.


Charleston, South Carolina, is a fantastic place to live and work. Whether you are a military family or a government employee, you will find a welcoming community in Charleston. We hope that this comprehensive guide has provided you with all the information you need to make your PCS to Charleston, South Carolina, as smooth as possible. If you have additional questions about the real estate market in the Charleston area, don't hesitate to contact Charleston's Best Home Team - we're certified MRP real estate agents and also a veteran military family of 22 years. We're here to help!


Top real estate agents Charleston's Best Home Team 

www.buynsellcharlestonhomes.com  |  sarah@charlestonsbesthometeam.com |  (843) 814-1513/ (843) 819-8570