Beaufort, SC – what Charleston used to be

Beaufort, SC – what Charleston used to be
April 09 16:03 2018 Print This Article

A growing number of West Ashley residents are growing weary of over-development and long for the days before it became overcrowded. Of particular concern is the trend toward large apartment complexes in West Ashley, which increase the already heavy traffic congestion. The recently completed West Ashley Master Plan depicts a future where large apartment complexes line every major thoroughfare. My wife Robin and I recently traveled to the Town of Beaufort, South Carolina, located about 70 miles from the Northbridge. We found it to be both fun and charming.

Founded by the Spanish in the 1500s (the town will celebrate its Quincentennial next year), Beaufort is a town of less than 14,000 residents. It consists mostly of one-story homes. Movie fans would recognize the homes from The Big Chill and The Great Santini. There is plenty of on-street parking and ground-level parking lots. The commercial district, Bay Street, lies along the scenic Beaufort River and Port Royal Sound. Behind the commercial district is Chambers Waterfront Park, which has swings, park benches and picnic tables. It features great landscaping, and we did not notice any litter there.

The cost of living is also lower in Beaufort. The average rent of $926 per month is about 30% lower than in West Ashley. We stopped by Lowcountry Real Estate and picked up a brochure, showing a lot of listings below $300,000. Some of them were on the marsh. Beaufort is connected by Highway 21 to a lot of beautiful islands with reasonably priced real estate options and eateries.

Downtown Beaufort is a shopper’s paradise.  There are many unique locally owned shops. They sell souvenirs, specialty clothing, jewelry, home decor, art, etc.  There are no chain stores.  This is how King Street in downtown Charleston used to be before rents became too expensive for the mom and pop stores.  Now, King Street mimics just about any mall in America with all the major chain stores.   Beaufort has lots of diverse dining options, as well. We ate at wonderful barbecue place.

We love West Ashley and don’t want to leave, but if the City of Charleston continues down the path of high-density development and pushing the “get out of your cars” agenda, we will find a place with the quality of life we value. Beaufort is definitely an acceptable option.