Though it is a desirable place to visit, living in the Charleston area comes with a hefty price tag, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment costing over $1,000, according to a Post and Courier article this year.
High rent prices are leaving young professionals who have been relocated to Charleston scratching their heads; Despite working for companies such as Boeing and Volvo, there are simply not feasible options for housing.
Fortunately, Richard Garcia, senior vice president with Lindergh & Associates, a TY LIN International Company, and Joe Porter with Light House Real Estate are working to assist young professionals in the search for housing options.
"I think there's a stigma that you move here, they (employers) take you downtown and they show you the nice areas there, and obviously not every area is affordable," Garcia, who is also a member of the Trident CEO Council, told Palmetto Business Daily. "We try to find a location that is somewhat central to the various communities here in the Charleston region, so that people have the same drive from various locations."
Garcia said he employs transparency when speaking with young professionals, explaining that some areas further from downtown and Mt. Pleasant are far more affordable.
"Light House develops and manages 48 affordable housing units in the tri-county area with a 1 percent vacancy rate," Porter told Palmetto Business Daily. "We provide quality, safe housing for our tenants and our goal is to provide them with a place to call home, not just a house to rent."
Having options and information about where to look for housing is imperative when relocating to a well-connected and pricey city like Charleston, which is why both Garcia and Porter recommend seeking out flexible options through loans or financial institutions.
"Supportive housing agencies such as the Community Loan Fund through covenant restrictions are ensuring that units remain affordable in our area by putting rules in place to guarantee that housing remains attainable for the workforce population," Porter said.
According to Porter, the Community Loan Fund has made it possible for Light House to offer 10 single-family homes to lower-income groups for a more affordable price than traditional rent. Though a wonderful provision for lower-income individuals, not all loans are an option for young professionals who make sufficient money on paper but cannot afford paying half of their salaries to rent.
"Sometimes, this younger generation may not be quite familiar with options from the financial institutions, so I would encourage them to work with banks and the local market to identify what sort of options are out there to create affordability," Garcia said.
For Porter, who has been in Charleston for 15 years, the housing dilemma was, to some extent, unavoidable as big companies will naturally seek out young talent.
"It's up to municipalities now to provide incentives for developers to provide affordable housing," Porter said.
Both Garcia and Porter said there are ways to explore options, and that young professionals should not shy away from trying to find one that works for them.
Study the area and what the community has to offer," Garcia said. "Learn a little bit more about what banks and financial institutions can offer you."
"My only advice would be to look further out and push your employer to embrace a flexible working schedule, enabling you to commute outside of the rush hour window or work from home on certain day," Porter said.