Charleston is a happening place known for its amenities, excellent cost of living, and many riverside activities. Here are 7 things to know before moving to Charleston.Charleston is a happening place known for its amenities, excellent cost of living, and many riverside activities. Here are 7 things to know before moving to Charleston.Local Guide

7 Things to Know Before Moving to Charleston, WV

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Charleston is a happening place — a bustling city of around 49,384 people. As one of the biggest cities in the state, it’s no surprise that it's also the capital of West Virginia. If you’re looking to be in the center of the action, this is the city for you. Charleston is known for its abundance of amenities, excellent cost of living, strong music scene, great eats, and many riverside activities.

Charleston is situated at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers and is easily accessible by city residents. This proximity to freshwater has made the city’s culture very much based on water — especially when past settlers depended on this source of water to survive. What are some other notable features of this busy capital city? Before you relocate to any place, it’s important to know some basics about the new location. What are its strengths, weaknesses, and most notable features? Here are 7 things to know before moving to Charleston, WV.

1 It’s a college town.

Charleston, West Virginia is a college town. This means that during the academic year, it’s busier compared to winter break and summer vacation. It’s the seat of the University of Charleston, one of the most important institutes of higher learning in the region. The college town vibe makes Charleston full of exciting activities, especially during the academic year. This aspect makes the local economy inclined toward accommodating a college population, with plenty of nightlife, recreational activities, restaurants, opportunities to be active, and natural scenery.

2 There are many river & outdoor activities.

The beautiful Kanawha River runs straight through Charleston, which naturally means it has a significant impact on local culture and community activities. The Kanawha River is where residents go to relax, fish, go boating, or simply walk along trails to admire the scenery. The best place to go to get the ultimate river experience is the Kanawha State Forest — a popular park that boasts a 9,300-acre recreation area. It’s just seven miles away from Charleston. There’s something for everyone here, including hiking and biking trails, parks, bird watching sites, picnic shelters, camping, and more.

To learn about more trails and water-based activities, contact Charleston’s Parks and Recreation Department which maintains and manages the many parks and community centers around the city.

3 It has history in the salt industry.

Charleston has a rich history in the salt industry, which supported its local economy for years. Today, there are historical buildings still standing that tell the tale. JQD Saltworks, which is one of Kanawha valley’s hidden gems, is a preserved salt well that was founded in 1813.

This facility contributed to West Virginia’s prominence in the salt industry, which was vital in preserving food before refrigeration was available. Settlers depended on salt to create frontier staples like salt pork, preserved vegetables, and potted meats that would stay shelf-stable, which was crucial in the years before refrigeration was common.

4 You will discover much-loved local hangouts.

Every old city has its secrets, and Charleston is no exception. One of the most popular hangouts for locals is located in a cinder block building that you might just miss if you’re not paying attention. However, this building contains the Red Carpet Lounge, a dive bar that is the favorite of the who’s who of Charleston. If you want to get into the mix, this is the place to go. You’ll also catch wind of some live music down the way at Empty Glass, Charleston’s most popular original live music venue. The more you explore, the more award-winning venues you’ll find that the locals have known about for years — and even generations.

5 There is a lower cost of living compared to the national average.

In Charleston, the cost of living is more affordable than the country’s average at 85.4/100. In particular, it’s around 14% less expensive to live here than the national average. If you like to get a bigger house for less money and spend less on the basics, this is a good place to look.

6 There are kid-friendly and adult activities

Charleston’s status as the capital city means it gets some of the best activities to keep locals and tourists entertained. You can find everything from kid-friendly to adult-centered activities in the city. So feel free to explore the many museums with your kids or take your chance at luck at one of Charleston’s lively casinos. Take a walk with your pet along the water trails or watch your kids play at the many parks in the area. Whether you want to enjoy the outdoors or watch an exciting live music show, Charleston has got you covered.

7 The restaurant scene is noteworthy.

Charleston is well-known for its good eats, and you should definitely check out all the amazing dining options. You’ll find local mom-and-pop coffee shops like the Daily Dose Café to start your day and then end the day at a sumptuous steak dinner at Brick and Barrel, which specializes in surf and turf, cocktails, craft beer, and choice wines.

Another popular place that can’t be missed is Smokehouse, one of the most-loved breakfast places on the West Side. Everything is home-cooked and made with love — a refreshing break from the mainstream that will have you looking for seconds.

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