All in the family Amenities, volunteerism, neighborly residents draw parents and kids to new and mature enclaves

Daniel Island showcases close-knit neighborhoods with houses close together but also with porches and good-sized yards.

Community lacrosse fields, swimming pools, golf courses, clubhouses and boat landings can be inviting places for dad, mom, Junior and Sweet Pea.

That’s why master-planned villages and large neighborhoods are popular with families, who love the recreational amenities and organized programs for youngsters.

But smaller subdivisions, which may offer few if any perks, can be just as social and appealing to parents with kids or older residents who spend a lot of time with their extended clans.

Courtney Delfino, agent with Berkshire Hathaway Carolina Sun, lists a $439,900 home for sale in Sylvan Shores west of the Ashley.

“I know people who love it,” she says. “They have a boat landing, a very reasonable HOA (fee) — $125 a year.”

Owners and shoppers don’t just like the man-made allures. “They do pot luck suppers, oyster roasts, all kinds of things,” Delfino says. At open houses, agents wind up chit-chatting with “five or six neighbors,” she says.

Delfino sees family-friendly attitudes in all kinds of neighborhoods, from snug Sylvan Shores on the Stono River to gated, amenities-rich Dunes West in upper Mount Pleasant.

“Dunes West is a great community (with) golf course, parks, clubhouse.”

She’s listing a partially cleared half-acre lot for sale with creekside boat permit on Darts Cove Way. “You can build a pretty good-sized house and get (recreational and community) stuff for families.”

Just as developers are raising new communities aimed at residents age 55 and older, many new-home and existing neighborhoods throughout the Charleston area are enticing younger couples looking to raise families. They’re also attracting parents and their toddler-to-teenaged children eying areas with schools they like, security and socializing.

Scores of local communities offer family-friendly atmospheres but the textbook case arguably would be Daniel Island.

Breaking ground 18 years ago, the 4,000-acre slice of Berkeley County within the city of Charleston claims more than 10,000 people today living in nine neighborhoods with “park“ in their name. The newest, on the south end of the island, goes by Edgefield Park.

“Everything’s connected together, sidewalks, trails,” says Julie Dombrowski, marketing and communications specialist who represents Daniel Island Real Estate. “Every neighborhood has a park,” she says. That’s good not only as a place for families to get out and recreate but also to meet new people.

Charleston area families differ in what they want and need in terms of a home and community. But parents and children tend to focus on certain broad goals.

National researcher NerdWallet in 2013 listed its “Best Towns in South Carolina for Young Families,” using GreatSchools ratings of public schools as a guide, home values to see if communities are affordable and economic figures to assess if the cities and towns are growing and prospering.

“Tourists may come to South Carolina for the Southern cooking, fresh produce and ocean views, but young families stay for more,” the report notes.

In the survey, Mount Pleasant placed third, Summerville fifth, Hanahan sixth, Goose Creek seventh and Charleston came in ninth. Mount Pleasant proves the most expensive for home buying but also posts the highest income. Wando High School, the research says, saw 91 percent of its class of 2012 go to college, a group with $16.47 million in scholarship money. Summerville ranked high because of Ashley Ridge High School’s Palmetto’s Finest Award. Hanahan offers “easy access to downtown Charleston,” while Hanahan Elementary earned Palmetto Gold and Silver awards. Goose Creek was boosted by Howe Hall AIMS magnet school, which earned the National Blue Ribbon Award in 2010. And Charleston shined with its historic downtown and “entirely modern” economy, in particular “companies like Boeing.”

Dombrowski says Daniel Island benefits from its educational offerings. “Schools form the backbone of any family-friendly community,” she says.

Bishop England High School opened in 1998 just as the island’s first neighborhoods of Etiwan Park and Codner’s Ferry Park came to life, Dombrowski says. Daniel Island Academy, an early childhood development center for children age 1-5, opened in 2004.

Daniel Island School launched in 2006 as a public Berkeley County school for kindergarten to eighth grade. “Once you have schools, everything else starts to fall in place,” she says.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.