Growing up in the country is a treat.
Having done so, I can appreciate the appeal of rural living. Stars seem brighter at night. The sounds of crickets chirping instead of traffic droning are more soothing to some. There are upsides to country living and the spaces in which Lowcountry residents can have that, with access to urban amenities are varied.
The Charleston region is blessed with lush land and amazing waterways. The preservation of both is imperative – to keep the culture, lifestyle and delicate eco-system surrounding it pristine. Conservation is a priority to buyers, builders and developers as we learn more and more how important it is to keep the Lowcountry lovely. The way it has been for generations past and to honor that tradition with responsible expansion.
There is indeed an uptick in buyers seeking more rural living – not only for the beauty and privacy of it – but in some cases, the necessity to find a home that suits a budget. As our population grows and inventory becomes scarcer in areas such as Mount Pleasant, the extension to moving further out will inevitably become more and more prevalent.
The sea islands
“People gravitate to the Charleston County sea islands such as Johns Island, Wadmalaw and Edisto Islands,” said Huger Sinkler of Holcomb, Fair & Lane. “These areas are closest to downtown and still offer the peace and beauty of traditional Lowcountry living.”
Huger lists a 4,100-square-foot estate home on 2861 Anchor Watch Drive in the gated community of Anchorage Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. The home sits on a three-acre parcel on Bohicket Creek and is a traditional Charleston-style home. Vista views of the marsh, deep water access and a generous porch to sit a spell in the evenings are just part of its charm. The neighborhood is made up of deep water lots, large homes and a deepwater boat ramp and dock. Groceries, popular area restaurants and eateries and the Bohicket Marina are about a 10-15 minute drive away.
Sinkler specializes in these types of properties – from deepwater lots located near the Stono River to wooded areas near marshes to large estates with their own private lakes, buyers desiring this lifestyle do so for many reasons. According to Sinkler, Lowcountry residents have a deep appreciation and love of the land that surrounds its waterways.
“Our land conservation ethic has created ecologically rich and permanently protected places like the famed ACE Basin, the Ashley River Corridor and the Sewee to Santee region,” Sinkler said. “Most people don’t know this, but more than a third of Wadmalaw Island is protected by conversation easements. This isn’t by chance. Many private land owners, conservation organizations, local residents and elected officials have worked and are still working, to make sure land conservation happens.”
Sinkler commented that the unparalleled quality of life the tri-county offers its residents is the reason why businesses such as Boeing decide to headquarter here.
“We will continue to see demand for housing in rural areas,” he said. “Equally important is the fact that twenty years ago Charleston County implemented very low-density zoning in our rural areas which has helped prevent sprawl. This authentic rural lifestyle is very appealing to buyers and as long as we can keep our countryside rural and beautiful and our forests and farms productive, I believe we will enjoy a healthy rural real estate market.”
Peace and privacy
Some buyers prefer really getting away from it all. Charleston County has private islands that could accommodate those buyers who want that – a private island space – to build their custom dream.
“While there are many islands scattered around Charleston only accessible by boat, what most people do not realize is Hoopstick Island is the only island of its size and proximity to downtown you can easily access by car,” said Lyles Geer of William Means Real Estate. “It’s a blank slate for someone or some family to make something truly special.”
Hoopstick Island has about 1.3 miles of water frontage with panoramic water views. Located in Johns Island, it’s across the creek from Bugby Plantation. Bugby Plantation is a 387-acre family-owned property on Wadmalaw Island that’s protected under a conservation easement. Having a home in these parts of the Charleston countryside assures that those unobstructed views will be there for generations to come.
“This property is canopied by century old oaks and affords a relaxed and peaceful way of life, situated between two world-class destinations, Kiawah and Seabrook,” Geer said.
The area also has a long history of equestrian activities, farming and agriculture. The Mullet Hall Equestrian Center has 738 acres and 20 miles of riding trails. Freshfields Village is a 10-minute drive and of course, world-class golf.
“There are five championship golf courses, including the Ocean Course on Kiawah that consistently ranks among the world’s finest and there’s tennis and boating in the area,” Geer said. “Seabrook has a full-service equestrian center too with trails that lead to the beach.”
The more remote areas of Charleston county, such as Hoopstick Island and similar lots with access to deepwater docks have its challenges in terms of bringing them up to safety requirements.
“The addition of a gated entryway (at Hoopstick) with the property’s original wrought iron gate and ‘Charleston grey’ bricks, the removal of outdated structures, road re-pavement, a re-decking of the deepwater dock, extensive landscaping, and a complete engineering of the causeway to elevate and widen the subgrade, install utility conduits and meet today’s modern safety requirements are significant improvements to the property,” Geer explained.
The fact that many lots and others like them are also convenient – in many cases a 20-minute drive to downtown Charleston – make them the perfect fit for buyers who want access to day-to-day conveniences but consider home a permanent get-away-from-it all place.
A few short years ago, the areas west of Wadmalaw and Johns Island – Hollywood, Meggett and Ravenel – were beginning to feel the impact of the region’s expansion. One used to feel that these areas were way out, but in actuality, they’re only about seven miles from Charleston.
“I’m getting more and more calls from folks looking for property in the country,” said Ron Rash of Elaine Brabham and Associates. “Especially in St. Paul’s Parish, Hollywood, Meggett and Ravenel.”
The “countryside of St. Paul’s Parish,” as Rash refers to has several subdivisions such as Poplar Grove’s The Landing, The Reserve at Stono Ferry, Farm House and Deerfield Hall. Rash said there are also ten lots being developed now in Toogoodoo, a Meggett community that has some homes completed.
“We have plenty of boat landings for folks that buy land not on a creek,” Rash said. “Currently, in Hollywood, Meggett and Ravenel, known as Area 13, there are 99 residential listings and 176 vacant land listings.”
Rash who grew up in the area has a special affinity for it. “I grew up in Hollywood, attended school there and moved away to further my career,” he said. “When I retired, St. Paul’s Parish was like a magnet drawing me back so my wife and I moved back. Newcomers that have moved here express joy at having made the choice to move to the ‘the country.’”
Rash has a property of 97 acres on Wilson Road that lists for $2.3 million and a unique property that was once the site of a fish farm that has three houses, brick silos and room to build more with 13 acres. Off of White Point Road, it lists for $895,000.
Wildlife, watching the boats chug and sail past on the Intracoastal Waterway, fishing, golfing and boating are just a few ways to pass the time and residents who move here find that one can do all that with less. The median sales price for single-family homes is $425,000 with an average sales price of $459,163. As the area grows to accommodate residents and their wants, the value of real estate will follow that demand with higher prices.
“You know a community is growing when you get a new library 10 times the size of the previous one, not to mention the ‘gems’ in the area – the ACE Basin, Botany Bay, Caw Caw Interpretive Center, historic churches, parks and a short drive to Edisto Beach,” Rash said. “To borrow a phrase from the South Carolina Conservancy – it’s one of the last great places.”