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Mount Pleasant

True to its name, Mount Pleasant frequently lands on lists of “Best Places to Live,” and is one of country’s fastest-growing small cities. Located just over the Cooper River from Charleston, Mount Pleasant sits next to the barrier islands of Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, making it a quick trip to either downtown or the beach. The Isle of Palms Connector, aka Highway 517, serves as the unofficial divider between the two parts of town: South of the Connector has older, denser neighborhoods, including the historic Old Village and the New Urbanism community of I’On, while north of the Connector offers new construction in more traditional suburban communities, with subdivisions that boast community pools, tennis courts, and golf courses. Mount Pleasant has plenty of great dining and shopping, including the area’s only branch of Trader Joe’s, plus a weekly seasonal farmers market.

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Living in Charleston

Greater Charleston, which includes the city’s suburban neighbor of Mount Pleasant as well as the nearby barrier islands, is the epitome of southern charm. Charleston has a place for every mood, with relaxed beach towns just across the water from historic neighborhoods boasting cobblestone streets and colorful row houses. The subtropical climate of the South Carolina Lowcountry is a heaven for plant lovers, with a distinct fragrance perfumed by the abundant jasmine and gardenia shrubs as well as the smell of the surrounding marshes’ pluff mud. To outsiders, the latter might seem like an odd thing to love—it’s made of decomposing swamp grass and sea life—but Charlestonians know that the oozy goo and its scent is as central to the city’s identity as the famously delicious oysters that live in it. That’s Charleston for you—a city where the locals are passionate about their idiosyncratic and layered history.