To the northwest lie features of a typical southern city, with areas of magnolia-lined streets, older homes, and commercial buildings. Old plantation homes on large spreads lie to the south and west in varying conditions both near the water and further inland. The rapidly growing North Charleston is actually as big as Charleston and is the third largest city in the state. The layout is typically suburban with large areas of retail and commercial development; if Charleston represents the "old South" then North Charleston is the newer version.
Besides historic sites, Charleston has some minor cultural amenities and good seafood and southern-style restaurants. The lifestyle is slow paced, pleasant, and dignified, but the city is relatively isolated from other big cities. There are a number of recreational opportunities and excellent golf courses, especially in the island areas to the south. Overall cost of living is very moderate for what is available.