Parking in Downtown Charleston south of the Crosstown can be tricky, so you have to know what you are doing, or be with someone who does when you are buying a house or condo. (If it’s not me, at least make sure sure the Realtor you are using does. Ask them how much a parking permit costs and where you go to get it. You’ll know by their answer.)
Having dedicated off-street parking is not a big deal in some areas, but is essential in others. Our condo does not have it, and the only time I can’t find a space directly in front of it, is when I have an enormous load of groceries. Murphy’s Law I guess. If you are buying a home, understand that the vast majority of the driveways will involve tandem parking – where your cars are parked bumper to bumper.
If you fall in love with a place that doesn’t have parking, evaluate the area and the time of year you are looking. If it is popular with college students and it is the middle of the school year, you’ll probably have a tough time finding a space. Don’t be fooled by the summer time emptiness! If you are in the western-most part of Harleston Village or around Colonial Lake for example, you’ll most likely be fine and your parallel parking abilities will be superior!
How to Get a Parking Permit Downtown
Charleston south of the Crosstown is divided into residential parking zones, and within each zone, each residential unit is allowed two parking permits, and thus allowed to park in that specific zone all day any day (EXCEPT DURING STREET SWEEPING DAYS!). Here’s a link to the map of City parking zones.
To obtain these coveted permits, you must go to the 2nd floor of the big building on Lockwood Blvd across from Brittlebank Park. Permits are $10 each, and you have to have your property taxes paid if you own, a current lease if you rent, all parking tickets paid, your license and registration. Once you’ve got your sticker, you put it on the inside right of your windshield and eventually your car might look like this. (Some consider it a badge of pride).
If you live north of the Crosstown, for the most part you don’t have to worry about any of this, though Hampton Park Terrace and the area of Ashton Street are included in the program.
Parking on Isle of Palms
In 2016, the Isle of Palms implemented a strict residential and visitor parking policy to prevent day-trippers from overrunning residential neighborhoods. From May 15-September 15, and 9AM to 6PM, parking by non-residents is allowed ONLY in designated spaces along Palm Blvd and some direct side streets off Ocean. Residents must register their vehicles with the IOP police department, and will receive a permit. Go here for more detailed information.