Charleston may be the 75th largest metropolitan area in the US but this historic city on South Carolina’s Ashley River has always punched far above its weight. It is home to a mere 125,000 people but has been declared everything from one of the “best-dressed” to “most hospitable” cities in America by magazines nationwide. Surrounded by water and steeped in history, its mix of architecture, culture and cuisine rivals that of far larger cities such as Boston or San Francisco.
Beyond the accolades, Charleston is emerging as a southern centre of industriousness as increasing numbers of young creatives – often with families in tow – come to settle here. Equal parts big-city refugees and wayward southern sons, they are arriving both for the sunny skies and nearby beaches, and to participate in the city’s thriving high-tech sector. ...
... At the opposite end of the market are buyers such as Cator Sparks, an Atlanta native who studied at the College of Charleston before moving to Manhattan in 1999. Last year, Sparks bought a three-bedroom 1890s home for $390,000 in the ascendant Cannonborough district. Cannonborough, along with neighbouring Elliotborough, is a historically working-class area that is attracting younger buyers as well as tech-industry arrivals, who are drawn by its independent boutiques and restaurants along the nearby Upper King Street corridor.
Emphasis added. The above is Rust Belt Chic migration without evidence of any sort of boomeranging. "Big-city refugees" are seeking big-city amenities in relatively inexpensive authentic (i.e. "working-class") neighborhoods. Also of note are the young creatives bringing families in tow. Instead of suburban NYC, talent is moving to urban Charleston.
One Charleston is on the map while the other is off the map. Globalization will favor the former and punish the latter. The fortunes of the two Charlestons continue to diverge. Even in a Flat World, geography still matters. People develop, in certain places.