Setting: McClellanville nestles along the Intracoastal Waterway and among the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Francis Marion National Forest, and the Santee Coastal Reserve. It's off U.S. 17, about 40 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Georgetown. The average high from November to February is 62 degrees. Summer temperatures reach the upper 90s.
Attractions: Small-town charm (population about 500) and Southern hospitality; a family atmosphere; a quiet, resort-free waterfront; more than 350,000 acres of nature preserves; excellent fishing; and easy access to Charleston restaurants, museums, and cultural events.
Drawbacks: Job opportunities are limited. The town has few restaurants and no banks, hospitals, or large grocery stores. Mosquitoes vastly outnumber residents.
Housing: Historic antebellum and Victorian homes along oak-lined Pinckney Street start around $700,000 and rarely appear on the market. Marshfront homes fetch in excess of $1.5 million, but handyman-special cottages in town start at $200,000. Protected forests limit growth, and a planning commission and architectural review board control development. Unimproved land is selling faster than existing homes. Waterfront lots cost more than $500,000, and village lots range from $70,000 to $250,000.
Your Next-door Neighbors: A third-generation shrimper, an expat from France, artists, writers, retired teachers, and construction workers. "At the town picnic you'll see the garbage collector sitting next to the mayor, and a lawyer talking to a fisherman," says Bud Hill, director of The Village Museum. "We're a very diverse group of people."
How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Fishing, boating, exploring Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, taking a watercolor class at McClellanville Arts Council, eating fried shrimp and fish stew at the Annual Lowcountry Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet, chatting with neighbors at T.W. Graham & Company, taking in scenery from a front-porch rocker.
(published October 2006)