Conde Nast Award

Charleston...Not Just a Competition

Miss Universe pageant 1954 - Miss New Zealand passed out from the heat (

The contest is hot and the pressure is on, but in a couple of weeks we’ll know whether Charleston won Condé Nast’s Reader’s Choice Awards again--or if we somehow fell out of the competition. But what is the Top US City award anyway, and what does it really say about Charleston?

Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler was launched in 1987 with the motto "Truth in Travel," declaring that travel industry freebies would not be accepted by their reporters. For the last 27 years, the publication has asked its readers to rate the cities they visited in the last year, as well as the services they encountered. Cities are evaluated on six categories: atmosphere/ambience, culture/sites, friendliness, lodging, restaurants, and shopping. Composite scores are calculated and are the basis for the lauded “Top Cities” designations.

San Francisco held the #1 City in the US/Canada since 1992--for 18 consecutive years. Charleston first appeared on the list was in 1993, coming in at #6. Charleston remained in the Top 10 destinations for the next several years until it began a 14 consecutive year run in the Top 5, the last three of which (2008-2010) as #2. Then, in 2011, we did it: Charleston bumped San Francisco after 18 years to finally be ranked as #1.

Stephen Colbert presented the Top City award to his native town at the awards gala in New York, where he joked about how he, as a child, “earned pocket change helpfully pointing out the house where Rhett Butler grew up.” Charleston’s held the #1 spot since then.

Who's Casting Votes?

According to their website, Condé Nast Traveler has a total print audience of 3.5 million people and 2.6 million unique website viewers per month. Their readers are both males and females, primarily in their 40s and 50s, who are well-educated and well paid. Sound familiar?

Last year, 80,000 readers (the most ever) took part in the survey, casting 1.3 million votes and naming Charleston in the myriad of categories. Since these voters rate the places they’ve visited in the last year, and Charleston has about 4 million visitors per year, maybe it doesn’t seem so unreasonable...

Best City to Live

It really shouldn’t be any surprise that visitors like Charleston, right? Of all the accolades and praise bestowed upon Charleston these last few years, an overwhelming majority have been for or from our visitors: best weekend getaway, B+Bs, honeymoons, girl’s trips, foodie groups, history, fishing, romance, tea lovers, ghost stories, paddleboarders, book nerds, food/wine, weddings, shopping, etc, etc, etc. but what about the attributes of Charleston that make it a unique city in which to live?

Since 2009, we’ve been recognized in at least nine national rankings of greatest places to live (GQ, CNN Int’l, USA Today, Huffington Post,, five lists of the greatest places to retire (Forbes, Retirement & Good Living, Where to Retire), and at least eight rankings of the greatest places for jobs/economy (Forbes, Wall St. Journal, Milken Institute, Fast Company, On Numbers). Plus, we’re a Best City to ride your bike or take a sunset cruise, have a dog or play tennis. And we’ve got a Best Main Street (Broad St) and a Best Park (Waterfront). (For a summary of Charleston in the press, please visit the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.)

Still have doubts about Charleston being a great place to live? Check out these great homes we currently have on the market and come on in to see us...we’d love to chat about our Top City!