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Charleston Skyline
Savannah Skyline
Charleston or Savannah?

Which city to visit if you only have time for one?

This age-old question has been debated for generations. Both cities are historic Old South, each known for exuding charm and history. Today they attract cold-weary travelers like Las Vegas attracts gamblers. But there's only one Vegas, and it's unique as a gambling mecca. In contrast, Savannah and Charleston offer similar location, history, ambience, culture and amenities (NOT the same, just similar). Only 110 miles apart, they share the same geography and weather of the southeast's Low Country.

The premise here is that you've been to neither city and want to see this part of the old South, but can't decided which city to visit. There are many guide books to the two cities, plus numerous web sites (a few discuss both cities), but they don't (easily) reveal which city YOU will find most enjoyable. Here I will give you the nitty gritty in one web site: 15 categories of comparison, plus lots of links so you can research each topic in more depth. If you are really undecided, a few minutes on this page can help you choose.

I was born and grew up in one of these cities, and have explored the other. Living in Ohio for many years has provided a unique perspective of what makes the two cities so attractive, especially to northerners. It was not always so. I knew Savannah and Charleston before there was any significant tourist industry, when River Street (Savannah) and Market Street (Charleston) were just streets, not magnets for hoards of tourists. I've seen them transform from southern backwater towns into must-see-before-you-die places to visit.

In truth, you should visit BOTH Savannah and Charleston if you have the time (at least a week for both, including one or two stops between them). But if you've been to neither city and only have time for one -- yet are unsure which you would enjoy most -- review my web site. And check out one excellent book that has lots of good information on the whole Low Country area, from Charleston down to the Florida border: Moon Publication's Charleston and Savannah. Authored by Savannah resident Jim Morekis, it's the best of the guidebooks on these cities. Morekis also has guides that concentrate on either city: Savannah & the Georgia Coast and Charleston & The South Carolina Low Country. Two other city-specific guide books I recommend are Frommer's Portable Savannah and Frommer's Portable Charleston. Which ever city you visit, have a nice trip!

Charleston or Savannah? 15 Categories of Comparison




Geography, Population, Climate, Best time to visit

Charleston proper occupies a peninsula on the South Carolina coast, in the county of Charleston. Much of the city looks out onto Charleston Harbor (use left scale to zoom in and out, & your mouse to move map), where so much civil war activity took place. Charleston is the northern point of a Southeast coastal area popularly called the Low Country, which in its broadest definition runs from Charleston to the Florida border. Its geography includes numerous barrier islands, beaches and marshes. 'Low Country' cities and towns are built on land that is only a few meters above sea level. Pending revisions from the 2010 U.S. census, the city population is about 112,000 and the whole metropolitan region about 650,000. The climate is hot and humid in summer, and much cooler in winter. In winter beaches are relatively empty (they are officially open -- in terms of life guards -- from May to September), and unless you are a fish the water's too cold for swimming. Golf can be played year round but expect some cold days during the winter. The best times to visit are spring and fall, which are quite pleasant. The Charleston Visitors Center is located at 375 Meeting St.

Savannah proper is on the Savannah River, about 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (use left scale to zoom in and out, & your mouse to move map). The city was founded on a high bluff of the river, and is about 46 ft above sea level On the other side of the river is South Carolina. Photo at upper right is taken from across the river, looking south toward the downtown area. Savannah's location puts it in the middle of the Low Country, with barrier islands to explore in either direction, NE or S. Pending revisions from the 2010 U.S. census, the city population is about 132,000 and the whole metropolitan region about 350,000. The climate is the same as Charleston's: hot and humid in summer, much cooler in winter. Same comments made about winter golf and beaches for Charleston apply to Savannah. The best times to visit are spring and fall, which are quite pleasant. The Savannah Visitors Center is located at 301 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Either city

There is no significant difference in climate or surrounding geography. City-specific vistas are different, however, since Charleston is a peninsula surrounded by two rivers (Ashley and Cooper) and huge Charleston Harbor, whereas Savannah sits astride the Savannah River. Although Charleston has a larger metropolitan area population, the visitor will find accessibility, restaurants, hotels and other amenities about the same in the two cities (see below).


Charleston International Airport has nonstop flights to 10 airports in 9 cities: New York, Orlando, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Washington Reagen and Washington Dulles. Charleston is also seved by Amtrak. The city is 110 miles closer to Northeast population centers if you are driving (and of course that much further from the west or Florida).

Savannah/Hilton Head Airport has non-stop flights to 10 airports in 8 cities: Dallas/Ft. Worth, Newark, Houston, Atlanta, NY Laguardia, Chicago O'Hare, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington Reagen. Also, for anyone driving from the west or Florida, Savannah is closer than Charleston. Amtrak also serves Savannah.

Either City

Charleston's larger metropolitan population makes its airport that much busier (2,190,000 total passengers in 2009, vs. Savannah's 1,650,000). However, accessibility from major population centers is about the same. Which city is closer for driving obviously depends on where you are coming from.


Charleston was founded 1670, 63 years before Savannah. The location of the first settlers is now a state park, Charles Towne Landing. In both the revolutionary war and the civil war, Charleston played pivotal roles. Charleston is, of course, where the civil war began. Both the act of secession (by the South Carolina legislature) and the first shots of the war (on Fort Sumter, by confederates) took place here. There are many historic houses and plantations from pre- and post-civil war era, as well as the The Charleston Museum, "America's First Museum," founded in 1773. Also on display (weekends only) is the CSA Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink a warship (the Housatonic). The list of Chareston 'firsts' in history goes on and on.

Savannah, the first planned US city, was founded by Englishman James Oglethorpe in 1733. It was the first city in Georgia and, for a time, the state's capital. Savannah also saw battle in the revolutionary war, but except for brief skirmishes at nearby For McAllister and Fort Pulaski, escaped any fighting in the civil war (both forts are open for visits - see Sightseeing & Attractions). As far as the civil war goes, Savannah is most famous as the Georgia terminus of Sherman's March to the Sea, which ended December 20, 1864. Sherman spared Savannah any destruction since the city surrendered (after a blockade). Sherman stayed a few weeks, living in the Green-Meldrim House (at the time owned by Mr. Charles Green, a British expatriate; Meldrim came later). Then he marched his army into South Carolina to wreak havoc there (especially Columbia; Charleston had already been hit hard by Union bombardments over the previous two years).


If interest in major events of American history is your primary motive for visiting, go to Charleston. Both cities are rich in history, but in this realm Charleston is up there with Boston and Philadelphia. (If you have any interest in Civil War Savannah and Sherman's occupation, you might enjoy my novel of that period, Sherman's Mistress in Savannah; click on book cover at top of page for link to Amazon Kindle.) Click here to read more about history.

Charm & 'walking ambience'

Charleston's compact historical area occupies southern half of a peninsula, and is divided east-west by Broad Steet. The South of Broad area is older and more historically interesting. At the very tip of the peninsula is the historic Battery and White Point Gardens. From here and adjacent Bay Street you can see Charleston Bay and Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. Streets are mostly in a grid pattern and easy to walk around. Charleston architecture is a feast for anyone interested in 18th & 19th century styles; here you will find a mix of Georgian, Greek Revival, Italian Renaissance, Federal and Victorian styles. Many buildings are open to the public, with guided tours. The whole historic area can be explored in a long afternoon. Spend a whole day and you will have time to tour one or two historic structures.

Shortly after settling Savannah in 1733, Oglethorpe laid out a pattern of squares (originally 24, now 22), each about an acre in size, that are all within the historic area of Savannah. This area, about 2.5 square miles, is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States. Each square is lovely in its own way. Forest Gump talked about a 'box of chocolates' while sitting on a bench in Chippewa Square. Cars must go around the squares, making them very pedestrian friendly. Like Charleston, Savannah has numerous examples of 18th and 19th century architecture, with many of the structures fronting the squares. For example, the historic Mercer-Williams House, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994), fronts Monterey Square, and is open for tours (first floor only; family lives upstairs). At the southern end of the historic district is 30-acre Forsyth park, with its beautiful mid-19th century fountain. And not least, there are several historic cemeteries, including famous Bonaventure, also featured in "Midnight".

Forsyth Park Fountain
Forsyth Park Fountain, Savannah


Charleston wins on history, but Savannah triumphs with its charm and 'walking ambience'. In this category, Savannah ranks number one in the country. If you are visiting for the first time from a big, sky-scrapered U.S. city, you will be blown away by what you find here. Click on this short You Tube video to hear what 'Midnight' author John Berendt has to say about his own experience in discovering Savannah. Click here to read more....

Sightseeing & Attractions

So much to see, so little time. The Moon book Charleston and Savannah devotes 50 pages on "sights" to Charleston (and 50 to Savannah). Things to do in Charleston lists many of them, with reader-generated reviews. Most sights worth visiting are historic: 19th century homes, 18th and 19th century plantations. The most visited planatations are Drayton Hall, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, and Middleton Place, each historic in its own way. Then there are numerous historic churches and one very historic synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. And of course old forts, Fort Sumter being the most famous, but Fort Moultrie is also worth a visit. The World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and other ships are located at Patriots Point, across the bay from historic Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium (see 'Visiting with Kids'). You could spend weeks and not see all the interesting sites open to the public.

Things to do in Savannah lists many of the sites worth visiting. Like Charleston, Savannah also has numerous historic churches. Savannah has but one close-by plantation, the Wormsloe State Historic Site. The Wormsloe home is not open to the public but the park has a museum and trails; it is best know for the entrance road's stunning canopy of 400 oak trees. On the way to Tybee is Fort Pulaski, a 19th century coastal fort (construction 1829-1847) much better preserved than Fort Sumter, since it was not destroyed in the Civil War (see 'Visiting with Kids'). Civil War buffs will also enjoy visiting Fort McAllister, which Sherman defeated just prior to entering Savannah in December 1864. Savannah also has the 3rd oldest U.S. synagogue, the Congregation Mikveh Israel. It is the "only gothic style architecture synagogue in America"; guided tours are available.

South Carolina Aquarium
South Carolina Aquarium


Charleston wins in this category because it has more diversity of sights and attractions, including area plantations, Patriots Point, South Carolina Aquarium and Fort Sumter, so pivotal in civil war history.

Visiting with Kids

Charleston has several attractions kids (depending on age) will enjoy, the top ones being the South Carolina Aquarium (home of a rare albino alligator), Patriots Point (home of the WW II U.S. Aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a submarine, and other attractions), and boatrides around Charleston Harbor. For smaller children Charleston also has a children's museum, and there are small-animal petting zoos at Charles Towne Landing and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Savannah has fewer sights than Charleston that kids will enjoy. There is a short boat ride up and down the Savannah river, but no children's museum. While not a zoo, per se, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, on nearby Oatland Island, has several small-animal exhibits. And there is Fort Pulaski, which is both historially interesting and fun to roam around for kids. Located on the way to Tybee Island, Fort Pulaski was constructed from 1829-1847, to fortify the coast aganist enemy attack. Union forces took over the fort in 1862 and held it until the end of the Civil War. Also, kids (and adults) will enjoy the Tybee lighthouse, from which you have a grand view of Tybee Island and entrance to the Savannah River.

Patriots Point


Charleston wins because of its Aquarium, Low Country Children's Museum and Patriots Point (photo above, taken from deck of USS Yorktown at Patriots Point).

Hotels & Lodging

All variety of hotels, from bed & breakfasts to boutiques to chains. See Recommendation.

Same as Charleston. See Recommendation.

Either city

Both cities have a full range of lodging in the historic area: bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels, chains. Savannah has a Hyatt Hotel right on the river, unfortunately built in ugly-modern style that shows disdain for its charming neighborhood. But it's convenient if you like big box chain hotels. However, unless your destination is a specific resort area, such as Hilton Head or Kiawah Island, or the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, with its golf course across from downtown, then consider lodging opportunities the same in both cities. I will, however, offer two caveats about lodging for your trip. First, do not stay outside the historic area to save a few bucks, unless you have no choice. Lodging on a highway, airport or suburban location will not provide the ambience of living in the historic section, where you can walk from your hotel to the places you want to visit. Second, choose a quiet location, or a quiet hotel in a busy location. The historic areas are small and charming, but the main thoroughfares can be busy and noisy. Research your hotel choice before booking. See reviews on tripadivsor.com and other web sites. No point in coming to a a laid-back, charming Southern city and not enjoying where you stay. Read more....


Full full spectrum of restaurants, from family style to gourmet. See Recommendation.

Same as Charleston. See Recommendation.

Either city

Recommendation to foodies: DO NOT choose to visit one or the other based on what you read or hear about restaurants in the historic areas. Arguments about which city is better for dining should not (in my opinion) influence your decision. (If they do, then you are going for the wrong reasons.) Charleston has more gourmet-ranked restaurants, but Savannah has two nationally-famous eateries that by themselves draw tourists: Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room and The Lady and Sons Restaurant. The latter is owned and operated by Paula Deen, of Food Channel fame. Yes, Charleston has shecrab soup but Savannah restaurants are famous for several shrimp dishes to die for. Foodies (Savannah Foodie; Charleston Foodie) can (and will) go on and on with comparisons of the cities' restaurants, recipes, chefs, whatever. Doesn't (or shouldn't) matter for the first time visitor. Come and be charmed by either city. The restaurant choices are great in both. Read more...


What do you want to buy? If it's tourist tchotkes, you will find plenty in either city. If it's antiques, both cities have well respected shops that deal in 19th and early 20th century artifacts. Same is true for galleries that promote work by local artists. There are two main shopping areas in historic Charleston: King Street, which runs the long axis of the peninsula, and Market Street, which runs perpendicular to King. King Street is much longer and is divided into upper (locally-owned shops), middle (brand name stores) and lower (antique stores) King. It also is the address for numerous restaurants and some hotels. Near the corner of King and Market street is the upscale Charleston Place, which contains a first class hotel and a small indoor mall with several boutique shops. On Market Street you will find City Market, open air markets dating from the 19th century. They have been rehabilitated by the city and now cater mainly to tourists. Here you will find women weaving sweetgrass baskets with a skill passed down generation to generation for hundreds of years. The baskets are pricy (about $60 for a small one, but you're supposed to haggle), because it takes hours to make each. If you're a first time tourist and you like to shop, City Market is a must-visit.

The main street in Savannah is Broughton, which has gone throught a renaissance since the tourist boom that began over two decades ago. Once almost abandoned like many small-city main streets, it is now thriving and replete with chain stores, local shops and restaurants. SCAD has taken over the old Broughton St. Levy's Dept Store (that would otherwise likely be vacant or torn down) and turned it into a library. The Broughton St. storefronts have not changed much over the years, but the inhabitants have: The Gap, Banana Republic, Clipper Trading, etc. Like Charleston, Savannah also has a City Market, but the original building was torn down in 1954. (Its destruction served as catalyst to preserve the rest of the old city, and led to the Historic Savannah Foundation, which made possible the Savannah we know today.) Savannah also has numerous galleries and antique shops. Two worth mentioning are J. D. Weed & Co., on Victory Drive, and one downtown close to City Hall, Savannah Galleries. Savannah Galleries is run by two native Savannahians, whose biographies are on the web site.

Sweetgrass basket construction


Charleston wins in this category. King Street and Charleston Place present richer and more diverse offerings than downtown Savannah, and Charleston's City Market is more authentic, especially with its sweetgrass basket-weavers (photo above). Another plus for Charleston are its several unique attractions (Fort Sumter, Patriot's Point, South Carolina Aquarium, several plantations) whose gift shops present shopping opportunities not found in Savannah. (Though much of what they sell is admittedly kitsch, they are good places to shop for kids' gifts.) If your goal is to shop, Charleston excels, but you will find interesting stores and some great shopping in Savannah as well.

Beaches and Waterways

Charleston has 3 close by beaches, Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms. There is no public parking lot on Sullivan's, so you have to park on the street. The nicest beach in the metropolitan area is a 45-minute drive away, on Kiawah Island. Kiawah is a private barrier island and you can't enter unless you're a guest or stayting at the uber-luxurious Kiawah Sanctuary Resort. Just before the gated Kiawah entrance is a parking area for access to the 10 mile long Kiawah beach, which is open to the public during the summer. A little further (50 miles from Charleston, by car) are Edisto Beach State Park and the adjacent town of Edisto Beach. Edisto Beach prides itself as "one of the few uncommercialized, family-oriented beaches left."

Savannah has one close-by beach, Tybee Island, 18 miles from downtown. Years ago the beach was not nearly as inviting as it is now; it was bisected by numerous, ugly jetties that have been removed, leaving a pristine stretch of sand 3 miles long. The town of Tybee is still 1950s vintage and relatively undeveloped as Atlantic beach towns go (a plus, in my opinion). Come for the beach (or the lighthouse, which is open to the public). About an hour from Savannah is Hilton Head, which is far more developed than Kiawah, but has the added advantage that you can actually get on the island and enjoy all its amenities, including the beaches (see also Golf).

Tybee Island Beach
Tybee Island beach

Either city

Really, if you come for a few days, you are unlikely to visit more than one beach, if that. Many people fly to Charleston for Kiawah (a private resort) or to Savannah for Hilton Head (a much larger and more developed resort area, with lots of lodging possibilites). If you want a closer in beach, any of Charleston's 3 beaches or Savannah's Tybee should be fine. It's a toss up in my opinion. Both areas offer kayaking, sailing, canoeing and other water sports. Zoom in and out of the google maps linked under 'Geography' (above), and you can appreciate the myriad of waterways that surround both cities.

Golf and Resorts

Charleston has a number of daily fee and resort golf courses. The most exclusive area courses open to the public are on Kiawah Island (to get on the island you need to be someone's guest, staying at The Kiawah Island Golf Resort or have a golf reservation). Kiawah's famed Ocean Course, site of the 1991 Ryder Cup, is one of the most difficult and challenging courses in the U.S. The resort also has 4 other excellent golf courses on the island. Adjacent to Kiawah Island is Seabrook Island, also a private resort, with 2 golf courses. These resorts offer many other activities besides golf (spas, tennis, fine dining, etc.)

Like Charleston, Savannah has several daily fee and resort golf courses. Unlike Charleston, Savannah has a top resort course a stone's throw from downtown, the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa -- just across Savannah River from downtown, on Hutchinson Island. A ferry will take you back and forth between resort and downtown, or you can drive over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, which takes a few minutes longer (and then you have to park). The PGA Champions Tour plays the Libery Mutual Legends of Golf tournament here every April. An hour from Savannah is famed Hilton Head Island, which has numerous courses open to the public, and several golf resorts. The most famous course here is the Harbour Town Golf Links, part of The Sea Pines Resort; the PGA holds the Verizon Heritage Classic tournament there every April (the week after the Masters in Augusta, Ga.).


Savannah wins for two reasons. First, you can stay at the Westin, which means you can play golf in the morning and tour the city in the afternoon (or vice versa), without ever getting into your car. Second, Hilton Head is much more golf friendly than is Kiawah Island. HH is more accessible (not a private island), has more courses, and the greens fees are more reasonable.

Culture & the Arts

Charleston's metropolitan area is bigger than Savannah's, so over the course of a year offers more live performances, but both cities have an abundance of cultural opportunities for the visitor. In late May and June every year Charleston hosts the world-renowned Spoleto USA Festival, which drawns hundreds of thousands of people (and is probably not the best time to come for the history and ambience). Other types of culture are in abundance as well (film, theatre, music, etc.), conveniently catalogued on the web site Charleston Culture.

For its size Savannah has plenty of culture as well. It hosts an active symphony, and here you'll find the ever-expanding Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD, as it's known around town, occupies many bulidings in the city and hosts several shows yearly dedicated to the visual arts, including the topflight Savannah Film Festival every fall. Every spring is the popular (and growing) Savannah Music Festival. As for visual arts, The Telfair Museums, which include renowned Telfair Academy, Owens-Thomas House and Jepson Center, are well worth a visit.

Either city

Unless the reason for your visit is Charleston's Spoleto USA Festival in late May-early June, I rate cultural opportunities a "toss up" for the visitor.


The dictionary defines eccentricity as "deviating from the recognized or customary character, practice, etc.; irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd: eccentric conduct; an eccentric person." Yes, this is an entirely subjective category. Still, to a casual visitor there is not a whole lot of "eccentricity" in Charleston. Like Savannah, Charleston has its ghost tours, but not as many, and its share of merry-makers, but not as vociferous (compared to St. Patty's Day in Savannah), and its share of the offbeat, but not as well-publicized. In Charleston it seems to be business, tourism, history -- straight up. You might say the same thing about Savannah, but...

John Berendt's book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put jet thrusters to Savannah's already thriving tourist industry in the mid 1990s. The book (1994) and movie (1997) are must reading and viewing before your trip. "Midnight" or "the book", as it's variously called by locals, paints an accurate picture of both the charm and quirkiness of the place. The Lady Chablis, the man who adorns his hat with insects, the woman who practices voodoo, the lawyer who pays to have his invisible dog walked in Forsyth Park - they are a glimpse into a subculture most would describe as eccentric, and that abounds in Savannah. Then there is the annual Gay Pride and St. Patrick's Day Parade, when folks flaunt their eccentricity in public. (Note on the Parade's official web site that "displays of public nudity will get you arrested.") Then there are the so called 'ghost tours': ghost walks, sixth sense tour, paranormal excursion and frightseeing tour, to list only a few. Both cities have ghost tours but Savannah seems to have more than Charleston. Since Savannah doesn't have more tourists, it must just have more ghosts.

Midnight cover


If you want more diversity, more offbeat situations, more of the unexpected, choose Savannah. Not saying you will find it on a short visit, but it's here.

Side Trips

If you stay more than a few days, chances are you'll want to take a side trip outside the immediate metropolitan area. Neither city will disappoint, as each can be the starting point for several interesting side trips. The ultimate side trip from Charleston is...Savannah! It's only two hours away, but you might want to save that for a trip all its own. Closer to Charleston is Edisto Island, a nature lover's paradise, with great beach and hiking trials. Another closer in side trip is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, one of several plantations open to the public. About 30-45 minutes from the historic district (depending on traffic), Magnolia Plantation offers 5 or 6 discrete attractions. To see them all, including the manor house, takes about 5 hours but they are worth it (especially the 19th century slave cabins). Attractions include a petting zoo, which should also be of interest to little kids.

The ultimate side trip from Savannah is (you guessed it)...Charleston! Again, only two hours away. But if you're looking at one full day only, I recommend you save Charleston for a trip of its own. Much closer are half a dozen places you'll find interesting, both northeast (in South Carolina) and south on the way to Jacksonville. In South Carolina you'll find Hilton Head Island, and the antebellum towns of Bluffton and Beaufort, both of which have recently become gentrified and attractive to retirees. South of Savannah is the small city of Brunswick, gateway to the historic and Jekyll Island. And south of these barrier islands is Cumberland Island National Seashore, accessible only by boat.


Savannah wins in the side trip category because it's more centrally located in the Low Country, and closer to the historically intestesing towns of Bluffton and Beaufort.


What's retirement have to do with a visit? Just this. Lots of people visit with an idea of 'looking around' to see if this is a place they might like to retire to one day. For those people, touring non-touristy areas has a special attraction. A particular golf community or suburb or residential city street takes on a whole different perspective if it is viewed as a place where YOU might one day live. Whether you are drawn to urban, suburban, beachfront, golf course -- whatever your taste, you'll find it in either area. Both cities usually make someone's list of best places to retire, though you should read the fine print (taxes, for one) before being subdued by charm and scenery. Note that many upscale golf-centric areas are gated, so you'll need a reason to enter (guest of someone who lives there, a tee time, or appointment to view a home for sale).

Same comment as for Charleston. You will often find Savannah on a a best places to retire list. The largest and oldest area that offers multiple amenities to retirees (as well to plenty of working folks who live there) is The Landings, on Skidaway Island. It's gated, but you can get in as someone's guest, or to view real estate listings (there's an office that will give you a pass). The Landings offers both golf and easy boating access, and is a short distance by car to downtown Savannah. There are many newer 'retirement' areas, and they advertise widely. Also, some people like the historic area so much, they retire there. Then, of course, there's the granddaddy of retirement developments, Hilton Head Island.

Either city

When everything is considered - climate, taxes, geography, golf, culture - there's not a clear winner in this category. There are so many retirement communities in and around the two cities that it's buyer's choice. Note: Almost everything you read about specific retirement developments will be real estate hype. Ideally, you should make an extended visit or rent in the immediate area before making a big move.

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Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012 Lawrence Martin
First posted June 2, 2010; Updated September 20, 2012