WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT SAVANNAH
We get an average of two calls a week from people who are interested in Savannah real estate, sometimes from other countries. Our team loves living and investing in Savannah. Why are so many people so bullish on this city? Where will Savannah real estate be in ten years? Savannah has TONS to offer, but the answer to this question boils down to one thing: growth.
What we love about Savannah is it’s a growth market that most people haven’t caught on to (at least not yet). You can still get property at some astounding value here, and there is a lot of growth yet to come that should drive appreciation in excess of national trends.
DRIVERS OF GROWTH
Tourism is the most obvious industry that folks tend to think about when they think of Savannah. Many buyers get their first introduction to Savannah as tourists, fall in love with the city, and subsequently decide to move here.
As of 2019, Savannah attracted an estimated 14.8 million visitors, generating $3.1 billion in spending, which amounts to about 15% of Savannah’s total GDP. This is a stunning statistic when you consider that the current population is 398,000. That’s over 37 tourists to every resident.
A large part of what makes Savannah such a big tourist town is how easy it is to get here. Savannah currently has direct flights to 27 airports, including ones in DC, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Savannah International also has regular flights to major hubs like Atlanta and Charlotte, meaning most cities in the United States are only a one-stop flight away. The average non-stop ticket fare is $279.
2. PORT OF SAVANNAH
Let’s dive into some cool stats about the port!
– 4.6 million TEUs went through Savannah’s port in 2020, and as of September 2021 4.1 million TEUs have been through. This represents a 60% growth since 2010’s 2.8 million TEUs.
– In FY 2021, the port added an additional 210k TEUs of capacity
– The US Army Corps of Engineers $2 Billion harbor expansion will wrap up in December of 2021. This expansion will push the depth at high tide to 54 feet, which will allow vessels in the 16k TEU range to call on the port. This means that Savannah can accept the Neo-Panamax class of ships – any ship that can currently fit through the Panama Canal can call on the port of Savannah
– A $220 million Mega Rail project is almost complete, which will increase rail lift capacity to 2 million TEUs per year
– The port of Savannah handled 9.3% of US containerized imports and 10.5% of exports in FY 2020
The best part? Plans are already in motion that will double the throughput of the port to 9 million TEUs by 2030.
3. POPULATION GROWTH
According to the Us Census Bureau in 2020, the expected 10-year growth rate in the Savannah HMA is 14%, which is double the annual rate for the US. This means an addition of roughly 1,850 households annually. Much of this growth is expected along the main travel arteries – including Pooler and Richmond Hill – which makes sense, because these are the main areas with the most new construction activity. It is difficult to build new inventory in the city of Savannah itself because the city is bounded by the river on one side and salt marshes on other sides. There’s not much buildable land to build on.
4. HIGHER EDUCATION
Savannah is home to three universities: Savannah State, Georgia Southern – Armstrong Campus, and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). SCAD is the biggest player and has a major impact on the economy and Savannah real estate in general.
SCAD’s campus is spread out throughout the roughly 2-square-mile area encompassing the downtown historic district, Victorian district, and Streetcar district, and owns roughly 130 buildings. Since its founding in the 1970s, SCAD has grown to a current enrollment of roughly 14,000 students.
The impact SCAD has on the local economy and culture is undeniable. These kids (or, their parents more accurately) have money, and they spend it. They will spend good money for a good apartment, and they spend money on food and drink.
SCAD is also a major player in the redevelopment of run down buildings and neighborhoods. If you happen to own a property near a place that SCAD buys to redevelop, you just hit the jackpot. Most recently, they purchased the rundown Chatham apartments for nearly $39 million dollars and are undertaking a total renovation of the building to turn it into student housing.
SCAD brings a lot of culture to the town, being an internationally-renowned art school. A lot of these students end up sticking around and some of them start successful small businesses. SCAD also ties in nicely with the blossoming local movie/TV industry.
5. MAJOR EMPLOYERS
Savannah has a diverse economy. In addition to a robust tourism industry that generates 27,000 jobs, Savannah is home to other major employers such as Gulfstream Aerospace (8000 employees), Memorial and St. Joseph’s health systems (8100 employees), the universities (3800 employees) and Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield which are home to tens of thousands of soldiers.
6. DESIRABILITY AS A WFH DESTINATION
Working from home is not exactly a new concept, but its adoption has been rapidly sped up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Savannah is a desirable work-from-home destination for a multitude of reasons, including the low cost of living compared to larger cities like NYC or even Atlanta, beautiful and quaint city streets, and easy access to Tybee beach and many major cities as discussed earlier when we discussed the airport.
There’s also just a lot of great food and fun things to do in Savannah! Check out this interactive map showing some of our own favorite places and things to do:
And check out this blog post to see more reasons why young professionals are moving to Savannah, as well as a list of our favorite up-and-coming neighborhoods in Savannah.
7. DESIRABILITY AS A RETIREMENT DESTINATION
Some of the same things that make this a great work-from-home destination also make this a great retirement destination. Also, the region’s best hospitals are both minutes from downtown Savannah, and, in addition to this, there has been robust development of senior living units.
Savannah in national rankings
Still aren’t sure? You don’t have to take our word for it. Here are some cool examples of the recognition Savannah’s gotten as a place to travel to and live in: