The area we are leaning towards is Summerville. The schools appear decent and the house prices reasonable compared to the Charleston/North Charleston area.I highly recommend the horse carriage tours in Charleston to get some history on the city. We have taken 4 (I think) and taken a different route every time as they manage how many horses/carriages go on each router per day and it's a crap shoot as to which route you get.
They will tell you about where the papers were signed for the War of Northern Aggression as they like to call it and see the real Tiffany Glass front door on the house down by Battery Park. The painting of porch ceilings a certain for warding off spirits and you see so many of the bolts/nuts/rods holding the 5 million dollar houses together. They flip houses down there more than an acrobat doing a routine. People move in find out they are not allowed to do anything they want and it dawns on them that a house two stories high, 50 feet long and about 3 feet wide isn't all they had hoped for. (Yes, I'm exaggerating but not by much.)
As for my friend, here is his latest response. I agree with North Charleston (I don't like it).
By and large, the public schools in the city of North Charleston are poor. While North Charleston has some great neighborhoods (and some terrible ones), the school situation would give me pause if I had a 12 year old.
The schools in the peninsular part of the city of Charleston are not very good either. My wife and I live on the peninsula, and we love it. But we had to make the choice (reluctantly) to put our kid through private school.
If your friend is willing to commute, there are plenty of great places to live, with schools that range from good to great. Regardless of the neighborhood(s) he's considering, he should ask about the schools.
Of course, compared to where we live now, that actually have nice houses for sale in our price range. Here, we only have fixers or teardowns.