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South Carolina is an appealing place to live in the southeast as you can stay near the beach in the Lowcountry or enjoy the tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upcountry.
The state also has a reasonable cost of living, making it an affordable place for working professionals and retirees.
If you’re wondering where the best places to live in South Carolina are, this guide should make it easier to find your ideal place. We analyzed cities by pulling recent data on key lifestyle factors such as the area’s median home price, personal income per capita, and the unemployment and crime rate.
|Median home price||$263,950|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$5,724|
|Community wellness score||43/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||3,741|
Sumter is very affordable and conveniently located near the center of the state. It’s not too far from Columbia, Myrtle Beach or Charleston which offer more benefits for residents but can also have higher housing costs.
The city has several employment avenues ranging from advanced manufacturing, aviation, data centers, food processing and medical devices. Shaw Air Force Base is also an anchor of the community.
Keep in mind, the city’s crime rate is above average and you may consider other cities on this list with a similar population to easily find a quiet neighborhood.
|Median home price||$295,000|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$5,941|
|Community wellness score||50/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||854|
One of South Carolina’s best small towns is likely Clemson. It offers several amenities that typically belong in bigger cities thanks to being the home of Clemson University.
The university is a national leader in college athletics. Residents can also see many performance art productions on campus and explore the South Carolina Botanical Gardens.
Education, healthcare and manufacturing are key industries in Clemson. The town also offers a mild climate as it’s in the Upcountry.
|Median home price||$306,175|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$5,681|
|Community wellness score||51/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||5,641|
Spartanburg is a pleasant place to live amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains. “Sparkle City” is home to seven colleges and universities while being an opportune place to raise a family.
In addition to higher education, other employment sectors include Adidas America and the automotive industry. You’re also less than an hour away from Greenville for additional economic and leisure amenities.
|Median home price||$499,000|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$7,091|
|Community wellness score||62/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||830|
Bluffton is one of the best places to live in South Carolina for families: you’re close to the beach, the area has a low crime rate and you can avoid the flocks of tourists that typically go to Myrtle Beach or Charleston.
However, Hilton Head Island, which is just across the bridge, is a popular beach getaway and retirement community. Thankfully, the local area isn’t as commercialized and it’s easy to relax.
The city is located on the inland May River and you can be to one of Hilton Head Island’s beaches within 30 minutes. It’s also possible to get to Savannah, Georgia within 45 minutes for leisure, work or flying from a commercial airport.
Like most of the South Carolina Lowcountry, tourism is an economic boon and the target industries in Bluffton include healthcare and aerospace.
6. Rock Hill
|Median home price||$350,000|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$6,606|
|Community wellness score||56/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||1,122|
If you’re looking to live on the South Carolina side of Charlotte, Rock Hill is an excellent option as the major metroplex is only an hour away. Rock Hill is the largest city in York County and you can enjoy a lower cost of living and reasonable state taxes. There are also many city parks and outdoor activities to enjoy at any time of the year.
The area’s primary employment industries are healthcare, logistics and manufacturing. The city also has a technology incubator and several business parks.
Related: South Carolina Income Tax Calculator
|Median home price||$380,900|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$6,626|
|Community wellness score||55/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||4,680|
Summerville is a thriving and affordable suburb approximately 30 minutes outside Charleston. While this neighboring city is within commuting distance, local employers include Google, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Bioscience, logistics and marine are thriving industries as well.
Living here lets you enjoy modern amenities like easy access to an international airport or the beach. At the same time, you can enjoy the enticing historical charm of the Carolina Lowcountry.
|Median home price||$318,182|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$6,347|
|Community wellness score||57/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||12,479|
South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia sits in the state center and is roughly three hours from sandy beaches and less than two hours from the Upcountry. Fun things to do include visiting the Congaree National Park nearby, touring city museums or enjoying a sports event.
The metro area is South Carolina’s second-largest and is home to the University of South Carolina and the Fort Jackson army base. Insurance, software and biotechnology are pivotal industries in Columbia.
However, the summers can get quite toasty as it’s the hottest place in the state.
|Median home price||$349,550|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$6,108|
|Community wellness score||56/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||8,653|
The Greenville metro area is one of the best places to live in upstate South Carolina as it has a promising job market, plenty of outdoor activities and a family-friendly atmosphere. While it’s the largest city upstate, you can still enjoy the slower pace of a mid-size town.
If you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors, a bike trail covers the entire town which passes through the iconic Falls Park on the Reedy in the downtown area. There are also several state parks in the area to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains and you’re only four hours from the beach.
Influential employers in the area include BMW, Lockheed, General Electric and IBM. The city also has an affordable cost of living.
Related: 10 Most Affordable Cities To Buy A Home
2. Myrtle Beach
|Median home price||$384,950|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$5,843|
|Community wellness score||53/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||8,517|
Myrtle Beach is one of the most affordable South Carolina coastal towns and it also has an encouraging job sector for year-round residents. Some of the most influential industries here include aerospace, healthcare and technology.
Admittedly, this is a tourist town with approximately 12 to 20 million visitors per year seeking to enjoy the various restaurants, boardwalk attractions and 60 miles of beachfront access. If the constant activity doesn’t bother you, the area has everything you need along with mild winters.
Related: How Much House Can I Afford? Home Affordability Calculator
|Median home price||$527,000|
|Estimated monthly expenses||$6,779|
|Community wellness score||64/100|
|Criminal offenses reported||8,468|
South Carolina’s most significant economic hub and tourism area is Charleston. The greater Charleston metro area has approximately 813,000 residents and its notable employers include Boeing and Joint Base Charleston.
Nicknamed the “Holy City” for its many church steeples dating back to the 1700s, this coastal city offers numerous walking tours and museums. There is also a vibrant nightlife for college students, young professionals and the like.
Charleston is also one of the best places to live in South Carolina near the beach. Some of its best beaches include Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island.
Related: How To Get A Business License In South Carolina
We compared the various South Carolina metropolitan areas using data from several platforms to measure variable criteria for home affordability, healthy employment and population growth.
The metro areas we chose are spread across the Palmetto State and can be excellent places to call home for couples or families. The Lowcountry and Upcountry areas provide many economic opportunities but offer different climates and outdoor activities.
Our ratings take into consideration the city size, crime rate, unemployment rate and cost of living. Community amenities such as outdoor activities, public transit and healthcare access also play a factor.
The comparison criteria and corresponding sources include:
- Population: U.S. Census Bureau, 2021
- Median home price: Realtor.com, August 2022
- Cost of living for family of four: Economic Policy Institute March 2022
- Personal income per capita: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2020
- Unemployment statistics: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2022
- Community well-being: ShareCare Community Well-Being Index
- Crime rate: FBI Crime Data Explorer, 2020
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What is the best part of South Carolina to live in? ›
There is also a vibrant nightlife for college students, young professionals and the like. Charleston is also one of the best places to live in South Carolina near the beach. Some of its best beaches include Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Sullivan's Island.
1. Union. The cheapest place to live in South Carolina is Union. This city is known for its manufacturing industry, which produces goods such as roller bearings, felt, cordage, metal forgings, woven goods, and textile fibers.What is the safest area to live in South Carolina? ›
- Fort Mill.
- Mount Pleasant.
- Isle of Palms.
- Tega Cay.
North Myrtle Beach is the safest city in South Carolina, according to our Safety Index.Where is the best place to move to in South Carolina? ›
- Best Places to Live in South Carolina.
- Sullivan's Island.
- Hilton Head Island.
- Lexington. ...
- Tega Cay. ...
- Clemson. ...
- Columbia. ...
- Greenville. ...
- Mount Pleasant. ...
- Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head Island is located between two other famous islands: Tybee and Parris. ...
- Charleston. Charleston sits in the center of South Carolina's coast.
Kiawah and Seabrook Island are two of the best small towns in South Carolina. These gated beach communities offer the small town feel with exclusive amenities, just 20 miles from Charleston's city center.What is the fastest growing city in SC? ›
So which South Carolina city is considered to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country? Ranking No. 6 overall, Sumter is the fastest-growing city in South Carolina and one of the fastest-growing in America. From 2016 to 2021, the population of Sumter's metropolitan area grew 26.4% from 107,396 to 135,782.Is moving to South Carolina a good idea? ›
South Carolina has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, making it a great place to raise a family. The major cities in SC have many job opportunities and low unemployment rates. South Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the country.What is the safest place to retire in South Carolina? ›
- Summerville - Coastal region.
- Isle of Palms - Coastal region.
- Georgetown - Coastal region.
- North Charleston - Coastal region.
- Hanahan - Coastal region.
- Greenville - Mountains region.
- Travelers Rest - Mountains region.
- West Columbia - Midlands region.
What part of South Carolina has the best climate? ›
To top it off, Fort Mill also ranked No. 1 in weather, with a low average summer temperature of 76 degrees and an air quality score of 41.What is the richest part of SC? ›
- Kiawah Island, SC.
- Sullivan's Island, SC. ...
- Briarcliffe Acres, SC. ...
- Isle of Palms, SC. ...
- Tega Cay, SC. ...
- Fort Mill, SC. skiserge1/Getty Images Plus. ...
- Seabrook Island, SC. skiserge1/Getty Images Plus. ...
- Mount Pleasant, SC. skiserge1/Getty Images Plus. ...
- 8 Mount Pleasant.
- 7 McClellanville.
- 6 Aiken.
- 5 Hilton Head Island.
- 4 Georgetown.
- 3 Bluffton.
- 2 York.
- 1 Beaufort.
Georgia may be the better choice if you're looking for a more affordable cost of living, a great place to retire, or an urban lifestyle. However, if you're looking for a state with more room to spread out, waterfront living, and low property taxes, then South Carolina may be the better choice.Is it better to live in NC or SC? ›
You can't go wrong for the most part when it comes to comparing the weather between North and South Carolina. They are both mild, comfortable places to live. Since South Carolina is closer to the equator, it has a bit warmer temperatures than North Carolina and is likely more ideal for going to the beach year-round.What is the best island to live on in South Carolina? ›
With great weather year-round, rich history, and spectacular seafood, the South Carolina Coast is the ideal choice for your next move. Only 30 miles outside of historic downtown Charleston, the communities of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island are some of the best places to live in SC.What is the best beach to live at in South Carolina? ›
Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Charleston are three of the best coastal towns in South Carolina for newcomers and area natives alike.Are home prices dropping in South Carolina? ›
South-Carolina Housing Market Overview
In January 2023, home prices in South-Carolina were up 9.0% compared to last year, selling for a median price. On average, the number of homes sold was down 28.6% year over year and there were 4,127 homes sold in January this year, down 5,781 homes sold in January last year.
South Carolina is home to two favorite places for people to start calling home in 2022, reports find. The Myrtle Beach area ranks No. 7 and the Charleston area No. 10 on a list of U.S. regions that attracted new residents last year, according to the self-service moving company U-Haul.Is it a good time to buy a house in SC? ›
It might not be the best time to buy a house in South Carolina right now. Listing prices and mortgage rates in the state are very high, making it difficult to find a good deal.
What is the most popular part of South Carolina? ›
1. Charleston. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the South, Charleston is a historic port city packed with antebellum architecture.Is Florida or South Carolina better for retirement? ›
Luckily, both South Carolina and Florida are considered to be very tax-friendly states. In fact, Florida has no state income tax, no taxes on Social Security, and no inheritance or estate taxes. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, there are also no taxes on Social Security and income deductions are available for retirees.Is it better to retire in NC or SC? ›
South Carolina Is Tax-Friendlier to Retirees Than North Carolina. My colleagues on Kiplinger.com maintain the incredible Retiree Tax Map -- a state-by-state guide to taxes on retirement income, state sales taxes, property tax breaks for seniors, estate taxes, and more.What is the German like town in South Carolina? ›
Known as a gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Walhalla is situated in the northwestern section of the state. Founded in 1850 by German immigrants, the name Walhalla, came from the Norse mythology which means “The Garden of the Gods".What town is SC has the most white population? ›
|Rank||White Population Percentage ▼||City / Population|
|1.||100.0%||Smyrna, SC / 45|
|2.||99.3%||Salem, SC / 135|
|3.||99.2%||Smoaks, SC / 126|
|4.||98.8%||Edisto Beach, SC / 414|
DeWitt, Jr. The Town of Hampton - Hampton County's county seat and most populated town - has now been ranked as the municipality with the largest population decline in South Carolina, and two other H.C.What cities in South Carolina are growing? ›
|Rank||Population Growth Rate ▼||City / Population|
|1.||1,225.64%||Lockhart, SC / 517|
|2.||1,142.94%||Blythewood, SC / 2,113|
|3.||996.39%||Bluffton, SC / 13,979|
|4.||214.93%||Lake Wylie, SC / 9,640|
- Affordability. It's no secret that the further south you go in the United States, the less expensive housing becomes. ...
- Diverse Nature. ...
- Variety of Seasons. ...
- Increased Job Market. ...
- 5.Incredible Food. ...
- Southern Hospitality. ...
- Proximity To Family. ...
Choosing between Florida and South Carolina
Both states offer an excellent quality of life, so it really boils down to personal preference. Florida is the place for you if you're looking for year-round warm weather. If you prefer a slower pace and charming Southern hospitality, South Carolina may be a better fit.
Myrtle Beach is a gorgeous South Carolina coastal town and a major tourist and retirement destination. In fact, it has the highest percentage of residents 60+ years old of any city on this list — 35%, more than one in three!
At what age do you stop paying taxes in SC? ›
The Homestead Exemption is a complete exemption of taxes on the first $50,000 in Fair Market Value of your Legal Residence for homeowners over age 65, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind.Why not to retire in South Carolina? ›
South Carolina essentially doesn't have top tier health care offerings compared to other states, which can obviously be a major issue for retirees. Health care isn't bad or overtly difficult to access, but it does lag behind some of the more common retirement destinations in the U.S.What part of South Carolina is the least humid? ›
South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers throughout most of the State. But, an exception does occur in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as outlier pockets of an Oceanic Climate do exist.Which state has better weather North or South Carolina? ›
Of the two states, NC is actually bigger than SC, but SC is closer to the equator, giving it a warmer climate. With its warmer weather, South Carolina has a better year-round beach scene. White sand beaches are plentiful in both states, but SC has more communities near the coast.Where is it least humid in South Carolina? ›
South Carolina Average Humidity County Rank.
|Rank||Average Humidity ▼||County / Population|
|1.||81.47%||Georgetown, SC / 60,389|
|2.||80.20%||Williamsburg, SC / 33,560|
|3.||79.92%||Clarendon, SC / 34,439|
And to be in the top 5% of income earners in South Carolina, households need to make at least $204,826 per year. The state's current median household income stands at $56,227 annually, the report says. To determine the income needed to be classified as rich in each state, 24/7 Wall St.What are the benefits of living in SC? ›
- You're Surrounded by Lots of Natural Beauty. ...
- South Carolina Cities Boast Strong Economies. ...
- Keep Living Costs Lower Living in South Carolina. ...
- Good Food Abounds in the Lowcountry. ...
- Gain Easy Access to the Ocean. ...
- Stay Healthy in South Carolina. ...
- Moving to South Carolina Means Mild Temperatures. ...
- Historical Charm is Everywhere.
Here are some other statistics that combined to make Kiawah Island Number 1. Here's what Stacker had to say about the richest town in South Carolina: "Kiawah Island, a barrier island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most exclusive spots in the nation.Where is an affordable place to live in South Carolina? ›
- Union. The cheapest place to live in South Carolina is Union. ...
- Gaffney. Gaffney is the second-cheapest place to live in South Carolina. ...
- Orangeburg. ...
- Newberry. ...
- Laurens. ...
- Greenwood. ...
'" So what is the most remote spot in South Carolina? According to the list, the most "middle of nowhere" location in the Palmetto State is Cane Island just off the Santee Costal Reserve. Located just west of the coast, it takes about 2 hours and 47 minutes to get to the nearest city.
Where is the nicest weather in South Carolina? ›
Charleston has the best weather in South Carolina. It's sunny most of the year, and the winter season doesn't have much snow. Like the rest of South Carolina, July is the hottest month in Charleston, with temperatures rising to 90 F. However, the cold months are pretty warm as the city has temperatures of 42 F- 60 F.Why are people moving out of SC? ›
The survey found 31.8% of Americans moved to be closer to family and 32.5% moved for a new job or job transfer. In South Carolina, retirement was the biggest reason for moving to the Palmetto State (36.56%), followed by family (28.85%) and lifestyle (23.66%), the study showed.Is South Carolina tax friendly for retirees? ›
South Carolina taxpayers ages 65 and older do not need to file a state income tax return. In addition, Social Security benefits are not taxed by the state of South Carolina. Overall, Kiplinger rates South Carolina as a state tax-friendly state for retirees.