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Is South Carolina a Good Place To Live (The Pros & Cons)

Featured Image of Is South Carolina a Good Place To Live

Nicely located along the Eastern coastline, South Carolina offers heaps of Southern charm while still being within driving distance of Northern states. From exciting outdoor adventures to cozy neighborhood activities, South Carolina offers lots to explore and comfy spots that make you feel at home.

With ideal weather most of the year, living in South Carolina allows you to spend more time enjoying the natural, social, and cultural wonders around you. Whether you are looking to be by the beach or want to make a home in a historic neighborhood, South Carolina offers residents long-term happiness.

For people considering moving to South Carolina, you may be asking yourself, “Is South Carolina a good place to live?” As one of the top five locations for people looking to move to a new state, South Carolina offers a scenic environment, a low cost of living, and inviting locals. If these qualities interest you, South Carolina may give you exactly the environment you need for the next part of your journey.

Keep reading to discover all the things you will love about South Carolina and a few qualities that may make you think twice before laying down roots in this coastal state.

South Carolina at a Glance

South Carolina, nicknamed the Palmetto State, began as one of the 13 original colonies. While the original land grant for the state was made in 1629, South Carolina was not established until 1729 when Carolina was split into North and South. It became the eighth state in the United States when it ratified the constitution in 1788.

Since its establishment, South Carolina has grown massively, and it is now home to more than 5 million people. Its largest city and capital is Columbia, which is in the center of the state and has a rich historical culture, but it’s also home to rural and coastal locations.

When people think of South Carolina, they often think of beaches, but it is made of six geographical regions, including the Blue Ridge Region, Piedmont Region, Sand Hills Region, Inner Coastal Plain, Outer Coastal Plain, and Coastal Zone. The coastal zone is the largest of all these zones, but South Carolinians enjoy geographical highlights like coastlines, forests, mountains, and river rapids.

South Carolina is full of intrigue, and even if you’ve been there before, you may not know these fun facts about the Palmetto State.

  • South Carolina was named after King Charles, the creator of the state’s 1629 land grant. Carolina is the Latin word for Charles.
  • Millions of tourists come each year to appreciate the beaches and other outdoor opportunities that South Carolina has to offer.
  • One natural wonder in the state is the Angel Oak Tree, which covers 17,000 square feet with its sprawling limbs. This tree is more than 500 years old and was named after a family that used to own the land.
  • Georgia may be known as the peach state, but South Carolina is the second biggest peach producer in the United States and even built the Peachoid, which is a water tank meant to honor the state’s peaches.
  • The State’s flower is Yellow Jessamine, which looks a little like honeysuckle, but this flower is toxic.
  • South Carolina was home to both the first colonial library and public museum.
  • Humans have been in South Carolina for more than 15,000 years. When colonizers came, there were about 30 Native American tribes in South Carolina, and the state is known as being the home of the Tamasee, Cherokee, and Catawba tribes.
  • Hilton Head is one of the biggest tourist locations and is located on South Carolina’s coast.
  • While most people in the state are white, nearly 30% of South Carolinians are African American. Due to slavery, the state used to have many more African Americans, but in the 20th century, many left for Northern states to get career opportunities.
  • Across the United States, only South Carolina grows tea.
Aerial view of Charleston South Carolina SC

Pros of Moving to South Carolina

Choosing to move is a big decision, but knowing the pros of moving can help you take the plunge. Plenty of people see the perks of moving to the Palmetto State. South Carolina is the third most popular state that people are currently moving to, often from states like California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The following pros show some of the main reasons why people choose South Carolina as their new home.

1. The Weather is Often Pleasant

If you’re looking for weather that’s pleasant throughout the year, South Carolina is a desirable choice. South Carolina’s climate is humid subtropical, and the state has hot summers and mild winters. Certain areas, such as the Blue Ridge Mountains will have a slightly different climate, but overall, South Carolina doesn’t get too cold.

2. Outdoor Activities Galore

If you love the outdoors, South Carolina offers many outdoor activities that you will love. It’s nice to be able to take a trip to one of many beaches, and you can easily engage in activities like surfing, swimming, paddle boarding, and swimming

Beyond just the beaches, South Carolina also has 30 state parks and many national forests (We have an article about the Best State Parks to Visit in South Carolina. Feel free to check it out.). It’s also known for its gorgeous botanical gardens. Plus, the Blue Ridge mountains bring some mountain views to the state.

3. You Can Surround Yourself with History and Culture

If you love history and culture, you will love South Carolina. With cobblestone streets and iron gates, you can feel history come alive, especially in South Carolina’s oldest city, Charleston. With thousands of years of history, there are many stories that South Carolina has to tell. South Carolina also loves culture, including art, theater, ballet, and live music.

4. A Reasonable Cost of Living

The cost of living in South Carolina may not be among the lowest in the United States, but it hangs right around the national average, so movers can often afford a move to South Carolina while maximizing what they get out of their investment. 

South Carolina has reasonable home costs, and in many areas, the average home costs are cheaper than the national average. The U.S. World News & Report ranks South Carolina’s cost of living at #22 and affordability at #21.

5. Diversifying Economy

The South Carolina economy continues to develop as they promote industries like technology and expanding from more traditional sectors like agriculture. Thus, if you find a good job opportunity, you have a great chance to grow and develop in your field.

6. Many Reasons to Move

South Carolina is a desirable place for many people to move. The top six reasons are retirement, family, lifestyle, work, cost of living, and health. These reasons show that South Carolina is a good fit for people in a range of circumstances.

7. Tasty Food Galore

If you’re a fan of either BBQ or seafood, South Carolina is sure to make your taste buds water. You can choose to catch fish yourself, head to a local market, or have it made for you at one of the many top seafood restaurants across South Carolina. When it comes to barbecue, South Carolina is known for its special style, and in this state, it’s common to add mustard to BBQ sauces.

Cons of Living in South Carolina

While South Carolina gives people a good balance of what most people want when looking for somewhere nice to live, there are also plenty of features that may be a turn-off to people. No matter how much you love certain parts of South Carolina, you have to determine if the cons of living in South Carolina are too much for you to handle.

1. Hurricanes and Other Storms

Unfortunately, South Carolina can have a lot of weather events that cause damage. Being near the coast, it is hard to avoid the risk of hurricanes. Hurricane Idalia is a recent example of the damage that hurricanes can cause. 

Rainy times can also lead to flooding. South Carolina hurricane season usually lasts between June and November with peak hurricane activity occurring from August to September.  Estimates suggest that extreme weather from 2010 to 2020 caused around $20 billion in damages.

2. High Crime Rate

Some areas of South Carolina may have higher crime rate than many families would like to see. Charleston, South Carolina has a slightly higher crime rate than other urban areas. US News and World Report says that in crime and corrections South Carolina is ranked #46. Fortunately, there are many different areas families can choose from, and many of them offer better crime rates.

3. Limited Employment

At #35 for employment, South Carolina may have limited career options for certain sectors. However, ranked at #10 for economic growth, South Carolina does present the opportunity for families to grow with the state.

4. Educational Concerns

Overall, many families are concerned about the educational ranks of South Carolina, which is ranked #40 for pre-K to 12 and #41 for higher education. With that being said, choosing a location with good school districts can help remedy this concern for families.

5. Infrastructure Issues

Unfortunately, South Carolina is known for its infrastructure issues. The state is often undergoing construction, and you may notice inconveniences like potholes on the road. There are also plenty of development projects in action, which can be noisy and interfere with your life.

6. Higher Taxes for Certain Items

South Carolina is known for its low fuel tax, but other taxes in this state are notably higher. The starting point for sales tax is 6%, but localities can add up to 3% to that number, and the average rate is about 7.44%. 

When you want to buy alcohol while dining out, you can expect up to 15% tax. Depending on where you are moving from, these taxes may be higher than what you’re used to, and all that tax money can add up.

7. Undesirable Bugs and Wildlife

Even if you’re a lover of wildlife, you may not be so keen on dealing with bugs or other creepy crawlies.  You may find yourself getting bitten by mosquitoes, and bugs like termites can cause damage to homes. 

You also may encounter alligators because South Carolina is home to about 100,000 of them. Generally, as long as you stay away from them, the alligators won’t hurt you and aren’t aggressive.

8. Summer Heat and Humidity

While the overall pleasant weather in South Carolina is often a huge draw for movers, in the summer, the heat and humidity can get to be too much, especially if you’re used to milder summers. In the hottest month of July, average highs over 90 degrees are common, but the exact weather will depend on the geographical area you are in. It can feel even hotter when you add in the humidity.

How to Decide If South Carolina is a Good Place to Live for You?

Like living in any state, there are pros and cons of living in South Carolina, and what is a pro for most people may be a con for others and vice versa. Going over your resources, wants, and needs will help you determine if a move is the right choice for you and your family. South Carolina has a lot to offer, but it’s time to determine if what it offers gives you enough of what you want.

Calculate Your Budget

One of the most important things you need to determine is your budget. When you decide on your budget, you know what you can afford to spend, and once you have that information, you can start to determine if you can afford to live in South Carolina and if you can afford the lifestyle you want.

Make a Priority List

Start to think about what you want the most. You always have to make some compromises because no place can have everything you want, but when you make a priority list, you get a better idea of what matters the most to you. If multiple people are part of this move, it’s good to have everyone make their own list and then you can bring your lists together.

Compare What You Want to What You Have

Reflect on what you currently have that you like and what you’d like to change. How would moving to South Carolina fix issues you have with your current location and what sorts of things would you miss if you were to move? A Venn diagram can be a great tool if you want to organize your comparison and get a better understanding of what matters most. Use your priority list to help shape your comparisons.

Consider Career, Retirement, and Family Goals

You never just want to think about where you are in your life right now. You also want to look towards the future and consider where you will want to be going forward. If you’re close to retirement, consider if South Carolina is the right place for you to retire.

Also, think about your career. You want to make sure that South Carolina will have enough career opportunities or else you’ll struggle to establish yourself there. Finally, you’ll want to think about your family. For example, if you have kids, you’ll want to consider their schooling.

Think About Weather and Climate

What weather and climate do you like? It doesn’t matter how great everyone says South Carolina’s climate is, if you like cold winters with lots of snow, South Carolina isn’t going to be the place for you. Each person has different preferences, so think about when you like being outside the best as a starting point to consider what climate you like.

What’s Your Dream Lifestyle?

If you could have any lifestyle, what lifestyle would you choose? You may not currently have the lifestyle you want, and South Carolina could give you the change you need. If you’re looking for a Southern, slower-paced lifestyle that’s full of outdoor activity, South Carolina will likely be good for you, but if you want a faster, more urban lifestyle, other locations may be better.

Separate Reality from Fantasy

It’s easy to fantasize about living in a new location, but don’t let fantasy take over, and try to think about the reality of moving to South Carolina. Think about work, transportation, and all those things that aren’t so glamorous but have huge impacts on your happiness.

Visit South Carolina

Even if you’ve already visited South Carolina in the past, planning a visit with a move in mind can give you clarity that visits just for fun haven’t. When you’re there, try to imagine yourself living there and treat the trip as a test run more than a vacation.

Of course, you want to schedule fun things while you’re there, but you also want to pay attention to more practical matters, such as do you like navigating different areas or would the traffic bother you after a while. Be inquisitive and ask yourself questions to clarify if the area is somewhere that you can live long-term and not just for a week or so.

Tips for Moving to South Carolina

One study suggested that moving is one of the most stressful activities that people go through, and respondents said that moving was more stressful than both divorce and parenthood. Any move can be overwhelming, but when you use the best moving practices, you can decrease the amount of stress you feel when you are moving and focus on making the best out of your new situation. The following tips will help you get started or keep going if moving fills you with dread.

  • Take a trip to your new state after you have decided to move. You can spend this time looking for houses, gaining employment, and making other preparations that will make your move easier. It’s also great to get to know some people in the area because social connections can be so helpful when you’re moving to a new place.
  • Keep all your moving information in one place and stay as organized as possible. That way, when you need a document or to confirm certain information, you know where to find it without having to take extra time to search.
  • Create a schedule for your move and make arrangements for any professional help or travel you may need. Booking in advance is important to get the best rates and ensure you can stick to your schedule.
  • Find trusted moving professionals to make getting your stuff from one place to another reliable and not at all stressful.
  • Out-of-state moves cost a lot of money, so make sure you budget around $5,000 for moving costs. If your move is short or simpler, you may need to pay less, and if your move is bigger, you may want to budget more. It’s better to have more money budgeted than needed. You can always find ways to spend excess money, but you don’t want to be scrambling to pay unexpected moving costs.
  • Remember that living costs and taxes will likely be different from where you are currently living, so make sure you account for those changes right away rather than waiting until you’re moving and have a thousand things on your mind.
  • Anyone who is moving because of their job may be able to get relocation assistance from their employer, which can give you a much-appreciated boost and in some cases, can cover part or all of moving expenses.
  • If you’re living in an urban area, you will want to prepare yourself for the public transportation system if you want to use it. You’ll want to look at the routes and costs of any transportation you may need.
  • Don’t forget to forward your mail so that any mail that’s sent to your old address will be forwarded to your new address.

These tips show how much you have to juggle when you are moving, but the good news is that with organization and a positive mindset, the move can be more exciting than terrifying.

FAQs

The following questions represent some of the most common concerns that people have when moving to South Carolina. If you’re still feeling unsure, these questions may give you the clarity you need to make a more informed decision.

Why are people moving to South Carolina?

South Carolina is in the top states that people are choosing as their new home. COVID-19 has had some effect on this move because people want to be closer to their families, change their jobs, or have personal health reasons. However, people also choose South Carolina because it offers a slower pace of life, affordable living, comfortable weather, beaches, and more.

What is the downside to living in South Carolina?

While there are many great reasons to live in South Carolina, there are some features that deter people from living in South Carolina. The potential for storms like hurricanes, high-income taxes, insects, and poorly maintained roads make some people less enthused to go to South Carolina.

Is it expensive to live in South Carolina?

The cost of living in South Carolina varies based on where you live, and coastal locations especially can get pricey, but overall, South Carolina is not overly expensive. The cost of living in South Carolina is about on par with the national average, but factors like home costs are lower than the national average.

What is the average cost of living in South Carolina?

The cost of living in South Carolina is close to the national average, but certain areas of South Carolina have higher or lower costs of living. The Forbes cost of living calculator can help you compare your current cost of living to what your cost of living will be if you move to a certain city in South Carolina.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in South Carolina?

How much money you will need to live comfortably will depend on your current lifestyle. You will want to calculate what living costs you currently have, and then you can compare them to what those things cost in South Carolina. The MIT living wage calculation can help you come up with a good estimate.

Is it better to live in Georgia or South Carolina?

Georgia and South Carolina are both home to lots of Southern hospitality, but they each offer different characteristics that may appeal to movers. Overall, South Carolina is more affordable than Georgia, especially in categories like housing or transportation, but Georgia is more affordable in categories like healthcare. While South Carolina offers more beaches, Georgia offers Appalachian sights and plenty of parks and preserves.

Is Florida or South Carolina better to live in?

Both Florida and South Carolina are popular locations for snowbirds because of their warm climates and lower costs of living. South Carolina has a lower cost of living than Florida, especially when it comes to housing costs. Florida’s population is slightly older, while South Carolina tends to appeal more to slightly younger folks. Both are great places for outdoor enjoyment and year-round fun, but each offers a different lifestyle.

Is it a good idea to move to South Carolina?

Lots of people agree that it’s a good idea to move to South Carolina. South Carolina is home to stunning outdoor sights, including glistening beaches. It’s also home to hundreds of historical locations, adding plenty of charm to many neighborhoods in this state. It’s no wonder that South Carolina is a popular place to retire and for families to find a new pace of life.

Explore Our More Articles on South Carolina

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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