9 Best Places to Live in South Carolina Near the Beach 2022 Edition

Life in the south doesn’t get better than being on the waterfront. So, we found the 9 best places to live in South Carolina near the beach with a new update for 2022. Our team considered all of the coastal cities in the area and ranked them based on a mixture of inputs, such as affordability, economic growth, crime rates, and overall desirability.

We also reviewed our choices with ratings from large news publications like US News & World Report and Niche.com. We made sure to pay special attention to find cities and communities that truly deliver a beach town experience.  They all offer easy access to the shore and a big dose of South Carolina’s famous southern hospitality. Therefore, we consider these places as the best beach towns in South Carolina.

For those who want to feel like they are on vacation all year round, a South Carolina beach town is a no-brainer. The Palmetto State is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in America, while its affordability, high standard of living, and overall great weather makes it the perfect place to consider for your next move.

Of course, South Carolina offers more than just beaches. The mountain ranges are just a few hours away from many of these coastal cities, while big cities like Columbia or Savannah, Georgia are usually no more than 2 hours away.

So without further delay, here are the 9 best places to live in South Carolina near the beach!

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Best Places to Live in South Carolina Near the Beach

9. Folly Beach

best places to live in South Carolina near the beach - Folly Beach

Pros and Cons:
+ Relaxed atmosphere
+ Low crime
– High cost of living

Location: Check on Google Maps

Folly Beach is a small, relaxed beach town community of under 3,000 residents that is just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston.

It is famous with surfers for offering some of the best waves in the area. It is also known for its care-free, hippy vibe, where dive bars and cozy cafes rule the day, making it one of the most quaint beach towns in South Carolina.

8. Isle of Palms

Pros and Cons:
+ Perfect for families
+ Many things to do
– Expensive housing

Location: Check on Google Maps

Right up the coastline from Folly Beach is the family-friendly Isle of Palms. It sits on a barrier island and is just 30 minutes away from downtown Charleston.

It is popular among vacationers and locals for offering many amenities and things to do for the whole family to enjoy, including golf courses, tennis courts, deep sea diving excursions, and boat tours.

7. Hilton Head Island

Pros and Cons:
+ Excellent location
+ Ideal for retirees
– Lots of tourists

Location: Check on Google Maps

Hilton Head Island is located in the southern part of South Carolina, just 40 minutes away from Savannah, Georgia and 1.5 hours away from Charleston. It is a great city for retirees, as it was ranked as the 3rd best city to retire in all of South Carolina.

Its beautiful, tree-lined streets are filled with heritage buildings alongside numerous golf courses and public parks.

But, Hilton Head Island’s high standard of living does not come cheap, as it is roughly 34% more expensive to live there than the national average.

6. Beaufort

best places to live in South Carolina near the beach - Beaufort

Pros and Cons:
+ Picturesque small town
+ Great amenities
– Some areas of crime

Location: Check on Google Maps

Beaufort, South Carolina is the 2nd oldest city in South Carolina and is a small, charming town just an hour from Savannah, Georgia. This coastal community of 13,000 residents was also named as the best small town in South Carolina by Southern Living.

It features a delightful downtown that sits on the edge of the water that has been experiencing an influx of new residents in recent years.

Beaufort is also just 30-40 minutes away from major beaches in the area like Hilton Head Island and Pritchards Island, making it one of the best quaint beach towns in South Carolina.

5. Kiawah Island

Pros and Cons:
+ World-class golfing
+ Excellent outdoor activities
+ Gorgeous beaches
– High cost of living

Location: Check on Google Maps

Kiawah Island is world famous for its championship golf courses and 10 miles of private beachfronts. Located just 45 minutes from Charleston, this small community of 1,500 residents offers some of the best beaches in the state alongside some excellent hiking and biking trails in its expansive parklands.

On top of that, there are great dining and entertainment options on the island, making Kiawah Island one of best places to live in South Carolina near the beach.

4. Myrtle Beach

best places to live in South Carolina near the beach - Mirtle Beach

Pros and Cons:
+ Tons of things to do
+ Beautiful beaches
– Packed with tourists
– Pockets of crime

Location: Check on Google Maps

Myrtle Beach is a popular beach city in the north part of the state that attracts over 14 million vacationers each year. Its location right on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean combined with its lively downtown and boardwalk area make it an ideal place to settle for beach lovers.

The city is packed with amenities, including an amusement park, golf courses, shopping malls, concert venues, and of course, miles and miles of pristine beaches. Myrtle Beach also offers a countless number of gourmet restaurants, fun bars, and cute cafes for residents to enjoy.

There is also an international airport just 10 minutes from downtown, making it very convenient for travelers.

On top of all of that, Myrtle Beach is relatively affordable, especially compared to many other places on this list. Its overall cost of living is 1% lower than the national average, while housing costs are 8% cheaper, making it one of the most affordable and best beach towns in South Carolina.

3. Sullivan’s Island

Pros and Cons:
+ Gorgeous beach town
+ Top tier restaurants
+ Very low crime
– Very expensive

Location: Check on Google Maps

Sullivan’s Island is another small suburb of Charleston that is just a 15 minute car ride away from downtown Charleston. It is known as one of the more affluent suburbs in the area. In fact, it is the wealthiest zip code in all of South Carolina.

So, what do you get for this high cost of living? Sullivan’s Island offers many upscale restaurants and several high-end boutiques, as well a great community, low crime, and access to a beach paradise all year round.

2. Mount Pleasant

best places to live in South Carolina near the beach - Mount Pleasant

Pros and Cons:
+ Great mix of amenities
+ Expanding economy
+ Close to the beach
– Expensive

Location: Check on Google Maps

Mount Pleasant is located less than 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and offers an easy-going lifestyle that is fit for beach lovers, yet still provides many amenities and things to do.

There are several commercial districts that are located among the quiet suburban neighborhoods. For example, there is the Mt Pleasant Town Centre that offers many different boutiques, restaurants, and a movie theater. Additionally, there is the Mount Pleasant Historic District on the waterfront.

Meanwhile, Mount Pleasant’s strong economy (alongside the job opportunities in Charleston) has attracted many young professionals.

The beach is also close by, just 15-20 minutes to other beach communities on this list such as Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms.

Mount Pleasant’s proximity to the water combined with the vast range of amenities in town make it one of the best places to live in South Carolina near the beach.

1. Charleston

best places to live in South Carolina near the beach - Charleston

Pros and Cons:
+ Excellent economy
+ Close to numerous beaches
+ Stunning tree-lined streets
– Lots of tourists
– Higher cost of living

Location: Check on Google Maps

No list of the best cities in South Carolina can be complete without Charleston, which in our opinion is the best beach town in South Carolina. It is the biggest city in the state and provides the perfect blend of big city amenities with a small town charm, all while having easy access to the beach.

Charleston’s gorgeous downtown streets are filled with world-class restaurants, cozy bars, and specialty boutiques. Residents and tourists alike find pleasure also just strolling down the many cobblestone streets that are lined with beautiful oak and palm trees.

Meanwhile, Charleston’s strong economy, good school system, and relatively low crime rates make it a great choice for young professionals, families, and retirees.

The best part about Charleston is its location. It is only 2 hours from other big cities like Columbia and Savannah, Georgia, while its prime location near the shore allows you to choose from many of the beaches previously mentioned. Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island are all just 20 to 40 minutes away.

Charleston is not only a great beach city, it is a great overall place to live. It even took first place on our list of the best places to live in South Carolina.

Summary

In summary, the 9 best places to live in South Carolina near the beach are:

  1. Charleston
  2. Mount Pleasant
  3. Sullivan’s Island
  4. Myrtle Beach
  5. Kiawah Island
  6. Beaufort
  7. Hilton Head Island
  8. Isle of Palms
  9. Folly Beach

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most affordable beach towns in South Carolina?

From this list, the most affordable choice would be Myrtle Beach. Its larger size also provides more opportunities to find a good deal on a house.

Other affordable places that did not make our list include:

  • Garden City near Myrtle Beach
  • Hanahan near Charleston
  • Port Royal near Hilton Head Island

What are the best quaint beach towns in South Carolina?

The most charming and interesting small beach communities on this list are Folly Beach and Beaufort, while Charleston can also be considered quaint with its beautiful architecture and streets that are full of character.