South Carolina seems like a great state to settle in, but is South Carolina a good place to live in 2023 still? There are many charming aspects about the Palmetto State, but there are equally many reasons not to move to South Carolina as well.
We did some intensive research to determine all of the good and bad things about living in South Carolina so that you can get the full picture before you decide if it is right for you.
We structured our research into 4 main categories that most impact your standard of living, which are the quality of life, things to do, weather, and job opportunities. Is it cheap? Is the weather good all year round? Can you get a good, high paying job? What are the worst things about South Carolina? Ultimately, is South Carolina a good place to live for all ages and family situations?
Let’s take a look at the detailed work our team has put together to determine if South Carolina should be your next destination or not.
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Is South Carolina a Good Place to Live in 2023?
Quality of Life
Let’s start with the biggest topic – does South Carolina offer a good quality of life these days? Of course, it is famous for its Southern hospitality, which we can report is still very much a part of the culture to this day. South Carolinian transplants continue to rave about how kind and helpful the residents are.
What about the cost of living in South Carolina? On average, it is cheaper to live in South Carolina compared to the rest of the US, coming in at about 10% lower. Specifically, housing costs are dramatically lower, with home prices that are 25% less than the average across America.
But, those figures are skewed by the large amount of affordable rural homes that are available across the state. If you plan on settling in a large city like Charleston, then you may find that homes are actually a bit more expensive than the national average.
Additionally, you should consider the tax rates in South Carolina. The good news is that the state’s property tax is the 6th lowest in the US at a rate of just 0.55%. But, the bad news is that it has one of the highest state income taxes in the nation with a top bracket of 7%. There is also the state sales tax of 6% as well as a variable county tax that could push it all the way to 9%.
On the whole, the overall tax burden in South Carolina is still quite low and it ranks in the top 20 of all states for the lowest tax liabilities.
Finally, quality of life also includes a look at the state’s education system. South Carolina is routinely mentioned as having one of the nation’s worst school systems. It is usually ranked among the bottom 10 by studies such as WalletHub’s annual review of the most educated states.
Of course, there are always going to be outliers and there are certainly some top quality public and private schools in the state, but it would be wise to research this topic beforehand.
Is South Carolina a good place to live based on its quality of life? We think it offers one of the best values in the nation given its costs versus its standard of living, but that balance is slowly changing as the bigger cities continue to attract more people from out-of-state.
- Low cost of living and good value for money
- Rising housing prices in big cities
- Below average taxes
- Education system not well-rated
Things to Do
Now, let’s shift our focus onto what makes South Carolina so attractive to many people, which is its extensive list of things to do and see. The state is blessed with a diverse landscape that offers a unique experience that outdoor lovers will appreciate.
It is one of the few states that feature rugged mountains, wide-open expanses of wilderness, tons of lakes, and top-rated beaches. The best part is that all of these natural amenities are easily accessible from virtually every region of this small state.
You are usually never more than a 3 or 4 hour drive from both the mountains and the coastline.
South Carolina is known for offering its residents many leisure activities, such as its world-class hiking trails, fishing and hunting spots, and golfing. The beaches are also some of the best in the nation, with famous beaches such as Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island.
But, just be aware that you will need to share the outdoors with many bugs, especially mosquitoes. Mosquito season usually lasts from March all the way until September and may be one of the worst things about South Carolina.
Also, be on the lookout for alligators. There are an estimated 100,000 alligators living among the swamps and marshlands of South Carolina.
If you can stomach all of that, then you will be rewarded with a wide-range of cities and towns to enjoy. South Carolina features many different types of places to live that all have their own charm.
There is the picturesque city of Charleston that is filled with colorful buildings on cobblestone streets. There are also fast-growing cities like Myrtle Beach and Greenville that are among the fastest expanding places in America.
South Carolina also offers many small, quaint towns like Beaufort and Clemson, which is also home to Clemson University.
South Carolina’s central location also makes it convenient to access many major cities in the region. For example, Charleston is only about 2 to 3 hours away from Savannah and Augusta in Georgia. Meanwhile Charlotte, North Carolina is only about 1 to 2 hours away from places like Greenville, Spartanburg, Florence, and Columbia, which is the state capital.
- Endless outdoor activities
- Mountains, wilderness, lakes, and beaches all in the same state
- Many attractive cities and quaint towns across the state
Generally, the weather in South Carolina is warm and comfortable for most of the year. In fact, the average highs in the winter are still around 70 degrees. But, the summer can be a bit overbearing with temperatures that often reach over 90 degrees. There is also the same stifling humidity that permeates throughout the Deep South.
Snow is quite rare for the state, but it does happen about 1 or 2 days per year. If it does, be sure to use extra caution while going out or driving. South Carolina is generally not prepared for any amount of snowfall and it can cause major disruptions.
You also need to be aware that South Carolina faces the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms each year. While they aren’t usually as severe as what Florida faces, there is almost an 80% chance that a tropical storm will hit the state each year, which is one of the bad things about living in South Carolina.
- Hot summers, mild winters – warm all-year round
- Heavy humidity
- Threat of hurricanes
If you just look at its standard of living, South Carolina seems like a good place to live. But how do people afford to pay for this lifestyle? Are there good job prospects in South Carolina?
In recent years, many large manufacturing companies have been relocating to South Carolina. Big names like BMW, Boeing, GE, Bosch, and Michelin all have large plants in the state that offer numerous job opportunities. In fact, the state has over 5,000 manufacturing companies in total that generate over 700,000 jobs.
There are also many healthcare jobs within the state. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Palmetto Health, Lexington Medical Center, and Spartanburg Medical Center are all part of the top 25 biggest employers in South Carolina.
However, wages in South Carolina are a bit lower than the rest of America. The median household income is about $53,000, which is lower than the national average of $63,000.
But, as we learned in the earlier part of this article, your dollar is likely to stretch a bit further in South Carolina.
- Many big companies like BMW, Boeing, and Michelin have large manufacturing plants in South Carolina
- Lots of healthcare opportunities
- Below average wages, but offset by lower cost of living
Is South Carolina a Good Place to Live? Moving to South Carolina Pros and Cons
So, is South Carolina a good place to live currently? The pros are that we think that it is one of the most complete states in the nation. There are few other places that offer affordable living with so many things to do both outdoors and in the cities. The warm weather is definitely a welcomed change of pace for those coming from the North and the ample job opportunities makes it easy to transition to the state.
However, it’s not without its flaws. The school system is in need of further improvement and salaries may be lower than expected. The constant heat and humidity in the summer months are also quite excessive for those who are not used to it.
Ultimately, it will depend on your situation whether or not South Carolina is the right choice for you, but we hope that this detailed analysis will help you make your decision.