If you’re thinking of relocation, then you should definitely consider the best places to live in South Carolina.
South Carolina is the best state for those looking for good old-fashioned fun. The energy the residents of South Carolina exude attracts many people in search of a little piece of southern charm amidst a quaint backdrop. What does the perfect place to live in South Carolina look like?
We believe that the best places in South Carolina have strong economies, excellent schools, and plenty of things to do. You also need to be close to Myrtle Beach and within a day trip to Congaree National Park.
So, one can imagine how difficult it was for us to narrow down the best places to live in South Carolina. We suggest you grab some of great granny’s sweet tea and a basket of hush puppies and read on.
What city is the best place to live in South Carolina for 2023? According to the US Census and FBI data, James Island is the best place to live in South Carolina if you care about home values, low crime, and high quality of life.
Look at the list below to find the best places to live in The Palmetto State. We give you a detailed look into the top ten best places to live in South Carolina, where you can have it all.
For more reading, check out:
The 10 Best Places To Live In South Carolina For 2023
|Stat||James Island||South Carolina|
|Rank Last Year||2||–|
|Median Home Value||$416,300||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0160||0.0330|
The grass is definitely greener on the side of South Carolina that houses the state’s best place to live, James Island. Located just south of the Charleston Harbor where the Stono and Folly Rivers meet, James Island has managed to protect its small town feel while looking out for its 11,689 residents’ bottom line.
James Island’s cost of living might be slightly higher than the rest of the state, but the city’s median income is $95,364/year. The median home price in James Island is the 6th highest in South Carolina at $416,300. And if you know anything about property taxes, they are based on home prices and higher property taxes generally mean better schools. Folks, James Island has some pretty great schools. In fact, the test scores and graduation rates from the Charleston 01 School District are surpassing the rest of the state.
|Stat||Tega Cay||South Carolina|
|Rank Last Year||1||–|
|Median Home Value||$462,900||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0115||0.0330|
No, we have not fudged the numbers, Tega Cay’s numbers are legit, they’re just so good that they’re hard to believe. But, believe it, and if you’ve ever thought about moving here, do it now because not only is Tega Cay South Carolina’s 2nd best city, it is also one of the fastest growing places in the state.
Do we think this is why the median home price here is the 3rd highest in the state? Absolutely: classic case of supply and demand. In terms of affordability, however, the Tega Cay’s overall cost of living isn’t too bad, but living expenses like groceries and health services will take a bite out of your paycheck. So, make sure you find a job that pays a combined household income of $140,172/year.
|Stat||Mount Pleasant||South Carolina|
|Rank Last Year||3||–|
|Median Home Value||$608,600||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0160||0.0330|
Of course the word “pleasant” is in the name of South Carolina’s #3 best place to live, Mount Pleasant. But, it’s not only because the city has great weather and is close to the Atlantic Coast, it’s more about its low crime rate, low unemployment rate, and the fact that the locals here make close to $115,167/year.
To put Mount Pleasant’s safety record into perspective, you have a greater chance of a Palmetto Tree falling on you than being involved in a crime as the crime rate here is below the national level. Heck, the people here are too busy working to be naughty–Mount Pleasant’s unemployment rate is the 13th lowest in the state at 3.2%. The cost of living is a bit higher in Mount Pleasant; so, be prepared to pay a bit more for your living expenses.
|Stat||Fort Mill||South Carolina|
|Rank Last Year||4||–|
|Median Home Value||$414,600||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0096||0.0330|
Mix a little southern charm with a little southern hospitality and you have the 4th best place to live in South Carolina, Fort Mill. Yes, this little piece of heaven from the Southeastern United States, is about as close to a perfect place as you can get. The 26,022 residents here are pretty lucky as the city’s unemployment rate is the 6th lowest in the state at 2.3% and the median income is $128,125/year. This salary is super handy when it comes to paying the 7th best median home price in the state at $414,600 and the city’s slightly higher cost of living.
|Rank Last Year||5||–|
|Median Home Value||$390,200||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0080||0.0330|
One of the fastest growing communities in South Carolina, Bluffton had just over 1,200 residents in 2000. Now? The population has swelled to 29,375. The influx of people comes as Bluffton ranks as the number 5 top place in the state to call home.
Built along the Atlantic Coast in the southern-most part of the state, Bluffton has an excellent location. It is about half hour north of Savannah, Georgia, the region’s major population center. It’s also about two hours south of Charleston. Want more of a resort experience? The famed Hilton Head Island sits just over the bridge.
Given these local draws, Bluffton boasts a thriving economy. It has the 4th highest median income in the state, with a figure of $99,575. The unemployment rate is similarly healthy. The local pace of 1.4% represents the 2nd best rate in South Carolina.
Schools in the area are above average, with ratings of 7/10 from Great Schools. The crime rate is almost 50% below the national average. Living in Bluffton can get expensive, with a cost of living about 10% above the U.S. standard. Home prices are also high, with a median home value of $390,200.
|Rank Last Year||8||–|
|Median Home Value||$239,700||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0198||0.0330|
No, this is not fake news, people, the 6th best city in South Carolina, Lexington, really is super affordable and super fun.
Folks, when we pulled Lexington’s housing numbers, we discovered that the median home price here is the 6th lowest in the state at $239,700. Lexington’s overall cost of living follows the same trend. Not to mention, the locals here make upwards of $78,164/year making it one of the wealthiest cities in the state as well. And in terms of fun, Lexington is located on the southeast banks of Lake Murray, so you can swim, boat, and bike here until your heart’s content.
|Stat||Port Royal||South Carolina|
|Rank Last Year||9||–|
|Median Home Value||$292,400||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0139||0.0330|
Port Royal, South Carolina is an island town about an hour northeast of Savannah. The island life transfer nicely to being one of the best places to live in South Carolina.
As you would expect, some of the best perks of living on island close to the water have to do with the outdoors. Those perks include access to the Cypress Wetlands, the Port Royal Farmer Market, and The Sands beaches and boardwalk. And after a day on the beach you can grab dinner at Fishcamp on 11th street for some seafood or the Old Burn Tavern if turf is more to your liking.
On the numbers side of things, Port Royal really shines for its best commute times and safety – the city has the 5th lowest levels of property crime in the state. So you’ll know your wallet is safe to keep on your beach towel at the beach.
|Rank Last Year||6||–|
|Median Home Value||$220,600||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0228||0.0330|
So, you’re tired of paying South Carolina’s rental prices and now you want to buy a home? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Mauldin is not only The Palmetto State’s 8th best place to live, it has the 3lowest median home price in the state at $220,600.
With the number of people who currently live here, it’s obvious that Mauldin must be pretty great. Heck, anyone who wants a job here can have one as the unemployment rate is the 35th lowest in the state at 5.0%. Not to mention, the median income here is one of the highest in South Carolina at $75,565/year. It’s also super safe here; in fact, Mauldin’s crime rate is below the national average with a majority of the crimes reported property related.
|Rank Last Year||10||–|
|Median Home Value||$240,000||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0427||0.0330|
With a citywide median household income of $79,937, you’ll never run out of money in the 9th best place to live in the state, Simpsonville. You can use that income for South Carolina’s famous peach pie, boiled peanuts, and/or a year pass to the waterslides at Discovery Island Waterpar.
This substantial salary is important if you want to buy a home where the median home price is the 22nd in the state at $240,000. It will also help with the city’s overall cost of living. Simpsonville might be one of the most affordable places to live in South Carolina, but living expenses like groceries, health services, and transportation will cost you a bit more here.
|Rank Last Year||11||–|
|Median Home Value||$438,900||$287,064|
|Crime Per Capita||0.0230||0.0330|
The most populous city to make our list, Charleston is used to being in the headlines. So, no surprise here that this city is South Carolina’s 10th best place to live as well as one of the best cities in the United States/a>. What does it take to be so great? We can’t speak for every city, but in Charleston’s case, great schools, educated residents, and high salaries, are just a few of the quality of life indicators that stand out.
Charleston’s spending per student is quite a bit higher than the rest of the state and it seems to be paying off as they have nine National Blue Ribbon Schools inside the city limits. Charleston also has one of the highest high school graduation rates. Do we think it has something to do with an unemployment rate of 3.7% and a median household income of $83,891/year? Absolutely.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in South Carolina
Best Places To Live In South Carolina Size Requirement
Before we even started to collect data on the best places to live in South Carolina, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Columbia, with a population of 136,754, against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So, to create our ranking, we broke the best places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This filter left 64 cities, 141 towns, and 130 small towns.
We then decided no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in South Carolina have more of everything, and therefore, you need over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best.’
Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In South Carolina
Now that we had our set of the best possible cities, it was time to rank them using Saturday Night Science.
We ranked each place in South Carolina across a number of criteria from one to 64, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, crowning the city posting the lowest overall score, the “Best Place To Live In South Carolina.”
The criteria we looked to determine the best places were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher is better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in South Carolina. Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with James Island at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Summary: The Best Places In South Carolina
If you’re looking at areas in South Carolina with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
James Island made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in South Carolina for 2023.
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Carolina according to the data:
- Cheraw (Pop. 5,056)
- Marion (Pop. 6,402)
- Union (Pop. 8,099)
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- Cheapest Places To Live In South Carolina
- Most Dangerous Cities In South Carolina
- Best Places To Raise A Family In South Carolina
- Best Places To Retire In South Carolina
- Richest Cities In South Carolina
- Safest Places In South Carolina
- Worst Places To Live In South Carolina
Best Places To Live In South Carolina Table
|Rank||City||Population||Unemployment Rate||Home Value||Median Income||Rent||Crime Per Capita|
|18||Hilton Head Island||37,708||2.8%||$589,000||$93,694||$1,563||0.0513|
|32||North Myrtle Beach||18,850||6.4%||$338,700||$69,792||$1,263||0.0506|