The 10 Best Places To Live In South Carolina For 2022


These are the cream of the crop in the Palmetto State.

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Most people think that South Carolina is just a bunch of Bible thumpers, surfers, reality TV actors, and just good ‘ol southern folk that sit around and drink sweet tea all day.

The southern gents and southern bells of South Carolina, however, would beg to differ: it’s a lot more. South Carolinians say it’s one of the best states in the country. And we think that in order to be one of the best, they should have the best places to call home, right?

While there is a lot of waxing down those surfboards and studying those Bible verses, there are a lot of other fun facts about South Carolinians that most people probably don’t know. For example, did you know that Columbia is not only the capital of South Carolina, it is also home to the University of South Carolina?

The Palmetto State is so awesome that in our stories Best States to Raise a Family and Best States in America, they did not come in last.

South Carolina’s strong economy, gold star education rating, and average cost of living make its cities very desirable. 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.

Yes, South Carolina is the best state for those looking for a little good ‘ol fashioned fun. The energy the residents of South Carolina exude attract 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?

More importantly what city is the best place to live in South Carolina for 2022? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Mount Pleasant is the best place to live in South Carolina if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.

Take a look at the list below to find out 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, yes, you can have it all.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In South Carolina For 2022

Of course the word “pleasant” is in the name of South Carolina’s #1 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 $104,772/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 2nd lowest in the state at 2.1%. The cost of living is a bit higher in Mount Pleasant; so, be prepared to pay a bit more for your living expenses.

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 89,410
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $472,900
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
More on Mount Pleasant: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Mount Pleasant, SC

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 4th 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 $125,847/year.

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 10,834
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $358,000
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
More on Tega Cay: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Tega Cay, SC

Source: Public domain

The grass is definitely greener on the side of South Carolina that houses the state’s 3rd 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 12,157 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 $82,083/year. The median home price in James Island is the 6th highest in South Carolina at $341,000. 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.

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,157
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $341,000
Unemployment Rate: 1.6%
More on James Island: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

James Island, SC

Source: Public domain

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 2nd best commute times and safety – the city has the 7th 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.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 13,265
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $242,700
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
More on Port Royal: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Port Royal, SC

Source: Public domain

Mix a little southern charm with a little southern hospitality and you have the 5th 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 19,920 residents here are pretty lucky as the city’s unemployment rate is the 5th lowest in the state at 2.6% and the median income is $101,699/year. This salary is super handy when it comes to paying the 8th best median home price in the state at $305,400 and the city’s slightly higher cost of living.

The crime rate in Fort Mill is also super low. In fact, there were only 263 committed here last year making it one of the safest places in the state.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 19,920
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $305,400
Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
More on Fort Mill: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Fort Mill, SC

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 6th best place to live, it has the 32nd lowest median home price in the state at $170,000.

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 26th lowest in the state at 4.8%. Not to mention, the median income here is one of the highest in South Carolina at $67,902/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.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 25,829
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $170,000
Unemployment Rate: 4.8%
More on Mauldin: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Mauldin, SC

One of the fastest growing communities in South Carolina, Bluffton had just over 1,200 residents in 2000. Now? The population has swelled to 23,176. The influx of people comes as Bluffton ranks as the number 7 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 5th highest median income in the state, with a figure of $85,844. The unemployment rate is similarly healthy. The local pace of 2.3% represents the 3rd 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 $299,700.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 23,176
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $299,700
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
More on Bluffton: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Bluffton, SC

If you are looking for acres and acres of South Carolina’s 8th best place to live, Forest Acres, has this and more. Yes, Forest Acres scored an 8/10 on our SnackAbility scale with an emphasis in affordability, amenities, and commute times. One of only a few places to make our list from South Carolina’s interior, Forest Acres is a bedroom community of 10,300 residents just outside of Columbia. Forest Acres is not even 10 minutes from the “big city.”

And it’s true what they say about “all good things come in small cities.” Forest Acres has the 23rd lowest median home price in the state. The overall cost of living here is lower than the national average, and if you choose to live in Forest Acres you will save on most major living expenses.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 10,300
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $196,300
Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
More on Forest Acres: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Forest Acres, SC

Source: Public domain

No, this is not fake news, people, the 9th 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 9th lowest in the state at $199,400. Lexington’s overall cost of living follows the same trend. Not to mention, the locals here make upwards of $71,850/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.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 21,847
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $199,400
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
More on Lexington: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Lexington, SC

Source: Public domain

With a citywide median household income of $75,535, you’ll never run out of money in the 10th 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 24th in the state at $188,000. 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.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 23,200
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $188,000
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
More on Simpsonville: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Simpsonville, SC

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in South Carolina

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Columbia with a population of 134,057 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke 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 left us with 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 to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In South Carolina

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

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, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In South Carolina”.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in South Carolina? That would be Mount Pleasant.

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 Mount Pleasant at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Summary: The Best Places When It Comes To Living 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.

Mount Pleasant made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in South Carolina for 2022.

Best Towns To Live In South Carolina

  1. Northlake (Pop. 4,086)
  2. Pinopolis (Pop. 1,303)
  3. Sullivan’s Island (Pop. 2,049)
  4. India Hook (Pop. 4,192)
  5. Blythewood (Pop. 2,612)
  6. Isle of Palms (Pop. 4,320)
  7. Springdale (Pop. 2,740)
  8. Pine Ridge (Pop. 2,138)
  9. Folly Beach (Pop. 2,732)
  10. Quinby (Pop. 1,192)

Best Small Towns To Live In South Carolina

  1. Arcadia Lakes (Pop. 991)
  2. Briarcliffe Acres (Pop. 407)
  3. Pawleys Island (Pop. 67)
  4. Boykin (Pop. 98)
  5. Reidville (Pop. 827)
  6. Edisto Beach (Pop. 647)
  7. Rockville (Pop. 153)
  8. Little Mountain (Pop. 219)
  9. Hodges (Pop. 148)
  10. Glendale (Pop. 161)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Carolina according to the data:

  1. Union (Pop. 7,716)
  2. Marion (Pop. 6,598)
  3. Abbeville (Pop. 5,014)

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In South Carolina?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Mount Pleasant 89,410 2.1% $472,900
2 Tega Cay 10,834 3.6% $358,000
3 James Island 12,157 1.6% $341,000
4 Port Royal 13,265 2.7% $242,700
5 Fort Mill 19,920 2.6% $305,400
6 Mauldin 25,829 4.8% $170,000
7 Bluffton 23,176 2.3% $299,700
8 Forest Acres 10,300 2.6% $196,300
9 Lexington 21,847 3.2% $199,400
10 Simpsonville 23,200 3.2% $188,000
11 Charleston 137,041 3.4% $349,000
12 Hilton Head Island 40,000 3.3% $488,000
13 Hanahan 25,743 3.6% $249,000
14 Clemson 16,917 4.2% $267,000
15 Greenville 69,648 3.3% $332,700
16 North Augusta 23,370 4.3% $170,000
17 Beaufort 13,417 3.3% $229,600
18 Summerville 53,643 6.6% $215,800
19 Travelers Rest 7,947 4.4% $210,500
20 Aiken 31,428 4.2% $199,100
21 Moncks Corner 11,370 3.6% $202,000
22 Greer 32,229 3.5% $184,200
23 Hardeeville 6,788 5.2% $359,600
24 Hollywood 5,273 5.0% $248,100
25 Easley 21,149 4.1% $176,000
26 Irmo 12,397 10.2% $145,100
27 North Myrtle Beach 16,684 7.1% $275,600
28 Goose Creek 42,944 4.4% $199,600
29 Columbia 134,057 6.8% $186,000
30 Florence 38,535 3.9% $155,000
31 Central 5,342 10.7% $112,500
32 West Columbia 17,782 4.1% $156,200
33 Rock Hill 74,410 6.1% $167,600
34 Cayce 13,964 5.3% $128,300
35 Fountain Inn 10,127 8.9% $159,200
36 Camden 7,185 6.8% $181,300
37 Clover 6,370 7.6% $176,100
38 Anderson 27,387 7.6% $138,000
39 Conway 24,747 11.8% $164,300
40 Myrtle Beach 33,638 5.8% $237,200
41 Sumter 39,758 9.8% $131,800
42 Seneca 8,424 11.0% $161,800
43 Hartsville 7,559 7.2% $134,800
44 North Charleston 113,880 4.3% $184,600
45 Spartanburg 37,448 8.6% $133,200
46 Dillon 6,358 5.3% $125,400
47 Batesburg-Leesville 5,504 4.9% $112,300
48 Laurens 8,863 5.0% $95,200
49 Bennettsville 7,905 8.4% $88,200
50 Walterboro 5,417 5.3% $115,700
51 Lancaster 9,187 22.3% $161,300
52 Newberry 10,219 7.3% $100,700
53 York 8,287 7.0% $143,000
54 Clinton 8,347 10.7% $112,400
55 Georgetown 8,884 11.4% $160,900
56 Greenwood 23,351 7.7% $94,600
57 Gaffney 12,733 9.5% $104,900
58 Cheraw 5,596 17.8% $111,900
59 Chester 5,392 8.6% $67,700
60 Darlington 6,000 9.0% $123,000
61 Orangeburg 12,713 14.3% $107,700
62 Union 7,716 13.1% $80,700
63 Marion 6,598 13.1% $108,500
64 Abbeville 5,014 12.3% $95,600

How Is Your Town In ?

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the best places to live in South Carolina.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.