dock over body of water in Charleston, South Carolina

Best Places To Live In South Carolina

Rachel Burris9-Minute Read
November 01, 2021

Choosing a new hometown is no easy decision to make. It’s always fun to start by checking out a list of the best places to live in the U.S. But the country is vast, its regions are diverse and you may have certain priorities in mind already.

If you know you want to live in a climate with hot summer days and mild winter nights, you may want to start thinking seriously about South Carolina. The state has a number of cities, suburbs and towns that meet the standards of even the most discerning home buyers. Explore what it has to offer by perusing our list of the best places to live in South Carolina.

Where Is The Best Place To Live In South Carolina?

Even after narrowing down your search to a specific state, you still have to figure out where in South Carolina is best. To determine the answer, you must weigh many crucial factors, including affordability, opportunity, desirability and safety. We’ve done our homework, so you can limit yours.

1. Charleston

Downtown Charleston
  • Population: 137,566
  • Median Household Income: $64,599
  • Median Home Sale Price: $338,703
  • Average Commute: 22.7 minutes

Although Charleston has the largest population of all places in South Carolina, the city exudes a charming, nostalgic feel thanks to its cobblestone streets and quaint, historical homes. Founded 350 years ago, under the name Charles Towne, Charleston is the oldest city in the state and has a fascinating history.

Situated on a peninsula, Charleston gets the ideal weather for its location. Although summers can reach the mid-90s, there are some lovely beaches within a 20-minute drive. If you want to become a part of the history, check out homes for sale in Charleston and the local market trends.

2. Greenville

Greenville, South Carolina
  • Population: 70,635
  • Median Household Income: $53,571
  • Median Home Sale Price: $328,368
  • Average Commute: 18.6 minutes

Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is surrounded by nature; yet, it has the shopping and culinary offerings of a bustling city. In Greenville, southern hospitality blends with international flavor thanks to the city’s history in textile manufacturing.

The once-thriving industry brought merchants, consumers and students into Greenville from all over the world. Today, Greenville’s economy is fueled by major corporations, like GE Power and Michelin, whose North American headquarters moved to the city back in the mid-’80s. If you’d also like to move to the city, explore Greenville’s current listings and real estate trends.

3. Mount Pleasant

river in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
  • Population: 91,684
  • Median Household Income: $97,176
  • Median Home Sale Price: $479,038
  • Average Commute: 22.7 minutes

Mount Pleasant is a laid-back, coastal suburb with a wealth of amenities. Just 2.7 miles away from Charleston via the Cooper River Bridge, Mount Pleasant has a thriving downtown on one side and two of the state’s best beaches on the other.

Although real estate in the area is pricier, the suburb’s residents are known for being highly educated and well paid. In Mount Pleasant, 62.2% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is $97,176.

Therefore, people who live in Mount Pleasant are twice as likely to have received higher education and earn 61% more than the average American household. If Mount Pleasant sounds like your kind of place, take a look at the home listings and trends for the location.

4. Columbia

aerial view of Columbia, South Carolina
  • Population: 131,674
  • Median Household Income: $45,663
  • Median Home Listing Price: $209,853
  • Average Commute: 15.7 minutes

Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, whose flagship campus stretches across the city and contributes $4.16 billion to the local economy. Football is a major pastime for the South Carolina capital, and tailgating is a huge part of the culture.

Without an NFL team, Columbia residents – and South Carolinians more generally – are fanatics about USC’s Gamecocks. In fact, crowds can get so big around Williams-Brice Stadium that traffic around the southern half of the city can be a nightmare.

If you think you can handle a few more cars on the road, review the homes for sale and Columbia’s market trends.

5. Tega Cay

road lined with trees in Tega Cay, South Carolina
  • Population: 11,335
  • Median Household Income: $123,564
  • Median Home Listing Price: $353,000
  • Average Commute: 32.1 minutes

Located in the northern region of South Carolina, Tega Cay is actually considered a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina, which explains why it has the longest commute of any other place on this list. Residents may have to travel farther for work, but it clearly pays off.

The median household income in Tega Cay is 105% above the national average. Meanwhile, the charming 3.87 square mile peninsula is a close-knit, lakeside community, where residents gather throughout the year to take part in events, like the City Birthday Party and Community Yard Sale.

If you want to be a part of the fun, see the current homes on the market and real estate trends for Tega Cay.

6. Fort Mill

dock in Fort Mill, South Carolina
  • Population: 22,284
  • Median Household Income: $81,401
  • Median Home Listing Price: $369,769
  • Average Commute: 26.3 minutes

Not far from Tega Cay, Fort Mill is another suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the Census Bureau, the town has seen its population nearly double in size over the last decade, making it one of the fastest-growing places in the country.

Residents appear to be flocking to Fort Mill due to the fact that its property taxes are low and public schools are high-performing. To keep up with the increased demand, a lot of new construction has been taking place, both residential and commercial.

If you want to get in on the action, find out what homes are for sale and get a feel for the Fort Mill market.

7. Rock Hill

lights and a church in Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Population: 75,048
  • Median Household Income: $46,792
  • Median Home Listing Price: $248,000
  • Average Commute: 23.9 minutes

Thanks to the city’s continued efforts to support the arts, Rock Hill has a thriving art scene that enhances the local economy and breeds creativity within the community. Downtown Rock Hill, which was named the state’s first cultural district, is filled with galleries, museums, theaters, art schools and artist studios.

Meanwhile, the streets are decorated with murals and sculptures, which allow residents to engage with art as they travel to and from the area’s many cultural and culinary offerings. If you think Rock Hill will inspire you, check out its current listings and real estate trends.

8. Clemson

orange flowers on Clemson University's campus
  • Population: 17,501
  • Median Household Income: $42,021
  • Median Home Sale Price: $252,850
  • Average Commute: 19.9 minutes

Home to Clemson University, Clemson can be described as a classic college town. With over 25,000 students attending the university, the population more than doubles when school is in session. Unsurprisingly, Clemson University is also the largest employer in the area.

The city and university are intertwined, but, unlike many other college towns, relations between the two are good. In fact, the Princeton Review recently rated Clemson the top Town-and-Gown City in the country, based on how well students get along with the local community. If you want to live in a place with an academic feel, search Clemson’s homes for sale and market trends.

9. Lexington

clock in Lexington, South Carolina
  • Population: 22,157
  • Median Household Income: $68,219
  • Median Home Listing Price: $239,500
  • Average Commute: 25.2 minutes

Lexington is a town with a proud history. Back in the mid- to late 1800s, Lexington acted as a wholesale retail market that sold manufactured goods to merchants from Columbia. Today, Lexington honors that history through its commitment to small businesses. The quaint, small town offers residents the ability to shop locally through its wealth of mom-and-pop shops, like Four Oaks Farm, the 90-year-old, family-owned country store.

Lexington’s Old Mill is also a testament to the area’s desire to preserve its merchant-inspired past. The former site of the town’s prosperous textile mill now houses 20 local businesses. If you’re tired of being surrounded by chain stores, look for a home for sale in Lexington and get a sense of the area’s market.

10. Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina beach lined with ferris with carousel and beach condos
  • Population: 34,695
  • Median Household Income: $40,525
  • Median Home Sale Price: $219,352
  • Average Commute: 16.6 minutes

Situated along 60 miles of the Atlantic Coast, Myrtle Beach is the ideal spot for anyone who wants each day to feel like a vacation. The resort town is known for its amusement parks, golf courses and high-rise hotels, but Myrtle Beach actually comprises 14 different communities, each of which has its own draw.

Although Myrtle Beach residents tend to make 33% less than the typical American household, they benefit from a low cost of living, including home prices that are 31% below the national average. If you want to live well for less, see the homes for sale and market trends in Myrtle Beach.

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Is South Carolina A Good Place To Live? 5 Factors To Consider

When deciding the location for your next big move, it’s best to do your research. While there are many ways to determine whether a city or town is a good place to live, the main factors to consider are the area’s cost of living, job opportunities, crime rate, public schools and amenities.

Let’s take a look at why these particular aspects are so crucial to a place’s desirability and how you can use them to determine which city in South Carolina might be the best fit for you.

1. Cost Of Living

Before you settle on a place to live, you want to investigate the area’s cost of living. How high a city’s cost of living is will tell you how much money you need to afford life’s basic necessities, like housing, food and healthcare. The higher a place’s cost of living, the more money you will need to live well there.

2. Job Opportunities

To afford the necessary expenses, you’re going to need a job. That’s why you should spend a lot of time exploring the local job markets of each area you’re considering.

You want to find out what the largest industries are, so you can figure out if they’re aligned with your experience and skills. You also should look up the area’s unemployment rate. It will give you a sense of how strong the local economy is and how likely you will be to get a job after moving.

3. Crime Rate

You’ll want to ensure that the place you move to is safe, and the area’s crime rate will help you determine just that. Neighborhood safety should be a key factor in your search, and the extent of crime in the area can play a role in whether your home value appreciates over time.

4. Quality Of Public Schools

If you have kids or think you may have them in the future, the public schools in the area will be essential to your decision. After all, there’s a wide range in the quality of public schools in this country, and you want to ensure that your children receive the best education possible. Even if you don’t plan to have children, your home’s school district will have a huge bearing on its resale value.

When examining the local public school system, you’ll want to pay close attention to the schools’ test scores, graduation rate and student-to-teacher ratio. You should also be sure to check out the district’s overall reputation, as it can give you great insight into whether others would want to send their children there.

5. Things To Do

Unless you plan to spend all of your spare time at home, you’ll want to find out what there is to do in the area. The local amenities, entertainment and activities offered will greatly impact your quality of life. By researching the dining options, nightlife, shopping, cultural offerings, outdoor activities and sporting events, you can get a sense of how much enjoyment each place will bring you.

The Bottom Line

No matter how helpful “best places to live” lists may be, remember rankings are ultimately subjective. Everyone is different, so what makes a city or town seem best to you may not be the same for someone else. Therefore, you should use the rankings of these 10 South Carolina places as a jumping-off point for your own exploration.

When researching the best places to live in South Carolina – or any other place in the world – be sure to consider the cost of living, job opportunities, crime rate, public schools and amenities. You will find that these factors help make the search for your next hometown far easier.

Ready to begin your house hunt in the Palmetto State? Connect with one of our South Carolina real estate agents today to get started!

*The data presented on median home prices comes from the Rocket Homes Real Estate, LLC trend reports and reflects July 2021 pricing. The other statistics in each listing were sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, including 2019 population estimates, 2018 median household incomes and 2014 – 2018 mean travel time to work for those 16 and older.

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Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.