South Carolina has been growing in popularity as a destination for relocation. Known as the Palmetto State, it has been voted as one of the best states to raise a family. South Carolina has a strong economy, high ratings in education, and an average cost of living with affordable homes in desirable neighborhoods.

Generally speaking, the pros of living in South Carolina include:

  • Friendly People. It’s the south and people tend to keep an even-keeled pace. Often welcoming and polite, the atmosphere is quite relaxed.
  • Gas Prices. Commuters will love the fact that South Carolina usually has cheaper gas prices because the gas tax is the lowest in the contiguous states.
  • Property Taxes. Along with the low gas tax, property taxes are pretty low too.
  • Family Friendly. In addition to having some of the highest-ranked schools, the crime rate is one of the lowest in the country.

With the good comes the bad. Here are some of the cons of living in South Carolina.

Cost of Living. The average cost of living is a little bit higher than average. This might be a huge contributing factor that keeps South Carolina off the list but the offset is that annual income usually offsets that.

Weather. South Carolina can be quite hot and humid. Like Florida, it is subject to hurricane season, so anyone close to the Atlantic coast is subject to flooding during big storms. This state is also subjected to fairly cold winters and an occasional snowfall.

Bugs. Some people have said they make bugs bigger in the south.

Bad Roads. With the fluctuation in weather comes the buckling and pitting of the roads. There seems to be road construction all the time.

Without further ado, below are the ten top places to live in South Carolina. Some are based on income to cost of living ratio; others are ranked by education, and still, others made the list by virtue of being in a good neighborhood that was within commuting distance to larger cities.

1. Conway

Founded in 1732, Conway is one of the oldest towns in the state. According to the 2010 census, the population was 17,103 but there are estimates that the population has grown to nearly 26K in 2019. Homes for sale in Conway, SC range from trailers to single homes, townhouses, and vacation rentals.

Conway is close to Myrtle Beach and its historic districts. In fact, they have several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2. Mount Pleasant

With the word “pleasant” in the name, can one expect anything less? Mount Pleasant is close to the Atlantic coast and near plenty of outdoor activities. The crime rate is low, as is the unemployment rate, which hovers around 2.7%; the fourth lowest in the state. The cost of living is a little on the higher end, but income is also a little higher than the national average at just over $97K a year. Home prices are a little higher because of the old adage: “location, location, location.”

3. James Island

Located just south of Charleston Harbor, James Island has a distinct small-town feeling because they have about 12,000 residents. The city’s median income is approximately $78K per year but median home prices hover around $275K and higher property taxes. Where this may seem like a budget buster, James Island is known for its great schools and high graduation rates.

4. Tega Cay

Tega Cay has been voted as one of the fastest-growing towns in the state and third best city in South Carolina. On the northern side of South Carolina, Tega Cay is very close to Charlotte, North Carolina so commuting to a job in a larger city is reasonable.

Here are some demographics about Tega Cay: 1,509 households; 74.6% are married couples living together; 37.6% of the households have children under the age of 18.

5. Mauldin

When looking to relocate to South Carolina, Mauldin has one of the lower median home prices in the state (average $157K). Unemployment is the 17th lowest in the state at 4.8% and the average income is nearly $66K per year. The crime rate is also below the national average with violent crimes.

6. Forest Acres

Forest Acres is considered a bedroom community with nearly 11K residents living within commute distance to Columbia. In fact, most commutes are approximately 10 minutes from Forest Acres.

Because of the proximity to the city, all of the entertainment and amenities are easy to get to. Restaurants are abundant and home prices are the 18th lowest in the state.

7. Lexington

History buffs and school children have heard of the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. Lexington’s overall median home prices are about $183,000 with locals earning approximately $68,000 a year. Lake Murray is a favorite destination for swimming, boating, biking, and hiking. Enriched with beauty and history, Lexington is desirable for those looking to relocate to South Carolina.

8. Fort Mill

Looking for some southern charm? Fort Mill might be the place for you. The city boasts having a low unemployment rate with salaries averaging at $81,000 per year. Unfortunately, high-income areas tend to have a higher cost of living. With that, median home prices are trending toward $260K. The crime rate is also low making it one of the safest cities to live in within the state.

9. Charleston

Charleston is a highly desirable place to live for a variety of reasons. It consistently ranks high in education and graduation rates. The median salary is approximately $65K a year with a 4.1% unemployment rate.

Charleston is the largest city in South Carolina and it has everything that is expected with a metropolitan area. One very interesting fact is that Charleston was under siege by the pirate Black Beard in 1718.

10. Simpsonville

Simpsonville is located near the North Carolina border and is about 75 miles southwest of Charlotte, NC. This is the mountainous area of South Carolina with higher altitudes and nice views of the Appalachian Mountains.

Commutes average about 21 minutes and the citywide median household income is about $67K with home prices around $164K. One fun destination in Simpsonville is the Discovery Island Waterpark.

While homes are fairly reasonable, the cost of living leans toward the higher end for groceries and gasoline.