Contributed by Top 10 Guru Lindsay Shugerman
It’s hard not to love a state that offers gentle accents, beautiful scenery and delicious Low Country food like shrimp and grits.
But if work, family or retirement are taking you to South Carolina to live, you may be wondering which city or town to call home. Fear not! I’ve gathered the info you need on the top ten places to live in South Carolina. In a state full of great communities, this is the best of the best!
Named for its founder, Revolutionary War hero Thomas Sumter, this South Carolina town offers a residents a warm, family-focused place to call home.
Located about an hour and a half from the shore and a few hours from the mountains, Sumter’s central location is perfect for people who want access to it all. The city itself is famous for the lovely Swan Lake Iris Gardens, a 150 acre park that’s home to 8 species of swans and more than 125 varieties of Japanese irises.
The population is diverse, with a mix of families, retirees and military service members. Housing is very affordable with a single family home averaging only $133,725.
Median resident age: 32.5 years
Median household income: $33,267
Median house or condo value: $118,100
Florence, South Carolina is the right city for you if you want a rich variety of world-class performing and visual arts, a thriving economy and a small town feel all rolled into one.
Known in the past for the many fine furnishing companies that called the Florence area home, this town is now successfully drawing a wide variety of clean and growing industries to the area. A new multi-million dollar performing arts center now under construction will continue the pattern of providing both economic and cultural growth in the region.
Housing in Florence remains affordable, with the average single family home listing at about $172,013.
Median resident age: 37.4 years
Median household income: $42,437
Median house or condo value: $136,819
If small town living is your preference, take a look at Easley. This South Carolina town with a population of just about 20,000 is located in the Northwest corner of the state between Atlanta, Georgia. and Charlotte, North Carolina. Easley is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and several lakes, making this an ideal choice for fans of hiking, mountain biking, water sports or nature
Nearby Greenville means the smaller town feel doesn’t cut residents off from larger city amenities.
Housing is typically lower in cost than in other prime areas with mountain access, with an average price of only $159,624 for a single family home.
Median resident age: 40.5 years
Median household income: $44,449
Median house or condo value: $135,944
Probably best known for Clemson University, the city of Clemson is also a remarkably livable city.
Clemson is located in the northwest corner of the state amid lakes and rivers, rolling hills and country roads, making it a beautiful choice for those seeking to escape concrete jungles and endless traffic jams. It’s a very well-educated city, with nearly 60% of residents with a Bachelors degree or higher. Crime and unemployment are low, and at an average price of $200,613 for a single family home, housing is still affordable.
Median resident age: 24.3 years
Median household income: $28,925
Median house or condo value: $169,472
6. Hilton Head
Ask people to name a town in South Carolina, and Hilton Head is likely to be at the top of the list. This barrier island turned resort is a favorite of well-heeled tourists seeking a luxurious beach-front escape.
But Hilton Head is also a wonderful place to call home year round. Sure, it’s expensive, with single family homes averaging $613,841. But for those who can afford the price, the dramatic ocean vistas and laid-back island attitude make it one of the first choices of towns in South Carolina. As to be expected, crime is low and unemployment is well below the state and national averages.
Hilton Head is only 22 miles from Savannah, so island fever is easy to remedy with a quick trip to the mainland.
Median resident age: 50.9 years
Median household income: $68,095
Median house or condo value: $508,068
Spartenburg would have been kind of tough to leave off the list of the best home towns in South Carolina because my family lived there a couple of generations ago. But even without that link, this town earned its place in the top five on my list. The city is home to several colleges and a campus of the University of South Carolina, a thriving agricultural community providing farm-fresh produce, and a great selection of shops and boutiques.
Nicknamed the Sparkle City, Spartanburg is a culturally diverse city, with a history stretching back to the Revolutionary War and a fierce fight for freedom. Nowadays, Spartanburg residents enjoy everything from kayaking and hiking to live music and theatre.
Housing is affordable, at about $152,154 for a single family home.
Median resident age: 35.5 years
Median household income: $31,866
Median house or condo value: $113,839
4. Rock Hill
A Blues and Jazz Festival…a Patchwork Tales Storytelling Festival…the Decadent Dreams Chocolate Festival…these are just a few of the many festivals and special events that dot the calendar in Rock Hill. This is a town that likes to celebrate together, and celebrate they do.
Located just 23 miles from Charlotte, Rock Hill offers residents a chance to enjoy the city without living in the middle of it. Single family housing averages only $160,674.
Median resident age: 31.9 years
Median household income: $38,331
Median house or condo value: $134,200
Greenville is just one of those cities that feels like home from the first time you visit. Located in the foothills, Greenville offers residents an amazing array of choices in entertainment, sports, outdoor activities, live music and history.
While it’s small as cities go — only about 350,000 residents — Greenville is big enough to keep urban-lovers happy. And small enough to keep people in search of community feeling connected and at home. The climate is mild, and the educational opportunities are excellent. There are 8 magnet academies for grades K-12, plus 11 colleges and universities in the immediate area.
Housing remains affordable, with single family homes averaging $247,200, with many options for all kinds of housing budgets.
Median resident age: 34.6 years
Median household income: $37,383
Median house or condo value: $189,868
The largest city in our list so far, Columbia combines big city life with southern charm. It’s also a college town, home to 17 colleges, universities and professional trade schools, including the University of South Carolina.
That means Columbia is full of innovation, from tech start-ups to exciting new directions in the arts. And the population is as diverse as the opportunities in this evolving Southern city.
Housing is affordable, with average home prices around $219,639 — a bargain for a city this size.
Median resident age: 28.1 years
Median household income: $38,807
Median house or condo value: $165,700
I saved my favorite South Carolina city for last (or first) on my list.
Charleston is all that. It’s seriously Southern, with old-world values and charm. It’s historical, with pieces of our country’s past at every turn. It’s friendly and welcoming; it’s a city where no one is a stranger for long. It’s where tea shops rub shoulders with experimental art galleries, and both are better for the connection.
And yet, despite all the pluses, housing in this South Carolina city remains within reach for most families with a single family home averaging $388,542.
Median resident age: 32.5 years
Median household income: $47,942
Median house or condo value: $272,000
Source: all statistics from city-data.com