Nestled in the southeastern corner of the United States, South Carolina is one of the most charming and welcoming parts of the country. Not only is it famous for its generous Southern hospitality and miles of beautiful coastline, South Carolina is an appealing landing place for those looking for a special place to retire.
With a population of just over five million people, South Carolina is the 40th largest state and covers an area 260 miles long and 200 miles wide. North Carolina borders to the north and Georgia to the west. Along the east is the Atlantic Ocean and the coast contains the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry.
Reasons to Retire in South Carolina
Taxes are an important part of the retirement process. Compared to the rest of the country, SC has comparatively low property taxes. Also, social security benefits are exempt from taxation which offers attractive deductions on retirement income for residents.
Senior homeowners may qualify for a homestead exemption that allows the first $50,000 of a property’s fair market value to be excused from local property taxes. This is a tremendous opportunity for those moving to the state to enjoy a comfortable peaceful life without worrying about financial issues.
South Carolina’s tax code is great for retirees as there are also some substantial deductions for other kinds of retirement income. Residents can claim $3,000 deduction it they are under 65 or $15,000 if they are over 65, making it notably friendly for senior citizens who are receiving income from other sources than social security, Additionally, there are no inheritance or estate taxes which often affect widows and widowers, another benefit when dealing with life changing events.
Health and wellness rank high when deciding where to retire. There are numerous leading healthcare systems throughout the state with a wealth of specialists from cardiology to rheumatology.
South Carolina is home to some world class hospitals such as the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Spartanburg Medical Center, offering first-class, quality healthcare. South Carolina is an extremely desirable place to live which also attracts top medical professionals to the state. Having access to medical treatments or wellness checks is an integral part of growing older, so by choosing SC as a place to retire means not having to worry about receiving quality medical care.
When reaching retiring age, most people have a “graduate” degree in life. However, learning never stops. Whether it’s years spent in full-time employment or the university of hard knocks, senior citizens do not have to hit pause on learning. When life starts to slow down, it doesn’t mean the mind has to as well. With some extra time in your life, why not choose education? Or at least have the option.
By choosing South Carolina as the place to retire, residents over 60 can sign up (on a space available basis) to any state-funded college tuition-free. Seniors can take any class offered and have access to specialized learning programs, all for just a small registration fee. Of course you might incur some costs for books and such, but tuition is free.
Health Benefits – Air Quality
4 out of 10 Americans live in states with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, which can put their health at risk.
South Carolina’s air quality is excellent. Since 2003, air pollution has decreased by 45%. By comparison, states like California, Pennsylvania, and Texas continue to battle unhealthy pollution levels.
Mental Health Benefits
If you love the great outdoors, South Carolina has beaches, lakes, and mountains galore. Having nature all around restores your capacity for self-awareness and improves mental health. While large urban environments cultivate as much green space as possible, there is no substitute for living up close to nature. Having the ability to quickly and easily access the great outdoors, perhaps even out your own front door, can work wonders for your mental health.
A Variety of Environments
If you choose to retire to South Carolina you can choose to live on the coast or in the Upstate.
The northwestern part of the state (known as the Upstate) sits along the 1-85 corridor between the major cities of Charlotte, NC, and Atlanta, GA. This proximity gives residents easy access to everything in each town while allowing enough space to enjoy a slower pace of life in smaller cities and suburbs.
Coastal living continues to be a favorite choice among retirees being drawn to seaside towns. Here they can enjoy fishing, boating, artisan markets, golfing, and ocean breezes.
Arts and Culture
South Carolina is rich in history and cultural diversity. With its film festivals, world-class restaurants, some of the best fresh seafood, dairy products, and produce in the US, art galleries, concerts, theatres, and award-winning universities, the state offers the best of what matters in quality of life for seniors.
Need we say more – golf is everywhere in South Carolina.
Where to retire in South Carolina
We looked at some hard data on things that are important to retirees. Affordability, access to healthcare, tax burden, cost of living, crime, recreation, and weather. The result was a list of the top 11 places to retire in South Carolina. So read on to see why these towns made the cut.
Garden City Beach
- Population: 10,669
- Median home value: $145,800
- Median rent: $1,062
- Median household income: $44, 862
Low property taxes, low cost of living, educational and employment opportunities and living along the Atlantic Ocean makes this town a destination for retirees.
While Garden City Beach is often considered to be a city, it is not incorporated and does not have a city council or mayor.
This small resort town is one of twelve distinct communities including, Surfside Beach and Myrtle Beach, that makes up an area that is known as the Grand Strand.
- Population: 27,181
- Median home value: $122,500
- Median rent: $649
- Median household income: $50,865
The Friendliest City in South Carolina. Yes, that is actually one of the nicknames given to the city in recognition of the close knit community that is always ready to welcome new residents and visitors.
The incredibly low cost of living is one of the many draws to Anderson. The median home value is 35.5% below the national average.
Seniors make up 33% of its population. If you retire there, you have plenty of retiree resources to access, including the Anderson County Senior Citizens Program.
You will also have many activities to engage in throughout the small town of Anderson. Attractions include the historic Denver Downs Farm, the Anderson County Museum dedicated to South Carolina’s heritage, and Sadlers Creek State Park. The Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center hosts a variety of sporting and theatrical events including an enchanting play structure for children which is great when your grandchildren visit.
Hilton Head Island
- Population: 40,007
- Median home value: $483,600
- Median rent: $1,271
- Median household income: $84,575
For the past decade people have been flocking to retire to Hilton Head Island in larger and larger numbers. In fact, 34% of seniors make up the population today.
Hilton Head Island offers retirees an island-suburban feel and most residents own their homes. It is home to beautiful beaches, prize winning golf courses, and an abundance of natural beauty. The island has a welcoming atmosphere and it’s full of spirit and rich in culture.
Retirees gravitate to Hilton Head for its fantastic amenities and waterfront lifestyle. There are endless opportunities to stay active within the area (aside from golf) including cycling paths along the beach, tennis clubs, and watersports.
- Population: 9,137
- Median home value: $145,800
- Median rent: $1,062
- Median household income: $44,862
If you’re looking to retire to a quiet, maritime community, Murrells Inlet may interest you. Just a few miles from Myrtle Beach, this small town has plenty of golf courses and opportunities for recreational activities. You can enjoy its many beaches and all the opportunities that coastal life has to offer. Some even consider Murrells Inlet the seafood capital of the world. Seniors make up about 32% of its population, and it has about 7.25 medical facilities per 1,000 people.
- Population:3 0,671
- Median home value: $188,600
- Median rent: $975
- Median household income: $56,199
Aiken sits near the state line just 20 miles from Augusta, GA. This South Carolina town is rich in history with many historical landmarks including the Aiken Golf Club. The city’s shopping and dining options are growing and the art scene has exploded.
Aiken has one of the nation’s largest urban forests: the 2,100 acre Hitchcock Woods. It is home to the Aiken Steeplechase Association and a thriving racing venue which hosts horse races, polo matches, fairs, festivals, and many more events.
Retirees will enjoy the laid-back vibe of the town as well as affordable housing options.
- Population: 10,245
- Median home value: $110,000
- Median rent: $787
- Median household income: $32,759
Newberry is a peaceful, rural community surrounded by spectacular scenery. 17.5% of the population is seniors. Cost of living in Newberry is 29% below the US average. The economy has shown steady growth. It is an arts-centered town that boasts an Opera House, Arts Center, Museum, and a local theatre group. Locals rave about the Enoree River Winery in town.
- Population: 37,319
- Median home value: $175,000
- Median rent: $995
- Median household income: $34,092
Retirees who like a mix of city life and country life might see Spartanburg as a perfect fit. It’s a great place for people looking to retire to a quieter city that still has some life in it. The adorable downtown area is walkable for those who want to explore without a car.
The cost of living in Spartanburg is 19.8% less than the US average. New distribution centers are creating more jobs in the area, and more jobs are always a sign of a growing economy.
There are plenty of different things to do in Spartanburg including Croft State Park, Glendale Shoals Preserve, Hub City Railroad Museum, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, the Spartanburg Art Gallery. and many more options. There is a thriving restaurant and craft beer scene, and Spartanburg is also home to three colleges.
- Population: 86,982
- Median home value: $461,000
- Median rent: $1,629
- Median household income: $103,232
A mild climate, low crime rate, abundant housing in a wide price range, and access to artistic and cultural amenities make Mt. Pleasant an appealing town for seniors. Mt. Pleasant is a thriving suburb with easy access to Charleston and surrounding towns.
While the cost of living is higher than the average in South Carolina, it is still about 9% less than the country as a whole. For starters, you won’t need to save up a vacation fund each year; with free beaches and parks in your backyard you’ll have instant spots for relaxation.
Retiring to Mt. Pleasant means you’re close to metro areas like Charlotte, Atlanta, and Savannah and all their attractions. Living in Mt. Pleasant means having plenty of cultural and historic places to visit. These make for great learning opportunities for you and your grandkids.
One of Mt. Pleasant’s biggest advantages is its natural amenities. Mountains to the west and the ocean within a short drive make for diverse topography. And, of course, Mt. Pleasant and nearby Charleston are renowned for their restaurants.
- Population: 72,207
- Median home value: $268,463
- Median rent: $855
- Median household income: $44,860
Greenville is one of the most beautiful and active cities in the state. It’s full of unforgettable places and recreational experiences. From Swamp Rabbit Trail to Falls Park, Greenville is perfect for cycling, hiking, or simply enjoying retirement. Retirees who plan to travel will appreciate that Greenville has an international airport.
The ever-growing town is also home to 15 breweries, countless restaurants, a creative arts center, and various theatres and sports franchises. This, combined with its reasonable cost of living (5% below national average), makes Greenville one of the best places to retire in South Carolina.
- Population: 42,272
- Median home value: $145,017
- Median rent: $855
- Median household income: $40,601
Sumpter is in the center of South Carolina. It’s home to Shaw Airforce Base, which has had a major positive impact on the growing economy. The base has also attracted retired military personnel to the area.
Sumter’s well-known Swan Lake Iris Garden attracts visitors from all over the country.
The city offers many amenities for retirees. It has two state parks and 21 city parks along with many scenic areas, cultural events, recreational opportunities, and (arguably) the best barbecue joints in Southern Carolina. Couple that with a cost of living that is 25% below the national average, and you can see why many retirees seek out Sumter.
- Median home value: $187,000
- Median rent: $825
- Median household income:$39,957
If you want to retire and live a quiet life, the small historic town of Conway might be the perfect place. Besides, the proximity to the prime tourist attraction of Myrtle Beach can make it ideal for getting the best of both worlds.
With Lake Busbee, located in the south, and the eastern part surrounded by the Waccamaw River, Conway is a city with scenic beauty. If you love history, a laid-back lifestyle, and a small-town vibe, then you will be happy in Conway.
The living cost is 5% lower than the national average. In terms of grocery, housing, health, and transportation costs, Conway is well below the national average.
You can find many water activities near the Waccamaw River and hiking opportunities in the nearby wildlife conservation refuge. There is no shortage of options for fine dining with quaint restaurants dotting the town. And remember, it’s a 15 minute drive to get to Myrtle Beach.
Overall, retirees generally want a safe, affordable city that gives them plenty of things to do. We looked at the numbers and found what we consider to be the top places to retire in South Carolina. Whether you enjoy a more adventurous or laid-back lifestyle, our list has you covered.