Tropical beaches and sea islands, South Carolina lies in the southeast of the United States and has a whole host of darling towns and villages to explore.
Hilton Head Island, infamous Myrtle Beach and of course Charleston, home to Fort Sumter; the list of reasons to love little old SC goes on and on! This state once thrived on agriculture and natural resources but in more modern times there is a big industry for steel and machinery production, meaning jobs are in no short supply.
Talking about jobs, what other factors do we need to take into consideration when seeking a new home?
Some would say access to public schools, others would say house prices, some would have a strong focus on seeking a town with the lowest crime rates. In reality, it is all these factors, and a few more, that we think about when searching for a new abode.
We appreciate that finding all that information in one place can be quite a challenge so we have risen to the occasion and created our list of the 15 best places to live in South Carolina, taking into account all the facts, figures and statistics that are important to you!
1. Five Forks
Five Forks can be found deep in Greenville County, just a short drive away from Greenville itself. There is a lot to be said for an outcrop town like this, home to 16,398 people there is all you could wish for in a home here.
This is, compared with the rest of the country, quite an affluent area. Median household income is $115,050 a year. With that in mind, the median home value of $264,200 is no real issue, the community here is doing very well for themselves.
Locals are quick to note how the steady influx of jobs in the area keeps the local economy flourishing and the people themselves thriving. What more could you want?
2. Tega Cay
Tega Cay truly is a delightful place to live, close to the water with a community of just 8000 people, there is a small town feel to this suburb of Charlotte city.
With thanks to the small and vigilant community, there is next to no crime in Tega Cay which offers residents new and old sufficient peace of mind.
Although the median household income is a punchy six-figures there remains a diversity within the residence, both in terms of ethnicity and economic background. Much like in Five Forks, this helps keep the area feeling fresh and vibrant.
Although renting is an option in Tega Cay we’re inclined to back the masses here and say that buying is best; only 7% live in rented accommodation and rent averages upwards of $1,300 a month.
3. Mount Pleasant
There seems to be a Mount Pleasant wherever you go in the world, South Carolina’s Mount Pleasant is arguably the most pleasant though.
Within easy reach of the Isle of Palms and the Sullivan’s Island, there are countless opportunities to get outdoors and explore South Carolina’s versatile landscapes.
Being so close to such breathtaking scenery does come at a cost, the cost of living here is pretty steep compared to the rest of the county.
There is a big divide between the average household income of $77,639 and the median home value of $372,000. This would suggest that although at first glance Mount Pleasant seems a little exclusive, should you play your cards right and be sensible with your investments this really could be your next home.
4. Seven Oaks
Bordering Lake Murray is the suburb of state capital Columbia, Seven Oaks. This thriving suburb could very well be classed as a small town in its own right for 16,185 people call this neighbourhood home.
Seven Oaks is our most affordable area on the list to date. Prospective tenants will be delighted to hear that monthly rent in the Seven Oaks area is $814 a month, bingo! And with 42% of existing residents living in rented properties, there is more than ample choice out there.
A recent upturn in interest from millennials has, in turn, created a real family oriented feel to the neighbourhood and sees Seven Oaks being regarded as one of the best suburbs to raise a family in South Carolina.
Clemson spans from Pickens County over into Anderson County and is home to the prestigious Clemson University. A yearly influx of new students keeps Clemson on its toes and in turn, creates a friendly, open and welcoming atmosphere about the town.
It’s not only students who will be happy to hear about Clemson’s low rent value, falling at an average of $785 a month. For those who can split rent two or even three ways, this area has near instant appeal. Lest we forget to mention that 58% of residents live in rented homes so there is no short supply of housing options here.
Clemson is home to the Fort Hill Plantation and the South Carolina Botanical Garden, with that in mind the town motto of ‘in season, every season’ makes a little more sense.
6. Fort Mill
Lying just east of Tega Cay is the next suburb of Charlotte to feature on our list, Fort Mill. This is a fantastically affordable area to live and being so close to the city centre means that jobs are readily available.
At face value, house prices here are highly desirable, on average a home will call for an investment of $192,500. Should you have under $100k to play with, perhaps looking elsewhere should be advised, for although the average house price is under $200k the properties that come on the market are often upwards of $450K.
That said, annual income is only just about the national average at $61,773 per year, this goes to show that being sensible with your salary is worthwhile.
7. Sullivan’s Island
Certainly an island in terms of geography, Sullivan’s Island is hardly that far removed from South Carolina; so no real island vibes here! Sullivan’s Island is connected to the mainland by Highway 703.
The Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse is, naturally, the neighbourhood’s best-loved landmark but Fort Moultrie is a close contender too. With only 2,000 people living in this idyllic spot you best prepare yourself to read the median home value here…
It’s $1,110,000! Although some properties on the market come in at a cheap as chips $745,000, you really need seven figures to play with should Sullivan’s Island be your choice!
8. Forest Acres
Coming back down to earth with a cushty soft landing is the suburb of Forest Acres, a humble group of 10,545 people live here and the cost of living too has returned to earth and is near perfect for the average working family.
Forest Acres is a good all rounder in terms of cost of living, access to public schooling and diversity of residents too. The neighbourhood is home to a highly educated bunch, upwards of 30% who have bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
If living surrounded by hard-working families who can hold a conversation over a dinner party table sounds up your street then look no further than Forest Acres.
A diverse and family-friendly community awaits you in Lexington. Much like with Forest Acres, this home of 19,447 people identifies as its own town rather than as a suburb of Columbia.
Being close to mountains, lakes and adventure trails means that there is so much to explore from a base in Lexington, that’s on top of being just two hours drive from the coast. Weekend home on Sullivan’s Island we hear you jest. Go for it.
This is a fairly affordable area, for those with a humble double income. The home value here is $179,000 on average and looking at what’s available on the market right now you’d surely get change from that investment.
Back to South Carolina’s picture perfect coast, we go. This is a port city that was founded way back in 1670, making it one of the oldest in the country. Speaking of old there is a yesteryear charm to Charleston with its cobbled streets and antebellum houses painted pastel hues of yellow and grey.
This is an expensive place to play, but not Sullivan’s Island expensive. Home value averages at $255,600 but with 127,694 people living here earning roughly $55,500 a year there is affordability hidden behind the pricey exterior.
In terms of public schooling, Charleston is the place to be, 68 schools in the district and with several offering a Montessori style of learning, parents get offered a broad range of options for their youngsters.
Mauldin is, much like Five Forks, a township all of its own, living in the shadow of Greenville. It should be mentioned that variety and quality of houses in Mauldin is fantastic.
For more constrained budgets there are properties for $145,000 with 3-bedrooms and fair sized gardens. For those with upwards of $300,000 Mauldin offers you that chance of invest in a charming 3-bedroom mansion style home with double garage to match.
With a mid-sized population of 24,300, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that there are 90 schools in this district. 18% of residents are of school age so children have a wide community of fellow youngsters to grow up with.
Blythewood can be found due north of Columbia and Forest Acres. This small suburb has a rural feel as a result of the large plots of land on which each detached house has been built.
Despite the rural feel, the house prices have remained affordable, but with only 2,400 people living here, desirable houses appear on the market once in a blue moon.
In terms of schooling, for those who want their children to be able to boast that they attended the best schools in the state then stick to Charleston. There is nothing remotely wrong, or underperforming about schools in Blythewood, only that they miss out on the top spots.
Lying on the banks of Lake Murray in Lexington County we find Irmo, a northwestern suburb of state capital Columbia.
You would think that being so close to the water’s edge that house prices would be sky high; you’d be wrong!
The average home here costs just $124,700, not only this but there is great value for money in Irmo too.
For an investment of $134,900, you can move right into a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom spacious family home on Windbreak Crescent. With evergreens providing privacy and a double garage for big boys toys there is a lot to like about homes in Irmo.
14. Isle of Palms
It would be incorrect to say that the Isle of Palms is the poor man’s Sullivan’s Island as house prices here are still near the one million dollar mark and edging closer each day. Homes here are lavish and elegant, every property can boast its mansion status proudly.
Being such an exclusive, high priced area the resident population is far from diverse. Earning upwards of $95,000 per household annually, there is a community feel but with private driveways and such high fences you won’t get anyone nipping round to borrow a cup of sugar that’s for sure!
Once again we return back to earth and land in Greenville. We have discussed suburbs of this thriving city already and although coming in 15th on our list, Greenville is certainly worthy of its place here.
Rent in Greenville is phenomenally affordable, averaging $765 a month. Being this low means that many tenants will find themselves being able to rent bigger, more modern homes than they would elsewhere in the state.
Being a city you have access to all the social opportunities you could wish for, you’re never too far from a hipster bar, trendy workout class or art exhibition to keep your mind ticking over.