25 Pros and Cons of Living in South Carolina

If you’re looking for a change of scenery and a rustic, slower-paced lifestyle appeals to you, then South Carolina is the destination for you. The city is distinctly and uniquely different from northern cities. South Carolina is a place where you don’t have to be in a rush, and you can let your hair down and enjoy life.

South Carolina has much to offer you in the way of job opportunities, education, restaurants, and entertainment. Not to mention the beautiful coastline that is impossible to get used to.

If you are interested in making South Carolina your new home and want to know exactly what you’re getting into, here are our 25 pros and cons of living in South Carolina!

Pros of Living South Carolina

An image of the flag of South Carolina overlaid on a map of South Carolina. The flag features a crescent moon and palm tree on a blue background

Here are 16 pros to living in South Carolina. 

1. You’ll Love the Southern Hospitality

Southern hospitality is a real thing that seems to derive from the culture innate to the community of South Carolina. Just by taking a nice walk down the street, you’ll discover a community of warm and inviting people. 

There is a palpable calmness that emanates from the state, unlike the typical hustle and bustle that you may have become accustomed to up north. The relaxing environment seamlessly facilitates vacation vibes, granting you that permanent vacation feels in a place where you can find a home and raise a family. 

2. The Beautiful Landscape

If you enjoy stunning sites and beautiful coastlines, then South Carolina is the perfect place for you. Who wouldn’t want to make a place with several barrier islands along a beautiful shore their permanent place of residence? 

Moreover, as you begin to meander inland for the coastline, you can visit stables, boutique farms, and other areas that display lovely agriculture. Furthermore, as you continue moving further away from the coast, you will notice many quaint and cozy towns here and there. Not only that, but the topography will change as well, and you will begin to see gracefully rolling hills.

3. Lower Gas Taxes

Transportation fees as a whole happen to be lower in SC. That is because the taxes on fuel are considerably less than in other areas in the region. However, in 2018 the state decided to raise the tax on gas to 20.75 cents per gallon. This figure is still one of the lowest in the country.  

Additionally, residents may qualify for a gas tax credit, which depends on the information you submit on your income tax return. The credit can extend for up to two privately-owned passenger vehicles or motorcycles. Moreover, this credit is indeed refundable if you do not have liabilities to pay.

4. Consistently Gorgeous Weather

The weather in South Carolina is usually enjoyable year around. Sunny days are plentiful in South Carolina, and the humidity levels are comparable to other places located on the coast.

For the most part, the weather is a pleasant and comfortable temperature, especially when the sun is shining. However, the weather can become a challenge to endure during the height of summer days; this is when the days will be sticky and uncomfortable. 

But don’t be dismayed, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a trip to the beach to enjoy the coolness of the ocean!

5. Smooth Transportation System

If you’re from up North, then you’re more than acquainted with gridlock traffic and cars that are at a standstill for miles to come. In South Carolina, traffic does not occur to the degree and frequency like the North. 

Furthermore, if you happen to commute, you’ll be fine, even if you live in busier cities such as Charleston. Having a bike has become a standard item to have while living in South Carolina. 

That’s because the weather is always enjoyable, and biking is a convenient way to get around. However, if you need to drive, there are plenty of places for you to park for about $1.50 an hour in most areas.

6. Enjoy Numerous Outdoor Activities

An photograph of a sunset over the Folly River, in Folly Beach, South Carolina. It shows a calm river, several boats, and an orange sky

There are many adventures to embark on when you want to enjoy the great outdoors. For starters, on those blistering hot summer days, you can go out to one of many sandy beaches to relax.

However, if you’re looking for something outside the box, you can travel to the Blue Ridge mountains and zipline down the foothills. Or, you can take a trip to the city of Clemson, to visit the renowned botanical garden. 

There’s even a zoo that you and your entire family can enjoy in Columbia, South Carolina, known as the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

7. Rich in Historical Significance

If you decide to live in South Carolina, you may be happy to learn that Charleston is the oldest city in all of South Carolina. That means that there is no shortage of history to be witnessed, with historical sites that predate the start of the American Civil War.

The city is so rich in history that even the cobblestoned streets allow you to enter into a world that is otherwise unavailable to you. The city has the oldest preserved plantation house, and the city boasts many other mansions that have managed to stand the test of time for over a century. 

Finally, visiting Fort Sumter by ferry will allow you to see the area where the Civil War began all those years ago.

8. There Are Plenty of Water Sports Activities

Are you deprived of the thrill of water sports?  Get ready to sink your teeth into something special that South Carolina has to offer. South Carolina is home to many parks, which are all arrayed in beautiful and offer the possibility of doing some form of water sport.

Boredom will be far from you when you decide to visit Shem Creek and traverse its waters via Kayak, or you could hire a charter operator and go deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic! As if that wasn’t enough, you can even sail through the Charleston Harbor on your vessel of choice. 

Furthermore, when the winds permit, you can surf and kiteboard to your heart’s content; this is especially true if you’re able to take a trip to Sullivan’s Island.

9. Low Property Taxes For the Win!

South Carolina has the 5th lowest property tax south Carolina in all of the USA. The median rate works out to be 0.57%. Therefore, our average homeowners here in South Carolina have to pay about $850 a year in property taxes. That means that just by simply living in South Carolina as a homeowner, you can stand to save lots of money on the low property tax alone. 

Perhaps, you can take those savings and put them towards something more valuable or entertaining.

10. South Carolina is a Safe Place to Live

The whole of South Carolina has a crime rate equal to most other states in the country. However, Charleston happens to be amongst the safest urban areas in our nation. 

For every 100,000 residents, there are a paltry 2,700 crimes of all kinds. On the other hand, Columbia is slightly more dangerous in this regard; however, this city, made up of small towns and rural communities, is usually a safe place to stay. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Hilton Head, South Carolina

11. Fresh Seafood Boils Daily

A photo of Charleston red rice, a popular dish in South Carolina. It shows a delicious looking dish with rice, red sauce, and seafood

If you’re a seafood lover and you just can’t get enough of it, then South Carolina is definitely the place for you because nobody does boils quite like SC! Frogmore Stew is a staple within South Carolina’s cuisine; it consists of a medley of crawfish, corn, and sausage. 

These boils are a sight to behold and something you are sure to enjoy if seafood is your passion. The natives even like to make this dish in the comfort of their own homes, which saves a lot of money. 

12. Growing Employment Opportunities

Don’t let the fact that the unemployment rate in South Carolina tends to be a percentage point higher than the national average deter you from coming here. Besides, bustling cities such as Charleston have a robust labor force where the unemployment rate is considerably lower than the national average.

In recent years, South Carolina has been transitioning from being heavily dependent on agriculture to driving its economy by investing in the technology sector. If you simply do your due diligence and proactively research for job openings you’ll be sure to land the job that meets your needs in no time.

13. Free Education for Retirees

Great news for resident retirees who are interested in pursuing further education in the state of South Carolina! If you’re 60 or older, you’re allowed to attend any college or university that’s state-funded for free. Better yet, it doesn’t matter if the classes are for credit or if they’re audited. 

This benefit is limited because it’s based on how much space is available at your time of enrollment. You’ll also have to pay for course fees, textbooks, and any other course materials. That’s a huge savings though! 

This is an excellent opportunity to take a course or two on subjects you’ve always been interested in. 

14. Strong Sense of Culture

To say there’s a strong appreciation for the arts in SC is an understatement! The state loves and prides itself on housing some of the oldest community theater groups that still operate today. They also have a variety of orchestras and a professional ballet group that does an excellent job of performing. 

Plus, there are more than 30 galleries to visit in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the more famous cities in the state, known for the French Quarter. There are many music venues throughout SC, with live entertainment always available. You can also visit the Old Exchange Building, the USS Yorktown, and numerous other cultural sites. 

15. Myrtle Beach

A photograph of the famous Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach South Carolina

You can’t mention South Carolina without speaking about the miles upon miles of gorgeous sand along Myrtle Beach. Not only is this beautiful destination a popular tourist attraction with clear waters and weather, but the seaside opportunities are also endless. 

Get on the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, which will take you above the Boardwalk and beach for a ten-minute ride. Or visit the famous Ripley’s Aquarium to see and interact with marine animals for hours.

Are you a music lover? Enjoy musical shows produced by the Carolina Opry, the first line theater that opened in Myrtle Beach. After the show, head down to the Boardwalk for an unforgettable experience. 

They have rides, delicious and fresh seafood, tons of shopping venues, movie theaters, and water parks. Aside from the tourist season when it gets pretty busy, residents can enjoy this area year-round.

16. Retirement-Friendly Tax Benefits

If you’re thinking of relocating to South Carolina for any reason, you’ll want to be aware of the tax situation. As you get older and spend your days under the sun of SC, there are more perks for retiring in the state. 

Taxes are an essential consideration for any retirement plan. And if you plan on moving somewhere new in general, you should check out the team rate beforehand.

South Carolina offers an impressive package for retirees, beginning with no tax on Social Security benefits. There’s also a significant deduction for various other retirement income streams. If you are under 65 years of age, you can claim a deduction worth $3,000. If you’re 65 or older, you can claim up to $15,000. 

Cons of Living in South Carolina

Here are 9 cons of living in South Carolina.

1. There’s Too Much Construction 

Because so many people have recently become interested in moving to South Carolina, it has caused an uptick in homebuilding projects in popular urban and rural areas. Residents will tell you that it seems like there’s always a construction project going on in their town. 

This surge has proved to be interruptive in a lot of ways, especially when people are trying to commute to work daily. Additionally, it can get really noisy throughout the day. That is something you may want to consider before moving. Scope the area out and see if a lot is going on in the way of building and construction.

2. High Cost of Living

A photo of the Historic Homes District in Charleston South Carolina

So while the cost of housing is lower than other states, the cost of living as it relates to essential items is considerably higher. You’ll pay more out of pocket for your utilities and healthcare, and some grocery items as well. 

Before you move, make sure that your employment opportunities will provide adequate income to cover your expenses. Certain taxes cost more compared to other states, like income taxes once you make over $15,000. There’s more on that below. 

3. Hurricanes Could Be a Problem 

The weather is overall beautiful down in SC. However, there’s always a chance that what seems like a nice day outside could quickly take a turn for the worst. There have been a few devastating hurricanes that have done a number on the state in times past. 

Hugo was a category four hurricane that wreaked havoc in 1989, and since then, Irma, Floyd, and Matthew have created transportation and housing issues that still linger for many residents. In general, the weather can be a little unpredictable and you can easily experience thunder and lightning one minute, with blue skies and sunshine the next. Just something to keep in mind.

4. Watch out For Floods

In the rainy season, there are certain areas of the state that are more prone to flood warnings. And even if you happen to live in a safe zone, there’s still the risk that a surprise flood could happen. It’s critical to speak to your policy providers to ensure that you have the necessary provisions in place to protect your home.

A quality drainage system is also key because it’ll keep your property safe when heavy rains ensue.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in North Carolina

5. Quality of Healthcare

Healthcare is a major consideration when deciding to move to a new location. Do they have the adequate resources and facilities to care for you and your family? Well, for as many great things as there are in SC, healthcare isn’t one of them. 

SC ranks 44th in the nation for quality of care. The factors analyzed were average monthly insurance premium, costs to visit a physician, infant mortality rate, adults who can’t afford to go to the hospital because of the costs, and the overall quality of the public hospital system. 

That isn’t to say that there aren’t any good hospitals or doctors in the state, but you want to be sure that you locate a quality healthcare facility before your move. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Tennessee

6. The Food is Really Hot

South Carolina seriously has one of the largest selections of hot sauces around. And many restaurants tend to use hot sauces and spices in their dishes, depending on which city you’re in. Residents use hot sauce on pretty much all of their food, and it can almost choke you if you’re not prepared!

They like things spicy in SC, so don’t be surprised if you order something and it’s super spicy, even though “melt your mouth” isn’t listed in the description. 

A popular restaurant, Smoking Ed’s Carolina Reaper, has the world record for the hottest hot sauce for a product that is locally manufactured. You’ve been warned!

7. Alligators!

A big surprise for people that move to South Carolina is the presence of alligators. The ponds around the neighborhood have small alligators in them that don’t get removed by animal control until they become large alligators. 

The scariest thing about it is that they will try to come inside your home, so if you live near a pond with baby alligators, I wouldn’t install a doggy door if I were you. It’s not very common for these alligators to attack people, but you should be careful if you’re walking your pets nearby. They will consider your small pets as prey. 

8. You’ll Need Bug Spray…And Lots of It

Heat and humidity usually bring one thing with it: bugs. Upon your arrival in South Carolina, you’ll soon discover that bug spray is a necessity, in almost any city you inhabit. 

You’re liable to get double-digit bug bites throughout the summer without an effective spray. There are times when you can also see the bugs swarming, especially around twilight when it’s really hot out. 

Residents say the mosquitoes in SC are built differently! They’re described as ferocious and relentless by those who live in areas where they come out as soon as it gets hot; they’re out for blood…literally. 

If you don’t want to be constantly itchy and red, make sure you apply your bug spray right before stepping out your door. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Retiring in Charleston, SC

9. The Higher Taxes 

We mentioned that gas taxes are low in South Carolina, but other taxes are extremely high compared to the national average. Alcohol in a standard restaurant comes with a tax of up to 15% based on how much you buy. Diner food has a 10.5% tax, and the state boasts a 6% sales tax too. 

It doesn’t stop there though, depending on which county you live in, they can add another 2% sales tax on top of the 6%. There is no distinction if filing statuses in the state of SC, you have to pay income tax if you make more than $15,000 a year. 

After deductions, count another 7% of that going to the state. You have to spend strategically when you live in South Carolina. The prices for things are high in some areas and low in others. With the proper planning, you can still spend below average if you’re not constantly going out to eat at a restaurant or buying alcohol when you do. 

Final Thoughts

South Carolina is a beautiful destination that has drawn the attention of many over the years for its perks like low-cost housing and warm weather. 

Though some cons are worth paying attention to, like the healthcare system and higher taxes in certain areas, it seems that most people recommend the state as a viable option for relocation. 

The southern hospitality and charm are big factors when paired with the strong wave of arts and culture appreciation, and historical value. With a little thought and preparation, you just might consider South Carolina as your next home!

Related: Best Areas to Live in Northern Virginia