The Best Places to Live in South Carolina

You may base your decision to move to a new place on a pros and cons list or simply decide to trust your gut feeling. But even when you’ve narrowed down your choices to a single state, you may find you still have plenty of options. In South Carolina, in particular, coastal and inland or even mountainous metro areas can mean completely different lifestyles, requiring a few more choices to wade through before you can finally call a new city in the Palmetto State home.

Regardless of where you finally land in South Carolina, you’ll never find your new hometown lacking in Southern flare. With a population of nearly 5.15 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina is certainly not the most crowded state in the U.S., but with the 23rd-largest population in the country, it’s not the least populated, either.

Out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S., five are located in South Carolina. Based on information used to calculate the Best Places to Live in the U.S. ranking — including cost of living, job market, quality of high school education and desirability, among other factors — we’ve compiled all the details to help you determine which major South Carolina metro area is right for you.

[See: The 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022.]

Here are the best places to live in South Carolina:

Spartanburg.

Myrtle Beach.

Greenville.

Charleston.

Columbia.

[See: The 20 Best Places to Live in the U.S. for the Weather in 2021]

5. Columbia

Best Places to Live 2021-2022 Rank: 54

Metro Population: 824,278

Median Home Price: $229,160

Average Annual Salary: $45,860

The metro area surrounding South Carolina’s capital city is centrally located in the state and ranks No. 54 on the overall Best Places to Live list. While Columbia doesn’t offer the picturesque landscapes of other metro areas on the list, the relatively low cost of living makes life here much easier. Columbia-area residents spend just 21.72% of the median annual household income on housing, which includes median monthly mortgage payments, median rental payments and property taxes.

4. Charleston

Best Places to Live 2021-2022 Rank: 42

Metro Population: 774,508

Median Home Price: $380,374

Average Annual Salary: $47,800

Ranking No. 42 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Charleston is a popular vacation destination when warm weather, time on the beach and a little bit of history are on the to-do list. Charleston is best known for its historic homes and cobblestone streets, but the metro area also includes nearby islands such as Kiawah Island, Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms, which all offer resort living and beach access. In a survey of more than 3,600 U.S. residents asking where in the country they would prefer to live, Charleston ranked No. 30 out of the 150 most populous metro areas on the list for desirability.

[See: The Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Young Professionals.]

3. Greenville

Best Places to Live 2021-2022 Rank: 38

Metro Population: 895,942

Median Home Price: $268,463

Average Annual Salary: $44,860

If the coast or state capital don’t quite appeal to you, Greenville is an option that will have you living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The most populous metro area of the five in South Carolina, the Greenville area includes cities like Anderson, Greenwood and Mauldin. Greenville’s lower cost of living also shows how moving inland can reduce housing costs, with area residents spending 20.52% of the median household income on mortgage or rent payments and property taxes.</div>

2. Myrtle Beach

Best Places to Live 2021-2022 Rank: 35

Metro Population: 463,987

Median Home Price: $198,600

Average Annual Salary: $37,740

If a resort town sounds ideal to you, Myrtle Beach may be the right choice. Located on the northern end of South Carolina’s coast, Myrtle Beach is at least a 90-minute drive to other major South Carolina metro areas such as Charleston or Columbia. Wilmington, North Carolina, is within reach, too. This area’s beach town atmosphere draws in many residents looking for a slower pace. Popular among retirees, Myrtle Beach’s median age is 48.1 years. Myrtle Beach is also the fastest-growing metro area by population out of the 150 places on the list. Between 2015 and 2019, the area’s population increased by 15.65% due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

1. Spartanburg

Best Places to Live 2021-2022 Rank: 24

Metro Population: 307,617

Median Home Price: $156,300

Average Annual Salary: $44,920

Ranking No. 24 on the overall Best Places to Live list for 2021-2022, Spartanburg is a low-cost metro area that’s small but seeing lots of growth. Spartanburg residents spend 20.63% of the area’s median household income on housing costs, making it the 18th-most affordable place to live out of the 150 most populous metro areas in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2019, the area’s population increased by 7.97% due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Part of the draw to the area may be major employers like Amazon, which has a fulfillment center in the city, BMW, which has its North American plant located in Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

More from U.S. News

The Guide to Buying a Home

The 10 Best House Hunting Apps in 2021

8 Red Flags to Help You Spot a Rental Scam

The Best Places to Live in South Carolina originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 11/04/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up