Moving to South Carolina
You’ve decided to move to South Carolina. It’s a great decision. South Carolina is a beautiful state with lots to do, great cities in which to live that feature lots of good places to eat and attractions to enjoy, a wealth of activities to keep you and your family busy and weather so gorgeous you’ll start to ask yourself “Why didn’t I move here before now?”
No doubt, you’ll have lots of questions about the move. Where’s the best place to live? How do I find the best schools? What about taxes? How is the cost-of-living? We hope we’ll be able to answer many of those questions in this guide and provide you with connections to even more information for any additional questions.
Let’s start off with a little bit about the history of South Carolina itself.
King Charles I granted the land that is today called South Carolina to Sir Robert Heath in 1629. It was originally called Carolus, the Latin form of the name Charles, as a tribute to the King. Charles I was later overthrown by Oliver Cromwell. After Cromwell’s death, England returned to a monarchy headed by Charles II. In 1663 he renamed the region Carolina and awarded the land to a group known as the eight Lords Proprietors.
In the 17th century, Carolina began to slowly separate into two distinct entities: North Carolina and South Carolina. In 1710, they officially split into two different colonies, and South Carolina became its own dominion.
South Carolina’s founding fathers played a key role in convincing other southern colonies to support American independence in 1776. South Carolina was also the first state to secede from the union in 1860, and many important struggles during the Civil War took place here. Today, South Carolina is perhaps best known by people outside the state for its significant military connections, 2017 NCAA football champs Clemson and beautiful golf courses and beaches.
In case you were wondering
- South Carolina covers 30,190 mi.²
- Its population hit the five million mark, according to Census Bureau estimates released in 2017.
- Its population is growing at a rate of 5.9 percent a year.
- The state flower is a Carolina Yellow Jessamine.
- The state tree is the Palmetto tree.
- The state bird is the Carolina Wren.
- The official state song is “Carolina.”
- The state’s nickname is the “Palmetto State.”
SC Largest Cities
- Columbia – 116, 278
- Charleston – 96,650
- North Charleston – 79,641
- Greenville – 56,002
- Rock Hill – 49,765
South Carolina’s top agricultural products include peaches, tobacco, watermelons, peanuts, turkeys, broilers, cattle and calves.
Now, for a few education facts:
South Carolina has 103 school districts, with an enrollment around 736,000.
There are 1,140 K-12 schools.
South Carolina spent $7,463,268,000 on education in 2015.
Per-pupil spending in South Carolina was $9,953 in 2015.
Are Many People Moving to South Carolina?
Yes, a lot of people are moving to South Carolina. Only five states have gained more new residents due to relocation than South Carolina in the past few years. Normally, a state’s population increases due to births outpacing deaths. But relocation has been the main reason for population growth in South Carolina. People moving to South Carolina from other states, particularly New York and New Jersey, have exceeded the birth rate five to one.
As noted above, the state’s population was five million in 2017. That’s double the total from 1970. It’s a complete reversal of South Carolina’s history, which saw people leaving the state from the mid-1800s until 1970.
Why are they coming?
The beautiful weather is one reason — the average temperature is about 64 degrees Fahrenheit, with annual lows in the 50s. Many people move here from the Northeast in particular because they’re tired of the cold temperature and shoveling snow. Retirees are attracted by no state taxes on their Social Security benefits, and homeowners are attracted by the low property taxes, some of the lowest in the entire country. We’ll have more on taxes below.
There are lots of other great reasons to call South Carolina home, including:
Beautiful beaches: South Carolina has some of the most beautiful beaches on the eastern seaboard. You’ll find the legendary “Grand Strand” — a 60 mile stretch of beautiful sand and surf. But that’s only one beach. There is Edisto State Beach Park, Folly Beach, which is just a short jump from Charleston, Huntington Island State Park and much more. It’s not a stretch to say that you can find a lot of the state population headed to the beaches when there’s a warm day.
Impressive state parks: This state is one loaded with national parks, important historic sites and national monuments. South Carolina offers more than 80,000 acres of protected lands that stretch from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the seaboard. Those lands include recreation sites, protected wilderness and cultural/historical locations.
Food: If you love seafood, you’ll love South Carolina, which features a well-known restaurant scene in cities like Charleston and Greenville along with some of the most amazing seafood shacks you’ll ever come across in coastal towns. Then there’s the barbecue, the Gullah food, Caribbean offerings — you’ll never run out of interesting taste experiences.
Life that moves a bit slower: You won’t find much road rage in South Carolina. Drivers tend to be a lot more tolerant of each other. It’s a southern thing. If you’re coming from cities like New York or Chicago, it may take a bit of getting used to. You’ll have to adjust. Lines at fast take outs tend to take a bit longer because their employees might want to chat first. Checkout clerks at grocery stores will do the same. People tend to not hurry as much in South Carolina as they do in other states. It’s one of the best reasons to move here in the first place.
A healthier lifestyle: South Carolina’s great weather and climate mean you’re going to want to spend more time outside. Whether it’s teeing off at one of the state’s beautiful golf courses, going for a swim, getting a little sun at the great beaches or taking a hike in a wonderful national park, you and your family will find yourselves drawn to the great outdoors. Even if it’s just taking a walk around the neighborhood to give your dog — and yourself — some exercise, it’s something you can do pretty much year-round.
A big city feel in a small town setting: There are no huge metropolitan areas in South Carolina, and residents like it that way. But the strangest thing happens. When you’re in Charleston or Columbia or Greenville or Rock Hill, you’ll find many of the same attractions as you would in any larger urban setting. Yet it never feels like you’re lost in the crowd. South Carolina’s smaller cities and long tradition of Southern hospitality mean whether you’re a new resident or a longtime inhabitant, you’ll always feel at home.
Lack of traffic jams: Since there are no major metropolitan areas, there are no major metropolitan traffic jams. If you’re moving south from cities like Washington, Chicago, New York or Boston, where you can often sit in traffic for an hour or more during rush hours, you’re going to find traffic in South Carolina a little piece of heaven. Average commutes in the largest cities in South Carolina, like Columbia and Charleston, only last 17 to 21 minutes. The only time you have to be a little more careful is during those rare moments in the winter when there may be a snowfall. It’s one of the few times South Carolinians panic.
A good place to do business: South Carolina is a right-to-work state, and many national, well-known industries have relocated here in the past few years. Last year, University of South Carolina economists predicted that the state’s economy in 2018 would continue to grow at a healthy rate and offer more income and bonuses for South Carolina residents. In fact, these economists said the one problem might be that there aren’t enough people for all the jobs. If you’re looking for a new job and a new start, South Carolina is the right place to come.
Cost-of-living: You and your family won’t be the only ones happy to live in South Carolina. Your wallet will be considerably happier as well. South Carolina’s cost-of-living is 13 percent lower than the national average. Combine that with things like the lower property taxes we mentioned above, and you can build or buy a home in South Carolina and have enough income left over to enjoy everything else the state has the offer.
What Are the Best Places to Live?
South Carolina has some great cities in which to live, including:
- Charleston: The oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston was founded in 1670. Its rich history and traditions — and its amazing architecture — make it a major tourist spot. It’s also well known for its incredible restaurants, great music and art and fun shopping. It’s home to three of the state’s universities, including The Citadel, the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston.
- Greenville: Ranked by Livability.com as one of the best medium-sized American cities to live in and as having one of the 10 best downtowns in the country, Greenville is home to many manufacturing and technological industries. It’s a city that’s very attractive for young professionals. Greenville is home to Bob Jones University, Furman University and North Greenville University. The 16,000-seat Bon Secours Wellness Arena ensures a steady supply of performances by well-known entertainers.
- Greer: A lovely town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in upstate South Carolina, Greer lies between Spartanburg and Greenville Counties. It’s one of the fastest-growing communities in South Carolina. New shopping malls and restaurants are opening regularly. With a population of around 25,000, it’s a great place to live if you work in Spartanburg or Greenville.
- Spartanburg: With its population of 45,000, Spartanburg is the sixth biggest city in South Carolina. Spartanburg has prospered as a result of South Carolina’s population boom in the last decade. It now features many excellent restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments. It’s home to many of the country’s top companies too, including BMW, Denny’s, Michelin, American Credit Acceptance, Draexlmaier, Adidas Group and Indorama, to name a few.
- Simpson: Simpson is another one of those great rural gems that you’ll find in South Carolina. Situated in Greenville County, it’s a great spot to live if you’re working in the industrial hubs of Greenville or Spartanburg. If you enjoy a more rural lifestyle, you’ll be happy to know that its population of just over 18,000 means that you’ll find some of the benefits that a slower pace of life and generous southern hospitality guarantee every day.
These cities and towns are just a few of the many incredible spots you can find to live in South Carolina. No matter where you decide to settle, you’ll still find that incredible climate, lower cost of living and growing economy.