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Living in South Carolina: Pros and Cons + FAQs, By a Local

Table Rock Park, South Carolina

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I’ve lived my entire life in the South. I’ve been around the block for a while, from the Southern charm and crawfish cookouts to the sweltering heat. 

While I grew up in Louisiana, I spent most of my formative years in South Carolina. 

I’ve been living in South Carolina for almost twenty years now. In that time, I’ve learned much about the state, and there’s a lot to learn. 

Angel Oak tree on John’s Island, SC
Angel Oak tree on John’s Island 

I’ll be honest – I’ve had my ups and downs with South Carolina, but in the end, it’s part of who I am. 

Living in South Carolina has many pros and cons, and we will cover most of them in this article. 

Are you ready? Let’s dive in. 

Living in South Carolina: Pros

If you’re interested in Southern living, South Carolina stands out as a prime destination.

Whether you’re eyeing it for a rejuvenating staycation or an extended vacation, the Palmetto State promises an array of positive experiences. 

1. Nature

Depending on where you are in the state, you can experience amazing parts of nature. The upstate is home to gorgeous mountains, like the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If hiking’s your thing or you love a good sunrise over the mountains, this is your spot.

You can explore one of our beautiful beach towns when not in the mountains. From Cherry Grove all the way down to Hilton Head, beaches dot the coast. 

Explore one of our many beach towns, including, but not limited to, Hilton Head, Charleston, and Pawley’s Island. 

In South Carolina, Mother Nature’s always just a short drive away. At any point, it’s ready to give you a break from the hustle and bustle.

If you’re in Charleston and have a hankering for some mountain air, you can hop in the car and in less than four hours, find yourself at Caeser’s Head State Park.

2. History

South Carolina is a treasure trove of history, and stepping into this state is like flipping through the pages of a living history book. Did you know it’s one of the 13 original colonies? Yup, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Before European settlers even arrived, the land was home to various Native Indian tribes, such as the Cherokee and Catawba tribes.

These indigenous communities left an indelible mark on the state’s culture and heritage.

In the early 1700s Charleston served as one of the nation’s major cities. Fun fact: the first shots of the Civil War happened at Fort Sumter in Charleston. The shots at Fort Sumter ignited one of the most pivotal periods in American history. 

If you’re an architecture enthusiast, Charleston will feel like paradise. Much of its architecture dates back to the 1800s, showcasing designs that reflect the state’s rich cultural tapestry. 

Today, you can still stroll through the historic district where the streets are still paved with cobblestones.

The buildings, with their historic charm, stand as testaments to the periods of growth, change, and resilience the state has gone through.

3. Good food

In the South, culinary traditions run deep, and its reputation for delicious cuisine is unparalleled.

If there’s one distinguishing hallmark that defines the region, it’s undoubtedly the scrumptious food that Southerners passionately craft.

Southerners know how to cook flavorful food and dish it up right. Our specialty is shrimp and grits.

The food scene is delicious. And they know how to pack a dish with heat. 

We’re always down for good barbeque or shrimp and grits. Get to know a good Lowcountry boil and fresh produce from upstate. You can find fresh seafood anywhere along the coast.

Stick around and catch a bite of something lovely. Also, you’ll get used to hot sauce real fast because we put it on everything.

Soon enough, you might even find yourself reaching out for the hot sauce bottle. In the South, it’s not just a condiment; it’s a way of life.

Photo by Maggie Kelly

4. Southern charm

There’s a slower, more deliberate pace to life in many Southern communities. In South Carolina, you’ll notice the people are more laid-back.

They walk a little slower and take time out of their day to be kind. Call it that good ‘old Southern charm. 

It’s common to be greeted by strangers and for people to ask, “How’s it going?” People make eye contact and smile at strangers. 

Politeness is deeply ingrained in the Southern culture. Phrases like “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir” are commonly used, and children are often taught these courtesies from a young age.

People will make you feel warm and welcome here. Whether by inviting you to family dinner or homemade meals, our Southern charm will make you feel right at home.  

It’s deeply embedded in the state’s culture, a tangible manifestation that has been passed down through generations. 

It’s normal to help strangers, be it giving directions, recommending a loal eatery, or just lending a listening ear. 

People are genuine and you’ll affectionately be called “Sweatheart” or “Darlin’” on a regular basis. 

5. Outdoor activities

With beautiful scenery comes a multitude of outdoor activities. There are amusement and attractions everywhere. 

There are water activities abound. If you’re not on the beach, there’s water inland, and there are plenty of opportunities for water sports. At any point, you can go:

  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Ocean fishing
  • Paddleboarding

For land lovers, there are endless recreational activities at your fingertips all year round. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, as well as prime spots for camping. 

Hiking enthusiasts, whether beginners or seasoned trekkers, can find trails that cater to their desired level of challenge

If you’re down to go camping, there’s a diverse region of places to go camping. Imagine camping at the beach and seeing the sunrise. Or camp in the mountains and enjoy the wildlife. 

6. Weather

If you’re a fan of seasons without the extreme cold, South Carolina’s weather will feel like nature’s gift to you.

The Palmetto State boasts a temperate climate that’s synonymous with sunshine and pleasant breezes. 

Summers are undoubtedly warm, while spring and fall offer mild temperatures, bringing forth a spectrum of colors that turn the state into a natural canvas. 

Winters? They’re typically milder than their northern counterparts, with snowfall being a rare spectacle, saving residents the hassle of shoveling driveways. 

If sipping sweet tea on a sunlit porch, with a gentle breeze rustling the oak leaves sounds appealing, South Carolina’s climate has that in spades.

The northwestern mountain area of the state experiences the most wintery conditions. If you choose to settle in the Lowcountry or along the Atlantic coast, you’ll never need a shovel. 

Charleston, SC

Living in South Carolina: Cons

As with all things in life, it can’t be all good.

While South Carolina boasts its charm, rich history, and beautiful landscapes, it also comes with certain drawbacks that potential residents should consider.

1. Weather

While the weather is generally good, there are some downfalls to it as well. A common joke is how outside of summer, you can experience all four seasons in one day. 

From the fall to the spring, the weather can be notoriously fickle. When you wake up in the morning, it’ll start out cold.

By noon, you’re regretting your fashion choices and by the end of the day, you’ll be soaking in your sweat from the bright sun. Remember to dress in layers because you’ll need them. 

Prepare yourself for unpredictable weather. It’ll go from pouring rain to sunny skies in under thirty minutes. 

2. Seasonal allergies

South Carolina, with its lush landscapes and diverse flora, is a haven for those who love natural beauty. However, this verdant environment comes with a price for many residents: seasonal allergies. 

The state experiences significant pollen surges, especially during the spring when trees, grasses, and flowers release these tiny particles into the air. 

Pine trees, a staple in the South Carolina landscape, are notable contributors, with their yellow pollen often covering cars, sidewalks, and bodies of water during peak times. 

For individuals sensitive to these pollens, symptoms can range from sneezing, runny or congested noses, and itchy eyes, to more severe respiratory issues. 

While the state is undeniably beautiful, the heavy pollen count can be a major inconvenience, making outdoor activities less enjoyable during certain times of the year. 

Therefore, potential residents with a history of allergies should be prepared for the seasonal onslaught of allergens.

3. Hot summers

When it comes to South Carolina, one can’t ignore the blistering intensity of its summers. Temperatures frequently soar into the 90s, sometimes even touching the dreaded 100-degree mark. 

This relentless heat, paired with the state’s trademark humidity, creates a sauna-like atmosphere that can be suffocating for those unaccustomed to it. 

Outdoor activities often have to be scheduled during the early mornings or late evenings to avoid the peak heat hours. 

The scorching conditions also mean cranking up the air conditioner, leading to elevated energy bills during these months. 

Additionally, the intense heat can stress the local flora and fauna, not to mention putting a strain on local water resources. 

Those sensitive to heat or with specific medical conditions might find the South Carolina summers particularly challenging. 

While many locals adapt by enjoying the state’s beautiful beaches or lakes, it’s essential to be prepared for the sizzle and take necessary precautions to stay cool.

4. Hurricanes

Hurricanes pose a significant threat to South Carolina residents. Hurricane season, taking place from June to November, can be challenging.

These storms have the potential to cause widespread damage to infrastructure, homes, and natural habitats.

Don’t let the category level deceive you. Tropical storms and category 1 hurricanes can still cause loads of damage. Back in 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit at a Category 1. It should’ve been fine, but it stalled over the coast causing vicious winds. 

At the end of it, our backyard was covered in fallen down branches and limbs that were the size of our arms. 

Keep the weather in mind when creating your homeowner’s insurance policy. 

Our motto is, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”

Photo by Maggie Kelly

5. Flooding

With its extensive coastlines and river systems, the state is vulnerable to both coastal and inland flooding. 

During times of heavy rainfall, the already saturated ground struggles to absorb the deluge, leading to rapid runoff into rivers and streams. These water bodies can quickly become overwhelmed, spilling onto roads, into homes, and across farmlands. 

What begins as a steady rainfall can swiftly transform streets into rivers, leaving communities grappling with rising waters.

When choosing where to live, make sure to check your flood zones and insurance to cover your property. 

6. Bugs

Another thing you have to look out for is those pesky bugs. 

Mosquitoes need warmth and moisture to thrive, and lucky for them there’s no shortage of that in South Carolina. Mosquitoes seem to think they’re invited to every barbeque, and recently they’ve evolved into big ‘ole critters. 

Palmetto bugs, which is a fancy name for huge cockroaches, stroll through homes as if they pay rent. 

Then there are the gnats, those tiny nuisances that love an evening dance around faces. Don’t even get me started on the fire ants. They may be tiny, but they pack a punch with their bites. 

Fort Sumter, SC


Is South Carolina a good place to live?

South Carolina can be a great place to live. But the answer to the question is a bit more nuanced, depending on one’s priorities, desires, and circumstances.

For those drawn to history, culture, natural beauty, and the allure of Southern living, South Carolina offers an experience that is hard to beat.

From the beaches to the mountains and the shrimp and grits to the barbeque, it’s hard to beat the unique experience. 

However, summer can be tough. You can’t get rid of the blazing heat and humidity, making it difficult to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. South Carolina is a great place to be in the off-season. 

Be prepared for the weather to be a little ridiculous, and remember, we’re no strangers to hurricanes.   

South Carolina is a great state for retirees, outdoor people, and budgeters. Outdoor people can enjoy scenery like the beaches and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Budgeters will appreciate the lower cost of living, and South Carolina is steadily climbing the ranks as a top retirement destination.

South Carolina can be a wonderful place to live, but overall, it’s up to you to decide. Weigh the pros and cons, and determine if it’s worth it. 

What are the best places to live in South Carolina?

The Palmetto State boasts many cities and towns to live in. Some several towns and cities continue to reemerge as the state’s top contenders. 

Myrtle Beach

One of the best contenders is Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach offers its sandy shores and family-friendly attractions. It’s a beach haven that’s removed from the feel of larger cities.

With over 60 miles of beaches, there’s plenty of space to find your perfect coastal niche.


Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville ​​offers a harmonious blend of outdoor experiences and cultural experiences.

Greenville has a strong sense of community, where it’s normal to know your neighbors, and they take pride in the city’s achievements.


Spartanburg is known as “Hub City” since it became a major railroad hub in the 19th century. It’s an appealing place to call home, with a rich blend of history, culture, and modern amenities.

The city retains its historical charm with well-preserved buildings, historic neighborhoods, and landmarks.


Dripping in history and Southern charm, Charleston is an excellent choice. Its rich history, dating back to the 1600s is still prevalent today.

The French Quarter and Battery areas showcase cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and pastel antebellum houses. Charleston has a robust economy fueled by a mix of tourism, the tech sector, and various other industries.


As the state’s capital and largest city, Columbia is another standout contender. Columbia is the home to the University of South Carolina, brimming with energy only college towns provide.

With a mix of students, academics, and professionals, Columbia has a dynamic vibe.

Additionally, its location is situated near three rivers, so residents are never far from water activities and scenic views. 

Is South Carolina a good place to retire?

South Carolina has been climbing the ladder as one of the best states to retire in the past few years.

Its allure is multifaceted, blending financial perks, comfortable weather, and avenues for continued learning, making it a standout choice for retirees.

A significant draw for retirees is South Carolina’s favorable tax structure. Unlike many states, South Carolina offers an enticing fiscal climate for retirees.

Income derived from social security isn’t taxed, offering a financial respite to many. 

Furthermore, residents aged 65 and above have the added benefit of being able to deduct up to $10,000 from their retirement income, providing them with more financial flexibility.

Coupled with the absence of an estate tax, South Carolina’s tax regime is particularly retirement-friendly.

However, more than the financial benefits attract retirees to the Palmetto State. As we mentioned before, the state boasts a predominantly mild climate, making it especially attractive for those who prefer temperate weather.

The absence of extreme cold or scorching heat ensures that seniors can engage in outdoor activities for most of the year, fostering a more active and fulfilling lifestyle.

One of South Carolina’s less-publicized but equally significant attractions is its emphasis on continuous learning. Recognizing the importance of intellectual engagement at all ages, the state extends a special provision for its senior residents. 

Those aged 60 and above can enroll in classes at state colleges and universities free of charge, either for academic credit or just for the love of learning, as long as there’s space.

This commitment to fostering a culture of lifelong learning is a testament to the state’s progressive outlook.

Table Rock Park, SC – Photo by Maggie Kelly

Is South Carolina safe?

As with any location, there is no black-and-white answer. Safety is multifaceted and depends on many factors, like the specific area in question, the type of crime considered, and the comparison measures. 

Larger cities, such as Charleston and Columbia, may have higher crime rates, but they’re also cities. Smaller towns and suburban regions boast crime rates well below the national average. 

The safest cities to live in are Fort Mill, Bluffton, Mount Pleasant, Tega Cay, Hanahan, Port, Royal, Mauldin, Goose Creek, Clemson, Summerville. 

Crime is also not evenly distributed. Safety is relevant to where you are. Beach towns might witness more property crimes like theft, especially during peak tourist season. Conversely, urban areas may have a broader range of crimes, but they benefit from increased police presence. 

It’s also worth noting that there will be safe and unsafe places wherever you go. There will always be a bad part of town, but that doesn’t mean it’s the whole town. As with anywhere, it’s best to take precautions and make good decisions. 

Is South Carolina a good place to raise kids?

Many families call South Carolina their home, but you want to know if it’s right for your family. 

The decision of where to plant roots and raise your family is one of the most crucial choices you’ll make. South Carolina, with its southern charm and vibrant landscapes, is home to numerous families, but is it the right choice for you?

The climate is also a plus. The (mostly) pleasant weather allows families to enjoy the outdoors all year round, whether it’s a winter hike or a summer swim. 

The Palmetto State also thrives on tight-knit neighborhood vibes. It’s not uncommon to know your neighbors and it offers your children the ability to grow up with a strong sense of community belonging. 

In addition, there’s plenty of recreational opportunity. Many communities have robust sports programs for kids, promoting physical health and team spirit. 

Not to mention, South Carolina is rich in family-friendly attractions. Check out places like:

  • Riverbanks Zoo 
  • South Carolina Aquarium 
  • EdVenture’s Children Museum

Is South Carolina a good place to date and meet new people?

Considering I’m a single person in South Carolina, the answer is – it depends. The dating landscape varies based on where you live.

You’re more likely to meet someone when you’re closer to a busy metropolitan area. 

Myrtle Beach, for instance, is a tourist town, meaning you’re exposed to a multitude of new faces every day. However, many are just passing through.

While the potential for summer flings might be high, you might find yourself sifting through to find someone looking for something more long-term.

Dating apps are alive and well in South Carolina. While I haven’t had the best luck, I have several friends who found their significant others online. 

Ultimately, the key to meeting people lies in your attitude. If you approach it with an open heart, a sense of curiosity, and a dash of resilience, you’ll find that this state can be a wonderful place to make connections. 

Is it expensive to live in South Carolina?

By now, you may be wondering about the cost of living. South Carolina ranks 31st in lowest cost of living. Several factors play into this, so let’s take a look at them. 

The cost of living runs about 5% lower than the national average. Housing is often the most expensive part of your budget.

Good news, is South Carolina’s housing costs tend to be lower than the national average. Housing costs about 19% lower than the national average, but utilities run 8% higher. 

Obviously, the cost of living will also vary based on where you live in the state. The top ten cities in South Carolina range from 8% higher to 16% lower than the national average. 

In Hilton Head, the cost of living is 8% higher than the national average. Yet, in Anderson, SC the cost of living is 16% lower than the national average. 

When it comes to basic necessities, such as groceries and clothes, groceries ranks 2% lower than the national average and so does clothing. 

Short conclusion

While there are things about South Carolina I don’t like, there are wonderful things that make up for the rest. 

The Palmetto bugs may give me a mini heart attack every time I see them. The heat makes me cranky. But in the end, I love where I live. 

I love the accessibility of being close to everything I could ever want or need. I’m less than five minutes from the beach. Not a lot of people can say that. 

So, if you’re thinking of a change of scenery, come visit us and see for yourself. 

There’s always going to be things to complain about, but it’s my home and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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