Looking for the best places to live in South Carolina? You’re in the right place.
This helpful guide breaks down the best cities in South Carolina to live in, based on access to everyday necessities (good restaurants, parks, etc), home prices and overall city vibes. I hope you find this list of great South Carolina cities helpful, let’s jump right in!
Best Places to Live in South Carolina
5 Best Large Cities in South Carolina
Large South Carolina cities with a population between 55,000 to 200,000.
- Population: 156,255
- Median home price: $495,993
- Average age: 32
Known for its unmistakable Southern charm, any list of the best places to live in South Carolina wouldn’t be complete without the state’s shining star, Charleston.
Averaging 7 million visitors per year, this is one of the most popular cities in South Carolina, but not without reason. The city is most famous for its irresistible historic downtown, full of colorful colonial homes and breathtaking parks.
This South Carolina city has no shortage of top-notch restaurants, quaint cafes and charming local shops, offering coveted big city amenities while possessing a relaxed small town feel.
Making things even better, Charleston is surrounded by water. Those looking for one of the best coastal cities in South Carolina will easily fall in love with the area. You’ll be spoiled for choice with beaches, rivers and lakes.
All this to say, Charleston is one of the best places to live in South Carolina, and I’m not the only one that thinks so! With average home prices clocking in at $500k, living in this popular Southern city comes at a price. But between you and me, it’s a fair price to pay for such an idyllic lifestyle.
You May Enjoy Reading: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Charleston
- Population: 95,393
- Median home price: $720,528
- Average age: 41
Located just a short drive over the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston, Mt. Pleasant is one of the most sought-after seaside suburbs in South Carolina. Living in Mt. Pleasant is the perfect choice for those looking for an upscale community by the beach.
Families love the nationally-recognized public schools as well as the (super) low crime rates. Nature nuts can take advantage of the many opportunities for outdoor recreations, while foodies will enjoy the plethora of local seafood restaurants on Shem Creek.
But I’m hardly the first to tell you that living in one of the most charming South Carolina cities won’t come cheap. The average home cost is around $720k, making this one of the most expensive (yet) best places to live in South Carolina.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in Mt. Pleasant. The city is overdeveloped and overcrowded, making it difficult to get around (gridlock traffic is a real nuance).
But, if you can deal with the traffic and excessive development, Mt. Pleasant offers a great community with convenient access to Charleston, making it one of the best places to live in South Carolina.
- Population: 138,104
- Median home price: $215,376
- Average age: 28
The capital of South Carolina, Columbia, offers all the perks of big-city living while still oozing small town vibes.
Locals enjoy a thriving cultural scene with concerts, festivals, and many opportunities for theater and performing arts. The city is also home to the popular University of South Carolina main campus, so there is plenty of college football energy and excitement throughout the town.
With average home prices coming in at $215k, Columbia is one of the best places to live in South Carolina for savvy home buyers. You’ll definitely get more bang for your buck in the housing market, making it a great option for young professionals and families alike.
In addition, the city’s convenient location in the middle of the state allows easy access to all of South Carolina’s other exciting cities. And, since the cost of living is cheaper than most places in the state, Columbia is one of the best places to live in South Carolina for everyone from budding college students to budget-minded retirees.
- Population: 76,016
- Median Home Price: $294,089
- Average age: 34
Located just 25 miles from the bustling downtown area of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rock Hill should be overlooked.
This lovely city is a great place to live in South Carolina for those interesting in easy access to the nightlife and activities in Charlotte with a quiet and safe community to call home.
The fifth-largest city in South Carolina, Rock Hill is a rural yet suburban city that has plenty to see and do including a variety of parks and a booming restaurant and entertainment scene.
The average home costs around $295k and offers residents a chance to buy a place on Lake Wylie or the Catawba River.
Those with kids will be thrilled to know that the local public schools are above average and there is even a great college, Winthrop University, which is ranked as the sixth-best public university in the South.
Rock Hill is truly one of the best places to live in South Carolina for affordability, convenience, and entertainment opportunities for a variety of ages.
- Population: 73,182
- Median Home Price: $282,398
- Average age: 35
If you’re looking for urban amenities and a great place to set down roots in South Carolina, Greenville is a great choice.
Not only is the cost of living below the national average, but its strong job market makes it one of the best places to live in South Carolina for motivated job seekers.
There is always something happening in Greenville, making it a popular choice for families, retirees, and young professionals.
Foodies will adore this thriving city, known as a foodie’s paradise with amazing restaurants and a thriving craft beer and farm-to-table restaurant scene. Not to mention that its convenient location between Atlanta and Charlotte makes traveling a breeze.
The average home cost is significantly below the national average at around $285k and offers access to above average schools for families with children. The combination of outdoor adventure opportunities, great schools, plenty of good job options, and a thriving economy outweigh the fact that the crime rates are slightly above average in the area.
5 Best Mid-Sized Cities in South Carolina
South Carolina cities with a population between 25,000 and 55,000 residents.
Located just 25 miles from the popular city of Charleston, Summerville is one of the best places to live in South Carolina if you are looking for a slower pace of life in a rural area just minutes from the amenities of Charleston.
Known as the “Flower Town in the Pines” due to its massive pine trees and blooming azaleas, the quaint town of Summerville has lots of festivals to attend some of the best school districts in South Carolina.
The average home price is around $350k, with a variety of housing options ranging from historic homes downtown to more affordable townhomes in close-knit communities.
This sleepy Southern town of Summerville, SC is actually the birthplace of sweet tea, and you can experience the town’s Sweet Tea Trail to learn the history of this popular Southern beverage.
- Population: 31,191
- Median home price: $461,355
- Average age: 41
Just a stone’s throw away from popular Hilton Head Island, this sleepy coastal town offers all the perks of living near the beach without all the tourists that wreak havoc on the traffic of the neighboring island.
Once known as a quiet fishing village, Bluffton is one of the best places to live in South Carolina for coastal living with a quaint downtown shopping and restaurant district, friendly locals, and a thriving community that cares about its people.
Since Bluffton is a coastal community near a (very) popular tourist destination, there are some homes on the May and Colleton Rivers with expansive views and expensive price tags upwards of a million dollars.
There are also some affordable family oriented neighborhoods with urban amenities like clubhouses and pools in the $460k.
Located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, GA Bluffton residents can enjoy a true Low Country living experience. There are few jobs in the area though, unless you are in the hospitality industry, so a commute to nearby Savannah may be necessary.
Hilton Head Island
- Population: 38,080
- Median home price: $713,157
- Average age: 58
Consistently voted one of the best islands in the U.S., this tiny 12 mile long and 5 mile wide island is truly one of the best places to live in South Carolina for both families and retirees.
Those who enjoy a small close-knit community and flawless sandy beaches, beautiful Low Country marshes, and Spanish moss lined streets will love the laid back yet upscale coastal lifestyle.
Since Hilton Head Island is a top tourist destination, with over 2.5 million visitors each year, it can be quite crowded during the summer months, making it difficult for locals to enjoy amenities and even maneuver the island’s small roads.
Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to call home for (working) beach bums, as you will need a good job to afford to live in one of the island’s beautiful, gated communities known as plantations. Homes on the island average $715k with a good percentage of them being well over one million dollars.
- Population: 34,384
- Median home price: $470,506
- Average age: 36
Located right on the NC/SC border, the town of Fort Mill, SC offers a quiet place to live near Charlotte without all the noise of the city.
Situated along the Catawba River, Fort Mill still has a lot of rural charm that attracts families to the area along with one of the best school systems in the state, making it one of the best places to live in South Carolina for families and young professionals.
Fort Mill still offers a small town vibe that is very welcoming with a quaint downtown area surrounded by local peach orchards. It is also home to Carowinds amusement park, a popular destination for locals and visitors to the area.
The popularity of Fort Mill, SC has fed the thriving housing market with the average home cost being around $470k. Good thing there are plenty of jobs in the area near Charlotte, NC offering pretty decent wages with a fairly close although hectic commute to work.
- Population: 25,571
- Median home price: $283,979
- Average age: 37
Lexington, SC, one of the fastest growing cities in South Carolina, is also considered to be one of the best places to live in South Carolina.
Its proximity to Columbia and the fact that most of Lexington is situated on Lake Murray makes it a great place to call home.
If you enjoy spending time on the water and activities likeboating, swimming, and fishing, you will love the easy lake access as well as the many parks, recreation areas, and public parks along the shore of Lake Murray.
Property prices are still fairly low for the area, and you can live your best lake life with the average home costing just around $283k. Lexington is also a great place for students who attend the University of SC to live and offers a safe community with a quick commute to school.
Lexington’s locals can work and play in nearby Columbia then relax knowing their Lexington home offers a peaceful lifestyle near the lake with lots of green space, water activities, shopping, dining, and local fun.
5 Best Small Cities in South Carolina
The best places to live in SC with a population under 18,000.
- Population: 13,944
- Median home price: $521,931
- Average age: 41
This small, upscale town is a golf and lake lover’s dream. Meaning “beautiful peninsula” in Polynesian, this popular town in South Carolina is surrounded by the waters of Lake Wylie and offers lakeside living at its best.
Residents also enjoy a pro golf course, a plethora of restaurants, and family friendly lakefront parks for unlimited adventures in the SC sunshine, making it one of the best places to live in South Carolina.
The average home price in Tega Cay is around $520k with options ranging from waterfront homes and condos to those with golf course views, access to community pools, and even homes with docks with boat slips.
Locals enjoy being close to Charlotte, NC for professional sports, concerts, and other entertainment options, while also enjoying quiet, rural living in water oriented community away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Population: 13,046
- Median home price: $341,817
- Average age: 37
Known as one of the Sea Islands of the SC Low Country, Beaufort exudes Southern charm due to its beautiful waterfront location and amazing coastal views. The city is rich in history and culture and is the perfect place for those who enjoy living on the coast, living in a small town, and taking life at a slower pace.
Beaufort is considered to be one of the best places to live in South Carolina because of its friendly locals, abundance of activities, access to beautiful beaches, and affordability. There isn’t too much to do outside of the tourist attractions, so locals may need to venture out for new entertainment options.
The average cost of a home in Beaufort, SC is around $341k and usually comes with an amazing Low Country view. From fine antebellum homes on the waterfront to downtown lofts and seaside cottages; this quaint coastal community has it all. It’s no wonder it was voted one of the “Best Small Towns in the South” by Southern Living Magazine.
- Population: 17,986
- Median home price: $355,089
- Average age: 24
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson is one of the most beautiful towns in the state of SC. Not only are you surrounded by mountain views, but the town is also located along the shores of Lake Hartwell, offering a unique mix of lake, urban, and mountain lifestyles with everything from hiking, and concerts to water sports, and college activities.
Probably best known for the university that bears its name, Clemson locals bleed orange and purple and are so true to their school that it just may be a requirement to be a fan to live in this football loving community in upstate South Carolina.
Typical home prices are around $355k and range from Craftsman style homes and lakefront condos to town homes for college students, cute bungalows near the university, and homes in family oriented neighborhoods. Clemson is one of the best places to live in South Carolina for those who attend the university, want a rural close-knit community, or love mountain views.
- Population: 9,029
- Median home price: $262,015
- Average age: 46
The cool thing about Seneca, SC is that it is a quiet lake town with a laid back atmosphere and an edgy vibe that attracts a variety of different types of people. Its location is perfect, too, as it is nestled at the bottom of the Blue Ridge Mountain portion of the Appalachian Mountains.
Seneca is perfectly situated along the shores of three SC lakes: Lake Hartwell, Lake Jocassee, and Lake Keowee. Because of its prime location, Seneca has become one of the best places to live in South Carolina for those who want an affordable option on the water for the hot SC summers.
Lake lovers can live the dream in beautiful Seneca, SC without breaking the bank, too. The average home price is only $262k, which is very affordable for this prime lake resort town that is loved by locals and visitors for boating, jet skiing, kayaking, and more.
- Population: 9,700
- Median home price: $379,930
- Average age: 60
Want to retire and move to the beach without all the tourist traffic and noise? The tiny fishing village of Murrells Inlet is quite possibly the best places to live in South Carolina on the beach for those looking for peace and quiet with a coastal view in their retirement years.
With an average age of 60 and a median home cost of only $379k; life’s a beach in beautiful Murrells Inlet.
And if that’s not enough to have you packing your bags and moving to the coast; Murrells Inlet has some of the lowest property taxes of all the best cities in South Carolina.
This in turn, makes Murrells Inlet one of the best places to live in South Carolina for retirees. Groceries, however, are a bit higher here than the rest of the country, but the positive beach vibes and breathtaking views make it worth the extra dough.
Locals enjoy days of relaxing and enjoying quiet time at the beach and plenty of leisurely strolls along the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk with cafés, bars, restaurants, and shops to enjoy and explore.
List of the Best Cities to Live in South Carolina
In sum, here’s a quick list of the best places to live in South Carolina. Hope you enjoyed!
- Mt. Pleasant
- Rock Hill
- Hilton Head Island
- Fort Mill
- Tega Cay
- Murrells Inlet
Map of Best Places to Live in South Carolina