11 Pros and Cons of Living in South Carolina

Is the weather and affordable housing enough to outweigh the poor school system and mosquitos? Explore the pros and cons of life in South Carolina.
Written by Matthew Lynaugh
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
From its warm weather to its affordable housing, there is plenty to appreciate living in South Carolina. But the poor healthcare system and proneness to hurricanes present significant drawbacks to life in Palmetto State.
If you’re considering a move to South Carolina, it's important to weigh out all the pros and cons so you are confident it's a decision you can live with. For some, SC may sound like the ideal change of scenery—but for others, the downside might be too much to bear. 
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Pro: Wonderful weather

Weather is one of the most powerful driving forces that pushes a person into a certain state’s direction—and if you like the warmth, then South Carolina is for you. The average yearly temperature is an incredibly comfortable 62 degrees, and you’ll find yourself in shorts more often than not.
The northwestern mountain area of the state experiences the most wintery conditions, with expected snowfall between December and February. For the rest of the residents, temperatures in the 50s and 60s are common in these months, and if you choose to settle in the Lowcountry or along the Atlantic coast, chances are you’ll never need a shovel.

Pro: Outdoor activities

South Carolina offers some of the most beautiful natural backdrops for anyone that enjoys spending time outdoors. With diverse elements like the mountains upstate, the inland lakes,and the Atlantic coast, there are endless recreational activities at your fingertips year-round.
Just because the majority of the year is warm, doesn’t mean you can’t hit the slopes up north— Beech Mountain has you covered with 17 trails. If a day on the water sounds more like your wave, catch some rays and take a dip at Folly Beach or along Lake Marion. Lastly, with 65% of the state’s area covered by forests, there's always a new hiking adventure awaiting.

Con: Subpar healthcare system

When deciding on a new place to call home, it’s important to consider the quality of healthcare available for you and your family. Unfortunately, the South Carolina healthcare system ranks 36th out of 51 according to a study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 
This study analyzed factors such as type of care, setting, and clinical specialty—South Carolina didn’t receive a solid grade in any. As a matter of fact, South Carolina ranks as the second worst state in terms of healthcare access.
This is not to say there aren’t any good doctors or hospitals here, but we recommend doing your due diligence before choosing which ones will be your go-to.

Pros: Affordable housing

With a score of 88.5 out of 100 on the cost of living index, South Carolina is the 18th most affordable state to live in. Categories like groceries and transportation are all below the national average, but the most significant savings come in the housing sector
The average cost of a house here is $298,095 according to Zillow, while a one-bedroom apartment will run you around $750 per month on average. For comparison, the average cost of a house is over $400,000 nationwide, and the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,700 per month.
If you choose to buy a house, you can expect to pay $1,142 per year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage—13% less than the national average. If that wasn’t enough, the state average property taxes paid is $850 per year!

Con: Struggling school system

If you’re moving with a family or planning to start one, you’ll want to check out the landscape of the current school system throughout the state. Sadly, we don’t have much good to report regarding the public schools in South Carolina.
In a study conducted by WalletHub, South Carolina ranks 46th out of 51 in terms of the overall school system. The study factored things like math scores, teacher-to-pupil ratio, and dropout rate when determining their scores. On top of that, we regret to inform you that South Carolina ranked dead last in terms of school safety.

Pro: Benefits for retirees

If the weather and natural surroundings weren’t enough to convince you to retire in the Palmetto State, these added perks might tip the scale. First and foremost, the state offers generous retirement tax benefits. There are no state taxes on Social Security here, and residents over 65 can also deduct up to $10,000 from retirement income like IRAs and pensions.
For those that wish to expand their education with their newfound free time, you’ll be happy to know that residents 60 and older have free access to any state-funded college and attend either credited or audited classes. Perfect for anyone that wants to learn something new or finally pursue a passion they never could before, this is the state to enroll in.

Con: Hurricanes

Although the weather stays a comfortable temperature for much of the year, it’s not always sunshine and clear skies in SC. Being situated along the coast of the southeastern Atlantic Ocean makes the state considerably prone to hurricanes that track through the Caribbean. In fact, a hurricane makes landfall here about once every four years.
The weather is important to keep in mind when crafting your
homeowners insurance
policy, because not only will hurricanes bring torrential rainfall and fierce winds, you’ll also have to be mindful of potential flooding. Additionally, you may want to make sure your new home has an adequate drainage system, or consider having one professionally installed.

Pro: Easy to get around

If you’re coming from the Northeast, we’re sure you’ve sat in (more than) your fair share of bumper-to-bumper traffic. South Carolina will provide a breath of fresh air with far less traffic thanks to its common “pass-through state” moniker. 
Even if you live or work in the busy city of Charleston, CARTA buses are always running so you can lessen your environmental footprint and never stress parking. To get a true sense of historic South Carolina, you can also hitch a ride on a free DASH trolley and make your way through the cobblestone streets of downtown Charleston. 
Biking has also become a standard form of transportation throughout the state thanks to the generous weather offered year-round. This two-wheeled investment will also help you steer clear of high gas and
auto insurance
costs as well.

Con: High taxes

Nobody enjoys talking about them, but taxes are very important to examine since they vary by state. While South Carolina has a low cost of living overall, the state still finds ways to dip its hands into your pockets.
First off, you will pay a graduated state income tax ranging from zero to seven percent, based on how much you make. You will also pay more every time you make a purchase, thanks to South Carolina’s six percent sales tax. Certain municipalities also tack on an additional local sales tax, bringing the tax to a total of nine percent.
To make matters worse, alcohol can be taxed up to 15 percent, while restaurants can add an 11.5% tax to your bill. 

Pro: Myrtle Beach

We can’t talk about South Carolina without mentioning its most popular getaway destination. Sure, it brings in a ton of tourists every summer, but residents get to enjoy having this coastal paradise in their backyard year-round.
Pick your perfect spot in the sand and enjoy a day of family fun. Whether that’s catching some rays while reading a good book or boogie boarding with the kids, Myrtle Beach offers a pristine coastal setting. 
After you surrender to the sun, take a stroll along the boardwalk to find your ideal restaurant or catch epic views while riding the 187-foot SkyWheel ferris wheel. Golf lovers rejoice, Myrtle Beach has some of the best courses offered in the East. Aim for the fairway at over 20 courses, with Dunes Golf and Beach Club, and Caledonia Golf Club is the top two according to PGA pros.

Con: Pesky mosquitoes

Let’s end with a drawback but not necessarily a dealbreaker—well, that could depend on who you ask. Mosquitoes need warmth and moisture to thrive and breed, and lucky for them, South Carolina provides both. Mosquito season typically lasts from March to October, but rising temperatures in the early months can bring these insects flying into your daily life sooner than expected.
A few simple tips and inexpensive modifications can keep mosquitoes away from your home. First off, check and maintain all the screens on your doors, windows, and chimneys. Additionally, remove anything that collects and holds rainwater, as mosquitoes only need one inch of still water to breed. Last but not least, always have a bottle of repellent spray nearby—you might not love the scent, but trust us, the odor will be worth it.
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Is South Carolina a good place to live in?

Yes, we’d say South Carolina is definitely a good place to live, but like any other state, it is going to have its drawbacks. If you’re considering a move to the Palmetto State, take ample time to weigh out all the pros and cons before making your final decision. 
South Carolina is an excellent state for:
  • Retirees
  • Outdoorsy people
  • Budgeters
If the below-average healthcare and school systems sound too problematic, though, South Carolina might not be the place for you.

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Drivers in South Carolina can expect to pay an average of $2,659 per year for car insurance—about $1,000 more than the national average. 
Every driver’s age, history, and vehicle type are going to affect your premiums, but insurance companies also heavily weigh on your location. South Carolina’s vulnerability to severe weather and its above-average car theft rate increase the likelihood of comprehensive insurance claims, thus driving up coverage costs.
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