South Carolina, fondly referred to as the Palmetto state for the state tree, is ideal for seniors, as there are many amazing places to retire in South Carolina. The weather is subtropical in the summer and mild in the winter. They have sandy beaches, mountains, and big cities, ensuring retirees will never become bored in South Carolina.
South Carolina has an ever-growing retirement community attracted to the state for the low cost of living and beautiful weather. The median value for homes is below the national by just shy of $60,000, though some of the areas are pricier and exceed not only the state but also the national average.
Overall, South Carolina is one of the more tax-friendly states coming in 42nd for the highest tax burden. And though they have a retirement tax, it also has a sizable deduction for those 65+.
On certain pension incomes, a $3,000 deductible is available. However, all residents 65+ will receive an exemption for the initial $15,000 of qualified retirement income. Additionally, social security is not taxed.
South Carolina is broken up into four different regions:
- Upstate – Is the only region with mountains, best known for its hiking, waterfalls, and lakes.
- Low Country – This area of the state sits just above sea level and is popular for its beaches and sea islands.
- Mid Lands – A lot of outdoor recreational activities available in this area, including rafting and fly fishing.
- Pee Dee – Is best known for its long coastline stretching from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown.
Each of the areas has its own culture, history, and is geographically unique.
One of the most notable impacts of American history on South Carolina is that they are home to the Gullah-Geechee people who are direct descendants of the West African slaves.
The Gulla Gee-Chee people speak a different language and celebrate their unique culture in their day to day lives. Plus, they are the source of many delicious low country cuisines—dishes such as collard greens, shrimp and grits, and she-crab soup.
Beyond the Gullah people, South Carolina has a rich and vibrant history, perfect for history buffs who enjoy spending their retirement visiting historical sites and museums.
Below are our top five choices for the best places to retire in South Carolina. We have chosen these cities for a variety of reasons such as culture, cost of living, and size. It is our goal to find cities that match a variety of needs and interests. So we included towns and cities near the ocean, or mountains, and one because it is known as the golfing capital of the world.
Places to Retire
- Myrtle Beach
- Senior Population: 13.6%
- Overall Population: 138,458
Charleston, voted in 2017 as Southern’s Best in Southern Living, is located on the Atlantic Ocean, but has several major rivers flowing through and around the city.
Charleston is a unique combination of a harbor town and a large city. Though Charleston is home to over 130,000 people, it also embodies true welcoming southern hospitality.
The fusion architecture of Charleston gives this city its unique character. The storefronts and apartments found in the downtown areas are a combination of modern and historical architecture but all have the same southern charm.
For retirees looking to settle down in a city that gives them access to beaches, museums, and world-class restaurants, Charleston could be the city for you. This city is bursting with history, art, and culture:
- Fort Sumter National Monument
- Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
- Gibbes Museum of Art
- Old Slave Mart Museum
- Charleston Music Hall
- Dock Street Theater
And for those who love the outdoors or are just looking to stay active. Charleston is a very pedestrian-friendly city, so if you live in the downtown area you can walk everywhere. Plus if your new to Charleston there are over fun walking tours like:
- Historic Charleston
- Charleston’s Alleys and Hidden Passages
- Downtown Charleston Culinary
- Two Bars // One Graveyard // Ghost Story
- High Society II: Combo Walking Tour with Art & Wine
Plus, there are tons of city parks if you are looking for a place for a daily walk, jog, or bike ride.
Charleston is one of the cities that is above the state average, the median sale price for a house is around $297,000. But Charleston does have more than its share of housing for those 55+, so if you are interested in renting or buying in a retirement community there are several options available.
Plus, Charleston offers a variety medical centers, including top hospitals like:
- MUSC Health-University Medical Center Ranked #1 in Charleston
- Ranked #32 in the nation for their oncology department
- Ranked #23 in the nation for their ENT department
- Ranked #13 in the nation for their rheumatology department
- Senior Population: 11.8%
- Overall Population: 71,171
Greenville, located in the upper region of South Carolina, is the largest city in the area. Though it doesn’t have oceanfront property, it makes up for it in the mountain scenery and waterfalls that can be enjoyed while walking across the Liberty bridge.
Greenville’s name doesn’t come from the surrounding trees, but instead for its green initiatives. Greenville prides itself on its role in the development of sustainable energy. The 413-acre GE plant, located in Greenville, works on advancing the creation of gas and wind turbine technologies to aid in powering the world.
Greenville is the perfect combination of city and outdoor recreation because it has all of the conveniences of an urban area tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The one square mile of the downtown area is filled with retail stores, boutiques, and restaurants. Plus, it’s one of the few downtown areas that features a natural waterfall.
In addition to shops and restaurants, downtown Greenville also offers a variety of outdoor entertainment such as:
- The Peace Center for the Performing Arts – Outdoor Amphitheater
- Live music
- Street festivals
- Moonlight movies
- Farmer’s market
And for the more scholarly of us, South Carolina offers residents, who are 60+, a tuition exemption at state colleges. Plus, Greenville is home to the Herring Center for Lifelong Learning at Furman University, where seniors can continue their education.
- Senior Population: 17.8%
- Overall Population: 35,760
Those who are looking to retire to the ultimate vacation spot with long white sandy beaches and more 100 different golf courses, minus the California price tag, then Myrtle Beach is the perfect place for you. Myrtle Beach is a popular growing retirement community, giving you access to several retirement communities ranging in price.
Not only can you choose to spend your retirement lounging on the beach, but you can also enjoy ocean fishing, boating, or any other water activities. And when you are done having fun in the sun, you can check out the many stores or one of the 1,800 restaurants found in the area. Also, in Myrtle Beach, you can find a variety of entertainment options such as:
- Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show
- Carolina Opry
- Live music
- Theater performances
Plus, when your friends and family come to visit, there is a nearby airport, making it easy to go and pick up your guests. Or, if you are looking to avoid the spring break crowds, you can always hit the airport for a vacation of your own.
Myrtle Beach’s median cost for a home is slightly higher than the state’s average but still lower than the national pricing. Also, for those 65+ may be eligible for a $50,000 homestead tax exemption, which makes the cost of living in Myrtle Beach all the more attractive.
Also, Myrtle Beach, has many medical centers, including specialty centers and full-service hospitals, like:
- Grand Strand Regional Medical Center
- McLeod Loris Hospital
- McLeod Seacoast Hospital
- Senior Population: 10.6%
- Overall Population: 27,495
Bluffton, a small town on the coast, near the Hilton Head Island and the Georgia border, gets its name from its bluff location overlooking the river. Many are attracted to this town for its character and beauty.
The downtown area dotted with antique stores, art galleries, museums, and boutiques. Also, Bluffton’s downtown area features the Riverfront Pocket Park and garden. Another significant attraction to this town is it’s a central location to the Hilton Head Island, Beaufort, Savannah, and an easy drive to Charleston.
Bluffton’s housing is a combination of the quaint river town communities and new luxury homes. There are charming homes near the downtown area, making walking everywhere quite convenient. Additionally, if you are looking to wake up to a view of an 18-hole course, then you might just fall in love with one of the many golf course communities in the area.
The median price is higher than the national average. However, in Bluffton, there is a significant range in housing and rental costs.
There are several hospitals and medical care centers in and around the Bluffton area, including several in the nearby city of Beaufort, just 40 minutes south.
- Senior Population: 15.9%
- Overall Population: 13,425
For retirees thinking of putting down roots in a charming small seaside town that embodies the heart of the old south, then Beaufort is the place for you. Beaufort, also known as the Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands, since it resides in the low country near many of the local islands.
Beaufort is best explored on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. Taking a tour through the historic district highlighted in Spanish Moss is an experience you won’t soon forget.
As you adventure through the downtown area, you can take in the many art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Or, if you are looking to spend time on the ocean, there are several boat tours, including day-long fishing charters.
And, Beaufort also has several cultural venues for those who enjoy the arts:
- The Community Arts Center
- Beaufort Orchestra Society
- University of SC-Beaufort’s Performing Arts Center
- Beaufort History Museum
- Pat Conroy Literary Center
Plus, several festivals throughout the year, including the Water Festival, Shrimp Festival, and various Penn Center festivals. Some of the other sites worth checking out in Beaufort are:
- Wine and Dine Downtown
- Captain Dick’s River Tour and Dolphin Watch
- Paris Island
- Cypress Wetlands
- Port Royal’s Boardwalk
There are several medical facilities; the most notable are the Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Hilton Head Hospital. Both hospitals are within 20 miles of town and are full-service hospitals complete with emergency care.
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