23 Pros and Cons of Living in South Carolina

South Carolina was one of the original 13 states that came together to form a union after the events of the Revolutionary War. Exploration of the area began around 1540 when Hernando de Soto fulfilled the obligation of his expedition here. The first settlers began to arrive in 1670 after the English Crown granted land rights to eight proprietors to begin a colony. Most were wealthy planters and their slaves that were currently living in Barbados.

Cotton and sugar were the first modern cash crops that were grown in the state because of this labor. The native populations attempted to fight back to keep their land, but the Yamasee War kept the colony intact. Then the settlers overthrew the rule of their proprietors, which allowed for more direct representation.

South Carolina also saw the first action during the Civil War when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Congress would shut down the civilian government in 1867, place the state in Reconstruction for the next decade, and then the structure of the laws shifted back toward pre-war tendencies for white preference and land ownership for voting.

Since 1965, South Carolina has emphasized equality, education, and job opportunities as they have worked to develop their economy into one of the best in the United States. If you are thinking about living here, then these are the pros and cons that you will want to consider.

List of the Pros of Living in South Carolina

1. South Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the country.
When you start living in South Carolina, then you will discover that the long coastline is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon when the sun is out. There are several barrier islands along the shore that help to temper the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in many areas as well. You can also move inland to find numerous boutique farms, stables, and other areas where the agricultural influences are strong. The gently rolling hills that begin as you move away from the coast are ideal to explore, especially with the occasional historic town sprinkled in here and there.

2. You will find that southern hospitality is still alive and well in the state.
Most people in South Carolina are exceptionally friendly. You will find that the communities are warm and welcoming to visitors, whether your move there is temporary or permanent. Part of the reason for this attitude toward life is from the culture, but you will also discover that the pace of each day is more relaxed here when compared to the urban centers that you can find to the north. It is a place where almost every day feels like a vacation if that is a priority, making it an ideal place to find a home and raise a family.

3. The weather in South Carolina is generally better than most places in the United States.
Although you will face the risk of the occasional hurricane when you start living in South Carolina, the weather is typically advantageous throughout the year. Even on the sunny days, the humidity levels are not the same here as they are in other coastal locations. It feels comfortable, especially when the sun is shining. There are some sticky days during the height of summer that can be challenging for some, but that is also when a trip to the beach becomes the perfect opportunity to find some relief.

4. Gas taxes in South Carolina are significantly lower.
The overall cost of transportation needs in South Carolina are lower because the taxes on fuel (including diesel) are significantly less than what they are in the surrounding region. Beginning in 2018, the state raised the gas tax to 20.75 cents per gallon, which is still one of the lowest in the entire country – and this was the first increase in almost 30 years. Georgia offers a tax that is 31.6 cents per gallon, while North Carolina takes 34.3 cents per gallon.

There is also a gas tax credit for which you might qualify that is based on the information supplied from your income tax return. You can claim a credit for up to two private passenger vehicles or motorcycles, and it is a refundable credit if you do not have any liabilities to pay.

5. You will find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy when living in the state.
There are numerous ways for you to enjoy the outdoors when you start calling South Carolina your home. Heading out to the beach is always a fun experience, but you can go swimming in other was throughout the state too. There are several lakes, creeks, and secret swimming holes that will help you to cool off during a warm day. Some of the creeks and marshes are saltwater bodies, allowing you to easily take a canoe or kayak out to go exploring. There are times when even the dolphins in the area like to come inland to start exploring.

6. Getting around in South Carolina is super simple for most families.
All of the cities in the state come with some traffic, but it is not nearly the nightmare that you can find if you were to move further north. The commutes are tolerable, even if you decide to live somewhere like Charleston. Because the weather is consistently nice when living here, you will discover that owning a bicycle is almost mandatory since it is such an easy way to make it to your destination. There are plenty of parking options for your vehicles as well, with even the downtown rates running about $1.50 per hour for most folks.

7. There are lots of water sports opportunities to pursue when living here.
You will discover that the many parks that are sprinkled throughout South Carolina all offer a charm that is distinctly original. They are beautiful, inviting, and offer enough variety that boredom is seldom an issue. You can take a kayak along Shem Creek, sail through the Charleston Harbor, or go deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic by hiring a charter operator. Fishing along the Intracoastal Waterway is always a fun option to consider as well. When the winds are right, surfing and kiteboarding are excellent choices, especially out on Sullivan’s Island.

8. History comes alive for you when living in South Carolina.
Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina, offering a history that predates the beginning of the American Civil War. You will find that almost everything has a story of some sort to tell, from the old cobblestone streets to the iron gates that help to guard an estate. The oldest preserved plantation house is located in the city, as well as numerous large mansions that have stood tall and proud for more than a century. You can also visit Fort Sumter with a simple ferry ride, allowing you to have a chance to stand at the exact spot where the conflict began in the 19th century.

9. The cultural scene is remarkable in South Carolina.
You will find some of the oldest continuously operating community theater groups are located in South Carolina, with the Footlight Players in Charleston being an excellent example of this advantage. You will have access to a professional ballet group, several different orchestras to enjoy, and there are 30+ different galleries to explore in the French Quarter of Charleston by itself. When you add in the various other places to tour, such as the USS Yorktown or the Old Exchange Building, then it feels like you can take on a new, fun activity every weekend without ever running out of ideas.

10. Property taxes in South Carolina are comparatively low.
Although you will have an income tax to pay when living in South Carolina, your property taxes are typically lower because of its presence. They are the fifth-lowest in the country, with the median rate at just 0.57%. That means the average homeowner here will pay about $850 per year in property taxes. If you can manage the other issues of taxing with your finances by avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and eating out frequently, then you may find that your burdens are fairly similar to what you would pay elsewhere.

11. Seafood boils are a way of life in South Carolina.
If you love to have seafood as part of your daily routine, then you are going to enjoy living in South Carolina. Boils are a way of life here, and you should take advantage of every single one that you can discover. Frogmore stew is one of the most popular dishes in the state, which is combination of sausage, corn, and crawfish. You can even create one at home for a reasonable price by using what is available at the grocery store, although the plethora of fishing opportunities that are available here make it easy enough to catch your own dinner too.

12. The crime rate in South Carolina is relatively low.
You will find that the state average for crime in South Carolina is about what it is in most other states across the country. Charleston is one of the safest urban areas in the nation, with only 2,691 crimes of all types reported per 100,000 residents. Columbia is a little more dangerous in that regard, with a rate that is 2.5 times higher. Since much of the area is made of up of rural communities and small towns, you will find that this state tends to be a pretty safe place to call home.

13. You will find plenty of job opportunities available here.
Although the unemployment rate in South Carolina is typically a percentage point higher than what the national average tends to be, cities like Charleston are exceptional markets where unemployment levels are usually significantly lower. The state is working to diversify its economy from the heavy emphasis on agriculture that it has typically seen, with growth levels exceptionally high in the technology sector. If you are proactive with your research for open positions, there is an excellent chance that you will discover a job that meets your income needs perfectly.

List of the Cons of Living in South Carolina

1. It costs more to live in South Carolina compared to other states.
The cost of living in South Carolina is considerably higher when you compare the cost of your essentials. You will pay more for your utilities, housing, and healthcare access when living here. Grocery costs are somewhat similar when looking at the southeast as a region, but there are only a handful of places where you can save some money. You will want to carefully consider your budget before moving to the state to ensure that your employment opportunities, retirement benefits, or other sources of income can cover what you require.

2. Expect to be eating a lot of hot sauce with your food.
There are countless local hot sauces that you will find throughout South Carolina when you explore the various restaurants that are available. Locals put it on almost everything, and the heat is going to get you if you’re unprepared for it. There are ghost chilis in almost every recipe that calls for spice in the state, which means you need to be ready for the unexpected. Smoking Ed’s Carolina Reaper is in many of them, with the world record for the hottest hot sauce based on a product that is manufactured locally.

3. The tea is sweet enough to cause your teeth to start aching.
If you prefer to drink unsweetened tea, then living in South Carolina means that you will be making it at home all of the time. The state is known as the birthplace of sweet tea, which contains about 23 grams of sugar for every 8-=ounce serving when you average what is available. Some places serve this beverage with a higher sugar content than what you would find in your favorite sweetened carbonated soda. All tea is offered this way in the state except in rare circumstances, so you will want to proceed with caution.

4. Construction is a way of life in South Carolina.
Many people are looking at the advantages that there are in moving to South Carolina and deciding to take the plunge. That has created a higher level of diversity in the state, but it is also causing significant construction issues that can be interruptive in numerous ways. It can be challenging to find a fast way to work when commuting. Residential developments are frequently noisy thanks to homebuilding activities. There is nothing that suggests this disadvantage is going to end soon, especially if you find yourself in places like the James Island Connector.

5. You will have the hurricane problem to think about when living here.
The weather in South Carolina is typically pleasant, but there is also an unpredictability factor that you will want to consider. You just never really know what the average day might bring. It is not unusual to see thunderheads building along the east while the west offers blue skies and sunshine. Anyone driving a convertible in the state will need to be ready to expect the unexpected.

Significant hurricanes in the state have taken a significant toll on South Carolina’s communities over the year, with Hugo being the standard that responses are measured against. The Category 4 storm made landfall in 1989, causing over $7 billion in damages. Floyd, Irma, and Matthew both created problems for residents as well, with evacuations creating transportation issues that were concerns then and still are.

6. The rainy season likes to bring flooding to South Carolina.
Even if you do not live in an area that is zoned as being a flooding issue, you will discover that living in the state does come with the risk of a surprise flood. You will want to speak with your homeowners’ insurance policy provider to discuss what flood policies you will need to have in place to protect your property. You must also make a conscious effort to maintain your drainage systems to ensure that you do not experience unanticipated damage due to a strong storm moving through the area.

7. You will need to budget some extra cash to pay the higher taxes.
Although the fuel tax in South Carolina is exceptionally low compared to the national standard, the other taxes that you will pay for the items you want are relatively high. If you purchase alcohol in a restaurant, then you might pay a tax of up to 15% on the amount you buy. Clothing is taxed at a rate of 8.5%. Even the food you purchase at a diner comes with a 10.5% tax. The pain doesn’t stop there, since there is a 6% sales tax active in the state. Counties can impose an additional 2% on top of that.

You will also need to pay an income tax when you live in South Carolina, where the state does not differentiate between filing statuses. If you make over $15,000 per year, then you are going to pay 7% of your income to the state once you get through your deductions.

8. Bug spray is going to become your best friend.
Once you start living in South Carolina, you will discover that one of the essentials that you need for going outside is bug spray. The insects that love to bite always seem to be within reach. You can even see swarms of them appear throughout the year, especially during the twilight hours when the weather is still hot and humid. The mosquitoes are especially ferocious in this state, willing to eat you alive with every opportunity. Venture outside without protection, and you will come home with a series of itchy, red welts as a friendly reminder.

9. You might come up close and personal with an alligator.
Most people can get used to the fact that South Carolinians like to put mustard in their barbecue sauce. You can ignore the intensity of the college football rivalries, even when Tennessee is in the picture. What is difficult to ignore when you start living in the state is the presence of the wildlife: specifically, alligators. There are an estimated 100,000 of them that are currently present. Although they are not usually super aggressive, they will leave you alone if you work hard to avoid them. You must still take care when walking outside, even in the cities, because of this disadvantage though.

10. There are some terminology differences to consider.
You will find that everyone is “sir” or “ma’am” when you start living in South Carolina. It isn’t a title that is reflective of age. It is considered a way of being polite in the local culture. You will also discover that lunch is actually called “dinner” in most parts of the state, while the final meal receives the title of “supper.” And if that wasn’t confusing enough, some families call lunch “supper” and keep dinner the same. Although this disadvantage is far from significant, it can be frustrating until you get used to the formality of it for some families.

The pros and cons of living in South Carolina work to balance the cost of the experience with the opportunities that are available. Finding a job is not usually difficult in the state, but it can be challenging to live in certain areas if you do not have a significant household income. Since almost all of the state is accessible with just a few hours of driving, you will discover that nature can become your playground when this is where you call home.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.