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15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina


If you are thinking of moving to South Carolina, you are not alone. South Carolina enjoys a mild climate and is an affordable state, with some of the lowest property and gas taxes in the nation. The population of South Carolina has reached 5.25 million in 2022. Below are 15 things to know before moving to South Carolina for retirement or for leisure. If you’re planning for retirement, a financial advisor can help you put a financial plan together for your retirement needs and goals.

1. South Carolina Barbecue Is Mustard-Based

Depending on where you go in the South, you might find barbecue sauce that’s vinegar-based or white and creamy, but in South Carolina the barbecue sauce is mustard-based. In some parts of the state, it’s so mustard-y that it’s yellow. If you’re used to dark, sweet barbecue sauce, moving to South Carolina is a chance to broaden your horizons. However, there are other BBQ options if this doesn’t pique your interests, you just won’t be experiencing the local cuisine.

2. Winters Are Mild But Summers Are Hot

If you hate the winter weather you’re currently experiencing, moving to South Carolina will be a nice change of pace for you. Winters in South Carolina are mild, particularly on the coast (inland communities will experience colder temperatures during the winter months). But if you’ve never experienced summer in the South, your first summer in South Carolina could come as a shock. It’s hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms and even tornadoes. The humidity makes it difficult to hide from the heat at any time of day.

3. South Carolina Boasts Some Amazing Bird Watching

SmartAsset: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina

If you’re a birder, moving to South Carolina is a great opportunity to add some more birds to your life list. According to the Audubon Society, South Carolina boasts “a state species list of more than 430 that ranges from the seagoing Northern Gannet to the mountain-loving Common Raven.” Huntington Beach State Park is both a beautiful recreation destination and a renowned birding hot spot for visitors and residents.

4. It’s Worth Checking Out the Spoleto Festival.

South Carolina’s annual Spoleto Festival is one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the country. Modeled after the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, Charleston’s Spoleto Festival combines small-city charm with a wealth of theater and music options. We’re guessing you’ll find something to love on the program of the 17-day festival.

5. The Cost of Living Is Relatively Low

The cost of living in South Carolina is slightly lower than the national average cost of living and can be a good value for a coastal state. Of course, your cost of living will depend on where you settle in South Carolina and on the lifestyle you want to maintain. But in general, South Carolina is not one of the nation’s more expensive states and there is a good value to be had in real estate if you want to find a deal.

6. Golf Is Big in South Carolina

SmartAsset: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina

If you love golf, you’ll love living in South Carolina and will fit right in with your new neighbors, especially if you’re retired. Even if you don’t golf yourself, you may benefit indirectly from all the money that golf brings to the state. South Carolina has dozens of stunning golf courses, and golf package tours are a popular choice for golfing tourists. South Carolina’s “golf coast” is world-renowned and brings travelers from all over. Plus, golf courses provide not just a great activity to get to know new people but also provide lush green scenery.

7. South Carolina Culture Is Rich and Diverse

Those interested in Native American history, colonial history, African-American history, Civil War history and more will find South Carolina fascinating. South Carolina is also home to a community with which many Americans are not familiar – namely, the Gullah. Enslaved Africans living in Low County developed a hybrid culture, language and cuisine that survives today. An estimated 125,000 Americans speak Gullah throughout the state.

8. Tourists Love South Carolina

Millions of tourists visit South Carolina annually, and not just for the golf courses. According to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, 29,000,000 people visited the state in 2014. Charleston, South Carolina regularly ranks among the top 10 tourist destinations in the country. Depending on which study you consult, you may see tourism listed as the state’s largest industry. From golfing to beaching or boating, there is plenty to do for residents and tourists.

9. South Carolina Beaches Will Blow You Away

SmartAsset: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina

South Carolina’s beaches are beautiful, and the seafood you can get in the state’s coastal towns is not to be missed. After moving to South Carolina, why not make time to visit the state’s famous beaches, including Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island, Hilton Head and Folly Beach? Some are great tourist destinations year-round but others can provide a scenic destination for residents, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

10. South Carolina Has Relatively Low Property Taxes

South Carolina has some of the lowest property taxes of any state in the country. The state’s progressive income tax system means it doesn’t have to use property taxes to make up for lost revenue, as happens in some states with no income tax. Plus, the taxes paid by tourists also contribute to helping keep the property taxes low. This can be a great place to find value for your money in real estate.

11. South Carolina Is Rich in Public Parks

South Carolina boasts impressive National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites and more protected land. And it’s not just the federal government that protects land in the Palmetto State. South Carolina State Parks together make up 80,000 acres of protected lands from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coast. Some of the sites are protected wilderness, others are designed for recreation and still, others are sites of cultural and/or historic interest.

12. Alligators Live in the State

SmartAsset: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina

It’s a good idea to learn some basic gator safety before (or shortly after) moving to South Carolina. Gator attacks are rare, but it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t approach or feed alligators, or swim in areas that are known to host gators. Living with alligators is normal life for many in the south but if you’re new to the area then you should understand what to do and not do before traveling in those areas.

13. The South Carolina Food Scene Is Huge

Charleston is a foodie paradise with a well-documented restaurant scene, but you’ll find delicious food in other parts of the state, too, from fresh produce grown on small farms to seafood from shacks in coastal towns, barbecue, Gullah food, Caribbean food and more. Any place that can be known for both seafood and BBQ is known to have a hugely diverse selection of good foods to explore and enjoy.

14. South Carolina Boasts The Citadel

SmartAsset: 15 Things to Know Before Moving to South Carolina

The Citadel, one of the six Senior Military Colleges in the country, calls South Carolina home. The Citadel dates from 1842 and is a tourist destination in its own right. Visitors can attend a Friday parade, go on a campus tour of the historic buildings and take in the atmosphere. It’s yet another enjoyable thing to experience in the state.

15. South Carolina Is Still Evolving

If there’s one thing to remember about South Carolina, it’s that the state is changing and evolving. The Palmetto State is becoming more diverse, in terms of both its population and its economy. It’s not a swing state yet, but some analysts are saying that the state could become a swing state down the road as more people find out about the beauty and enjoyment that South Carolina can bring.

The Bottom Line

South Carolina has so much to offer in terms of history, culture and natural beauty. Moving to South Carolina is a great opportunity to embrace the low-key Southern lifestyle and explore a diverse state with a rich history, fantastic food and scenery that will take your breath away. Its low real estate prices and property taxes make it a destination to not just visit but to live and possibly retire.

Retirement Tips for Beginners

  • If you’re looking for a retirement destination you should make sure you have your finances in order. A financial advisor can help you put a financial plan together for your needs. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before you set your heart on the Palmetto State, check to see if you can afford the cost of living. Comparing your current budget with your project helps you plan ahead.
  •  Looking to buy a home? Try our South Carolina mortgage calculator to find your projected monthly payments.

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