The 10 Best Places to Live in South Carolina in 2024


If you’re planning on moving to South Carolina, add these cities to your list.

In this Redfin article, we’ve uncovered the best places to live in South Carolina, ranking them on qualities such as affordability, navigability, and number of amenities. You can find more information about our methodology here or at the bottom of the article.

Overview of South Carolina

South Carolina is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back living, but there’s a lot more to the state, too. Southern hospitality, historic towns, and plenty of warmth and sunshine make for an appealing place to live. People have taken advantage of this, too: South Carolina was the fastest-growing state in the U.S. in 2023. The state’s economy is also booming

South Carolina’s climate is generally pleasant, but wet. Summers can be quite hot and damp, and is when a majority of the state’s 47.8 inches of rain falls. The coast can also experience deluges during hurricanes and tropical storms. Importantly, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding can occur throughout the year, with most happening from March through October. 

South Carolina has three geographic regions. In the east are lowland coastal plains, home to miles of beaches, the unique Carolina Bays, and the ancient Sand Hills. As you move west, you encounter the Piedmont, a diverse region consisting of rolling hills and rivers. Furthest to the west are the Blue Ridge Mountains, a southern range of the Appalachians.

People often separate the regions further for cultural reasons, too. For example, the coastal plains can be split into the Pee Dee (named after the Indian Tribe) and Lowcountry regions, where Myrtle Beach and Charleston are located. The lower Piedmont is often referred to as the Midlands, and is home to Columbia. The mountainous west is generally called the Upcountry (or Upstate), where Greenville is. 

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1. Columbia, SC

Highlights: Easy to navigate ٠ Affordable ٠ College town ٠ Rich history

Population:

139,698

Average Commute Time:

16.2 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$30,863

Median Sale Price: 

$259,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,196

Unemployment Rate:

3.9%

Built along the large Congaree River, Columbia tops our list as the best place to live in South Carolina. Known as Soda City, Columbia is a historic college town steeped in southern culture, warm hospitality, and natural beauty.

Buoyed by the University of South Carolina (USC), the state capital’s population is large enough to support trendy shops and restaurants, but small enough to avoid congestion. Fairly affordable housing prices, a compact layout, and strong population growth also helped earn the city top marks. The nearby Fort Jackson military base is a major employer. 

Columbia’s history is a major selling point, too. Civil War memorabilia can be found at the Confederate Relic Room, while the South Carolina State Museum highlights science, culture, and natural history. And historic landmarks like the South Carolina State House and Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park provide a look into the city’s origins.

When it comes to things to do, Columbia offers something for everyone. Outdoor lovers can enjoy the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and explore a diverse array of wildlife and botanical gardens. The revitalized Main Street is the place to be for shopping and dining. Sports fans can catch the Minor League Columbia Fireflies at Segra Park, or support the USC Gamecocks throughout the year. For a longer outing, the nearby Congaree National Park is a great spot for hiking and canoeing in one of the last old-growth forests in the U.S. 

Columbia homes for sale | Columbia houses for rent | Columbia apartments for rent

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2. Greenville, SC

Highlights: Outdoor haven ٠ Growing population ٠ Job opportunities ٠ Revitalized downtown

Population:

72,310

Average Commute Time:

19.9 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$46,207

Median Sale Price: 

$464,750

Median Rent Price: 

$1,456

Unemployment Rate:

2.3%

Built into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville offers a blend of natural beauty, rich history, and modern amenities. The once-small mountain town has recently transformed into a trendy national powerhouse, in part thanks to GE and Michelin moving in. Large population growth has quickly followed. The business district, home to many of the city’s employers, acts as a hub for the region.

The highly walkable Downtown Greenville is where most locals gather for shopping, dining, and entertainment. In fact, it’s so easy to navigate that it earned a mention in the New York Times. Tupelo Honey, Soby’s, and Group Therapy Pub & Playground are must-try eateries.

Because of its hilly terrain and mild climate, Greenville has long been known for its fantastic outdoor recreation. The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile multi-use greenway, is perfect for commuting and leisure biking, running, and walking. Falls Park on the Reedy is a gem in the heart of downtown, with beautiful gardens, waterfalls, and the iconic Liberty Bridge. Paris Mountain State Park offers hiking, swimming, and camping just minutes from downtown. And Conestee Nature Preserve provides miles of trails through diverse ecosystems. 

Greenville homes for sale | Greenville houses for rent | Greenville apartments for rent

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3. Charleston, SC

Highlights: Historic downtown ٠ Hip culture ٠ Coastal amenities ٠ Southern hospitality

Population:

153,672

Average Commute Time:

22.9 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$46,575

Median Sale Price: 

$630,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,821

Unemployment Rate:

2.3%

There’s no place quite like Charleston – a coastal city where history and modernity collide. And with a hip, fast-growing population, it’s become a national destination for people looking for a charming, authentic Southern experience. The city overflows with well-preserved architecture,  coastal beauty, and bespoke boutiques along its web of cobblestone streets

Charleston was founded in 1670, and it takes its history seriously. Apart from its dozens of historic churches, homes, and parks, a majority of Charleston’s historic downtown area is also a designated Local Historic District. Because of this, the area’s layout and most of its buildings have remained largely unchanged for centuries, creating a beautiful time capsule. Rainbow Row is one of the most famous places to visit. You’ll still find the typical amenities you’re used to throughout town, of course. 

Importantly, Charleston’s cost of living is very high compared to most other cities in the state, which is why it falls lower on our list. House prices are around double that of Columbia and Myrtle Beach, for example. This can make finding an affordable home challenging, although a recent minimum wage increase for government employees may help. 

The coastal landscape is gorgeous, but summers can be very hot, humid, and stormy. Sunny and mild weather the rest of the year is a fair trade-off for locals. Spending a day at the beach helps stave off the worst of the heat.

Charleston homes for sale | Charleston houses for rent | Charleston apartments for rent

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4. Spartanburg, SC

Highlights: Well-preserved history ٠ Engaged community ٠ Outdoor recreation

Population:

38,584

Average Commute Time:

20.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$26,224

Median Sale Price: 

$240,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,135

Unemployment Rate:

5.1%

A railroad town 30 miles east of Greenville, Spartanburg is the fourth-best place to live in South Carolina on our list. Spartanburg’s affordability is one reason why it’s so high on the rankings – house prices sit nearly $200,000 below the national median – but there’s a lot more to the city, too. A compact and lively downtown, plenty of economic opportunities, and great outdoor recreation are a few of the highlights. 

Spartanburg’s nicknames, Hub City and Sparkle City, represent both its past and present. Hub City refers to the area’s locomotive past and criss-crossing train tracks, while Sparkle City came from a ‘70s song. You’ll find many more amenities named after Hub City than you will Spartanburg. The nicknames are such a big deal that businesses and events use them as monikers, like the Hub City Farmers Market, Hub City Brew Fest, Sparkle City Mini Putt (free!), and even the Sparkle A City Street Program.  

Morgan Square is where you’ll find most of the city’s offerings, including restaurants, museums, and 18th-century buildings. Locals love cycling around town, shopping at the weekly farmers market, or enjoying local breweries. The iconic Beacon Drive-In and The Crepe Factory are local favorites for old school and sophisticated dining. After, you can see local art and performances at the Spartanburg Art Museum and Chapman Cultural Center.

Spartanburg offers a slower-paced lifestyle than Greenville but retains the same Upcountry charm and beauty. However, a few large companies have headquarters in town, such as BMW and Dennys.

Spartanburg homes for sale | Spartanburg houses for rent | Spartanburg apartments for rent

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5. Myrtle Beach, SC

Highlights: Resort amenities ٠ Affordable ٠ Miles of beaches ٠ Mini-golf

Population:

38,417

Average Commute Time:

17.6 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$30,443

Median Sale Price: 

$300,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,627

Unemployment Rate:

3.4%

Known as The Beach, Myrtle Beach is a resort town turned top migration destination. Unlike many other South Carolina cities, Myrtle Beach is not particularly historic; it sprang up in the early 20th century as a vacation destination for travelers heading to Florida. However, its short history doesn’t take away from its role as a cultural hub. It has also been the fastest-growing city in the U.S. since 2021. 

Often better known as a vacation spot for beachgoers and golfers, Myrtle Beach is also an attractive place to live. The weather is sunny and warm, housing is relatively affordable, and there is a lot of room for the city to grow. Amusement parks, high-rise hotels, more than 90 golf courses, and 60 miles of beaches and boardwalks along the Grand Strand help make for an appealing place to call home.  

There are also a surprising number of mini golf courses – more than 50 around the city, 20 of which were designed by the legendary James “Poddy” Bryan. You can easily spend a month in Myrtle Beach touring these alone. Hot and very humid summers can be difficult to manage, though, so many people choose to go out in the evenings. 

Myrtle Beach homes for sale | Myrtle Beach houses for rent | Myrtle Beach apartments for rent

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6. Rock Hill, SC

Highlights: Southern charm ٠ Growing population ٠ Great for commuters

Population:

75,349

Average Commute Time:

24.4 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$29,202

Median Sale Price: 

$305,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,390

Unemployment Rate:

4.1%

Rock Hill blends Southern charm with modern appeal, making it an excellent place to live. Located just 25 miles from Charlotte, NC, it has become a thriving suburb with a strong economy. The downtown area, particularly Knowledge Park, is the city’s hub of innovation and technology, driving much of the city’s recent growth.

Rock Hill has recently been welcoming swaths of newcomers from nearby Charlotte who are looking for less expensive housing, turbocharging the city’s growth. You’ll likely see new construction around every corner, lines out the door at popular restaurants, and new businesses moving in. However, because many new residents commute to work, congestion can be an issue. A recently-debuted bus service, free to ride, aims to alleviate some traffic. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Rock Hill’s numerous parks and trails. Glencairn Garden, with its beautiful landscapes and walking paths, is a local favorite. The annual Come-See-Me Festival, a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar, brings together residents for a celebration of art, music, and food.

Rock Hill homes for sale | Rock Hill houses for rent | Rock Hill apartments for rent 

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7. Aiken, SC

Highlights: Equestrian culture٠ Natural beauty ٠ Convenient location 

Population:

32,463

Average Commute Time:

23.9 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$35,156

Median Sale Price: 

$364,500

Median Rent Price: 

$1,258

Unemployment Rate:

2.3%

Situated in the Midlands near the Georgia border, Aiken comes in at seventh on our list. Historically a wintering spot for wealthy landowners, today Aiken welcomes everyone to enjoy  its natural beauty and laid-back culture. Fairly affordable house prices, a strong economy, and convenient location make Aiken a great place to live.

Aiken’s historic downtown is a small but delightful area filled with boutiques, antique shops, and local eateries. The Feed Sack and Malia’s offer some of the best dining experiences, while the Aiken Center for the Arts showcases local talent and hosts various cultural events. The historic Willcox Hotel, founded in 1898, is not only a beautiful place to stay but also a local landmark known for its Southern elegance. 

With the nickname “Polo Capital of the World,” Aiken has a rich equestrian heritage, to the delight of locals. The city hosts numerous equestrian events throughout the year, notably the Aiken Steeplechase at Whitney Field, the oldest continuously used polo field in the country. 

Outdoor recreation in Aiken extends beyond equestrian activities. Hopelands Gardens and Citizens Park boast natural beauty, sports facilities, and walking trails perfect for a day outside. 

Aiken homes for sale | Aiken houses for rent | Aiken apartments for rent

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8. Mount Pleasant, SC

Highlights: Upscale amenities ٠ Quiet streets ٠ Ocean views ٠ Charming downtown

Population:

94,545

Average Commute Time:

24 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$58,409

Median Sale Price: 

$899,000

Median Rent Price: 

$2,022

Unemployment Rate:

1.4%

Mount Pleasant is an upscale suburb northeast of Charleston known for its exceptionally high quality of life, just minutes from Charleston’s charm. An idyllic coast, highly rated schools, and green, quiet streets are other major benefits. A downside is the city’s cost of living – it’s the most expensive city in South Carolina

Mount Pleasant’s population has exploded in the past thirty years. In fact, its population doubled from 1990-2000, and has continued to rise since. The growth has actually been a major talking point in local elections, as housing costs rise and congestion increases. One tactic to limit growth has been banning new apartment and condo construction for the past eight years, which will continue through the end of 2024. The city continues to grow, though.  

There’s a good reason why so many people choose to live in Mount Pleasant. Amenities are everywhere, and the city celebrates its history, which dates back to the 1600s. Old Village is one of the main hubs, with tree-lined streets, charming homes, and waterfront views. 

For recreation, the Pitt Street Bridge is a popular spot for walking, fishing, and enjoying sunsets over the marshes. Shem Creek is another local favorite, known for quality waterfront dining, bustling marina, and scenic boardwalks. Restaurants like Red’s Ice House and Tavern & Table offer fresh seafood with stunning views.

Mount Pleasant homes for sale | Mount Pleasant houses for rent | Mount Pleasant apartments for rent

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9. Wade Hampton, SC

Highlights: Suburban neighborhoods ٠ Small-town vibes ٠ Mountain views

Population:

21,029

Average Commute Time:

20.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$35,092

Median Sale Price: 

$306,000

Median Rent Price: 

$1,140

Unemployment Rate:

2.4%

Wade Hampton is a small suburb just east of Greenville. Living in Wade Hampton means you get the feeling of rural living adjacent to historic Greenville. There are also plenty of amenities in town, but they are fairly spread out. Importantly, the cost of living is much more affordable – houses and rentals are 35% and 22% less, respectively. 

Shopping and dining are fairly convenient, with Wade Hampton Boulevard and many malls serving as commercial hubs. The large highway features a variety of restaurants, from local favorites like Henry’s Smokehouse, known for its classic barbecue, to upscale dining at Rick Erwin’s Eastside. The road is currently undergoing a transformation to improve congestion and pedestrian access, which is intended to help the city grow. 

Similar to Greenville, outdoor recreation is abundant. Herdklotz Park, with its playgrounds, sports fields, and walking trails, is a favorite spot for families and outdoor enthusiasts. The Pavilion Recreation Complex offers ice skating, sports fields, and a playground, too.

Wade Hampton homes for sale | Wade Hampton houses for rent | Wade Hampton apartments for rent

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10. Florence, SC

Highlights: Very affordable ٠ Quaint downtown ٠ Gorgeous landscape

Population:

40,072

Average Commute Time:

19.5 minutes

Per-Capita Income:

$31,281

Median Sale Price: 

$215,000

Median Rent Price: 

$981

Unemployment Rate:

2.4%

Located in the heart of the Pee Dee region in central South Carolina, Florence offers a blend of Southern hospitality and contemporary living. Like many southern cities, Florence has a unique history, with buildings from the 1800s standing next to modern homes. You can learn more about the region’s history at the Florence County Museum.

Downtown Florence is the heart of the small city. It’s recently been revitalized and now features a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural sites. Local favorites include Wholly Smokin’ Downtown (barbecue, anyone?) and Town Hall, an upscale dining experience. 

Florence is home to several beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. Timrod Park features 14 tennis courts, a playground, and miles of walking trails, while the Florence Rail Trail offers five scenic miles of paved trail for cycling, running, and walking. Jeffries Creek Park is also popular and sits just minutes from the heart of the city. 

Florence homes for sale | Florence houses for rent | Florence apartments for rent

Methodology

Redfin’s Best Places to Live rankings are meant to help home searchers make an informed decision when choosing where to live. To attempt to measure the overall quality of a metro area, each ranking takes into account several key factors, including access to healthcare, open outdoor space, navigability, housing trends, employment statistics, income, and travel time to work. Only metros with a population of 20,000 or greater were considered for our South Carolina list. More information about our methodology can be found here.

Data valid June 2024. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.



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