These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In South Carolina For 2018

We analyzed over 49 places in South Carolina to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.

But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of South Carolina.

But where exactly in South Carolina? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.

To that end, we have tried to identify the places in South Carolina that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.

What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Gaffney don’t mind us spreading the word.

Here are our top ten places in the Palmetto State to retire for 2018:

  1. Gaffney (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Myrtle Beach (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Conway (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Fort Mill (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Florence (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Newberry (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Charleston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Hanahan (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Mount Pleasant (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Sumter (Photos | Homes For Sale)

Why did Gaffney take the top spot? And where are Columbia and Charleston?

Read on to see see all the golden parachute level details. Or check out the purely worst and best places to live in South Carolina.

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How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Palmetto State

To create our list of the best places in South Carolina to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Palmetto State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.

This left us with 32 places from across the state.

For these 32, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living as measured by rent
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport
  • Other retirees (High median age)

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 32, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Gaffney, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.

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1. Gaffney

Gaffney, South Carolina

Population: 12,859
Median Rent: $593
Distance to Closest Airport: 41 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,645
More on Gaffney: Homes For Sale | Data
Michael A. Gaffney, born in Granard, Ireland, in 1775, emigrated to the United States in 1797, arriving in New York City and moving to Charleston, South Carolina, a few years later. Gaffney moved again in 1804 to the South Carolina Upcountry and established a tavern and lodging house at what became known as ‘Gaffney’s Cross Roads’. The location was perfect for growth because of the two major roads which met here, one from the mountains of North Carolina to Charleston and the other from Charlotte into Georgia. Michael Gaffney died here on September 6, 1854.

2. Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Source: Public domain’

Population: 30,106
Median Rent: $824
Distance to Closest Airport: 3 miles
Crime Per 100k: 16,385
More on Myrtle Beach: Homes For Sale | Data
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Long Bay area was inhabited by the native Waccamaw Tribe. The Waccamaw used the river for travel and fished along the shore around Little River. Waties Island, the primary barrier island along Long Bay, has evidence of burial and shell mounds, remains of the visiting Waccamaw.

3. Conway

Conway, South Carolina

Source: Public domain’

Population: 20,631
Median Rent: $723
Distance to Closest Airport: 13 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,768
More on Conway: Homes For Sale | Data
Conway is one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. Originally early English colonists named the village as named ‘Kings Town’ but soon changed it to ‘Kingston’. The town was founded in 1732 as part of Royal Governor Robert Johnson’s Township Scheme. It was laid out on a bluff overlooking the Waccamaw River in what is now known as Horry County.

4. Fort Mill

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Population: 13,181
Median Rent: $857
Distance to Closest Airport: 14 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,564
More on Fort Mill: Homes For Sale | Data
The town of Fort Mill was established in 1873, taking its name from a colonial-era fort built by the British and a grist mill on nearby Steele Creek. The Catawba Indians made their home in present-day Fort Mill for many years. Scotch-Irish settlers began arriving in the 1750s and 1760s and a small settlement soon developed. Fort Mill grew rapidly in the late 19th century as textile mills were established. After many textile mill shut-downs the town continued to grow rapidly and became a major suburb of Charlotte.

5. Florence

Florence, South Carolina

Population: 38,221
Median Rent: $713
Distance to Closest Airport: 59 miles
Crime Per 100k: 7,773
More on Florence: Homes For Sale | Data
The City of Florence was chartered in 1871 and incorporated in 1890:7 following the 1888 creation of Florence County. Prior to its charter, the city was part of one of the original townships laid out by the Lords Proprietors in 1719. The area was gradually settled through the late 19th and early 20th century. Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which were shipped down the Great Pee Dee River to the port at Georgetown and exported. In the mid-19th century two intersecting railroads were built, the Wilmington and Manchester, and the Northeastern. Gen. W. W. Harllee, the president of the W & M, built his home at the junction, and named the community ‘Florence’, after his daughter.

6. Newberry

Newberry, South Carolina

Population: 10,338
Median Rent: $658
Distance to Closest Airport: 74 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,865
More on Newberry: Homes For Sale | Data
European settlers (primarily German, Scots-Irish, and English) began arriving in great numbers in the 1750s. Newberry County was formed from the Ninety-Six District in 1785. Because of its central location, the town of Newberry was chosen in 1789 as the county seat for Newberry County, which was part of an extensive area of cotton plantations. County and town politics were dominated by planters. By the coming of the railroad in 1851, Newberry had become a thriving trade center. This remained the case until the 1860s.

7. Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Population: 129,888
Median Rent: $1,052
Distance to Closest Airport: 7 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,900
More on Charleston: Homes For Sale | Data
After Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660, he granted the chartered Province of Carolina to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietors, on March 24, 1663. It took seven years before the group arranged for settlement expeditions. In 1670, Governor William Sayle brought over several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda, which lies due east of Charleston although closer to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. These settlers established Charles Town at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River a few miles northwest of the present-day city center. Charles Town became English-speaking America’s first comprehensively planned town with governance, settlement, and development were to follow a visionary plan known as the Grand Model prepared for the Lords Proprietors by John Locke. Because the Carolina’s Fundamental Constitutions was never ratified, however, Charles Town was never incorporated during the colonial period, with the British Crown disallowing the one attempt to do so in the 1720s. Instead, local ordinances were passed by the provincial government, with day-to-day administration handled by the wardens and vestries of St Philip’s and St Michael’s Anglican parishes.

At the time of contact, the area was inhabited by the Cusabo Indians. The settlers declared war on them in October 1671. The Charlestonians initially allied with the Westo, a slaving northern tribe that had grown powerful trading for guns with the colonists in Virginia. The Westo had made enemies of nearly every other tribe in the region, however, and the English turned on them in 1679. Destroying them by 1680, the settlers were able to use their improved relations with the Cusabo and other tribes to trade, recapture runaway slaves, and engage in slaving raids of Spanish-allied areas.

8. Hanahan

Hanahan, South Carolina

Source: Public domain’

Population: 20,710
Median Rent: $952
Distance to Closest Airport: 3 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,235
More on Hanahan: Homes For Sale | Data

9. Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia User | GFDL

Population: 77,907
Median Rent: $1,403
Distance to Closest Airport: 12 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,002
More on Mount Pleasant: Homes For Sale | Data
The site of Mount Pleasant was originally occupied by the Sewee people, an Algonquian language-speaking tribe. The first white settlers arrived from England on July 6, 1680, under the leadership of Captain Florentia O’Sullivan. Captain O’Sullivan had been granted 2,340 acres (950 ha), which included not only the island that bears his name, but also the land that was to become Mount Pleasant. On the earliest map of the time this area was called ‘North Point’.

In 1696, 51 new settlers arrived. Each family was allotted several hundred acres in the area that became known as Christ Church parish. In 1706 the Province of Carolina withstood several attacks by the Spanish and the French from their settlements to the south and were victorious in defeating French invaders in an area known as ‘Abcaw’.

10. Sumter

Sumter, South Carolina

Source: Public domain’

Population: 40,760
Median Rent: $748
Distance to Closest Airport: 74 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,779
More on Sumter: Homes For Sale | Data
Incorporated as Sumterville in 1845, the city’s name was shortened to Sumter in 1855. It has grown and prospered from its early beginnings as a plantation settlement. The city and county of Sumter bear the name of General Thomas Sumter, the ‘Fighting Gamecock’ of the American Revolutionary War.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…

So there you have it, the best place to retire in South Carolina goes to Gaffney.

If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  • Cayce
  • Port Royal
  • Columbia

For more South Carolina reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In South Carolina

City Rank Population Median Rent Distane To Airport Crimes per 100k
Gaffney 1 12,859 $593 41 5,645
Myrtle Beach 2 30,106 $824 3 16,385
Conway 3 20,631 $723 13 5,768
Fort Mill 4 13,181 $857 14 2,564
Florence 5 38,221 $713 59 7,773
Newberry 6 10,338 $658 74 4,865
Charleston 7 129,888 $1052 7 2,900
Hanahan 8 20,710 $952 3 2,235
Mount Pleasant 9 77,907 $1403 12 2,002
Sumter 10 40,760 $748 74 4,779
Rock Hill 11 70,251 $846 19 4,257
Bluffton 12 15,765 $1370 16 1,852
Easley 13 20,464 $693 96 6,333
Orangeburg 14 13,478 $647 62 7,864
Aiken 15 30,403 $860 101 6,663
Greenville 16 62,776 $832 84 5,132
Beaufort 17 13,074 $839 36 7,205
Lexington 18 20,315 $972 85 3,371
North Augusta 19 22,310 $736 105 4,652
Summerville 20 47,919 $1027 10 4,094
North Myrtle Beach 21 15,201 $907 13 8,867
Mauldin 22 24,723 $915 82 2,269
Forest Acres 23 10,571 $858 81 6,044
Goose Creek 24 40,553 $1144 6 2,645
Simpsonville 25 20,183 $921 81 4,142
Greer 26 27,739 $802 151 2,992
Irmo 27 11,851 $1036 78 4,050
North Charleston 28 106,113 $909 1 6,795
Clemson 29 15,008 $829 111 3,258
Columbia 30 132,537 $853 81 6,405
Port Royal 31 11,891 $1060 33 2,632
Cayce 32 13,684 $882 87 5,926

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