Most Affordable Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020

We used data and science to determine which places in South Carolina go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in South Carolina.

If you did not land a six-figure salary job right out of college, you are probably worried about many things, but definitely one item in particular: money.

You may have a pretty well-paying job, but that makes little impact on the mountain of school debt you may have if your cost of living is outrageously high. Unfortunately, life after graduation and beyond for many is not full of candy and exotic vacations, but rather is filled with the question: how do I save when I can barely make ends meet?

The south of course — and in particular South Carolina. That’s right– the southern states are one major region in the U.S. that won’t wipe your bank account clean. But what is a good state to live in? While it may be hard to believe at first, South Carolina is a great place to live and not just because it is cheap.

In South Carolina, you can stroll through the streets of Charleston on a haunted ghost tour, cheer on the Gamecocks during a football game in Columbia, and hit the beaches in Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach.

In the Palmetto state, you can have easy access to both the beach and the mountains. You can eat some ridiculously good peaches and have your fill of local breweries. You can also meet some really nice people. The South is known for its southern hospitality.

So where are the most affordable places to live in South Carolina?

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020

1. Fountain InnFountain Inn, SC

Population: 8,684
Median Household Income: $62,904

It’s not very often that you find a deal as sweet as South Carolina’s most affordable city, Fountain Inn. Located slightly southeast of Greenville, “The Diamond Tip of the Golden Strip” is the second most affordable place in South Carolina to buy or rent a home.

Not to mention, with Anderson and Spartanburg also in Fountain Inn’s backyard, it’s a great place to live if you want quiet, small town living with affordable shopping and entertainment close by.

2. LaurensLaurens, SC

Source: Public domain

Population: 8,914
Median Household Income: $36,228

Have you heard? Laurens is South Carolina’s second most affordable city and the “Gateway to the Upstate” shows no signs of slowing down.

Laurens moved up four places from last year due to its fifth best place to buy a home based on the city’s median income ranking. The amenities in Laurens are also not too shabby. Yes, if you haven’t spent the day exploring the Laurens Historic District or taken in their Riverfront Freedom Festival then you have some work to do.

3. MarionMarion, SC

Population: 6,548
Median Household Income: $34,561

If you’re looking to save a buck or two, South Carolina’s third cheapest place to live, Marion, will help you do just that.

The city “Where History and Hospitality Greets You” should maybe change its motto to “Somewhere in the Middle” because it is currently the 22nd best place to buy a home based on income as well as the 15th most affordable place to rent. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel, you only need to make $34,561/year to keep up with Marion’s cost of living.

4. MauldinMauldin, SC

Population: 25,009
Median Household Income: $65,737

What do 25009 Mauldin residents know that we don’t? Well, besides the fact that they currently get a pretty good bang for their buck, they are South Carolina’s fourth most affordable place to live; and economically speaking, that frees up a lot of their money for fun.

So, if you’ve ever passed by the McDonald’s on W. Butler Rd and wondered why there were so many people with the ‘big’ shake, it’s because they make $65,737/year and they only had to spend $157,400 on a home. Sorry, Mauldin, your secret is out.

5. Irmo

Population: 12,087
Median Household Income: $63,713

Moving up the ranks to solidify South Carolina’s fifth least expensive city, “The Gateway to Tree City USA,” Irmo, must be made of money trees because this city has made life super affordable.

Located on the banks of Lake Murray, Irma, shows us that you can have the best of everything: a great lake life on a budget and affordable housing as this city is the best place to buy a home based on income. The catch? You’re going to have to make at least $63,713/year.

6. Batesburg-LeesvilleBatesburg-Leesville, SC

Population: 5,424
Median Household Income: $45,294

We can’t believe that Batesburg-Leesburg made The Palmetto State’s cheapest places to live list as the sixth most affordable city. This city has five star dining and posh shopping, and still, it’s the eighth most affordable place to buy a home based on median income data.

So, if you want to know where to steal the best deal in South Carolina, The Twin Cities are like a ripe Peaches N Such peach just waiting to be picked.

7. BennettsvilleBennettsville, SC

Population: 8,308
Median Household Income: $30,008

No, not everything is free in the 843, but it is super affordable-like, the seventh cheapest place to live in South Carolina affordable. But, that’s not all that makes this city of 8308 residents from Marlboro County so great. Bennettsville shines because the median income here is $30,008 and the median home price is only $81,900.

And, folks, it doesn’t hurt that this South Carolina gem is also located on the Great Peed Dee River.

8. SimpsonvilleSimpsonville, SC

Population: 21,423
Median Household Income: $67,456

This “Character Protected, Community Perfected” city has made buying a home affordable, education and safety a priority, and its 21423 residents employed.

Kemet, Milliken, and Pare-Chem are three companies in Simpsonville that are helping to keep the economy in South Carolina’s eighth most affordable place to live moving; and take from us, it’s paying off. We think that buying your forever home in Simpsonville is a smart choice.

9. North AugustaNorth Augusta, SC

Source: Public domain

Population: 22,603
Median Household Income: $56,811

Located on the north bank of the Savannah River, North Augusta is not only the ninth most affordable city in South Carolina, it is the epitome of southern hospitality with a pinch of southern charm. The best part of this deal, you won’t have to win the South Carolina lottery to get your hands on home in North Augusta because “The Riverfront” is the 14th best place to buy a home based on the city’s median income.

10. CayceCayce, SC

Population: 13,621
Median Household Income: $50,545

Great things are happening in South Carolina’s tenth most affordable place to live, Cayce. For one, the median income in this city is $50,545/year-this has earned Cayce the sixth best place to buy a home that won’t break your bank.

If you want to surround yourself with great people, lots to do, and a low cost of living to boot, then you should definitely consider “A New Kind of City.”

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Palmetto State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In South Carolina
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in South Carolina to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 64 places in South Carolina that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in South Carolina according to the data is Fountain Inn. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. South Carolina Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in South Carolina, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in South Carolina for 2020.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in South Carolina according to the data:

  1. Port Royal
  2. Hardeeville
  3. Clemson

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.