THE 10 BEST Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020


These are the cream of the crop in the Palmetto State.

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

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Most people think that South Carolina is just a bunch of Bible thumpers, surfers, reality TV actors, and just good 'ol southern folk that sit around and drink sweet tea all day.

The southern gents and southern bells of South Carolina, however, would beg to differ: it's a lot more. South Carolinians say it's one of the best states in the country. And we think that in order to be one of the best, they should have the best places to call home, right?

While there is a lot of waxing down those surfboards and studying those Bible verses, there are a lot of other fun facts about South Carolinians that most people probably don't know. For example, did you know that Columbia is not only the capital of South Carolina, it is also home to the University of South Carolina?

The Palmetto State is so awesome that in our stories Best States to Raise a Family and Best States in America, they did not come in last.

South Carolina's strong economy, gold star education rating, and average cost of living make its cities very desirable. So, one can imagine how difficult it was for us to narrow down the best places to live in South Carolina. We suggest you grab some of great granny's sweet tea and a basket of hush puppies and read on.

Yes, South Carolina is the best state for those looking for a little good 'ol fashioned fun. The energy the residents of South Carolina exude attract many people in search of a little piece of southern charm amidst a quaint backdrop. What does the perfect place to live in South Carolina look like?

More importantly what city is the best place to live in South Carolina for 2020? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Mount Pleasant is the best place to live in South Carolina if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.

Take a look at the list below to find out the best places to live in The Palmetto State. We give you a detailed look into the top ten best places to live in South Carolina where, yes, you can have it all.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020

Mount Pleasant, SC

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 83,700
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $441,600 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (4th best)
More on Mount Pleasant: Real Estate | Data | Photos

When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Mount Pleasant is by far, the best place in the state of South Carolina.

We're not saying that places where people are broke is a bad thing, inherently. But it's certainly not desirable, right? Mount Pleasant is the opposite of broke. The residents here earn way above the state average in household income, and the homes are among the most expensive in the state ($441,600). Plus, the unemployment rate is as close to zero as you can get.

Mount Pleasant has it made.

James Island, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,010
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $272,000 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (1st best)
More on James Island: Real Estate | Data | Photos

James Island has it made. In fact, according to science, it's one of the best places to live in the state of South Carolina.

The unemployment rate is the lowest in the state at 1.8%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $78,688, and the average cost of a home is $272,000. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call James Island one of America's gems.

Tega Cay, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 9,954
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $316,500 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (26th best)
More on Tega Cay: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Let's take a look at why Tega Cay is a great place to call home for 2020.

There's low crime in Tega Cay, and the residents here are gainfully employed (5.3% unemployment rate).

You can make Tega Cay your home for only $316,500 which won't be too hard on a $123,564 household salary.

Mauldin, SC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 25,009
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $157,400 (32nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (17th best)
More on Mauldin: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of South Carolina, as there were only 42 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 17th lowest in South Carolina (4.8%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 32nd most expensive in Mauldin ($157,400), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $65,737 a year.

Forest Acres, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 10,433
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $186,700 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (16th best)
More on Forest Acres: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Forest Acres had the 16th lowest unemployment of any place in our research (4.6%) and the 46th lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and long commute times held it back from being higher on our list.

Forest Acres is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department that represents so much about what it's like to live there.

Lexington, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 21,040
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $183,300 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (14th best)
More on Lexington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Taking its place as the 6th best place in South Carolina is Lexington. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of South Carolina.

It's considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can't be bored here.

An unemployment rate of only 4.3% helps thing too.

Fort Mill, SC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 15,924
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $259,900 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (8th best)
More on Fort Mill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fort Mill isn't just the nicest place to live in South Carolina - it's also the one of the fastest growing places in the state. And with good reason.

It's got the 8th lowest unemployment rate, the 3rd highest adjusted income, and rates above most places in education.

When you're looking at science and data, Fort Mill definitely deserves a spot on the list for 2020.

Charleston, SC

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 133,762
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $308,100 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (12th best)
More on Charleston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Charleston is another great city in South Carolina with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: " We feel incredibly safe in Charleston. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it's wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things."

Enough said.

Simpsonville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 21,423
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $164,100 (27th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (11th best)
More on Simpsonville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

In Simpsonville, everyone loves to call Simpsonville home! The median home value is the 27th highest in South Carolina.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 11th lowest in the state and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Palmetto State.

Simpsonville should consider renaming to Paradise Valley in our humble opinion.

Hanahan, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 22,963
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $216,000 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (10th best)
More on Hanahan: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's A LOT of demand to live in Hanahan.

Hanahan ranked impressively high for its crime rate (5th overall) and its short commute times (38th).

We think that's worth the price of admission.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in South Carolina

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Columbia with a population of 133,352 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 64 cities, 141 towns, and 130 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in South Carolina have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In South Carolina

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in South Carolina across a number of criteria from one to 64, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In South Carolina".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in South Carolina? That would be Mount Pleasant.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in South Carolina.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Mount Pleasant at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In South Carolina

If you're looking at areas in South Carolina with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Mount Pleasant made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in South Carolina for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In South Carolina

  1. Northlake (Pop. 4,086)
  2. Pinopolis (Pop. 1,303)
  3. Sullivan's Island (Pop. 2,049)
  4. India Hook (Pop. 4,192)
  5. Blythewood (Pop. 2,612)
  6. Isle of Palms (Pop. 4,320)
  7. Springdale (Pop. 2,740)
  8. Pine Ridge (Pop. 2,138)
  9. Folly Beach (Pop. 2,732)
  10. Quinby (Pop. 1,192)

Best Small Towns To Live In South Carolina

  1. Arcadia Lakes (Pop. 991)
  2. Briarcliffe Acres (Pop. 407)
  3. Pawleys Island (Pop. 67)
  4. Boykin (Pop. 98)
  5. Reidville (Pop. 827)
  6. Edisto Beach (Pop. 647)
  7. Rockville (Pop. 153)
  8. Little Mountain (Pop. 219)
  9. Hodges (Pop. 148)
  10. Glendale (Pop. 161)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Carolina according to the data:

  1. Greenwood (Pop. 23,230)
  2. Chester (Pop. 5,433)
  3. Marion (Pop. 6,548)

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In South Carolina?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Mount Pleasant 83,700 271.2% $441,600
2 James Island 12,010 181.3% $272,000
3 Tega Cay 9,954 531.4% $316,500
4 Mauldin 25,009 475.5% $157,400
5 Forest Acres 10,433 464.7% $186,700
6 Lexington 21,040 426.6% $183,300
7 Fort Mill 15,924 359.6% $259,900
8 Charleston 133,762 413.3% $308,100
9 Simpsonville 21,423 401.4% $164,100
10 Hanahan 22,963 386.6% $216,000

How Is Your Town In ?

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.

2 thoughts on “THE 10 BEST Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020

  1. James Island is Charleston, so this list has Charleston as #4 and #9.

    Charleston is:
    Downtown, separated by the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River to the east.
    West Ashley, west of Downtown bordered by the Ashley River and the Stono River.
    Part of Johns Island, bordered by the Stono River, Kiawah River, and Wadmalaw Island.
    James Island, between Downtown and the town of Folly Beach.
    Cainhoy Peninsula, bordered by the Wando River Nowell Creek.
    Daniel Island, to the north of downtown, east of the Cooper River and west of the Wando River.

    It is confusing, because Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Hanahan, Goose Creek, Ladson, and a large part of Johns Island are their own towns/cities.

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