South Carolina is recognized as a very attractive destination for retirees, offering a warm climate and several charming and historic cities. There is also a range of enticing scenery plus a wide variety of leisure activities to enjoy. And if that wasn’t enough, the state is tax-friendly toward seniors, not least when they own property here.

The state of South Carolina is the 23rd most populous in the US, having both cities and rural areas not to mention a coastline. Its climate tends to please retirees, with hot summers throughout and cold winters only regularly experienced in the mountainous northwest. There is a fair amount of rainfall, but the lush vegetation is a compensation for that! Retiring here will increasingly seem like a good idea when all the positive factors are added together, and there is plenty of South Carolina self storage available to help make such a transition go smoothly — belongings can be kept there until the perfect property is found or while renovations are being carried out.

South Carolina has made itself not only a recommended place for incomers but a top destination for retirees in particular, offering them many advantages. The state’s major cities are not so large as to be overwhelming, but they also provide a good variety of entertainment possibilities. Both the scenery and recreational opportunities are exceptional, and anyone retiring here could find themselves golfing, angling, hiking, boating, and much else besides. New arrivals are sure to find a place to settle down that suits their preferred lifestyles.

South Carolina: prepared in mind and resources

This phrase is one of the state’s mottos! Retirees thinking of moving to South Carolina will want to know that the place is well prepared economically and able to employ its people. They might also be interested in any financial advantages of relocating there, especially if they will be buying property — they could be in for a pleasant surprise.

A state with a forward-looking and diversified economy

While South Carolina’s finances relied a lot on agriculture in the past, a more varied economic base has since developed, with tourism in particular thriving at both the coastal resorts and the beauty spots inland. In addition, a varied range of products are manufactured here now — for example, Greer in the northwest is home to the US’s only BMW car plant, and the Boeing aircraft company recently announced an increase in jobs at their North Charleston base.

South Carolina is well prepared for welcoming retirees

The state has clearly appreciated the benefits incomers bring to its economy as a whole and is willing to encourage them. It is especially tax-friendly for retirees as no tax is levied on social security payments, and pension incomes — both public and private — are only partially taxed. Seniors over 65 receive more substantial reductions than others do. In addition, having a cost of living lower than the countrywide average makes it a good place generally for people on fixed incomes.

Home buyers are welcome, especially seniors

Retirees wanting to buy a home in South Carolina will be pleased to hear that property taxes are among the lowest in the US, the average effective property tax rate being currently only 0.57%. And then, from the age of 65 onward, homeowners receive a ‘homestead exemption’ which gives a full tax deduction on the first $50,000 of a home’s fair market value, applicable when it has been their primary residence for a year or more. While local sales taxes are a little higher than the national average, prescription drugs are 100% exempt from them. South Carolina levies no estate or inheritance taxes, which can prove very significant in the long term.

A celebrating senior couple on a boat

The best places for city dwellers in South Carolina

The state has two main cities, Charleston and Columbia, and also a thriving urban area in the northwest centered on Greenville. Many of the coastal tourist resorts are also well populated, for example Myrtle Beach, and then there are regional centers in the more rural districts.

Charleston: Architecture, history, and really great food

Charleston, situated on the coast and the state’s largest city with a population of around 130,000, is a thriving port town. Dating from 1670, the city is famous for its old and attractive architecture, and tourists flock here to take a stroll down the cobbled streets of Downtown. The city’s cuisine, featuring plenty of seafood, is also legendary, and can be experienced in the street food that is on offer. All this can be followed by a visit to the many museums in the city’s Historical District. Nearby Mount Pleasant — actually a town in its own right and now the state’s fourth largest — is a frequently recommended place for new residents.

Columbia: All the life of a capital city and the possibilities of a central location

Columbia, slightly smaller than Charleston, is not only the state’s capital city but is also situated in the very middle of it, in the Midlands region, making it a good home for anyone who enjoys a range of excursions. It’s just a couple of hours’ drive from the coast while a slightly longer one is required to get to the mountains in the northwest, and transport connections are as good as one would expect. Lovers of the arts will be able to attend a variety of theater and opera performances here. The city has several suburbs, such as Irmo and Lexington, which may suit retirees well.

Greenville–Spartanburg–Anderson and Upstate scenery to enjoy

Retirees who enjoy majestic scenery might consider the Upstate — or ‘Upcountry’ —region in the northwest, by the Blue Ridge Mountains, for their new home. Greenville is its urban center, and although it has less than a third the population of the two cities already described, it is the center of a metropolitan area of over 400,000 people and part of the wider Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion. Mauldin is a small town here that is popular with retirees, while another, Anderson, is nicknamed The Friendliest City in South Carolina. Perhaps the most famous local festival is the ‘Euphoria’ four-day culinary and music event, a relaxed and enjoyable experience for all generations.

Blue Ridge Mountains and lake, SC

The Palmetto State is a great place for the outdoor life

The exotic sabal palmetto tree is an emblem of the state, and it makes wherever it’s growing look like a holiday destination! It is more than possible to live in an area of South Carolina with great scenery and recreation opportunities, or they can simply be visited as a day trip — the sea, mountains, and lakes all beckon.

Life on the coast: from popular golfing resorts to idyllic islands

Relaxing on a beach reading a book and occasionally taking a dip could be very desirable for a lot of people after a lifetime spent working. The coast offers many famous resorts from Myrtle Beach in the north down to Hilton Head in the south, both of which have extensive beaches. Then there are the numerous, delightful and quiet locations on the Sea Islands in between — James Island and Dataw Island are popular ones for retirees. The sea water is generally warm enough to swim in from spring to fall. South Carolina is also renowned for golf, having almost a hundred courses in total and more per capita in its northeastern ‘Grand Strand’ region than anywhere else in the US.

Walk the state parks and keep fit the way nature intended

For retirees who want more fitness training than a walk around an 18-hole course, there are no fewer than 37 state parks dotted across the state. The biggest, Caesars Head State Park, is just a short drive north from Greenville, a good spot for hiking and picnicking, and it includes the refreshing sight of several waterfalls. Almost as large is the park in the east of the state named after H. Cooper Black Jr., where hunting activities can be carried out in season. Many other parks are great for strolling and bird-watching. One such is Lake Warren in the southeast — the nearby town of Aiken, famous for its equestrian activities, is a hidden gem that South Carolina retirees might consider.

And here’s the catch: from catfish and crab to trout and blue marlin!

Anglers will be interested to know that bass and crappie among other species are common in the state’s lakes while many places are said to be teaming with catfish, for example Lake Wateree, north of Columbia near the town of Great Falls. The trout is still king in the more mountainous Upcountry region. Fishing from piers for crabs and other tasty things can be done along the coast and in the inlets — maybe a nice idea for when the grandchildren come to stay! Last but not least, the state has a name for deep-sea fishing, which can be enjoyed by chartering boats from places such as Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Owning and maintaining a boat is also a popular hobby of retirees here.

Hilton Head Island, SC

South Carolina is clearly a very suitable place for anybody looking to retire. Not only does the warm climate encourage good health but it also makes many leisure activities possible. As the distances are not great, a walk along historical streets and eating deviled crab one day might be followed by a stroll beside a mountain stream the next. Also, most importantly for retirees, the state looks after them, and it enables them to buy property without incurring burdensome taxes either for themselves or their descendants. There are many different places to settle in South Carolina, pleasing urbanites and country-dwellers alike, places where the warm and hospitable South can be experienced for real!


Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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