South Carolina, also known as the Palmetto State, is one of 14 states that border the Atlantic Ocean. It has a rich history as one of the original 13 colonies and a site of important battles during the Civil War.
South Carolina isn’t one of the biggest states economy-wise. It ranks 26th out of the 50 states by GDP. But it is doing fairly well, as its unemployment rate of 4% is right in line with the national average. The housing market is healthy, too. Home values have increased 7.2% in the past year and are projected to rise another 6% in the next year.
South Carolina has plenty of attractions to interest families, too. There’s plenty of coastline and beaches to enjoy. History buffs will like Charleston’s historical district, including Fort Sumter, where the first battle of the Civil War took place.
But some places in South Carolina are more attractive to settle down in than others. In order to figure out the most family-friendly sites, WalletHub compared more than 50 cities across 21 key metrics. Our data set ranges from number of attractions to median family income to the quality of the school system. Read on for the results, insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Live in South Carolina
|Overall Rank (1=Best)||City||Total Score||‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank||‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank||‘Affordability’ Rank||‘Socio-economics’ Rank|
|1||Five Forks, SC||88.74||3||14||1||1|
|2||Mount Pleasant, SC||75.52||5||1||17||2|
|3||Fort Mill, SC||71.10||6||3||7||18|
|9||Seven Oaks, SC||63.77||26||23||10||13|
|11||Lake Wylie, SC||62.55||45||17||13||6|
|13||James Island, SC||61.79||42||12||18||8|
|14||Port Royal, SC||60.76||10||4||43||10|
|15||Forest Acres, SC||59.23||15||48||2||12|
|16||Wade Hampton, SC||59.17||25||44||16||15|
|19||Goose Creek, SC||57.95||33||16||24||14|
|21||North Augusta, SC||57.16||41||18||12||27|
|24||Hilton Head Island, SC||54.49||24||28||44||4|
|28||West Columbia, SC||50.84||37||13||25||40|
|29||Rock Hill, SC||50.52||19||26||27||35|
|33||St. Andrews, SC||47.52||8||39||31||44|
|35||North Myrtle Beach, SC||46.20||38||29||51||3|
|43||North Charleston, SC||40.52||34||46||40||37|
|45||Red Hill, SC||39.62||49||37||47||28|
|46||Myrtle Beach, SC||39.50||7||42||50||36|
Ask the Experts
Figuring out where to settle down as a family can be stressful. There are so many factors to keep in mind to create the ideal living experience. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight on how to evaluate South Carolina’s cities. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in South Carolina?
- How can local officials in South Carolina make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within South Carolina, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best South Carolina cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared a sample of 51 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 17.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.