12 Best Places to Retire in South Carolina

Often referred to as a retirement destination, it’s easy to understand why visitors look for the best places to retire in South Carolina. Apart from a comfortably warm climate, South Carolina offers recreational activities that enrich both the body and the mind for those looking to enjoy their retirement years. So, what are the 12 best places to retire in South Carolina?

Georgetown and Beaufort are among the most charming coastal towns in South Carolina. For oceanfront views, the Isle of Palms is an ideal choice. Charleston is another option for metropolitan areas, while Columbia or Summerville could give you a city-and-country experience.

Here’s a glance of the 12 best places to retire in South Carolina:

  1. Bluffton
  2. Georgetown
  3. Beaufort
  4. Garden City Beach
  5. Hilton Head Island
  6. Isle of Palms
  7. Charleston
  8. Mount Pleasant
  9. Columbia
  10. Greenville
  11. Lexington
  12. Summerville

In choosing the best place to retire in South Carolina, it’s more than just about the weather or points of interest to explore. Key factors like cost of living and healthcare are crucial when checking out the best cities to retire in South Carolina.

This article covers these elements and more, gearing you to a more informed decision as you review the best places to retire in South Carolina.

12. Best Places to Retire in South Carolina

Categorized based on your preferences and interests, the South Carolina Retirement System allows retirees to enjoy their golden years without fretting over the taxes of staying in any of the following best places to retire in South Carolina.

Coastal Town Charms

Beaufort, South Carolina

1. Bluffton

If you choose to retire in South Carolina, Bluffton is one place that you could consider. There are about 20k residents in Bluffton as of early 2021, averaging homeownership of about $291k.

A tidewater community famous for its hospitable ambiance, the breathtaking view of the May River would put you in what the locals call ‘The Bluffton State of Mind.’

Tee off at the Crescent Pointe Golf Club or enjoy nature at the Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve.

2. Georgetown

As North America’s first settlement, Georgetown attracts people who have a soft spot for history. Popular areas of interest in this South Carolina Retirement destination include the Rice Museum and the Maritime Museum.

Apart from being historical, Georgetown is the proud host of an annual Wooden Boat Show running for more than 30 years every October. If you head up to Winyah Bay, you’d see acres of forested wetlands and tidal freshwater marshes.

3. Beaufort

As the backdrop for famous movies like The Prince of Tides and Forrest Gump, Beaufort is where you’d find a quarter of the marshlands on the entire coast of the US.

Once named the Best Small Southern Town by Southern Living, Beaufort ranks high among the best places to retire in South Carolina.

Oceanfront Destinations

Hilton Head, South Carolina

4. Garden City Beach

As of May 2021, 79% of this oceanfront location is owned, giving the impression of how popular it is if you’re thinking of retiring in South Carolina. Right in the core of Garden City Beach is the Pier, a haven for fishing enthusiasts, especially if you have a fishing camera (view on Amazon).

This waterproof underwater camera has an infrared LED ideal for ice, lake, and boat fishing. Surfers also favor how the inlet meets the ocean, creating perfect waves to ride after visiting the Tsunami Surf Shop.

5. Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island has been attracting retirees as of the early months of 2021, bringing the senior population in the island to 33%. The maritime ambiance is a potent magnet with key attractions like the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Harbor Town Lighthouse.

However, the beaches and a world-class golf course lean the cost of living in this beach town to the pricier side among the best places to retire in South Carolina. If you prefer to rent before considering a home purchase, the average rent is pretty decent at $1,200.

6. Isle of Palms

There are less than 5,000 people in the Isle of Palms as of the early months of 2021. It is an ideal oceanfront retirement place if you prefer a spaced neighborhood. While 86% of the population own their homes, buying a house in the Isle of Palms would cost around $850k on average. You would, however, have easy access to about seven miles of shorelines as well as downtown Charleston, giving Isle of Palms an edge as the best place to retire in South Carolina.

Metropolitan Destinations

Charleston, South Carolina, Beach Homes

7. Charleston

As South Carolina‘s largest city, Charleston would surprise you with tranquility and liveliness at the same time. Whether you spend your day strolling its open-air market or brush up with history at historical sites like the St. Michael’s Church, you’d feel at home with the good-natured people of Charleston.

If you’re moving with the kids, Charleston County School District ranks second across the state of South Carolina.

If access to medical facilities is among your primary concerns in looking for places to retire in South Carolina, Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina has a Center on Aging.

8. Mount Pleasant

If the name indicates how living in Mount Pleasant would be, the nearly 87k residents as of 2021 could probably vouch for it. Housing, however, is a bit steep, with most residents having an average household income of $103k.

Moving around Mount Pleasant isn’t a challenge, giving you easy access to necessity providers like restaurants, shops, and groceries. Mobility is a perk that nudges Mount Pleasant up the scale as the best place to retire in South Carolina.

City and Country Experience

Greenville, South Carolina

9. Columbia

As South Carolina’s capital, expect to experience city amenities alongside countryside open spaces and lakes in Columbia. Snap photos of the countryside with a digital camera (view on Amazon). With a 42x optical zoom and 3 inches LCD screen, you’re sure to capture each captivating scenery.

Nearly 130k people also enjoy about 4% lower than the national average cost of living. It is a perfect retirement destination if you’re looking to retire in South Carolina for a city experience without its high-cost twin.

As the second largest population in South Carolina, you get more than just experience mixed cultures. You also get to mingle with young people at the University of South Carolina or locals and tourists at the Sesquicentennial State Park and Lake Murray.

10. Greenville

If you’re looking for places to retire in South Carolina, check out Greenville. It may be a small town, but its neighborhood has been revitalized with new condominiums, assimilating a vibrant city life.

As a constant recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Great American Main Street, it shows how Greenville balances tradition and modern life.

If you’re a pre-retiree, consider continuing your education at choice colleges like Furman University or indulge in the town’s art sanctuary like Greenville County Museum of Art.

11. Lexington

If you’re looking for a suburban ambiance sprinkled with modern charms, head to Lexington. It is considered a ‘town on the rise’ by Discover South Carolina. Witnessing one of the Revolutionary War’s first battles, Lexington pleases if you enjoy history. A suburb of Columbia, it is one of the best cities to retire in South Carolina. The average rent cost in Lexington is only around $1k, and a new home is in the vicinity of $190k.

12. Summerville

Called ‘The Flower Town in the Pines,’ Summerville is a fast-rising town that has been listed as among Forbes’ best places to retire. Many believe that the abundant pine trees in the area give off a turpentine scent, a medical relief for those with lung disorders.

Beliefs aside, Summerville is frequented by tourists to see azaleas bloom at the Summerville Azalea Park. If you’re fond of the spring season, you’d probably enjoy your South Carolina retirement during the Flowertown Arts and Crafts Festival every October.

South Carolina Retirement Communities

Elderly Couple Using Laptop Computer

There are over 150 retirement communities in South Carolina. Whether you prefer a small community or one along shorelines, here are some of the best places to retire in South Carolina.

1. Sun City Hilton Head, Bluffton

This community’s Village Center is 45 acres large, giving you a South Carolina retirement that’s filled with interests to explore. Its Pinckney Social Hall, an 18k-square-foot venue with a ballroom, hosts workshops, lectures, concerts, and dances. It also has a state-of-the-art fitness facility (The Purrysburg Fitness Center) to keep its residents on their toes.

2. Cane Bay, Charleston

Taking pride in resort-style amenities, Cane Bay is among the retirement communities in South Carolina that wouldn’t disappoint. Its 360 acres is home to preserved wetland and landscaped terrains.

There are six home styles and more than 20-floor plans to choose from among living spaces ranging from 1,100 to 2,700 square feet. Personalize your living space with home décor (view in Amazon). This ready-to-hang wooden framed canvas could be a well-deserved gift for yourself.

3. Moss Creek, Hilton Head Island

As a waterfront active lifestyle community, you could choose among varied home styles like attached villas or single-family homes in Moss Creek. Its 14k-square-foot clubhouse has a multipurpose room, a restaurant, and a fitness center.

This community has a private marina where you could indulge in fishing, kayaking, or pleasurable boat rides, making it among the South Carolina retirement communities worth checking out.

4. Lost Creek, Columbia

Near the downtown core of one of the best cities to retire in South Carolina, residents of Lost Creek spend generous time on the parks and natural spaces surrounding the community.

Retirees are also thankful for the place’s homeowners’ association that takes care of maintenance like water, cable service, and landscaping. Due to the low maintenance worries, Lost Creek becomes a favorite among the retirement communities in South Carolina.

Conclusion: 12 Best Places to Retire in South Carolina

Let’s review the 12 best places to retire in South Carolina:

  1. Bluffton
  2. Georgetown
  3. Beaufort
  4. Garden City Beach
  5. Hilton Head Island
  6. Isle of Palms
  7. Charleston
  8. Mount Pleasant
  9. Columbia
  10. Greenville
  11. Lexington
  12. Summerville

South Carolina deserves to be a Retirement Destination because apart from its retiree-friendly South Carolina Retirement System, it offers similar experiences of country and city living. Whether you choose to stay in locations along coastlines or find comfort in towns enriched by history with modern twists, you’d be surrounded by the innately southern charm.

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