South Carolina’s Best Beaches to Call Home & Live In (2023)

Best Beach Towns in SC Illustration

Living at the beach is a dream for many people across the nation. Oceanside living provides easy access to sunshine, outdoor activities, water sports, and pristine beaches. Whether you are a first-time home buyer, a large family, or empty-nesters, dwelling at the beach has benefits for all ages.

These best South Carolina beaches are each the perfect place to call home. It’s no wonder so many people already live here full-time. Hilton Head Island, Edisto Beach, and Isle of Palms are among some of the most popular options.

With a wide array of places to choose from, you might be wondering which South Carolina beach is best for you to call home. In this article, I will break down the best South Carolina beach towns to live in so you can decide which one is best for you! 

History of South Carolina

South Carolina Flag

South Carolina is a southern state with loads of rich history. South Carolina was one of the original thirteen colonies of the United States. But during this time period, it was one large state that comprised of North Carolina and South Carolina.

In the 1700s, farmers planted plenty of cash crops such as cotton and sugar. Eventually, the state was divided into the North and South that we know today.

In 1861, South Carolina was the first state to succeed from the Union, and also the site of the first shots that were fired during the Civil War at Fort Sumter.

A few of the most popular historic sites that locals and tourists love to explore are Cowpens National Battlefield, Boone Hall Plantation, Fort Moultrie, and The Aiken-Rhett House.

What It’s Like to Live in South Carolina 

Moving is a big choice in anyone’s life. If you are not a South Carolina native, it could be a big culture shock. South Carolina is known for its gorgeous beaches that spread along the east coast, numerous historic sites, and southern hospitality.

Just as with any state, you will find pros and cons to calling it home. Here’s a breakdown of some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in South Carolina:

Pros to Living in South Carolina

1. Low Taxes and Tax Rates

South Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the lowest-taxed states in the country. In most cases, moving here provides lower real estate taxes, sales tax, and personal income tax.

As of 2022, South Carolina has the fifth lowest effective property tax rate.

2. Good Air Quality

Because of the undeveloped land in many parts of the state, South Carolina has excellent air quality. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, South Carolina’s Air Quality Index (AQI) ranks at a good level.

4. Natural Beauty Improves Mental Health 

There’s nothing like immersing yourself in the salty ocean air as you listen to the waves hit the sand. 

According to the American Psychological Association, being surrounded by nature is good for our mental health. The APA’s research shows how immersing ourselves in nature is linked to a host of positive health benefits.

5. Warm Weather and Climate 

Living in South Carolina means you won’t have to fight the harsh winters of the North. It might get a little chilly, but the temperature rarely falls below 34 degrees.

Expect hot and muggy summers with temperatures that could reach up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit though.

6. Economic Health

South Carolina has a strong economy and is consistently ranked as a business-friendly state. According to US News, is ranked 11th for economic growth and 19th for business environment out of the 50 states.

Cons to Living in South Carolina 

Poor Access to and Quality of Healthcare

Unfortunately, South Carolina has consistently ranked low in healthcare accessibility and quality. US News ranks it 34th in overall healthcare quality and 38th in public health.

Lack of Night-Life

The state of South Carolina is less metropolitan and overall has a slower pace of life. Many residents are retired/ This also means that late-night activities are sparse.

You can find nightlife in bigger cities such as Charleston or Myrtle Beach, but small coastal towns are known for their peaceful nights (which could be a benefit!). 

Natural Disasters

Hurricanes and floods are not uncommon in South Carolina. Insurance and preparation will be critical for these seasons of natural disasters, even if you live in what is considered a “safe zone.â€

Best Beach Towns In South Carolina to Make Your Home

South Carolina coastal towns are something special. In South Carolina, there are charming, picturesque communities featuring unbelievable scenery that can be found along the state’s coast. 

Because of its coastal nature, South Carolina is also known for its amazing seafood. Fresh oysters, fish, and other delicacies are easy to find at almost any restaurant. Cities such as Charleston are known for some of the best low-country restaurants around.

Between the warm salty air, fresh and delicious restaurants, and exciting historic sites to explore, you’ll never be bored as a resident of South Carolina. 

1. Hilton Head Island, SC

Aerial view of Hilton Head Island Golf Course

Hilton Head Island is a barrier island in Beaufort County, South Carolina. It is about 40 minutes from the busy, fun-loving city of Savannah, Ga. There is easy access to 12 miles of beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilton Head Island has a population of 40,000 locals. Each year during the summer, over 2 million visitors come to enjoy the fun along the coastline because Hilton Head Island is considered an ideal spot for a beach vacation.

For example, its close proximity to Augusta, GA, makes it an incredibly popular spot for day trips!

While out on the beach, just make sure to bring plenty sunscreen and a sturdy beach umbrella like this one that’s wind-resistant up to 34 miles per hour.

The tourist season is important to keep in mind, as you’ll find more traffic, crowds, and longer wait times during the summer months if you’re interested in living here.

If you get tired of the beach, Hilton Head Island is packed with restaurants, golf courses, cultural exhibitions, and art galleries.

Median Home Cost in Hilton Head Island: $748,547

2. Isle of Palms, SC

Isle of Palms is a suburb of Charleston, located in Charleston County. It is a small barrier island of South Carolina, with a population of just over 4,000.

Although it may seem like a small town, this area offers a dense suburban feel, with plenty of bars, restaurants, water parks, and outdoor activities to explore.

If you have children, you can rest assured knowing Isle of Palms is zoned for A-rated schools from public, private, and magnet schools.

Isle of Palms has some of the best beaches. You can frequently find loggerhead sea turtles laying their nests here. In fact, Isle of Palms was voted #6 among Top 10 North American Islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards. It’s also considered the “beach of choice” to those living in Mount Pleasant, a suburb just west of the beaches. 

Median Home Cost in Isle of Palms: $1,612,539

3. Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Island is a small and sparsely developed island. Because of this, Kiawah Island has lush vegetation and layered views that can’t be offered by some of the other coastal towns on this list.

The population on Kiawah Island is small at 1,772 people.

Kiawah offers ten miles of beautiful beaches. The untouched nature is a must-see. Residents also have access to plenty of walking and biking trails to take in all the island has to offer.

Local residents are usually retirees, but that doesn’t mean they don]’t know how to have a good time. Residents can partake in the resort-style amenities, including world-class golf, tennis courts, fine dining, and exclusive events at the Kiawah Island Club.

Kiawah Island is also in close proximity to Folly Beach, another popular South Carolina beach known for Folly Beach Pier. This pier stretches 1,000 ft. into the intra-coastal waterway!

Median Home Cost in Kiawah Island: $1,465,000

4. Myrtle Beach, SC

View of Myrtle Beach Coastline

Myrtle Beach is the biggest tourist town on our list. Also known as the “Grand Strand”, there are so many activities to keep you entertained at Myrtle Beach. Some things that keep visitors and residents busy are:

The population of Myrtle Beach is 33,638 during the off-season but jumps to around 350,000 during the summer months. 

Myrtle Beach is not to be confused with some of the quiet, lowkey beach towns on this list. This city brings the excitement of a big city and the beauty of a coastal oasis.

As you may have guessed, the economy of Myrtle Beach thrives because of this level of tourism. Many locals work in the service industry, such as in restaurants, hotels, or at one of the famous golf courses.

Myrtle Beach has plenty of neighborhood subdivisions and master-planned communities with amenities such as clubhouses, pools, and playgrounds for kids.

If you want to escape the popular tourist destination, you are just a short drive from a few lesser-known beaches on the grand strand. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Pawleys Island
  • Murrell’s Inlet
  • Litchfield Beach
  • North Myrtle Beach
  • Surfside Beach
  • Cherry Grove Beach
  • Huntington Beach State Park

Fun Facts About Myrtle Beach:

  • There are more restaurants per capita in Myrtle Beach than in New York City and Paris – over 2,000 to be exact
  • Myrtle Beach is a golfers paradise, with over 90 courses that have hosted USGA, PGA, and LPGA events
  • Sports Illustrated Magazine started its publication at a country club in Myrtle Beach

Median Home Cost in Myrtle Beach: $310,375

5. Sullivan’s Island, SC

Another Charleston County gem, Sullivan’s Island combines unspoiled natural beauty with the bustling nightlife of a larger city. The population is 1,923 residents who are dedicated to preserving the island’s natural beach environment.

Just minutes from the live music and bar-filled streets of downtown Charleston, you can find this charming island tucked away from the hustle and bustle.

Sullivan’s Island is a great place to be if you want to live a slower, laid-back lifestyle. The difference between this island and other beachfront areas along South Carolina’s coast is the lack of commercial development.

Locals consider this the best part about the island. You won’t find any piers, shops, or businesses along the beach. This creates that calm, quiet, and peaceful atmosphere the locals love so much. 

Median Home Cost in Sullivan’s Island: $3,402,190

6. Seabrook Island, SC

Beach Community

Seabrook Island is a small barrier island located in Charleston County. Just like many of the others on this list, the island offers picturesque beaches that have been preserved from over-commercialization. The population in this town is just over 1,800. 

Seabrook Island Beach is 24.5 miles from downtown Charleston, which is a 45-minute drive down SC-700 to State Rd S-10-20 and then Seabrook Island Rd.

If you’re looking for an equestrian community, look no further. A unique element of Seabrook is the state-of-the-art equestrian center. This allows those with a passion for horses to ride on the soft sandy beaches of Seabrook Island.

Because of the close proximity to Charleston, Seabrook Island is served by some of the best A-rated schools in the county. Just a few in the area are:

  • Academic Magnet High School
  • Charleston School of the Arts
  • Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School

Median Home Cost in Seabrook Island: $620,300

7. Edisto Island Beach, SC

This slow-paced island provides a serene and secluded lifestyle unlike any other. The population is a tight-knit 710 people. The island is known for its calm, family-oriented, and like-minded residents.

Edisto Beach is the only location on this list that has no shopping malls, fast food restaurants, or stop lights! This is an important element to the locals, so don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

In fact, islanders have established strict rules and restrictions for new buildings in order to preserve their natural surroundings.

Since the island has a more small town atmosphere, everyone knows everyone. Prepare for southern hospitality and charm from your neighbors when living on Edisto Island. Although the island lacks nightlife, there are plenty of activities to get to know your neighbors such as trivia nights and charity events.

You can also check out Edisto Beach State Park, which is a great spot for hiking and camping with waterfront views. 

Median Home Cost in Edisto Island: $555,500

Summary of Best Beaches in SC to Live In

Living in South Carolina can provide a wonderful life for its residents. Just like any spot, you will find pros and cons when it comes to making this your home. There are a number of quaint coastal towns to call home.

Some of the best places to call home in South Carolina include Kiawah Island, Sullivan’s Island, and Myrtle Beach. Each of these locations offers its own unique elements, so be sure to choose the one that’s right for you!

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