A Guide to Moving to: South Carolina
Thinking of a move to the Palmetto State? Wondering what the hell a palmetto is? Us too. FYI, it’s a type of palm tree. This charming southern state is steeped in rich history and a diverse culture. Whether you’re looking to move to the low country near the coast, or upcountry in the mountainous north, you’ll find plenty of southern hospitality (and palm trees).
No matter where you choose to move in South Carolina, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.
For the sole reason of filling your head with more useless knowledge, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a sweet list (also for your reading pleasure). Below are the ins and outs of this southern state, including the all-important job and housing situation. We also thought it pertinent to talk some legal jargon (you know, just in case).
If you’re set on a move to this palmy southern state, a closer look at the job market is necessary. Due to the extensive coastline and favorable weather (with the exception of a few select hurricane-prone months), much of the state is ruled by the tourism and hospitality industries. Those industries alone saw a 3% rise in jobs in the last year.
While tourism brings many jobs to the coastal region, overall, the job market isn’t so stellar. Sources rank the state 33rd among best states for jobs when considering factors such as job opportunities and economic standing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate at 4.4%, which is higher than the national average. I’m sure you’re wondering where the good news is. It’s here. It’s just momentarily stifled by the overall subpar vibe the state is currently giving off.
There’s a bit of good news: Certain cities have been seeing a surge in job opportunities. For instance, in the Columbia, information technology, manufacturing, health care and education are industries with a steady or growing job market. And Charleston is seeing a steady rise in the tourism, hospitality and tech industries. The Charleston unemployment rate is also at 3.9%, a bit lower than the national average.
The minimum wage is an unimpressive $7.25 an hour, and affordability isn’t what South Carolina is known for. It may not be the new Upper East Side, but newcomers also shouldn’t be going on a palmetto buying binge any time soon. U.S. News ranked it 26th for affordability overall, and 22nd for cost of living.
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More people are taking up space in South Carolina every year, and it’s not for their peaches (it may partly be for the peaches). For the most part, it is for employment. With more people moving into the state, what does this mean for housing?
Well for one thing, it means an easier time on your bank account (but probably not much). Sources say the median home value is $150,600 compared to a national average of around $200,000. The median rent price is $1,300. Zillow also predicts that housing prices will rise 4.1% in the next year.
While the median home value may seem like a steal, housing costs in South Carolina are firmly dictated by location. In the larger metropolitan areas, newcomers will be hitting the hard stuff a little harder. Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head are all seeing a lot of new, above-average-priced construction. While the majority of the existing houses were built between 2000 and 2010, new construction is blooming up around the state quickly, as more people are attracted by the warm weather and breezy lifestyle.
With a ranking by U.S. News of 32nd in the country for housing, South Carolina is a state whose housing affordability only continues to rise with its popularity. If you’re hoping for a move to the area but are on a tight budget, consider smaller cities away from the tourist-heavy coastal regions.
People and Culture
It’s impossible to compare the people on the coast to the upcountry folks in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. The people largely reflect their region’s history, and that history is as diverse as its people.
While southern culture (and hospitality) is alive and well throughout the state, the heavy African influences on the coast are very different from the Americana folk charm of the mountainous regions. It’s like comparing apples to oranges (or oceans to mountains). Both offer sweet benefits while maintaining their integrity as individuals (who knew apples and oranges could be so complex?).
These distinctions also define the political atmosphere. While overall the state remains mostly rooted in conservatism and southern Baptist principles, areas like Charleston and Colombia are seen as more progressive.
Must-Sees in South Carolina
South Carolina is as diverse as it is fun. We already know it’s diverse, so now for the fun part.
Here are some don’t-miss activities this charming southern state is known for:
- Visit a plantation: Go to any of them, or all of them. As one of the 13 original colonies, South Carolina has a rich colonial past, and its plantations reflect that. The favorites include Drayton Hall, established in 1738 and the oldest preserved plantation home in the U.S. open to the public, and Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens, founded in 1681.
- McLeod Plantation Historic Site: Yes, it’s also a plantation, but it’s an extra-special one. Located in Charleston and established in 1851, it’s listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is an important piece of cultural history.
- Beaches: Any and all beaches (because who doesn’t like a warm sunny beach day?). Myrtle Beach on the northern coast and Hilton Head further to the south are two favorites with visitors. Myrtle Beach alone is estimated to draw 14 million visitors annually. That’s a lot of sandy toes.
- Historic Charleston: A port city founded in 1670, this coastal city is renowned for its gorgeously colored antebellum homes, cobblestone streets, and laid-back southern charm. Tour around town in a horse-drawn carriage or just wander the elegant French Quarter and get lost in its historical allure. We’re clearly charmed just reading about it.
- Fort Sumter: Technically it’s in Charleston but deserves its own credit. Here’s your history lesson for the day (for those who have a hard time recalling 8th grade history). Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War happened. Boom. You just got educated.
- Fall for Greenville: For those out there not keen on the beach life, this festival held in Greenville (upcountry) every year is the largest food and music festival in the region. Visitors can experience the folksy charm of the mountainous region while tasting the irresistible home cooking.
Pro and cons of the Palmetto State
While a lot of palm trees may line its streets and beaches, this state is not all sunshine and sandy toes (at least not every day). There are cons of the state too (albeit more difficult to see when lying on the beach).
Here are the top pros and cons of living in South Carolina.
Pros of living in South Carolina::
- The nature: The stunning natural beauty of the state goes well with the welcoming nature of its people. Whether it’s moss-draped trees lining the roadways, or 200-year-old plantation houses, South Carolina knows how to charm its inhabitants (and it all starts with the palmetto tree).
- The weather: During the winter, the coastal regions are milder, while inland may have nights hovering around freezing. The summers, however, are what dreams are made of. Long warm summers allow people to enjoy the plethora of outdoor adventures to be found. Mountains and beaches are all close by in this balmy state, making days spent enjoying the sun (sipping sweet tea) a regular occurrence.
- Southern hospitality and sweet tea: “Please” and “thank you” are just part of life in this sweet state, along with tea that’s sweet enough to rot any mortal’s tooth (South Carolinians are born with a sugar cube in their mouth, so they’re teeth are comparable to Superman’s).
- The food: Shrimp and grits, barbecue, chicken and waffles, blue crab, boiled peanuts and hush puppies (if you haven’t tried these delectable little deep-fried balls of corn batter, you haven’t lived). Need we say more?
Cons of living in South Carolina:
- Education: South Carolina ranks 48th overall for education. The graduation rate for high schoolers is 80%, a few points lower than the national average, while higher education is bogged down by high tuition rates and fees.
- Economic opportunity: The state is ranked 41st for household income, in addition to its higher-than-average unemployment rate. The state may offer a cheaper cost of living than others, but at the expense of wages.
- Limited affordable housing: Housing that won’t break the bank completely can be found in the state. However, you’ll have to stick to the rural non-coastal areas to find it. Anything even hinting at coastal charm will cost you an arm (and maybe a leg).
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Now that you know all of the important ins and outs of the Palmetto State, we thought we’d graciously bequeath you with some of the odd laws that may (or may not) ever pertain to you.
For your reading pleasure (and ours), here are a few of the more inane laws found throughout the state.
- No work may be done on Sunday. It’s that southern Bible Belt mentality.
- It is a capital offense to inadvertently kill someone while attempting suicide. Uh-oh. Beware of killing people while you’re killing yourself. It might just get you killed.
- Performing a U-turn within 1,000 feet of an intersection is illegal. Better keep those tape measures handy.
- By law, if a man promises to marry an unmarried woman, the marriage must take place. A promise is a promise.
- A permit must be obtained to fire a missile. For all of you missile-wielding citizens out there.
- It is considered against the law to wear a tattoo on the head, face or neck. We'll see if lawmakers ever decide to laser this law off the books.
Hello South Carolina
While this may not be a comprehensive list of everything one should consider before moving to the state of South Carolina, we’re thinking it’s pretty darn close. At least when it comes to incomprehensible laws and tasty food. We definitely have you covered there, especially with an affordable home insurance policy.
While the state has some great positive outlooks, there are also some deal breakers to consider (did we mention there are 100,000 alligators who called this state home?). Overall, this southern state is steeped in hospitality and charm, and may just charm the boots off of any ol’ Yankee who comes a callin’. Unless they happen to be scared of alligators.