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Top 10 Best Places to Retire in South Carolina in 2021

South Carolina is a tax-friendly state with a very reasonable cost of living. In fact, its taxes are 27% lower than the national average, according to Movoto. With this in mind, more families are considering the Palmetto State as the perfect landing spot for their retirement. Learn more about the best places to retire in South Carolina below.

What Makes the Best Place to Retire in South Carolina?

Planning for retirement can be a challenge. It’s important to take your time deciding on the key factors that are most important to you. Outside of the cost of living and tax benefits, other variables to consider may include:

  • Healthcare availability and cost
  • Crime in the area
  • Entertainment and recreational value
  • Proximity to major cities and airports.

Overall, retirees generally want a safe and affordable city that gives them plenty of things to do. Whether you enjoy a more adventurous or laid-back lifestyle, South Carolina has you covered. Our list of the best places to retire in South Carolina will bring to light the most beautiful cities the state has to offer.

10 – Columbia, South Carolina

The state capital is the second largest city in the state behind Charleston and is home to the University of South Carolina. With various parks, sporting venues and cultural events, Columbia earns a spot in the top 10.

Columbia has a small-town feel with big-city activities, according to the locals. It’s also the perfect destination for “foodies.” Columbia has become a culinary staple over the years, with world-class restaurants such as Terra, Cola’s and Saluda’s.

9 – Aiken, South Carolina

A place like no other,” Aiken is a quaint city with loads of history, culture and entertainment. The city’s shopping and dining options are quickly growing overall, and the art scene has exploded.

Aiken has one of the nation’s largest urban forests: the 2,100-acre Hitchcock Woods. It also has a thriving steeplechase racing venue, which hosts horse races, polo matches, fairs, festivals and many more events.

8 – Florence, South Carolina

Originally founded as a railroad hub, Florence is one of the major cities in South Carolina. Moreover, it’s located right off of I-95, the prominent U.S. highway that runs along the East Coast. This major highway access, along with its growing recreation and entertainment offerings, has led to Florence’s growth in population over the years.

Freedom Florence is a world-class recreation complex that boasts five baseball fields, a gymnastics center and a multipurpose facility. The complex offers adult programs in softball, tennis, basketball, volleyball and more. Additionally, downtown Florence has lively concert series and festivals, a performance theater, a symphony orchestra and numerous museums.

7 – Gaffney, South Carolina

Gaffney, in upstate South Carolina, is full of southern charm. It’s less than an hour away from major cities Greenville, SC, and Charlotte, SC. Its rich culture and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best places to retire in South Carolina.

The Cherokee County city has access to three national parks and various museums and visual arts galleries. The Gaffney Little Theater, for example, offers performing arts such as plays, musicals and special theatrical events.

6 – Seneca, South Carolina

Seneca rests in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to the city’s website, it reflects the “hospitality and beauty of this little corner of this great state.”

Seneca has the beautiful backdrop of the mountains and a thriving city. The cost of living in Seneca is much lower than the national average. According to Livability, the median home cost is currently $136,300 with 42.5% of its residents being over the age of 62. As you can see, retirees have taken to Seneca in recent years and for good reason.

5 – Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville breaks into our top five, as it’s one of the most beautiful and active cities in the state. It’s full of unforgettable places and recreational experiences unlike any other. From Swamp Rabbit Trail to Falls Park, Greenville is perfect for cycling, hiking or simply enjoying time with family.

The ever-growing town is also home to 15 breweries, a creative arts center, and various theaters and sports franchises. This, combined with its reasonable cost of living, makes Greenville one of the best places to retire in South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach is one of the best places to retire in South Carolina in 2019

4 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach may be one of the East Coast’s most popular summer vacation spots, but it also has a growing retirement community. More and more people are moving to this Horry County city after finishing their careers. In fact, the 2018 U.S. census notes that Myrtle Beach is the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country.

There are 60 miles of beaches, more than 100 high-quality golf courses, and various natural attractions and entertainment options. Moreover, the cost of living composite index rates Myrtle Beach at 94.1, below the national average of 100. This rate is based on the cost of housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, miscellaneous services and more.

3 – Sumter, South Carolina

Sumter is in the center of South Carolina. It’s home to Shaw Air Force Base, which has had major effects on its growing economy. The base has also attracted retired military personnel to the area. Sumter’s crown jewel is Swan Lake Iris Gardens, a “floral wonderland” that attracts visitors from all over the country.

This city offers everything you could ask for in retirement. It has two state parks, 21 city parks, many scenic areas, cultural events and recreational facilities. Sumter is also barbecue heaven in South Carolina. According to Men’s Journal, Ward’s Bar-B-Que is one of the 25 best barbecue spots in America.

2 – Hilton Head, South Carolina

America’s favorite continental island for the fourth year in a row, Hilton Head is home to beautiful beaches, prize-winning golf courses and an abundance of natural beauty. The island has a welcoming atmosphere, and it’s full of spirit and rich in culture.

Retirees who aren’t looking to slow down anytime soon flock to Hilton Head for its fantastic amenities and the waterfront lifestyle. There are endless opportunities to stay active within the area, including cycling paths along the beach, professionally recognized tennis clubs and various watersports.

1 – Charleston, South Carolina

Overall, Charleston is one of the most beautiful places you can find in America today. It’s recently been recognized as one of the best places to retire in the country, not just in the Palmetto State.

As the oldest and largest city in South Carolina, it’s full of history and culture, which is easy to see throughout the city with its classical street views and historic buildings and art galleries. Furthermore, the dining options include some of the best southern cuisine you can find.

Condé Nast ranks Charleston as the friendliest city in the country, while Travel & Leisure named it one of the world’s best cities in 2019, higher than any other U.S. city. There’s no debate that Charleston is the premier retirement spot in South Carolina. Its creative culture, friendly residents and rich history make for the perfect destination for retirees.

Find the Best Places to Retire in South Carolina For Your Family

Retirement gives you the opportunity to start fresh and begin again. Later in life, this can be refreshing for both you and your family. However, if South Carolina does not fit your specific needs as a retiree, we have you covered.

Visit our lists of the best places to retire in Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Texas or California. Each of these states presents their own set of benefits for retirement, including tax exemptions and low costs of living.

South Carolina can be your newfound haven that helps you transition from your career into retirement with ease. Find the best places to retire in South Carolina today, and prepare for this important stage in your life.


Corey Mann is the Content Manager of Investment U. He has more than 10 years of experience as a journalist and content creator. Since 2012, Corey’s work has been featured in major publications such as The Virginian-Pilot, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and more. When Corey isn’t focusing on Investment U, he enjoys traveling with his wife, going to Yankees games and spending time with his family.

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