May 3, 2022

Why South Carolina is a Great Place to Retire

Nat Miller

Continuing our tour through all the best states in the country for retirement, we come to another warm, southeastern state that is rapidly climbing the ranks as one of America’s favorite places to retire: South Carolina. Located just north across the Savannah River from another retirement destination hot spot, Georgia, South Carolina has all the hallmarks of a great retirement destination: warm weather, an affordable cost of living for retirement including low taxes, and plenty of amazing cities with great affordable housing options. There’s a reason so many retirees, and with them active adult and other residential community home builders, have flocked to South Carolina in recent years. From the beautiful coastline around Charleston, South Carolina, to the gorgeous mountain and lake views of Clemson, South Carolina, you’re sure to find a beautiful and laid-back place to retire in South Carolina.

Amazing Weather and Plenty to Do

There’s a reason why so many warm weather vacation destinations are also retirement destinations: great weather and a warm climate are always going to attract people. And South Carolina is no different - each year tens of thousands of people, both retirees and vacationers, come to South Carolina to enjoy the state’s warm weather, pristine beaches, and beautiful outdoors. What makes South Carolina such a great state to retire if you like the outdoors isn’t just that its temperate climate keeps you out and about for longer parts of the year, but also because of the geographic diversity in South Carolina. From mountains to lakes to rivers and beaches, whatever your preference for outdoor adventure South Carolina is bound to have what you’re looking for. Spend the day fishing off the coast or on one of South Carolina’s many lakes and rivers, or play one of the state’s over 350 golf courses. 

South Carolina has some of the country's most beautiful beaches.

Affordable Retirement in South Carolina

While warm weather is certainly a great perk that makes visiting South Carolina so amazing, what really makes it worth staying for retirement is the fact that South Carolina has some of the lowest taxes for retirees in the country, not to mention an incredibly competitive cost of living. This means that your retirement savings should take you a long way in South Carolina. In fact, according to Smart Asset, an online destination for consumer-focused financial information, South Carolina has some of the lowest taxes for retirees in the entire country.

First and foremost, South Carolina is one of the many states that does not tax Social Security benefits. But along with not taxing Social Security benefits, South Carolina also provides a host of additional tax benefits for retirees. Not only are your Social Security benefits not taxed by South Carolina, but South Carolina also allows you to subtract any Social Security income included on your federal adjusted gross income from your state adjusted gross income. This means that your social security benefits go a particularly long way in South Carolina. In addition to the generous state write-off for social security income, South Carolina also provides a $15,000 deduction for all retirement income for those over the age of 65 (this includes income from things like a government pension, a 401(k), or a Roth IRA or IRA). 

In addition to generous retirement taxes, South Carolina also has some of the lowest property taxes in the entire country. In South Carolina the average effective property tax rate is only 0.55%, which means that if you own a home worth $100,000 you will only pay roughly $550 in taxes. And for seniors South Carolina property taxes are even lower, as the South Carolina Homestead Exemption exempts the first $50,000 of a home’s fair market value from taxation if you are 65 or over and if the property has served as your primary residence for at least a year. This means that retirees pay very little in property taxes each year in South Carolina.

Finally, South Carolina’s average cost of living is slightly below that of the national average. When you combine South Carolina’s low cost of living with South Carolina’s incredible tax benefits for retirees, it becomes clear that South Carolina is a great place to make the most of your retirement savings. While you should certainly talk to a financial professional before making any financial decisions, South Carolina is a great place to think about retirement if low taxes and cost of living are important to you. 

Amazing Retirement Cities in South Carolina

As we mentioned before, there’s many reasons why South Carolina is such a popular destination for retirees and vacationers alike, and another reason is South Carolina’s abundance of beautiful and historic towns. While there’s no shortage of great cities to retire to in South Carolina, we wanted to mention a few of our favorites in particular below:

Charleston, South Carolina - Even if you aren’t thinking about retiring there, we would highly recommend a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Located on the coast, Charleston’s beautiful downtown is one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations and provides access to some of the country’s best dining and nightlife options. Just outside of Charleston, you can access some of the best outdoor activities that South Carolina has to offer from award-winning golf courses to pristine sea islands. While Charleston is certainly one of the more expensive retirement destinations in the state, the world-class amenities and high-quality of life certainly make exploring the option worthwhile for many people thinking about relocating for retirement.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - Keeping in line with the theme that retiring to South Carolina is like moving to a permanent vacation is one of the nation’s most popular retirement and vacation destinations, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. With miles of beautiful, uninterrupted beaches Myrtle Beach is the perfect place to retire if you want to spend a lot of time relaxing by the beach, or having your family visit for beach vacations. In addition, Myrtle Beach also has a large number of top flight active adult and other residential community builders, meaning that there are plenty of affordable retirement housing options. 

Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for both retirement and vacation alike.

Beaufort, South Carolina - Located along the coast between Sunbound favorites Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina is another stunning coastal town in Beaufort, South Carolina. Located in the South Carolina lowlands just north of Hilton Head, Beaufort provides a gorgeous and laid back retirement lifestyle on the coast for those who want to live by the water but who want to live in a slightly smaller city than Myrtle Beach or Charleston, as Beaufort as only roughly 11,000 residents. With its own lovely downtown, complete with its own cultural and dining options, as well as the surrounding countryside full of beautiful rivers, beaches and golf courses, you’ll have plenty to keep you active in Beaufort. 

Columbia, South Carolina - Located in the center of the state and home to the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina is a perfect laid-back college town for your retirement years. While living in a college town in retirement has plenty of benefits - college campuses generally bring with them plenty of cultural and entertainment events like local theater or sports teams, as well as access to top-flight facilities like university hospitals - Columbia provides an extra special benefit to its retirees: at the University of South Carolina, South Carolina residents over the age of 60 can take college classes tuition free. 

Clemson, South Carolina - Rounding out our short list is another college town, Clemson, South Carolina. Home to the university that also bears its name - Clemson University - Clemson, South Carolina provides access to all of South Carolina’s natural beauty that is away from the coast. Located in the mountains and surrounded by beautiful lakes, Clemson provides an affordable, laid back city to retire to that still provides access to all the amenities, entertainment, and healthcare that you would expect from living in a city with a major American university. If you love the warm weather and low taxes that South Carolina has to offer, but don’t see yourself spending much time on the beach in your retirement, then Clemson might be perfect for you. 

South Carolina is one of the many amazing places to retire in the United States, but there’s no shortage of amazing retirement destinations. If you want to learn more about amazing places to retire, make sure to follow the Sunbound Blog and read all our updates on amazing places to retire like Arizona, Florida, or South Carolina. And if you want to speak to someone directly, please reach out to us at info@sunboundhomes.com, we’d love to hear from you and learn how we can help with your retirement and relocation goals.

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