South Carolina’s official nickname is “The Palmetto State”. It gets this name thanks to its famous subtropical tree, the Sabal Palmetto. But South Carolina is more than just a relaxing beach vacation spot with swaying palms and crashing waves, it’s also home to some of the richest history in the United States.

The state was one of the original 13 states to make up the union, and one of the first areas to be explored by European settlers (exciting!). There are battlefields aplenty dating back to the American Revolution and the Civil War, along with Old South plantations, and famous forts and towns steeped in colonial history.

But you don’t’ have to be a history buff to enjoy everything SC has to offer. If you are contemplating a move to South Carolina, there’s plenty for you to explore, no matter your interests. Which explains why so many people are choosing to relocate to the Palmetto State. In fact, South Carolina gained 39,073 people between 2016 and 2017, and that number has only risen since then.

Let’s take a closer look, so you can find out everything you need to know about moving to South Carolina…

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Where Are The Best Places To Live In South Carolina?


South Carolina is riddled with notably charming towns and cities, the most famous of all being Charleston. It’s not the capital, but it’s grown so rapidly in the past few years that it’s now the biggest city in the state. That’s not to say that the state capital of Columbia doesn’t hold its own…the two cities have been neck and neck for years in terms of population, culture, and liveability.

That being said, there’s plenty more to South Carolina than these two metropolises. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to live across the state.


Charleston’s rich history and Southern charm are a big draw for those moving to South Carolina. The people are exceedingly friendly and very welcoming to newcomers. The local culture is one that prides itself on “Southern hospitality” and an air of proper.

As it’s the oldest city in the state, you will easily find well-preserved architecture dotted all around the city, with gorgeous cobbled streets filled with pastel-colored colonial buildings.

picture of Charleston, South Carolina, USA cityscape at  St. Michael's Episcopal Church.

There’s also the famous Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the civil war were fired, along with sites like Magnolia Cemetery, Drayton Hall and the Aiken-Rhett House. History buffs will adore this place.

Another major draw to moving to Charleston is its collection of beautiful beaches that are all within a stone’s throw away from any neighborhood. It’s the perfect place to move to if you like a mixture of city and beachside fun in the sun.

The population of the city sits at around 134,000 people, with a population large enough to be an exciting hub of culture, but also with room to breathe and not feel overcrowded.

Foodies will enjoy Charleston’s delectable selection of cuisine, earning itself a place in the Conde Nast Traveller ‘Best American Cities for Foodies’ list. There’re countless restaurants serving up classic down-home southern dishes, usually sourcing locally produced ingredients.

Given the range of cool and interesting things to do and see in Charleston, it’s also one of the pricier areas to live in South Carolina, with the average home costing around $308,000. Those seeking value-priced living accommodations may want to venture out further from the city or check out our other top picks below.

North Charleston

North Charleston is, you guessed it, just to the north of the city of Charleston. Due to its growing population, it’s now ranked the third largest city in South Carolina.

The city is famous for its great shopping districts, as well as a fun selection of interesting restaurants and an exciting nightlife.

Northwoods Mall is here, and it’s one of the biggest and best malls in the state, with over 120 stores to choose from. The area is also famous for its live music scene, with shows taking place regularly at the North Charleston Coliseum and North Charleston Performing Arts Center.

Because of its cool and cosmopolitan vibe, North Charleston is becoming particularly popular with young professionals and younger families, who love the balance between safe and comfortable suburbia, and exciting entertainment and nightlife.

The average cost of a house here is still much more affordable than Charleston city, at just $184k.

James Island

If you like the sound of Charleston, but the property prices are making you think twice, James Island could be the perfect fit for you or your family. With a median home value of around $272,000, it’s considerably more affordable while still being perfectly located to make the most of everything the city has to offer.

This Charleston suburb has a more rural and relaxed feel, despite being just across the harbor from downtown. It’s the perfect place to live if you’re commuting to the city; you can be in central Charleston in less than 15 minutes. There’re also heaps of entertainment options within 5-15 minutes, including some highly rated restaurants, trendy bars, movie theatres, and malls.

The public schools here are well above average, so it’s a popular area for families. Retirees are also moving here in hoards, due to the proximity to the beach and affordable property prices.


Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city, and boasts almost as many residents as Charleston, making for an equally cosmopolitan vibe with plenty of amenities and things to do around town.

picture of columbia south carolina
The South Carolina State House in Columbia.

The city is home to a number of interesting attractions including the vast, 170-acre Riverbanks zoo and Garden which is popular with families from all over the state. Columbia also is home to the state’s biggest entertainment arena, the 18,000 capacity Colonial Life Arena.

Because Columbia is a college town (it’s the home of the University of South Carolina), it has a young and vibrant atmosphere, with a more liberal and progressive attitude compared with some other towns and cities in the state. The downtown area has plenty of trendy bars and restaurants, with live music performances and interesting cultural events happening throughout the year.

The population is currently around 132,000 people, so like Charleston, it offers a nice balance between the hustle and bustle of the city, and a more relaxed, slower pace of life.

Columbia is considerably more affordable than Charleston, with the average home costing around $169k.

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Greenville, in upstate South Carolina, ranks among SC’s best. So much so, that is was named one of America’s Best Downtowns by none other than Forbes Magazine.

The city has a broad array of art and a melting pot of culture to offer those who visit or live there. There’s the Greenville County Museum of Art, which houses an amazing collection of works by renowned Southern artists from history all the way up to present day. You can also visit the Upcountry History Museum which paints a detailed picture of what life used to be like in Greenville and Upstate South Carolina in general. To top it off, there’s also the famous Peace Center, a $42 million entertainment venue that sees crowds pouring in from all around, and outside of, the state.

The downtown area is packed with cool independent coffee shops, a wide variety of restaurants and a good mix of trendy cocktail bars and casual dive bars to check out and partake of.

True to its name, there’re also plenty of green spaces and fantastic parks within the city limits, meaning there’re plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and go hiking, biking and exploring within nature.

Houses here are creeping back up into the higher end of the state averages, with a median home value of around $256k.

Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant is a charming, aptly named city in Charleston Country, just 10 miles outside of Charleston city. Because it’s only next door, many commuters choose Mount Pleasant as their home, especially those with higher incomes. It’s an affluent area, with pockets of pristine tree-lined suburban streets interspersed with some fabulous parks, restaurants and coffee shops. It’s an especially popular area with families, who move here for the highly-rated public school system.

Since it’s a wealthy area, as you can imagine, house prices are pretty high. The average median home value is around $414,000.

Rock Hill

Rock Hill is an excellent choice for anyone who loves nature and the great outdoors. There’s over 30 parks, the super-popular Rock Hill Outdoor Center at Riverwalk, and four fantastic recreation centers.

Another major draw for the city is its proximity to Charlotte, in the neighboring state of North Carolina. It’s just 30 miles away from the city, so it’s even possible to commute.

Rock Hill is home to a campus of Winthrop University, which gives it a great college-town vibe. The historic Old Town is a particularly popular spot with both students and the general public, with great restaurants and bars, as well as cultural celebrations and events happening throughout the year.

The population is a comfortable 70,000 people, so it doesn’t feel overcrowded. It’s possible to bag a bargain property in Rock Hill, with the average median home price sitting below the national average at around $140k.


If horses are your thing, then we definitely recommend you check out the charming town of Aiken; it’s the undisputed equestrian city of South Carolina.

The town is home to the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, and hosts two annual steeplechase racing events.

The University of South Carolina also has a strong presence here, so the town has a young and fresh feel to it.  There’s a great variety of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, as well as tons of parks, hiking trails and easy access to nature.

Aiken is another area that’s growing in popularity among young families, due to the above-average school systems and relatively low crime rates.

It’s one of the smaller communities on our list, with just over 30,000 residents. If a more relaxed pace of life, while still having the convenience of amenities close by appeals to you, then Aiken could be a great option. It’s pretty affordable to live here, with an average house price of around $175,000, which is below the national average.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is arguably South Carolina’s most famous vacation spot, and repeatedly ranks highly in TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 Summer Vacation Destinations.

It sits at the heart of what is known as the Grand Strand, a 60 mile stretch of white sandy beaches with an endless array of attractions. Between the oceanfront hotels, there’re countless restaurants, shopping outlets, golf courses, and tourist attractions, giving visitors a huge variety of entertainment options. It’s not just tourists flocking to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, the area is becoming more and more popular with newcomers moving to the state, especially retirees who are choosing this beautiful stretch of coastline over the more traditional (and expensive) retirement destinations in Florida.

picture of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA city skyline.

Since the area sees so many tourists throughout the year, there are plenty of amenities and public services, such as hospitals, gas stations, malls, and grocery stores. Residents say it’s like living in a small town with all the conveniences of a big city.

Despite being such a popular spot, you can still find a great bargain property in the Myrtle Beach area, with the average home costing around $180,000.


If you’re into history, then you should definitely consider at least visiting, if not moving to, Florence. The city is home to the famous Florence National Cemetery, the War Between the States Museum, and a large chunk of the 66-mile Revolutionary Rivers Trail.

The area is also home to the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center, which gives the city a college town atmosphere. There’re some pretty awesome entertainment options in the downtown area, as well as plenty of parks, hiking trails, and great cycling paths all within a close distance.

It’s a relatively liberal and progressive area, with around 38,000 residents. Many of these are families who’ve moved to the area for its above-average school system, along with young professionals taking advantage of the ample job opportunities and relatively low housing costs.

The median home price in Florence is 158k, which is below the national average.


Spartanburg sits in upstate South Carolina, around 90 miles (or a 2-hour drive) from the state capital of Columbia.

It’s home to several international companies providing steady employment, including BMW Manufacturing, Michelin and Adidas. The promise of jobs makes the area super popular with young professionals and families, and the above-average school system is an added bonus.

Spartanburg is also a big mountain biking area, with the city hosting the Stump Jump mountain bike races, which are the qualifying events for the USAC XC Mountain Bike National Championships. There’re also plenty of hiking trails and green spaces to make the most of the great outdoors, like the Croft State Park, the Edward M. Griffin Nature Preserve, Hatcher Garden, Woodland Preserve, Barnet Park and Cleveland Park.

Spartanburg is a suburban area with a relaxed feel, with only around 38,000 residents, although this number is steadily growing. Property here is the cheapest on our list, with an average home costing just $119k.

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How Is The Job Market In South Carolina?


Overall, the job market remains steady at the start of 2020, with unemployment in the state at a low rate compared to the national average (3.6%), coming in at a meager 2.6%. The flip side to this is that with so many people employed, it can mean jobs are sometimes a little harder to come by.

That being said, there are plenty of opportunities across the state, and with a little perseverance and focus on the right industries, you’re sure to find the right fit for you.

Industries across South Carolina


One of South Carolinas’s most active industries is Aerospace and aviation. There are over 100 aerospace-related companies operating across the state, with the largest being Boeing, who moved operations to South Carolina to manufacture the 787 Dreamliner.

picture of boeing manufacturing facility


Other major industries include the automotive industry, with over 250 automotive based companies operating statewide, and the medical industry, which has the highest number of employees across the state.


The tourism industry is also booming and jobs are flowing aplenty, particularly during the summer months when there’s a huge increase of visitors to the state.

Other Major Industries in the State Include:

  • Biotech and life sciences
  • Transportation
  • Recycling
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution and logistics
  • Office and service (such as call centers)

Top Employers

Children’s hospital in Charleston has the highest number of employees across the state, with over 15,000 people working there. This is closely followed by the Medical University of South Carolina. BMW is also a major employer, alongside Boeing Co, who together employ around 19,000 people.

Other Top Employers Include:

  • Bosch
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Costco
  • Hilton and Marriot
  • Samsung Electronics
  • MUSC Health
  • Prisma Health
  • Nucor
  • Publix
  • University of South Carolina
  • And more…

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How Is The South Carolina Real Estate Market?


Like most places, the cost of a home in South Carolina can vary wildly depending on where you choose to live. For example, the most expensive area is Charleston County, where the average home costs around $333,000.

However, when we take a look at the overall average across the state, things look a lot more affordable, with the average home price sitting at around $166,000, around 15% lower than the national average price for homes.

That means that on the whole, South Carolina is a super affordable place to live if you are renting or buying a home here. Don’t wait too long though…prices shot up around 6.8% over the past year and experts are predicting this number will only rise over the next couple of years.

Fun Facts:

  • 70% of residents are homeowners
  • 30% of residents rent
  • 70% of real estate consists of single-family homes
  • Since 2000 the market has increased in value by 79.44%
  • The average increase in value per year is 3.04%

picture of a southern home in south carolina

When is the Best Time to Make a Purchase?

Sales prices in SC tend to peak between May – August, catalyzed largely by the influx of buyers competing and driving up prices.

Data shows that if you’re moving to South Carolina and looking to get the most bang for your buck, the following months, Sept – November and Feb-April are the two periods you’ll want to strike.

Need To Sell Your Home Before Moving?

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In South Carolina?


Renting vs Buying

As we’ve seen, homes in South Carolina are pretty affordable on the whole. Renting is no different, with an average 1 bedroom apartment costing around $920 per month. If you’re planning to live in the major cities though, expect to pay more. In Charleston, the average 1 bedroom apartment goes for $1,378 per month, and in Columbia it will cost around $1,085.

So now that we know that housing is generally cheaper in South Carolina, what about other monthly expenses?

Cost of Utilities

Utilities tend to cost about 3.9% more than the national average. While unit costs tend to be a little lower than average, the long, hot summers mean that air conditioning is on a whole lot, which can shoot up your electricity bills significantly.

Health / Healthcare

Health costs come in right around those nationally, being just a mere 2.3% higher on average.

Cost of Food / Groceries

It’s good news for groceries though, as South Carolina spends significantly less on groceries per month than the national average. Expect to pay around 4.2% less than nationwide on average in this category.

picture of Family with shopping cart in supermarket store


Transportation is also cheap, with a gallon of gas costing on average $2.20, when the national average is closer to $2.55. Overall transporation costs are 13.2% lower than the national average.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is another thing to consider when looking at the cost of living. Currently, in South Carolina, the general sales tax rate is 6%, which is not far from the national average.

Overall, South Carolina’s cost of living is on the lower side, which is especially great news if you’re moving in from a more expensive part of the country, like the Pacific Northwest or New York.

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Is South Carolina A Good Place To Retire?


South Carolina is one of the most popular states to retire in the whole country. In 2018, it came in at #4 on SmartAssets’s retiree state ranking, with around 8,500 over 60’s moving in per year.

One of the main reasons for this is the affordable cost of living. Although many retirees used to favor Florida as the ultimate retirement destination, the high cost of living in the state has turned a lot of people away, with more and more of them turning to the equally as beautiful, but much more affordable, coastal areas of South Carolina.

The state is very tax-friendly for retirees, since there is absolutely no tax on social security retirement benefits. All other types of retirement income, including private pensions and retirement accounts, get a substantial deduction too, so financially speaking, making the move to the Palmetto State makes perfect sense.

picture of Group of retired friends support concept

On top of the attractive tax situation, let’s not forget some of the main reasons so many people are choosing to retire in South Carolina. A huge draw is, of course, the weather, with long, hot summers (which are actually incredibly pleasant if you’re living in a coastal town), and relatively mild winters.

There’s a huge amount of recreational activities that are perfect for seniors and can help you to stay fit and healthy.  There’re world-class golf courses liberally dotted around the state, as well as excellent hiking, biking, boating, fishing and water-sports to enjoy.

Since the state is one of the most popular places t retire in the country, there are now more than 150 retirement communities, ranging from coastal to upstate destinations. These communities can be perfect for those who enjoy meeting likeminded people and enjoy the idea of living in a neighborhood specifically geared to the needs of the over 60’s.

What Are The People And Culture Like In South Carolina?


South Carolina has a proud tradition of southern hospitality. This means that overall, the locals are a super friendly bunch who welcome outsiders as their own. It’s common to see strangers helping one another out, and sparking up a conversation in the grocery store is seen as commonplace. This friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons so many newcomers are flocking to the state year after year.

Since it’s a southern state, South Carolina tends to lean more towards the right, with the large pockets of predominantly conservative communities. That being said, there are some pretty liberal and progressive pockets in areas like Charleston and Columbia.

There’s a real relaxed pace of life across most of the state. If you’re from any of the larger, more cosmopolitan cities in the US, it may be a little too slow for you, but if you’re ready to kick back, relax and enjoy a slower pace of life, then South Carolina could be perfect.

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What Are Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In South Carolina?


South Carolina has an endless list of interesting and exciting things to do, from areas of natural beauty to culinary adventures, to exploring the vast amount of historical landmarks that litter the state.

There’s far too many to list here, but let’s take a look at some of the very best things to do across the Palmetto State.

Soda City Market

This thriving Saturday market on Columbia’s Main Street is filled with local produce and artisan crafts. It’s a great place to take in some country music provided by the local buskers, as well and sampling some traditional Southern delicacies, all with an awesome view of the capitol building.

Caesars Head State Park

At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Ceasars Head State Park, with over 13,000 acres of lush green nature to explore. It’s one of the best places to hike in South Carolina, and there’s even a shuttle service that lets you park your car at the finish point, grab a ride and hike the beautiful trails back.

South Carolina Barbecue Trail

Barbecue is a huge deal in South Carolina, and the state has its very own special recipe that they swear tops all other barbecue sauces. Make up your own mind and take a tour through the South Carolina Barbecue Trail, which has over 220 dedicated barbecue joints to try out.

The Historic Charleston City Market

This open-air market sits in the heart of downtown Charleston. It’s a great place to wander the busy lanes and shop for handmade souvenirs, such as the locally famous hand-woven sweetgrass baskets.

The market has been a regular feature since as far back as the 1790s, so even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s worth a trip here to see this historic market still in action.

Kiawah Island

If you like the finer things in life, then a trip to Kiawah Island is a must. This super upscale area is filled with luxury vacation rentals, world-class golf courses and resorts. The beaches are pristine, with white sand and lush green palms at every turn. Even if you can’t afford access to the exclusive private beaches, be sure to take a day trip to the tranquil public beach at Beachwalker Park.

picture of bohiket marina with boats near kiawah island

Old Slave Mart Museum

This building complex in downtown Charleston serves as a stark reminder of South Carolina’s dark history in the slave trade. It’s the only building that was used as a slave auction gallery still in existence in the state, with the last auctions taking place here in 1863. Today, it’s a museum that tells us the story of Charleston’s role in this barbaric period in history.

Congaree National Park

Just 30 minutes outside of Columbia, this national park has only been open since 2003, but it’s still a firm favorite with locals and tourists alike. Stroll the boardwalk or take a kayak and explore the incredible varieties of snake and bird species here. The best time to visit is in late May and early June, when the synchronous fireflies come out to play.

Myrtle Beach SkyWheel

This 187 foot Ferris wheel is the best way to take in the views of Myrtle Beach. For an extra fee, if you’re feeling brave, you can even book a glass-bottom gondola. With so many exciting attractions at Myrtle Beach, this is the perfect way to start off a vacation here and get your bearings of the local area.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In South Carolina


So now that we’ve taken a look at what South Carolina has to offer, let’s examine at the pros and cons of moving to the state.

Pros of Moving to South Carolina

  • The Nature – From palm-lined white sandy coastlines, to gently rolling hills and the soaring Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s so much to see in the great outdoors in the Palmetto State.
  • Southern Hospitality – South Carolinians are known for being some of the most open-hearted and friendly people in the country. Newcomers moving to the state will receive a warm welcome and quickly become part of the community.
  • Affordable Cost of Living – Everything from mortgages to renting, groceries and gas, is generally cheaper here. The affordable cost of living might even mean you can work less, spend more time with family and enjoy the slow pace of life that the South has to offer.
  • The History – South Carolina is one of the oldest states, and has a deep and colorful, although sometimes dark history. The old cobbled streets tell a fascinating tale that any history buff will love.
  • The Food – Food culture is strong in South Carolina, and traditional southern cooking has been turned into an art form. There’s an abundance of local produce to try, especially the fresh seafood located along the many coastal areas.
  • Relatively Low Crime Rates – Overall, South Carolina is a super safe place to call home, with the crime rate sitting comfortably below the national average. Charleston boasts one of the lowest crime rates for any city in the country, with just 2,691 crimes of all types per 100,000 residents.

Cons of Moving to South Carolina

  • Flooding – Make sure your insurance has a good flood policy, as many parts of South Carolina are prone to surprise bouts of flooding during the rainy season.
  • Hurricanes – Although the weather is usually pleasant, when hurricane season arrives, it’s best to be on your guard. Hurricane Hugo hit the state back in 1989 and caused over $7 billion dollars worth of damage. Since then, hurricane Floyd, Irma, and Matthew have all caused havoc for residents, with many people being evacuated.
  • Mosquitoes – With the warm, subtropical climate comes the inevitable mosquitoes. This is an especially big problem near lakes or marshland. During the summer, you’ll want to invest in some good bug spray.
  • Lack of nightlife – Although the bigger cities such as Charleston and Columbia have a thriving live music scene and plenty of great bars, there’s little in the way of late-night clubs anywhere across the Palmetto State. While this may be fine for those who enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, if you like exciting and vibrant nightlife, South Carolina may not be for you.

Need To Sell Your Home Before Moving?

Did you know that we can help you save a lot of money when selling your house? Money that you can use to pay for your big move. has 3 ways for you to sell your house and NOT pay high commissions.


  1. Sell It Yourself With Our Flat Fee MLS Listings
  2. Sell With Top Local Agents With Negotiated Discounts on Commissions
  3. Sell To A Pre-Qualified Cash Buyer

Find Out How It Works Now!


Strange Laws & Fun Facts About South Carolina


Strange Laws

Every state has its fair share of weird and bizarre laws that are somehow still on the books, and South Carolina is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the more questionable laws on the list in the Palmetto State.

It’s illegal to get a tattoo on your head, face or neck. Though your mom might be disappointed, the law doesn’t usually intervene when it comes to inking… it’s not the case in South Carolina.

If you’re under 18, it’s illegal to play pinball. We’re not sure how or why this law came about, but if you want to practice the art of pinball, you’ll have to wait until you’re old enough.

It’s unlawful to keep a horse in the bathtub. For this to become law, we can only assume that someone, somewhere, must have tried this once.

It’s illegal to buy a musical instrument on a Sunday. This being the bible belt, Sundays are sacred. Shopping for your new guitar on a Sunday could land you in trouble with the big man upstairs.

If you propose to your girlfriend in South Carolina, you’d better go ahead and marry her.  If you change your mind after getting down on one knee, you could end up with a misdemeanor, a fine, or even a year in jail.

It’s against the law to swear in Myrtle Beach. If you’re caught being a potty mouth in this popular tourist town, you could end up with a pretty hefty fine.

Fun Facts

To wrap up our overview of moving to South Carolina, let’s look at some fun facts from the Palmetto State.

  • Carolina was once one settlement. It was divided into North and South Carolina by the British in 1729 to make governing easier.
  • South Carolina is the only state in the country that owns and operates its own school bus fleet.
  • There’s an annual festival in South Carolina called the “Hell Hole Swamp.” The celebrations include a tobacco spitting contest and the 10K Hell Hole Gator Trot, also known as the “Redneck Run.”
  • The world’s largest Gingko farm is in the South Carolina town of Sumter.
  • South Carolina is the only state in the nation that grows tea.
  • The state flower of South Carolina is the Yellow Jessamine, which is poisonous to humans.
  • Humans settled South Carolina as far back as 15,000 years ago.
  • There were around 30 Native American tribes living in South Carolina when the first Europeans arrived in the region.
  • The first-ever attempt of European settlement in the United States happened in South Carolina in 1562. Jean Ribault tried to settle on Parris Island, but he was later killed by Spanish soldiers in 1565.
  • An average of 10 tornadoes touch-down in South Carolina each year, most of them during the spring.

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Final Thoughts About Making the Move to SC

Making the move to South Carolina is the right move for many (according to recent census data), and for good reason. The state offers great weather, plenty of outdoor activities, a strong economy, generally affordable housing and more.


Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To South Carolina Resources? Check These Articles Out!


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