Cost Of Living In South Carolina (Taxes, Housing & More)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Nearly everyone has heard of Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, and Charleston, South Carolina. They are staples of American history, and common vacation attractions at that. But the reality is that there are countless great cities in South Carolina that are all livable and fairly priced.

Buying a home can be inexpensive in South Carolina, and the median home value is $203,707. The majority of South Carolina residents are homeowners, but the rest of them pay an average of $771 in rent. Property taxes are low and carry a rate of 0.57%, and that makes up for the 7% state income tax.

Other recurring costs in South Carolina include the between 6% and 9% sales tax rate. Be sure to budget yourself at least an extra $140 each month in utility bills in South Carolina as well. Some bills are below the national average, and others are well above it in South Carolina.

Follow along, and let’s take a close look at the total cost of living in South Carolina.

Do You Need to Hire Movers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

South Carolina Housing Prices

The median home value in South Carolina is $203,707, and 72.6% of the state’s population are homeowners. For builder-owners, the average cost per square foot to build a home in South Carolina is $175. Mortgaging a home in South Carolina generally comes with a 2.871% 30 year fixed rate or a 2.742% 15 year fixed rate.

You may spend over $3,000 a year in-home repairs and maintenance in South Carolina as well. A typical home size in South Carolina is 2,000 square feet, and size and location determine cost. The cost of a home in South Carolina varies largely between cities, counties, and neighborhoods.

South Carolina CitiesMedian Home ValueHomeownership Rate
Myrtle Beach$228,42553.4%
Hilton Head Island$453,33377.9%

The vast majority of South Carolina residents are homeowners, and median home values are higher in high-end coastal cities. Other costs, such as property taxes, are recurring and need to figure into the cost of living in South Carolina.

South Carolina Property Tax

Property taxes are incredibly low in South Carolina, and the state’s average property tax rate is 0.57%. The national average property tax rate is 1.08%, and South Carolina is known for its low property taxes. Chesterfield County is home to the lowest property tax rate in South Carolina with a 0.43% tax rate.

You can still find counties with a high property tax rate in South Carolina, however. Newberry County has the highest property tax rate in the state at 0.86%, and Richland County is close with 0.80%. Big and notable South Carolina cities such as Charleston have a property tax rate of 0.48%.

There are property tax exemptions in South Carolina, such as the Homestead Exemption Program that exempts $50,000 in property value. You are only eligible for these exemptions if you are 65 or older, completely disabled, or legally blind. Surviving spouses of deceased, disabled veterans can also qualify for a 100% exemption on property taxes.

Rent Prices in South Carolina

Despite the high homeownership rate in South Carolina, there are still plenty of renters in the southern state. The average cost of rent in South Carolina is $771, and 27.4% of the current population are renters. Rent costs are generally quite low in South Carolina, but as you’ll see, some cities can be quite expensive.

South Carolina CitiesAverage Monthly Rent
Myrtle Beach$1,147
Hilton Head Island$2,343

Renting in South Carolina is a great option for newcomers to the state, and residents saving for a home. The $203,707 median home value is too much for many South Carolina residents, and rent payments can be lower than mortgage payments. You could pay $954 per month on a $200,000 mortgage in South Carolina, well above the $771 average rent.

Utilities Cost In South Carolina

Expect to pay an average of $140.80 each month in utilities in South Carolina. Of course, each county and city varies in utilities costs, and your own energy consumption factors in as well. For example, utility bills in Greenville, SC can cost up to $170 per month or $147 a month in Charleston.

Weekly garbage collection is another monthly cost that you must consider in South Carolina. Residential trash pickup costs no less than $20 per month, generally, but it can cost up to $40 or more. For some renters, trash collection is included with their other utility bills, but homeowners sign up on their own.

South Carolina’s total utility costs are considered some of the highest in the United States. Internet bills can cost between $60 and $75 per month in South Carolina, and cable can cost up to $100. Homeowners may spend as much as $140 or more in gas bills and up to $120 in electrical bills.

South Carolina State Income Tax

South Carolina residents pay an annual 7% state income tax, and it is one of America’s highest tax rates. In fact, South Carolina has the 18th highest state income tax rates in the whole country. However, when weighed against the low state property tax rate, the high-income tax is an easier pill to swallow.

Does South Carolina Tax Social Security?

No, South Carolina does not tax social security payments. That, and their property tax exemptions, is why South Carolina is considered such a great state to retire in. South Carolina residents that are 65 or older also qualify for up to $10,000 in retirement-income exemptions.

You should also note that 65-year-old South Carolinians qualify for up to $15,000 in state income tax exemptions. The elderly tax benefits combined with the generally low cost of living make South Carolina the perfect retirement destination.

South Carolina Sales Tax

The state imposes sales tax rate in South Carolina is 6%, but that is before additional county taxes. Your sales tax rate can be as high as 9% in some South Carolina cities, such as Charleston, but no higher. There is a $500 maximum amount in sales tax for max tax items in South Carolina, and it applies to vehicles.

Gasoline sales carry a sales tax rate of 20.75 cents per gallon in South Carolina, $0.15 less than North Carolina. Liquor by the drink sales comes with a 5% sales tax rate, and liquor sales are generally prohibited on Sunday. Sales tax is high in South Carolina when compared to many other states in America.

StateSales Tax Rate
South Carolina6%
North Carolina4.75%

If you go to Greer, South Carolina, you can pay the minimum sales tax rate of 6%. Cities such as Saint Andrews are pricier at 8% sales tax, but Rock Hill is the middle ground with 7%.

Food Costs in South Carolina

Families generally spend $37 on food each day in South Carolina. Cost-effective budgeting can greatly lower that cost, particularly if you buy groceries instead of going out. When you go to a restaurant in South Carolina, you will generally pay at least $15 per person.

Groceries are the cheapest options, and essentials such as milk generally cost between $2.25 and $2.40 per gallon in South Carolina. Expect to pay roughly $2.65-$3.00 for a dozen eggs at the grocery store as well. Fast food is another cost-effective option, and a meal for one typically costs $7-$10.

Like many southern states, tobacco is quite inexpensive in South Carolina. The cost of cigarettes is generally $5.42 per pack in South Carolina, with an $0.88 cent state tax. A case of beer is cheap in South Carolina, and costs an average of $15.96, making it the 6th cheapest state for beer.

Cost of Education in South Carolina

South Carolina residents generally spend an average of $6,762 for every year of private elementary school tuition. Private high school education can get more expensive, and cost well over $7,000 each year in South Carolina. Currently, there are more than 67,000 students that are enrolled in private education in South Carolina.

Many young adults move across the county to South Carolina for college education each year. One of the most notable colleges in the state is the University of South Carolina in Columbia. In-state students only pay $12,688 each year in tuition, and non-locals spend as much as $33,928 per year.

Another great opportunity for college education in South Carolina is Clemson University, and it costs $15,558 for locals. Out of state students spend $38,550 per year in tuition, and there are more than 20,000 people enrolled right now.

South Carolina Driving Costs

Regular gasoline costs an average of $1.82 per gallon, and mid-grade gas costs $2.16 per gallon. Most American adult drivers use 656 gallons of gas per year, and that is $1,193-$1,416 each year in South Carolina. The current national average cost of gasoline is $2.89 per gallon, more than $1 over South Carolina’s cost.

South Carolina CityAverage Cost of Gas
Myrtle Beach$1.69 Per Gallon
Charleston$1.60 Per Gallon
Columbia$1.65 Per Gallon
Greenville$1.68 Per Gallon
Hilton Head Island$1.89 Per Gallon

The average cost of car insurance in South Carolina is $1,367 for men and $1,325 for women. South Carolina adult residents in their 30s and 40s spend between $1,312 and $1,350 per month on insurance premiums, on average. Auto insurance premiums for South Carolina teens cost between $4,620 and $6,372 each year.

There are a few reasons that car insurance is relatively high in South Carolina. It is mostly due to the number of drivers without insurance, and the high volume of rain and inclement weather. However, South Carolina does have most other states beat in its yearly teenage auto insurance premiums

Flight Prices To South Carolina

You can find reasonable flight rates to and from South Carolina. Right now, you could fly from Philadelphia to Myrtle Beach for $154 roundtrip, or to Hilton Head Island for $315. You could spend as little as $75 roundtrip flying from New York City to Myrtle Beach.

South Carolina is home to many airports, such as Charleston International Airport, Charleston International Airport, and Florence Regional Airport. You book a last-minute flight out of Charleston to New York for $197 or save money by booking in advance.

There are several major airlines that fly to and from South Carolina, and they all offer roundtrip tickets. Delta, United, Southwest, jetBlue, and Frontier Airlines are all commonly used airlines that use South Carolina airports offer.

Entertainment Cost in South Carolina

South Carolina is a big state, and there is a lot of opportunities for entertainment at a low cost. Columbia, South Carolina, is home to the South Carolina State Museum, and it costs $8.95 for an adult ticket. Another entertaining and educational opportunity is the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, that costs between $21 and $29 per ticket.

Another South Carolina attraction is the Myrtle Beach Pelicans baseball team, and game tickets average $35. There are also many free attractions in South Carolina, such as Riverfront Park in North Charleston. Other fun and free outdoor activities include the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

You’ll spend at least $9 per person for movie tickets in South Carolina, on par with the national average. Vacationers visiting South Carolina typically spend between $1,000 and $2,200, depending on the number of people.

Charleston, SC vs. Myrtle Beach, SC

Charleston and Myrtle Beach are undoubtedly two of the most notable South Carolina cities. The question is, how do they stack up against each other in the cost of living?

Cost of LivingCharleston, SCMyrtle Beach, SCUnited States
Average Rent$1,372$1,147$830
Median Home Value$343,243$228,425$231,200
Monthly Utilities$147$161$171
Gas Cost$1.82 Per Gallon$1.69 Per Gallon$2.11 Per Gallon
Sales Tax9%9%7.12%
Property Tax0.48%0.37%1.08%

As you can see, both Charleston and Myrtle beach are slightly above the national average in most categories. Between the two cities, Charleston is slightly more affordable, despite the lower property taxes and gas cost in Myrtle Beach.

Related Questions

Is South Carolina a safe place to live?

South Carolina is a safe place to live, and it is placed at the 41st on the list of most dangerous states. There are 30 crimes for every 1,000 South Carolina residents, and only 5% of the population is affected by violent crime. The most dangerous place to live in South Carolina is North Charleston, where there were 1,039 violent crimes in 2018.

What’s the weather in South Carolina?

South Carolina is known for its humid climate and hot summers, but the weather varies based on the region. For example, southern South Carolina is quite hot and humid, and it does not get very cold in the winter. Once you get into the northern part of South Carolina, you can expect more traditional seasons with cold winters and a possibility of snow.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in South Carolina?

If you are single, you need at least $2,000 each month to pay bills, rent or mortgage, and live comfortably. South Carolina residents with a spouse and children, however, need $4,500-$5,000 at least, to take care of basic needs. The average American spends $5,102 each month on expenses and as a consumer, on average, and South Carolina is cheap.

What is the cheapest city in South Carolina?

The cheapest city to live in South Carolina is Florence and rent costs between $530 and $941 per month. Other cheap cities include Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg, South Carolina, which has an average rent of $835. Florence, South Carolina is also a safe place to live and has a 1 in 103 violent crime rate.

How often do hurricanes hit South Carolina?

Hurricanes generally hit between June and the end of November in South Carolina, the official hurricane season. Generally, there is a higher potential for heavy hurricanes between August and October, but there is no iron-clad rule. Unfortunately, coastal cities are greatly affected, and South Carolina has the 4th most hurricanes.

Do You Need to Hire Movers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Summing It Up

Your average South Carolina home costs $203,707, but it could cost up to $343,243 in coastal cities. You could also build your own dream home for an average of $175 per square foot in South Carolina. South Carolina has some of the lowest property taxes in the country, at a rate of 0.57% or lower.

Renters in South Carolina generally spend between $700 and $2,343 or more every month and are 27.4% of the population. You are going to spend at least $140 on utilities each month, and the majority of that will be in electrical bills. Factor in up to $100 for cable, $65-$70 for internet, and between $20 and $40 each month for trash collection.

Going out to dinner costs at least $14 per person, and three-course meals can cost up to $60 for two. You can choose between 69 different airports spread throughout South Carolina and can fly to and from any major city. South Carolina is a great place, and you can live happily as a homeowner, a builder, or a renter.

Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

More by Nick Durante