PLACES TO RETIRESOUTH CAROLINASouth Carolina is the beginning of the Deep South. From the silvery sands of the Atlantic Coast, the state climbs westward from the Coastal Plain and up through the Sand Hills, the Piedmont, the Foothills and on into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As the first state to secede from the Union, South Carolina was the site of the effective beginning of the US Civil War. Fort Sumter, where shots were fired as the south sought to capture this US fortification, is now a National Monument. Other pivotal battlegrounds during the American Revolution which retirees can visit are Kings Mountain National Military Park and Cowpens National Battlefield.

The Grand Strand is a section of coastline 60 miles long from the North Carolina border to the city of Georgetown. This area remains one of the most popular vacation destinations in the USA and has become some of the most overdeveloped real estate. The resort town of Myrtle Beach is a mecca of sandy beaches, live music and theater, nationally renowned golf courses, and extensive shopping and dining. There are also quiet places such as “Murrells Inlet”, known for great seafood, salt marshes, and much more, and the retiree can visit the historic port of Georgetown and take a walking tour featuring antebellum (pre civil war) architecture.

For the adventure oriented retiree, Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River offers wilderness scenery and excellent whitewater rafting. Sight seers will enjoy the coast, with its glorious marshlands, white-columned colonial plantations and palm tree–studded beaches as well as inland’s wealth of sleepy old towns, wild and undeveloped state parks and spooky blackwater swamps just waiting to be explored by canoe. And golf is unparalleled, as South Carolina is home to hundreds of golf courses, many designed by the world’s best.

Retire USA currently features four city profiles for South Carolina Retirement: Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, and Charleston.


Columbia, named for Christopher Columbus, is the state capital with a population of 129,272 residents according to the 2010 census. It was named by as one of America’s 25 best places to retire.

Climate: Columbia’s four seasons consist of mild winters, warm springs and autumns, and very hot and humid summers. The area receives 45 inches of rain per year and only about 1 inch of snowfall on average.

Cost of living: US News & World Report ranked Columbia number 6 on its 2009 list of America’s Best Affordable Places to Retire. The cost of living here is 5% less than the national average. The average cost of a retirement home is 28% less than the national average, at a median home value of $155,600.

Colleges and Universities: South Carolina law provides tuition exemption for residents 60 and older to take classes at state colleges (nominal fees may apply), so retirees can enjoy lifelong learning. The University of South Carolina Columbia has specialized senior learning programs, although retirees are welcome to enroll for most other classes as well under this tuition exemption.

Transportation: Columbia Metropolitan Airport offers air service to all major cities, and Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority operates express shuttles, as well as bus service.

Travel and tourism: To list a few of the many attractions retirees may enjoy in Columbia: concerts at the Colonial Center, an ice show at the Carolina Coliseum, Broadway shows at the Koger Center, a national dance touring company at The Township, a regatta at Lake Murray, a replica of a three ton white shark at the State Museum, historic homes from the 16th century, a walk through the tallest trees on the East Coast in the Congaree National Park, and tailgating at a University of South Carolina football game.


Myrtle Beach is located primarily on a barrier island between the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the East. It is a coastal resort city which has rapidly developed into a major tourist destination, and there is water everywhere! Its population was 31,968 residents as of the 2010 census, but the metro area is estimated at 324,571. The Fiscal Times named Myrtle Beach to its top 10 list of places to retire.

Climate: Myrtle Beach’s climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, with mild winters and hot, humid summers. Rainfall is plentiful, mostly concentrated during the summer months.

Cost of living: Myrtle Beach is less expensive than the South Carolina average, and 6% less than the national average which is surprising for a tourist area. Although the median home value in Myrtle Beach is 20.2% greater than the South Carolina average, retirees will find bargains in home prices at 23.4% less than the national average.

Colleges and Universities: One intriguing institute of “higher learning” here is the Golf Academy of America where retirees can earn a degree in golf! Coastal Carolina University is also located in Myrtle Beach for more traditional learning in retirement programs.

Transportation: Myrtle Beach has an International Airport which serves the area.

Travel and tourism: Retirement will never be boring with 60 miles of wide, soft sandy beaches, savory restaurants, live entertainment theaters and exciting nightlife, water sports galore, over 250 golf courses, cultural activities and historic sites, outlet malls, specialty boutiques, and flea markets, and best of all – fishing, fishing, and more fishing in salt or fresh water.


Originally called Pleasantburg, Greenville seems to live up to this previous appellation. Greenville is located in the northwest corner of South Carolina and has a population of 58,409. Retirees who love to golf will appreciate that Greenville has the only golf course in the world in which each hole was conceived by a different designer! Greenville offers a unique setting to venture out and explore the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains in any season.

Climate: Greenville’s mild, short winters, hot, humid summers, warm springs, and crisp autumns offer a nice variation in climate without extremes.

Cost of living: The cost of living in Greenville is very affordable, at 11% less than the national average. The average retirement home will cost approximately 17% less than the national average.

Colleges and Universities: Furman University is one of the nation’s premier undergraduate liberal arts colleges, and it features an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. In addition to the many courses that are offered during the OLLI academic year, special programs are offered that include social events, discussion groups, special interest groups, travel, and service opportunities.

Transportation: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport provides service by most major airlines including Southwest Airlines. Greenville Transit Authority runs the local bus system.

Travel and tourism: Greenville is a vibrant community that welcomes retirees to experience breathtaking views and Southern charm at its finest. Its diverse museums, thrilling outdoor recreation, shopping galore, and fine eateries will make retirement fun and interesting.


As the second most populous city in South Carolina, Charleston has a population of 120,083 residents. It is a city drenched in Southern charm, where retirees can stroll about admiring antebellum architecture, have long dinners on the veranda, and stop to smell the blooming jasmine. Charleston had its beginnings in 1670, and was known as one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance. It has become known as The Holy City due to the numerous steeples which dot the city’s skyline. Demonstrating a commitment to historic preservation, the city has recently invested in a number of municipal improvements. Fiscal Times has named Charleston to its top 10 list for places to retire.

Climate: Charleston has mild winters and hot, humid summers, but retirees had better be prepared for rain, as the area gets108 inches per year.

Cost of living: Slightly greater than the South Carolina average, the cost of living in Charleston is about on a par with the national average. Housing is spendy compared to the rest of South Carolina (59.7% greater than the South Carolina average), but only 1.8% greater than the national average.

Colleges and Universities: Charleston is home to the College of Charleston which should be fertile field for retirees who are interested in lifelong learning.

Transportation: The arrival of Southwest Airlines in March of 2011 gave Charleston greatly expanded service. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a very cool way to get from Point A to Point B across the Cooper River. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S., and has eight lanes and a 12-foot pedestrian and bicycle lane.

Travel and tourism: With good reason, Charleston is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the southeast. This is due in part to its rich historical heritage. Retirees can visit the site of the first shot fired in the Civil War, pretend they are Scarlett O’Hara or Rhett Butler as they tour an antebellum mansion, or honor our veterans as they climb aboard a WWII aircraft carrier.

South Carolina Retirement Summary: Retirees who love history and a climate that is mild and favors gardening and golfing will enjoy the affordable cost of living in South Carolina.

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