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“Hey, y’all!” Expect to encounter this down-home greeting again and again in the South, but especially in South Carolina, which claims to have originated the phrase. With a perpetually relaxed lifestyle, this state puts the “south” in southern hospitality!
The Palmetto State (nicknamed for the native sabal palm) encompasses 32,020 square miles and its highest elevation is a scant 350-feet above sea level. The land is often referred to as the “Lowcountry” to denote its lack of peaks. Although remarkably, Realm’s data analysis shows that no homes recently listed for sale are located in a flood zone (nor in a wildfire zone).
The state is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the southwest side by Georgia (across the Savannah River.) It is primarily known for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and historic districts. As the first state to secede from the Union, South Carolina kicked off the skirmishes that would evolve into the Civil War. The first shots of that conflict were fired by cadets at the famous Citadel military academy in Charleston, attempting to halt the progress of a Union Army ship delivering supplies to Fort Sumter. The fort would soon become the site of bloody conflicts between Confederate and Union soldiers, inspiring Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star Spangled Banner,” the reunited country’s national anthem.
Originally a slave-owning state, South Carolina’s primary products were cotton and tobacco. While the state maintains strong agricultural ties, today it produces a wide range of textiles, as well as aircraft and automotive parts, paper products, and chemicals. There is a focus on tourism, which includes both historical sites and contemporary outdoor activities. If you’re looking for nature escapes, you’ll want to check out Congaree National Park. Located just 18 miles from the state capital of Columbia, offers more than 26,000 acres to explore, including the country’s largest old growth bottomland hardwood forest.
South Carolina has many well-respected post-secondary educational institutions, including the University of South Carolina in Columbia; Clemson University, a research university founded in 1889; The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, a state-supported college best known for its Corps of Cadets program; and Claflin University, the oldest historically Black college in the state.
Much of southern hospitality revolves around food, and South Carolina claims a lot of firsts. Among the favorite foods introduced in the state: sweet tea, barbecue, boiled peanuts, and deviled eggs. There are dozens more ubiquitous Southern dishes that South Carolina puts its unique spin on, and you’ll find them served in both restaurants and private homes. If you go hungry while visiting the state it will be by choice because every Southern host will do their best to fill your belly!
Unlike many other locales, South Carolina does not have a large variety of home styles. Builders tend to stick with the tried and true, adapting basic architecture to match popular trends rather than redesigning standards. Data collected by Realm shows that most homes in the state were built in 2006, which is great news for homeowners who want that vintage feel without the accompanying headaches.
The climate in South Carolina is temperate, encouraging homeowners to spend lots of time in their outdoor spaces. Accordingly, the data analyzed by Realm reveals that the most popular features in the South Carolina housing market included decks, mentioned in 13,387 recent real estate listings, and patios, with 13,366 mentions. Swimming pools were also popular, with 13,330 mentions. The semi-tropical weather includes high humidity with frequent rain, and semi-frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. Homes in the state are well-suited to the local conditions, built on raised foundations to protect the flooring from excess moisture.
The three most common home styles in the South Carolina housing market include plantation style homes, Lowcountry cottages, and Single Style homes. Plantation style homes are frequently two or three stories above a raised foundation, with deep porches stretching across the front of the home. Most windows are flanked by large shutters that not only provide decoration, but also protect the glass from the sometimes harsh coastal weather.
Lowcountry cottages feature a first-floor kitchen at the core of the home and many windows to take advantage of natural light. These homes usually have front and back porches, with the spacious back porch often screened to protect against sun and insects.
Single Style homes are concentrated in Charleston, where the design originated. When Charleston was founded it was a walled city with narrow subdivided lots. In order to make the best use of each lot, the homes were built “sideways,” with porches and front doors facing the side of the lot instead of the street. At first glance, it seems like a peculiar design, but it’s truly clever when you consider that each room in these narrow homes spans the width of the house, making the interior feel spacious instead of cramped. With homes situated close together, privacy fencing was a necessity, confirming Realm’s data analysis. Fencing was the most popular amenity in the South Carolina housing market, mentioned in a whopping 19,474 home listings.
Are homes affordable in South Carolina?
Compared to many areas of the country, homes in South Carolina are very affordable. In September 2021, the median home value was about $241,300, although in the more populous areas, such as Charleston, the median home value was considerably higher, coming in around $429,400. Overall, housing prices were about 26% lower in 2020 than the national average. As of November 2021, home values have increased by 18.7%.
Is South Carolina a good place to retire?
South Carolina is known to be tax-friendly to retirees. Social Security income is not taxed, and withdrawals from retirement accounts are taxed at a flat rate of 5.25%. The state provides special provisions on property taxes for homeowners who are 65 or older and who have resided in the state for at least one year. State sales tax rates are low and according to the state’s Department of Revenue, individual income tax rates vary from 0% - 7%. The cost of living is generally at or slightly below the national average, although in some areas (Charleston), it can be as much as 11% higher. Collectively, these economic advantages mean that retirement dollars stretch farther and that you can afford a higher value home and enjoy a better all-around lifestyle.
What is the most affordable beachside community in South Carolina?
The state is bursting with beautiful beachside towns, but some of them can be pricey. Charleston is gorgeous and has an amazing historical legacy, but it is not cheap to live there. Better choices include Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, or Morehead City. However, Murrells Inlet often ranks high among places to live in South Carolina. A former fishing village, it is just 15 minutes from the bustling tourist town of Myrtle Beach and features lovely marshlands, wooded areas, and a strong healthcare system. As of October 2021, the median home price was $342,000. It is also home to Brookgreen Gardens, often cited as one of the top 10 gardens in the country.
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