Everything You Need to Know When Moving to or Around Myrtle Beach & the South Carolina Coast
So you're thinking about moving to the South Carolina Coast? We get it. Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head are hotcakes right now. Some might say these places have it all—a rich history, welcoming people, excellent seafood, magnificent tropical beaches, outlet-style shopping, and a lot more.
But you also have a ton of questions on your mind. How is life on the South Carolina Coast? Where is the best place to live? Is it Myrtle Beach? Hilton Head? Or perhaps Charleston? What kind of pros and cons can I expect out of this decision? How much does it cost to live in towns across the South Carolina Coast? Moving to a new place is often a daunting experience. And, the size of South Carolina’s coast might not help your anxiety either. Out of the 5 million people that live in the Palmetto State, over a million people live along the coastal stretch.
To make sure your upcoming relocation is smooth and informed, we've prepared this moving guide that'll show you around Myrtle Beach and the South Carolina Coast.
Living in the South Carolina Coast: The Basics
Are you relocating to or around Myrtle Beach, Charleston or Hilton Head soon? Well, before you pack your bags, there are things you should know about the South Carolina Coast, like that it covers over 2,876 miles and has over 1.3 million residents.
Let’s focus on the three most popular cities along the coast:
Known as "The Grand Strand" to locals, Myrtle Beach has over 32,700 residents with a median age of 45.2 years. The median household income here is $43,200, which is a bit lower compared to the US average of $53,482. In 2019, Myrtle Beach was ranked the second-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country by the US Census Bureau. Not for the first time, but for the second time in a span of five years. More than 17,000 people relocated to Myrtle Beach between 2017 and 2018, representing a 3.8% growth.
Hilton Head Island
Myrtle Beach might be taking all the glory as far as living in the South Carolina Coast goes, but Hilton Head is definitely worth a shot. It's actually more populous than Myrtle Beach, with over 39,861 people calling the island home. Hilton Head's median household income is $73,972, which is considerably higher than the US average. In 2019, the median age of Hilton Head residents was 57.3 years and the population growth rate stood at less than 1%.
Aah, Charleston. It is easy to see why people have been flocking the 405.5 km2 metropolitan area, which actually doubles up as South Carolina's largest city. The population of Charleston is well over 135,257. The median household income here is $68,438, which is slightly higher than the national average but lower than Hilton Head's. Between 2017 and 2018, the picturesque city of Charleston saw a population increase of 1.04% (equating to 4,167 people).
Cost of Living
Thankfully, the South Carolina Coast is an affordable place to live, especially if you are keen to move to or around Myrtle Beach. The cost of living as a whole is 7% lower than the national average. For a bit more perspective, the cost of living index is almost the same as the South Carolina average and a LOT cheaper than cities like Anderson, Summerville, and Mount Pleasant.
Housing prices will vary along the South Carolina coast, however. In Charleston the median home cost is $316,500. In Myrtle Beach, the median home cost is much lower at $149,800 but in Hilton Head you'll pay closer to $430,000 for a home. Things such as utilities, health and transportation are in line with the US. averages, in all three coastal towns.
The Job Market
What kind of jobs are there in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Charleston, and the South Carolina Coast?
A large number of residents here find jobs in the healthcare, hospitality, and tourism sectors. The influx of travelers, especially during Summer, creates a variety of jobs for locals. Besides, a lot of Fortune 500 firms have headquarters at this end of South Carolina. Dell (Charleston), HCA Healthcare (Charleston & Myrtle), Booz Allen Hamilton (Charleston), Costco Wholesale (Myrtle), and Bay 10 Ventures (Hilton Head) are just a few of the many well-known that call the South Carolina Coast home.
Other popular employers in the South Carolina Coast include:
- Tidelands Health (Myrtle Beach)
- Grand Strand Regional Medical Center (Myrtle Beach)
- Grand Strand Hospital (Myrtle Beach)
- Hargray Communications Group (Hilton Head)
- Marriott International, Inc. (Hilton Head)
- MUSC (Charleston)
- Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston)
- Roper Hospital (Charleston)
While the South Carolina Coast boasts low business costs, not all sectors are thriving. Blue-collar and retail jobs have seen minimal growth. Don't let it discourage you, though; Hilton Head, for example, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole of South Carolina at only 2.9% (May 2021); the US average unemployment rate sits at 5.4% (July 2021) for comparison.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 28.8% of the people in Myrtle Beach hold Bachelor's degrees, and 88% have graduated high school. Hilton Head and Charleston have slightly-higher high school graduation rates at 95%, and approximately 55% of residents in each town hold bachelor's degrees.
Perhaps a little disappointing, South Carolina was ranked #42 (out of 50) by US News & World Report in terms of a college education. Despite the lower ranking, the South Carolina Coast is home to several highly respected colleges and public school districts.
Top Colleges in the Area:
- The Citadel (Charleston)
- College of Charleston
- Charleston Southern University
- Coastal Carolina University (Myrtle Beach)
- Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (Myrtle Beach)
- Horry-Georgetown Technical College Grand Strand Campus (Myrtle Beach)
Getting Around the South Carolina Coast
Getting around Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, or Charleston is fairly easy.
In Myrtle Beach, for instance, you can move around using the publicly funded buses that cover nearby cities, the Myrtle Beach International Airport, and the beach. These buses supplement the many private shuttles, private taxis, and cars/limos plying the area.
If you're sold out on relocating to Charleston, you won't have to worry about getting around the city either. The Charleston Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) remains the most convenient means of transport there. Just recently, the beachside city started replacing Dash Trolleys with buses. These buses are free to any resident and operate in downtown Charleston.
Where to Live in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head or Charleston?
Each of the three coastal towns have several living options to choose from. All feature diverse neighborhoods offering everything from seaside condos to historic single-family homes.
Here are some of the best areas in each town:
Carolina Forest (Myrtle Beach): For the golfing buff
Median home price - $260,000
Carolina Forest, perched north of US 501 between Myrtle Beach and Conway, is really where all the action happens. Surrounded by an award-winning golf course and just minutes from the Coastal Grand Mall, Carolina Forest is speckled with peaceful subdivisions and gated communities. You can enjoy living traditional in a classical colonial-style home at The Farm or choose from newly-built estates at Arrowhead Grand.
Socastee (Myrtle Beach): For families and established professionals
Median home value - $165,400
If you want something a little closer to the water then Socastee is the perfect place to settle down. A wide array of single-family home styles are available in this suburban neighborhood located on the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to the many restaurants, coffee shops, and highly-rated public schools located in Socastee, there are many parks, a nearby wildlife preserve and it is home to one of only 10 swing bridges in the state.
Downtown (Charleston): Where all the action happens
Median home value - $1,079,000
Downtown Charleston is perfect for individuals who want to be in the middle of everything. With a ton of shops, incredible historic sites, cobblestone walkways, posh bars, and world-class restaurants, this neighborhood is ideal for hipsters and young professionals. Be warned though—housing costs are higher here (as one would expect) if you want a lot of space. Smaller apartments and condos are available at a lower point.
James Island (Charleston): For families
Median home value - $300,600
Just across the Ashley River from Historic Downtown Charleston is James Island. This suburb of Charleston is primarily a residential development with larger, single-family homes offering families more space to spread out. Scenic marsh views and a close proximity to Charleston Harbor give this neighborhood a more rural feel while still being close to all that historic Charleston has to offer. Community parks and excellent schools make this an ideal location for families to settle in.
Harbor Town (Hilton Head): For shoppers and foodies
Median home price - $715,000
There's a lot to love about this beachside neighborhood. First of all, it surrounds The Sea Pines Resort's picturesque basin (say hello to beautiful mornings). It also features an extraordinary selection of home décor and home apparel, custom gift and craft shops, one-of-a-kind art galleries, and signature jewelry shops. But that's not all. The food here is nothing short of delectable. You'll find a variety of top-rated restaurants and casual outdoor cafes serving seafood, classic children's fare, perfectly prepared steak, grilled sandwiches, salads, and more. Above all, it's clean, safe, and well-kept. Due to the lack of schools, Harbor Town is probably ideal for retiring professionals or established professionals.
Moving to the South Carolina Coast: Pros and Cons
If you're still asking yourself, "Should I move to the South Carolina Coast?" the following points may help you come up with a good decision.
- Southern Charm & Hospitality - One pro of living in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, or Charleston is that the people here are super friendly and welcoming. You'll feel part of a community from the get-go, and the word "local" will make more sense than ever.
Here's what Charlie Rymer, a full-time resident of Myrtle Beach, had to say about living in this part of the Palmetto State, "Everyone knows I'm a southerner, and we have plenty of Old South charm in this area. We serve our tea sweet in these parts. It's interesting how well we southerners get along with visitors and transplants from ‘up north’. I think it's because we're all thrilled to be living in such a wonderful area."
- The Subtropical Beaches - Both Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beaches were ranked among the top 15 best beaches in South Carolina by US News & World Report. Saying that the beaches here are amazing would be an understatement. Myrtle Beach, in particular, is everyone's favorite—and it's easy to see why. In addition to 60 miles of beach, Myrtle Beach also features a slew of water activities (think: banana boating, jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, and more), a beachfront aquarium, and the stunning Family Kingdom Amusement Park.
- Low Gasoline Rates - Yup, you read that right. Myrtle Beach has some of the cheapest gas in the entire nation.
- The Food - The South Carolina Coast's food scene is simply unmatched. The delicacies here are as tasty as they are diverse. Check out Eater Carolina; they have an exclusive list of the 18 best Myrtle Beach restaurants.
- Weather - Weather in the South Carolina Coast can be a bit contrary. Yes, the summers are warm, but the winters are the complete opposite. The bottom line is that if you're moving to Myrtle Beach, be prepared for the ice-cold winters.
- Traffic - The South Carolina Coast is typically very accessible by road, with a one-way commute in Myrtle Beach, for instance, taking 16.5 minutes (way shorter than the US average of 26.4 minutes). But when tourists flock to the coast during summer, everything on the road comes to a standstill.
- Crime Rate - This is more or less expected given the massive number of tourists who visit South Carolina's expansive coast every year. Do your research on the town/neighborhood you're planning to move to and decide if it's safe for you and your family.
Make Your Move Stress-Free with the Help of College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving!
We can't wait to provide the highest quality services for your move to the Carolina Coast!
College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving can make your move to Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head or Charleston effortless. Our moving professionals have the expertise and experience to move you safer and quicker at affordable rates. Contact us for a free estimate for any of our services.