The rolling hills, gorgeous coastlines, and barrier islands of South Carolina have attracted many people here. For some, the beauty of the state with numerous beaches, lakes, and creeks have made them want to move here. Other than that, the Southeastern state’s simple way of life, scenic wonders, and rich culture is something you definitely can’t say no to.

Whether you want to explore the attractions of this state, settle with your family, or retire here, this small state has something to offer everyone. Although it’s the 23rd most populated state in the entire nation, there are several large cities here that you can consider moving to. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the 10 largest cities in South Carolina.

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Top 10 Largest Cities In South Carolina

  1. Charleston
  2. Columbia
  3. North Charleston
  4. Mount Pleasant
  5. Rock Hill
  6. Greenville
  7. Summerville
  8. Hilton Head Island
  9. Sumter
  10. Goose Creek

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1. Charleston

Charleston-SC-photo

City Overview

Charleston is the largest city in South Carolina and can be considered one of the oldest cities in the entire state. This gem resides on the Charleston Harbor along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. The city boasts of its historic architecture and beautiful beaches that have become popular tourist attractions.

The city is also recognized for its educational institutions that have a beautiful campus. Some of the prestigious schools and colleges that reside here are The College of Charleston, Trident Technical College, The Citadel, etc. Because of a unique blend of educational opportunities on a beautiful campus, The College of Charleston earned the reputation of being ‘The Most Beautiful Campus in the Country’ by the magazine Travel+Leisure.

Another reason that makes many youngsters want to move here is its booming economy. The city takes pride in its manufacturing, commercial shipping, and technology sectors that operate here. Some of the biggest employers here are Volvo, Boeing, and the Medical University of South Carolina. For getting around in the city, the Charleston Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is the public transportation system here that offers free shuttle services in the city.

An interesting thing about Charleston is that the people here are known to be very friendly and hospitable. So it won’t come to you as a surprise that it earned the title of ‘America’s Most Friendly City’ in the year 2011 by Travel+Leisure. Also, there’s no shortage of popular restaurants, historic places and sunny beaches in this wonderful city.

Upsides

The slow-paced life in the city with plenty of educational opportunities, attractions, and recreational activities makes it a perfect place to raise a family.

Downsides

The weather in Charleston can be unpredictable as there’s a threat of hurricanes and flooding especially in the designated zones of the city. So see to it that you look out for thunderheads in the sky, especially in summers.

Quick Facts

Population– 135,257
Median Value Of Home– $330,600
Median Rent– $1,257

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2. Columbia

City Overview

When speaking of the largest cities in South Carolina, the state capital of Columbia surely cannot be forgotten. It resides on the confluence of the Broad and Saluda rivers and is a part of both Richland and Lexington counties. You get to enjoy a warm climate, plenty of beaches, and tons of outdoor activities in this city. Right from music concerts, great food, adventurous parks, and exciting nightlife with karaoke and wine, this city has it all.

Another interesting thing to note is that the popular suburbs of Lexington and Blythewood are in close proximity of almost 25 minutes from Downtown Columbia. If you go towards the east of Downtown Columbia, you’re sure to be dazzled by the tree-lined streets, music festivals, thriving nightlife, and several shopping centers to explore here.

The city is also known for its diverse economy with several sectors of healthcare, pharmacy, electronics, and finance that operate here. To name a few Fortune 500 companies that call Columbia their home, Northwestern Mutual, Anthem, CBRE Group, IBM, GraingerEMCOR Group etc. are some leading industries that operate here.

Upsides

The city of Columbia is a great place to live when considering the cost of living. According to the data shared by BestPlaces, the COI (Cost Of Living Index) in Columbia is 84.3 which is lower than the U.S. national average of 100. So, in terms of affordability, Columbia is cheaper than the national average.

Downsides

One of the biggest downsides of Columbia is the increasing crime rate in the city. To give you an insight, as per the data shared by NeighborhoodScout, the violent and property crime rate here is 7.91 and 55.01 which is higher than the national median of 4 and 21 respectively.

Quick Facts

Population– 133,273
Median Value Of Home– $181,100
Median Rent– $933

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3. North Charleston

City Overview

North Charleston is known to be the third-largest city in South Carolina extending into the counties of Dorchester, Berkeley, and Charleston. Whether it’s about leading businesses, entertainment activities or beautiful neighborhoods, this city has it all. The beaches, art centers, lively dining, and amazing nightlife of North Charleston have attracted several people into moving here.

Let’s not forget that North Charleston is considered to be one of South Carolina’s leading industrial hubs especially when it comes to retail sales. The best thing about living in this city is that it’ll just take you around 20 minutes to reach the Charleston International Airport which is the largest in the entire state.

Some of the leading companies that operate here are Intertech Group, SAIC, Boeing, and AstenJohnson. There are several industrial hubs and small businesses growing in this city where you can explore several employment opportunities.

Upsides

In North Charleston, you’re sure to experience a city lifestyle with amazing restaurants, a growing economy, beautiful gardens, and several historic districts to explore.

Downsides

North Charleston is ranked among the top cities in South Carolina for its crime rates. There have been several reports of shootings, murders, assaults, and thefts in this city which is why your safety can be a major concern here.

Quick Facts

Population– 111,501
Median Value Of Home– $174,800
Median Rent– $1,051

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4. Mount Pleasant

City Overview

Mount Pleasant is one of South Carolina’s most popular and the fourth-largest city. It’s located in Charleston County towards the eastern side of Charleston Harbor and Wando River. If you plan to live here, you’ll probably be using the Ravenel Bridge a lot which is an eight-lane highway that connects the two cities of Mount Pleasant and Charleston.

You’ll find plenty of public schools in this city that have good rankings like, for example, the Wando High School which is known for its vast and beautiful campus. Neighborhoods like Old Village and Shem Creek are known for their exotic restaurants and beautiful parks.

For those wanting an active city lifestyle, the two famous beaches of Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island are in close proximity to this city. There are tons of parks, shopping centers, and theaters scattered throughout the city, ensuring that you’ll never get bored here.

Upsides

When it comes to educational institutions, facilities for children, and recreational spots like beaches and parks, Mount Pleasant surely ticks off all the boxes. Even youths wanting to explore the employment opportunities can try exploring the downtown and north areas of the city.

Downsides

One of the most common problems faced by residents of Mount Pleasant is the traffic problem in the city. The two main commuting routes of Ravenel Bridge and Highway 17 are known to have heavy traffic during peak hours.

Quick Facts

Population– 86,982
Median Value Of Home– $461,000
Median Rent– $1,629

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5. Rock Hill

City Overview

Rocky Hill is another popular city in South Carolina where one can get a small-town feel as well as a city vibe. This charming city is located in York County towards the northern part of South Carolina. Once a former mill town, Rocky Hill is now full of scenic locations, has a good standard of living, and offers lots of recreational activities in its parks.

An interesting thing about Rocky Hill is that it’s in close proximity to some of the popular cities of South Carolina. That means the most popular southeastern cities will be in easy reach for you. Just a 35-minute drive and you’ll reach the beautiful city of Charlotte from here. Speaking of other major cities, Columbia is just an hour away from the city whereas to Charleston, it’ll take you less than three hours.

The city has a diverse economy with manufacturing, retail trade, healthcare, and technology as the leading industries. To give you an insight of the top industries located here, Atlas Copco, 3D Systems, and Coroplast are a few global companies that operate here. All in all, this city is definitely thriving in terms of the job market.

Upsides

Rocky Hill is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities and various festivals that take place every year. You get to enjoy several watersports here and also participate in the most awaited four-day Christmasville festival of the city.

Downsides

Rocky Hill is known to have one of the highest crime rates in the entire U.S. The violent and property crime rate here is higher than the national average. If you’re planning to live here, you can consider safer areas around the city like Cherry Road, McConnells Highway, Newport, Ogden, etc.

Quick Facts

Population– 73,334
Median Value Of Home– $155,800
Median Rent– $967

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6. Greenville

City Overview

Greenville in South Carolina is known to be one of the friendliest cities in the entire state. The city is close to several popular beaches and mountains and has a booming downtown area that has attracted many people into moving here. This sixth-largest city of South Carolina nestles in Greenville County and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state.

For those who love outdoor activities, there are tons of things to do in Greenville. The Blue Ridge Mountains surround the city, so you’re sure to witness some amazing waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Even the forested areas of the city have lots of fun activities like camping and hiking. After sunset, when you visit the downtown area, there are plenty of restaurants that you can explore along with tons of music festivals that take place there.

One of the best things about Greenville is that it’s just halfway from the major cities of the south. To name a few, Charlotte, Atlanta, Knoxville, Huntsville, Charleston, and Savannah are in close proximity to this city. The city is also home to several Fortune 500 companies like Lockheed, BMW, 3M, GE, and Michelin.

Upsides

Greenville is known to have a subtropical climate and so you’ll get to experience warm weather throughout the year. You get to enjoy all four seasons in this wonderful city. No wonder why a lot of people are attracted to this city.

Downsides

The city of Greenville has a lot of traffic congestion, especially in the downtown area. Also, the city doesn’t really have a great transportation system, so unless you have your own vehicle, it’s going to be difficult for you to get around in the city.

Quick Facts

Population– 67,737
Median Value Of Home– $292,400
Median Rent– $984

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7. Summerville

City Overview

The city of Summerville resides in Dorchester County and a few parts of the city extend into Berkeley and Charleston counties. The city is surrounded by flower gardens and pine trees everywhere and hence is nicknamed ‘Flower Town In The Pines’. Are you a beach person? If yes, then you’ll be delighted to know that the city is close to several beaches like Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island, and Kiawah Island.

Location-wise, Summerville is in close proximity to the popular city of Charleston. Just a 40-minute drive from the city and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful city of Charleston. The residents of Summerville are known to have a laid-back lifestyle where you’ll encounter friendly smiling faces throughout the city.

Speaking of the city’s job market, the information technology, sales, marketing, advertising, and automotive industries dominate here. But one of the sectors that stands out is tourism as Summerville attracts a lot of tourists due to its stunning beaches and beautiful neighborhoods.

Upsides

Summerville is a treasure house of scenic beauty when it comes to flower gardens, pine trees, and beautiful rivers. You can enjoy fishing, boating, and hiking at some of the popular spots here or take a tour of beautiful parks in the city.

Downsides

One of the most common problems faced by the people living in Summerville is the tourist-laden traffic. If you take Main Street or US Highway 98, you’re sure to encounter traffic congestion.

Quick Facts

Population– 53,037
Median Value Of Home– $207,800
Median Rent– $1,108

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8. Hilton Head Island

City Overview

Whether it’s for the sunny beaches or the golf courses, Hilton Head Island is on the bucket list of many people. This city is a blend of a beautiful resort town and a suburban lifestyle. It is located in Beaufort County of South Carolina.

The weather in this city is pleasant and Hilton Head is known to have a humid subtropical climate. That’s why many people are flocking here to enjoy the sunny beaches and take up some adventurous activities there. When speaking of Hilton Head, the city’s golf clubs surely can’t be forgotten. The location of the city makes it a perfect place for golfing.

An interesting thing to note is that the city is at a distance of just 20 miles from Savannah. Also, the popular cities of Charlotte, North Carolina and Greenville are less than four hours away from this city. The city also boasts in its two important airports of Hilton Head Airport and Hilton Head International Airport.

Upsides

The city of Hilton Head has more than 250 restaurants So you won’t find any trouble quenching your cravings for seafood, Southern cuisine, or any other ethnic cuisines on this island.

Downsides

One of the downsides of Hilton Head is the heavy traffic, especially if you take the Hilton Head Bridge. That’s why we recommend you live on the island where commuting can be easy compared to the heavy traffic on the mainland.

Quick Facts

Population– 40,007
Median Value Of Home– $483,600
Median Rent– $1,271

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9. Sumter

City Overview

If you’re looking for a suburban vibe and prioritize space more than the density of cities, then Sumter is the place for you. The city resides in Sumter County in South Carolina. One of the reasons why most families are moving here is because of the prominent educational institutions like Sumter High School, Central Carolina Technical College, etc.

An interesting thing to note is that the city is home to Shaw Air Force Base that is a major contributor to the city’s overall economy. Tourism is another thriving industry in Sumter because of its music festivals, beautiful gardens, and golf courses. Other industries that dominate this city are manufacturing, agribusiness, and aviation.

Upsides

Sumter is a great place for people wanting to raise a family or for those who want to retire. The city has good schools and plenty of recreational parks for you to explore, like for example, the Swan Lake Iris Gardens.

Downsides

Sumter is known to have a high crime rate especially when it comes to violent crimes, which have been increasing over the past few years.

Quick Facts

Population– 39,800
Median Value Of Home– $138,900
Median Rent– 833

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10. Goose Creek

City Overview

Offering a blend of city lifestyle and the amenities a town can offer, Goose Creek in South Carolina is surely worth considering moving to. It’s located in Berkeley County and is known for its small-town character and a thriving business community.

Many families are moving here because of the abundance of recreational parks, golf courses, and good quality of life in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. One of the best things about living here is that the popular city of Charleston is roughly 18 miles from here. So it’ll take you around 24 minutes from Goose Creek to reach there. To name some of the top-notch companies that are here, SAIC, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Verizon, and Boeing are a few of them.

Upsides

Because of the numerous recreational parks, good education, and plenty of outdoor activities, Goose Creek is considered to be one of the best places in South Carolina for raising a family. That’s the reason it earned a spot in Money Magazine’s 2020 list for ‘Best Places To Live In America’.

Downsides

Summers can be really hot and oppressive in Goose Creek wherein the temperature almost reaches up to 90°F.

Quick Facts

Population– 41,978
Median Value Of Home– $188,300
Median Rent– $1,307

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Who Is South Carolina Ideal For?

The state of South Carolina is recognized for its diverse culture and economy, gorgeous coastline and beaches, and stunning sceneries. So if you’re moved by the Southern hospitality and outgoing nature of people, you’re most likely to love moving to this beautiful state.

See also: Moving to South Carolina

Final Thoughts

South Carolina has lots of scenic natural landscapes and lies in close proximity to the mountains, so this makes it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Are you looking for an active lifestyle? Then South Carolina is the right place as you not only get to embrace the sunny beaches here but also seek opportunities in its thriving job market.

Some things you can’t escape in this city are the occurrences of hurricanes, especially in the months from June to November, and thunderstorms from August to early October. But then again, there’s no place like this where you have beaches, great cuisines, and diverse cities.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly neighborhood, then you can consider living in areas like Dillon, Fountain Inn, Bennettsville, etc. Otherwise, if you want to be near the industrial hub of the state, then Charleston and Columbia are two major cities you can consider moving to. Now that you have a good idea of the offerings of each of these cities, we bet you can make a better choice.

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FAQs

What Are The 10 Largest Cities In South Carolina?

The 10 largest cities in the state of South Carolina are as follows:

  1. Charleston
  2. Columbia
  3. North Charleston
  4. Mount Pleasant
  5. Rock Hill
  6. Greenville
  7. Summerville
  8. Hilton Head Island
  9. Sumter
  10. Goose Creek

What Is The 2nd Largest City In South Carolina?

The city of Columbia, which is the state capital, is the 2nd-largest city in South Carolina. There are almost 133,273 people living in this city.

What Is The Largest City In South Carolina By Population?

Charleston is the largest city in South Carolina in terms of population with almost 135,257 residents living in the city.

What Is The Nickname Of South Carolina?

South Carolina is also most commonly referred to as the ‘Palmetto State’. The sabal palmetto on the state flag represents Colonel Moultrie’s defence of the palmetto log-fort in Sullivan’s Island against the British fleet in 1776.

What Is South Carolina Famous For?

South Carolina is famous for its beautiful beaches, historic places, golf courses, and plenty of recreational parks spread throughout the state. Other than that, the state is famous for some of its major industrial hubs like Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Greenville, etc.

See also: Best Cross Country Movers