People dining outside a restaurant in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort, SC

11 Best Small Towns In South Carolina For Retirees

If you are looking forward to retiring, chances are, you are scoping for a relatively quiet place — unfilled with rush and chaos — yet conveniently close to needful amenities and not far removed from civilization. You need a safe town where you don't have to worry about burglary, motor vehicle theft, or pickpocketing. Plus, it should provide access to nature's sights and sounds, where one can wander through the woods, sink ankles in some warm sand, and enjoy magical sunsets. Fortunately, the Palmetto State,South Carolina, boasts a delightful array of small, charming towns, many of which meet or exceed these expectations. If you are looking to retire soon, discover the 11 best small towns in South Carolina for retirees.


The Kroeger Marine Construction, Seneca, South Carolina
The Kroeger Marine Construction, Seneca, South Carolina. Image credit Cheri Alguire via Shutterstock

Seneca is a rural mountain town of about 9,000 residents. It is located in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains — on the southern shores of Lake Keowee. Once a busy railroad town, today, Seneca, because of its proximity to Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee, and Lake Jocassee, as well as several rivers, including Chattooga River, is a water lover's paradise and a hot cake with vacationers seeking outdoor adventure and heart-warming, waterfront views.

The town's median home value is more than $70,000 lower than the national estimate, perhaps the reason 59% of the town's residents own homes and are not renting. Moreover, an impressive 35% of the town's population is aged 55 years and above, which means meeting like-minded individuals is not off the charts. As to its strategic location, retiring here means you will be in a mall in about half an hour (Greenville and Atlanta are within easy reach) — and at a glimmering lake in an equal amount of time.

Murrell's Inlet

The long wooden pier looking inwards at at Murrell's Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The long wooden pier looking inwards at at Murrell's Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Murrell's Inlet is a South Carolina charmer of about 8,000 residents, which, for its laid-back ambiance and small-town feel, is a much-sought-after destination with seniors. The town lies along U.S. Highway 17 just north of Pawleys Island . If your ideal retirement is unhurried life and delicious food, Murrell's Inlet will make for a great choice.

This town is known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina," and for its variety of seafood offerings, will see you aging like fine wine, particularly if you are a self-confessed marine life connoisseur. Expect an upscale, suburban environment in a town Niche ranks as the best place to retire in South Carolina. The median home value in Murrell's Inlet is about $44,000 above that of the country, yet about 8 in 10 residents own their homes. But wait for the clincher: Seniors, 55 years and above, make up an impressive 56% of the town's population. Here's your chance, therefore, if looking to plot memorable adventures with like-minded souls. Finally, the Marsh Walk can make for an awesome early-morning routine and is a beautiful spot that defies superlatives.


Downtown street in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Downtown street in Beaufort, South Carolina. Image credit Stephen B. Goodwin via Shutterstock

French for "Beautiful Fort," beauty is writ large on this top-rated South Carolina charmer, wildly popular with seniors from across the nation. For starters, Beaufort's weather is so nice, it may have been a unique celestial prescription. While once in a while a hurricane will appear, and the town will get uncomfortably humid, you should expect the weather to be delightfully nice and warm — and to enjoy a cooling breeze — even when it gets too hot.

If you don't mind fresh-from-the-water seafood, the pleasurably flat biking trails (ideal for seniors), the faces that seem to consistently wear smiles and grins, the proximity to a literal paradise by the name of Hunting Island, the closeness to both Charleston and Savannah, and some (reassuring) military presence, Beaufort may just be your best retirement destination. No need to mention the fact Beaufort's demographic largely consists of similarly-aged folks since about 1 in 3 is a senior aged 55 years and above.

Hilton Head

The scenic marina at Hilton Head, South Carolina.
The scenic marina at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

If you love golf, and enjoy teeing an afternoon away, amid some of nature's most heart-melting sceneries, including pretty beaches and moss-covered live oaks, you will fall in love with Hilton Head, a town of about 38,000 residents that seniors often do not get enough of. America’s Favorite Island, according to Conde Nast Traveler, is a nature-wrapped bastion of numerous attractions and outdoor-themed experiences. Up to 3 preserves are on the island. These include the 600-acre Sea Pines Nature Preserve, which, for its outdoor adventure opportunities, can make one occupied every weekend.

Besides, the Sea Pines Shell Ring is the oldest known archaeological site on Hilton Head Island — and is an evocative venue worth exploring. Finally, since seniors (those aged 55 years and above) comprise 57% of the town's population, every second person you meet at Hilton Head is likely to be a fellow retiree with whom you can share stories about where you were when you first heard of Kennedy's assassination or Nixon's resignation.

Surfside Beach

Surfside Beach Shorline
Surfside Beach Shoreline, By BullDawg2021 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina's Grand Strand is often considered among the most delicious spots for retirement in the state. The problem, however, is that most people just think of Myrtle Beach, and neglect, criminally, other options, particularly Surfside Beach. Think of Surfside Beach as a less-touristy, more laid-back version of Myrtle Beach. The fact it is called "Family Beach" speaks to the town's retirement appeal. Retirement at Surfside Beach involves sliding into flip flops and taking leisurely strolls amid sumptuous, waterfront views every morning or evening.

Traipsing through the Hudson's Surfside Flea Market is often another addictive pastime — and comes with the chance to pick some unique antique. Moreover, 44% of the town's residents are aged 55 years and above, implying the chance to roll with a like-minded crowd. That said, the best part about Surfside Beach could be its friendly, kind, and respectful residents.


Historic buildings in Georgetown, South Carolina
Historic buildings in Georgetown, South Carolina, via Andrew F. Kazmierski /

How about a retirement life where days settle into a breezy, swinging rhythm, time glides softly and sweetly, days climax into magical sunsets, and there is a complete absence of urgency? Georgetown, North America’s first settlement, is smack in the middle of South Carolina's "Hammock Coast," a chain of 6 towns immediately south of Myrtle Beach.

As a senior, your evening routine will involve sliding into flip flops then strolling on the boardwalk and onto the 37-block historic district where beautiful brick facades and cute, little stores constantly redefine charm. Once in a while, you will enjoy the company of alligators at the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. Alternatively, since Georgetown County once boasted the wealthiest per capita in the former colonies, studying the region's history at the Rice Museum or the South Carolina Maritime Museum — may shed light on some hitherto unknown aspects of the town — and keep you informed.


Interstate highway (I-85) rest area near Anderson, South Carolina
Interstate highway (I-85) rest area near Anderson, South Carolina, via Fang Deng /

As a senior, you may want to be part of the approximately 29,500 residents who call Anderson home and enjoy its many delightful offerings. A pioneer in the use of hydroelectric power, Anderson is no stranger to innovation. Known as the Friendliest City in South Carolina, Anderson, on that moniker alone, can make for an awesome retirement home. If you include the fact that it is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and provides access to Lake Hartwell, one of the largest recreation lakes in the Southeast, its retirement appeal becomes unassailable.

Besides, Anderson's range of medical facilities is quite impressive — as are its retiree resources, including the Anderson County Senior Citizens Program. Once in a while, escaping to the Sadlers Creek State Park will be something to look forward to — as you immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature.

North Myrtle Beach

Cherry Grove Beach in North Myrtle Beach
Cherry Grove Beach in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, By Melikamp - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Think of North Myrtle Beach as the calmer, blushful sister of Myrtle Beach — yet with nearly all the amenities. A beautiful beach, playful, ocean air, and friendly faces, conspire to make this South Carolina treasure a much-sought-after retirement destination. Since North Myrtle Beach is well known as a vacation hot cake, you will enjoy the chance of meeting new people from every corner of the world and striking conversations. Yet the town's all-season social scene will just be as meaningful, if not more. This is because seniors comprise almost 60% of the town's population. This means plotting adventures and sharing similar experiences with like-minded friends will be a breeze.

North Myrtle Beach is also ideal for seniors seeking high-end neighborhoods. The town's median home value stands at $293,500, which is higher than the national estimate by about $40,000, yet not really off the charts. To showcase North Myrtle Beach's retirement appeal, about 4 in 5 of the town's residents are homeowners.

Tega Cay

Tega Cay city hall in Tega Cay, South Carolina.
Tega Cay city hall in Tega Cay, South Carolina, via SSE Photography /

Encircled by the glimmering waters of Lake Wylie, a blue space gem that offers epic waterfront views, retiring in Tega Cay, Polynesian for “Beautiful Peninsula,” should be a dream of every senior. Tega Cay Golf Club, which spans more than 200 acres, has once been voted the number 1 golf course in the Fort Mill area. For golf enthusiasts, this property may imperceptibly become a second home.

One of the Best Place To Raise a Family, Tega Cay has been attracting interest for a while. To show residents intend to make Tega Cay their permanent home, an impressive 85% of the town's population are homeowners. Perhaps this demand explains why the town's median home value is about $150,000 more than the national estimate. Other factors that make Tega Cay appealing is its safety and the fact about 29% of the town's population is made up of folks in the senior age bracket.


Aerial view of Camden, South Carolina
 Aerial view of Camden, South Carolina

A small town of just about 8,200 residents, Camden, a laid-back town that sits along the scenic banks of the Wateree River, is another retirement favorite that seniors should take notice of. Located a convenient 20 minutes from Columbia by car, Camden is close to all the stuff one may need from a big city, without having to endure any rush, noise, or chaos.

For history lovers, it should be enough that Camden is South Carolina's oldest inland city. Aside from more than 60 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, other places of interest include a revolutionary war site, South Carolina Equine Park (popular for horseback riding), and the picturesque Goodale State Park, which is best explored with a paddle and small boat. Here's the truth. For seniors who enjoy history, living in Camden is something that brings the past back to life, and will be quite an evocative experience. What's more? 40% of the town's residents are seniors aged 55 years and above.


Aerial view of Bluffton, South Carolina.
Aerial view of Bluffton, South Carolina.

There are many reasons every senior should be singing about Bluffton. And it is not just food (think of kick-ass oysters) — even if Bluffton provides what could be Lowcountry's best seafood. Bluffton boasts a favorable, subtropical climate, complete with relatively mild winters, is located a convenient 10 miles from Hilton Head Airport, is minutes away from pet-friendly beaches, and features a walkable downtown area so that seniors do not have to worry about the constant whirl of cars, and has a river that meanders through it — the picturesque May River.

To show Bluffton's residents could be reluctant to leave, 81% of the town's population are homeowners. Plus, seniors, those aged 55 years and above, make up 29% of the town's population. You will be sitting with like-minded friends and reminiscing about the good old days — while looking forward to a future filled with hope and promise.

The Takeaway 

Picking the 11 best small towns in South Carolina for retirement is no walk in the park. The Palmetto State, as South Carolina is called, is star-studded with a delightful array of small, charming towns, most of which boast heart-melting waterfront views, an enticing laid-back atmosphere, and access to amenities, including top-class medical facilities. Yet, if a choice is to be made, gems such as Beaufort, French for Beautiful Fort, Camden, South Carolina's oldest inland city, and Seneca, a well-known water lover's paradise, can neverm iss from any list. 

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