Cost of Living in South Carolina

Living in South Carolina is less expensive than it is on average across the U.S. as a whole. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost 8.9% less than they do on average nationwide. Compared with all other states, South Carolina has the 18th lowest overall cost of living.

In general, living in dense, urban metro areas is more expensive than living in more rural areas. South Carolina is home to eight metropolitan areas. The most expensive in the state is the Charleston-North Charleston metro area, where the cost of goods and services is 3.2% lower than the national average and 5.7% higher than the statewide average.

South Carolina Housing Costs

Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In South Carolina, the typical home is worth $154,800, $50,100 less than the national median home value of $204,900. Across the state, the median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $128,500, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $269,400.

The typical renter in South Carolina spends $868 a month on housing, $155 less than the $1,023 national median monthly rent. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the state is $727, while the typical rent for a unit with five or more bedrooms is $1,436.

Across the state, 31.1% of occupied homes are rented, less than the 36.2% national average and the 14th lowest renter rate of any state.

South Carolina Transportation Costs

Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In South Carolina, 91.8% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. On average, the typical motorist in the state drives 11,053 miles a year. Taking into account average fuel economy and the average cost of gas -- regular fuel cost an average of $1.98 a gallon in South Carolina in mid-2020 -- the average motorist in the state can expect to spend $902 on gas alone in one year.

Other transportation costs, like car insurance premiums, can vary by state. In South Carolina, the average car insurance premium is $1,270, less than the $1,517 national average, according to data from And according to data from the EPI, the average single adult in the state spends $10,192 a year on transportation.

South Carolina Health Care Costs

Out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums for health care -- assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage -- are relatively high in South Carolina. Average health care costs for a single adult in the state total $5,033 per year, compared to the national average of $4,266. For a family of four, average annual health care costs total $15,192 -- $2,242 more than the comparable national average of $12,950.

South Carolina Food Costs

Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on the overall cost of living in an area. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from state to state.

In South Carolina, a single adult spends an average of $3,080 on food annually, and a family of four spends $8,895 on average. For context, the nationwide average annual food expenditure is $3,240 for a single adult and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at home preparation.

South Carolina Child Care Costs

For families, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. The average annual cost of child care for a 4 year old child in South Carolina is $5,711, well below the national average of $8,903. Similarly, it costs an average of $9,116 to care for a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child per year in South Carolina compared to the national average of $15,853.

South Carolina Taxes

Few expenses vary as much from state to state as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll, the average adult working in South Carolina pays $6,218 annually in taxes -- slightly below the national average of $6,542.

Excluding federal taxes and incorporating state and local taxes such as property and sales taxes -- the state and local tax burden in South Carolina is lower than the average across the U.S. as a whole. Per capita state tax collections in South Carolina come out to $2,075 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.

Cost of Living by County or County Equivalent

Just as cost of living varies from state to state, it also varies from place to place within states. In South Carolina, Beaufort County, home to the town of Hilton Head Island, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four at $83,585 per year, well above the statewide average of $73,568 per year.

Meanwhile, Cherokee County is the least expensive place in South Carolina. The average annual cost of living for a family of four in the area is just $62,205, $11,362 less than it is across the state as a whole. Gaffney is the most populous community in Cherokee County.

Note that monetary figures are rounded to the nearest dollar and calculated differences may not always add up perfectly to the nearest dollar.

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