You won't find skyscrapers or gridlock anywhere along South Carolina's 187-mile shoreline. What you will find are active adult communities surrounded by palmetto trees, white sandy beaches, and cities rich in history and Southern charm.
The pace is slower here amid the coastal towns and resorts. Much of the region is made up of South Carolina's Low Country, whose character and cuisine have been shaped by European, African, Native American and Caribbean influences. Pre-Civil War architecture offers a treasure trove for history buffs as well as those who like the thrill of a good ghost story—paranormal walking tours are popular throughout the Low Country, especially in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia.
The Southeastern climate is subtropical, which brings hot summers, mild winters, and humidity year-round. March sees the most rain, while November tends to be dry. The coast is sometimes in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes but snow is rare, keeping mainly to the mountains.
Temperate weather and the laid-back lifestyle have long made South Carolina a favorite destination among retirees. In fact, the United States Census Bureau reports that "the Carolinas were home to four of the nation's 20 fastest-growing areas between 2013 and 2014." These include Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head Island.
Myrtle Beach sits along the Grand Strand and its 60 miles of uninterrupted beachfront. Water recreation, world-class dining, amusement parks, and golf courses lure an estimated 14 million visitors every year. During the offseason, life settles down for more than 300,000 permanent residents, when it's easier to reserve a tee time or book a reservation at a favorite restaurant. Several 55+ active adult communities have made their home here, including Myrtle Trace and Lakeside Crossing in Conway, Cameron Village in Myrtle Beach, and Seasons at Prince Creek West in Murrells Inlet.
About 95 miles to the south, Charleston is well-known for its friendly vibe, cultural attractions, and tree-lined, cobblestone streets that take you past some of the most beautiful antebellum architecture in the region. The city maximizes its views of the Atlantic with well-maintained piers and wharves that are ideal for a casual stroll — and if all that walking makes you hungry, you're in luck because Charleston also prides itself on an iconic, award-winning restaurant scene.
For those who are thinking about relocating here, you'll find several active adult properties to choose from. Nearby Summerville, for example, is home to the Four Seasons at The Lakes of Cane Bay and Cresswind Charleston, while Liberty Cottages at Park West is a bit closer to the shore in Mount Pleasant.
Hilton Head Area
Hilton Head Island anchors the southernmost portion of the coast. Premier golf clubs and courses are a major draw, but the island has something for everyone: boating, fishing, tennis, biking, hiking and lighthouse tours are just some of the endless recreational opportunities. Fripp Island is another option, offering many of the same amenities but in a quieter setting.
Also off the beaten path is Bluffton, recommended by MarketWatch as a less pricey retirement alternative to Hilton Head that's just over the bridge. A number of 55+ active adult properties are located nearby, like Hampton Lake and Sun City Hilton Head in Bluffton, Hilton Head Lakes in Hardeeville, and Hilton Head Plantation on the island itself. Generally, the cost of living in the state trends below the national average (by about 8%) though it can be higher along the coast.
Retirees and other active seniors who are headed for warmer climes will want to consider coastal South Carolina for its relaxed lifestyle, outdoor recreation, history, and Southern hospitality.