Myrtle Beach vs. Charleston: Which South Carolina Retirement Spot Is for You?

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

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A side-by-side image of Myrtle Beach, SC and Charleston, SC.

6 minute read

What You’ll Gain From Reading This Article: Readers gain valuable insights into retirement options in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, detailing their attractions, health care facilities, cost of living, and 55+ communities.


Ready to retire to South Carolina? You have two great options offering you the comforts, conveniences, and experiences of 55+ living: Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Both are on the coast and not too far from each other, but what they offer is a little different.

Colorful winter sky during sunset at the Myrtle Beach State Park.

Found along the beautiful Grand Strand coast, Myrtle Beach is a destination of both fun and affordability. Historically, it doesn’t offer much unless you start with the 1960s. This area began attracting attention along the East Coast and, in the last two decades, caught the eye of the entire country.

“One hidden gem about the Myrtle Beach area that many non-locals might not be aware of is its significant bird-watching community. The region’s coastal and inland habitats attract a variety of bird species, making it a haven for bird enthusiasts.”

Brendan D’Anna, 55places.com Patner Agent

The Myrtle Beach area is an accumulation of beaches, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy over 60 miles of shoreline. Several state parks are along this coastline, and many public access walkways are peppered through hotels, resorts, and public areas. There are 55+ communities within the city limits and on the outskirts of county property. These communities offer easy access to recreational activities, medical services, and local restaurants.

Health Care Options

For Myrtle Beach, there has been a significant shift in health care names. This includes the McLeod Hospital System on the North Strand, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in the heart of Myrtle Beach, and Tidelands Health Services on the South Strand. These health care systems have grown substantially. They’re also just a quick trip away from the most prominent 55+ communities in the area.

55+ Communities in Myrtle Beach

Over the last decade, the Myrtle Beach area has seen a rise in 55+ communities, attracting more retirees. These communities have homeowners’ associations (HOA) that facilitate a low-maintenance lifestyle and maintain resort-style amenities. The most common 55+ communities include:

In most of these communities, you can access pools, recreation centers, walkways, and tennis and pickleball courts. The home sizes range from bungalows to large estates, so you can find a floor plan that fits your preferences. All these communities are within minutes of health care facilities and just a few miles from the beach. 

The Waterfront Park Pineapple Fountain at night in Charleston, South Carolina.

Further down the coast is a larger and more historic area of the state. The rich history that Charleston has to offer includes numerous historic buildings in the downtown area and local historical sites. Also, several festivals bring the community together and attract visitors throughout the year. Residents enjoy many entertainment options, such as the North Charleston Coliseum. Additionally, you’ll have access to popular state parks and many shopping opportunities.

“Charleston is renowned for providing some of the best medical care in South Carolina, and we boast top-rated master planned communities, ensuring a high quality of life for our residents.”

Lauren Riportella, 55places.com Partner Agent

Health Care Throughout the City

If you live in Charleston, you’ll have access to some of the most well-known hospital systems in the state. This includes the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), RoperHospital, and the East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. This gives 55+ residents easy access to some of the most selective specialists in the state. 

55+ Communities in Charleston

Charleston has grown with its 55+ communities. Like Myrtle Beach, many 55+ communities in Charleston have top-notch amenities, offering several recreation facilities and standard home maintenance. Also, this is ideal if you want to spend less time on home maintenance and more time at the beach! Some of the most popular 55+ communities in the area are:

These 55+ communities are designed with seasoned residents in mind, making each day easy, convenient, and better than the last. They’re spread out throughout the city and the suburb of Mount Pleasant. Some are closer to the beach, while others are tucked away in a quieter corner of the city.

“The Charleston area offers numerous advantages for 55+ homebuyers. From state tax breaks and great weather to proximity to an international airport and some of the top-rated restaurants in the nation, the area provides an exceptional living experience.”

Gary Riportella, 55places.com Partner Agent
A row of oceanfront rentals on a sunny day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In South Carolina, you can expect a lower cost of living, especially if you’re from the Northeast or Midwest area. About a decade ago, Charleston was a little more expensive to live in than Myrtle Beach. However, the growth of the Grand Strand since then has elevated the cost of living, making both areas comparable. Looking for an in-town home in Myrtle Beach or Charleston? You’ll pay a bit more than in the suburbs. This is especially true for property taxes and home values.

The skyline over the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina.

The biggest difference you’ll notice between Myrtle Beach and Charleston is the sheer size of each area. While Myrtle Beach is a pretty big destination, it’s still relatively small compared to Charleston. You’ll have access to your immediate needs and comforts, but some top-tier shopping or medical specialists may be a trip to Charleston. Living in Charleston means you have all those resources, but you’ll have at least three times the population to share this with. 

If you want to retire in the Palmetto State, you can’t go wrong with either Myrtle Beach or Charleston. Both areas are beautiful representations of the state, but they have some differences. Some 55+ homebuyers want a slower-paced lifestyle, and Myrtle Beach can offer that. Others want the entertainment and amenities of a large city, and that’s where Charleston comes in. No matter which you choose, you’ll experience some of the best scenery, hospitality, and weather the state offers. 

If you have more questions or want access to additional resources for your next home purchase, contact us today!

Discover what’s next.

To learn more information or connect with a real estate expert, contact us today.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

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