You may base your decision to move to a new place on a pros and cons list or simply decide to trust your gut feeling. But even when you've narrowed down your choices to a single state, you may find you still have plenty of options. In South Carolina, in particular, coastal and inland or even mountainous metro areas can mean completely different lifestyles, requiring a few more choices to wade through before you can finally call a new city in the Palmetto State home.
Regardless of where you finally land in South Carolina, you'll never find your new hometown lacking in Southern flare. With a population of about 5.08 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina is certainly not the most crowded state in the U.S., but with the 23rd largest population in the country, it's not the least populated, either.
Out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., four are located in South Carolina. Based on information used to calculate the Best Places to Live in the U.S. ranking -- including cost of living, job market, quality of high school education and desirability, among other factors -- we've compiled all the details to help you determine which major South Carolina metro area is right for you.
Here are the best places to live in South Carolina:
-- Myrtle Beach.
4. Myrtle Beach
Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 432,772
Median Home Price: $181,800
Median Annual Salary: $35,650
If a resort town sounds ideal to you, Myrtle Beach may be the right choice. Located on the northern end of South Carolina's coast, Myrtle Beach is at least a 90-minute drive to other major South Carolina metro areas such as Charleston or Columbia. Wilmington, North Carolina, is within reach, too. This area's beach town atmosphere draws in many residents looking for a slower pace. Popular among retirees, Myrtle Beach's median age is 46.5 years. Myrtle Beach is also the fastest-growing metro area by population out of the 125 places on the list. Between 2013 and 2017, the area's population increased by 17.42% due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 67
Metro Population: 808,377
Median Home Price: $144,192
Median Annual Salary: $43,840
South Carolina's capital city is centrally located in the state and ranks No. 67 on the overall Best Places to Live list. While Columbia doesn't offer the picturesque landscapes of other metro areas on the list, the relatively low cost of living makes life here much easier. Columbia-area residents spend just 22.5% of the median annual household income on housing, which includes median monthly mortgage payments, median rental payments and property taxes.
Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 45
Metro Population: 744,195
Median Home Price: $246,408
Median Annual Salary: $44,970
Ranking No. 45 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Charleston is a popular vacation destination when warm weather, time on the beach and a little bit of history are on the to-do list. Charleston is best known for its historic homes and cobblestone streets, but the metro area also includes nearby islands such as Kiawah Island, Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms, which all offer resort living and beach access. In a survey of 2,000 U.S. residents that asked where in the country they would prefer to live, Charleston ranked No. 30 out of the 125 most populous metro areas on the list for desirability.
Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 22
Metro Population: 872,463
Median Home Price: $172,067
Median Annual Salary: $43,230
If the coast or state capital don't quite appeal to you, Greenville is an option that will have you living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The most populous metro area of the four in South Carolina, the Greenville area includes cities like Spartanburg, Anderson, Greenwood and Mauldin. Greenville's lower cost of living also shows how moving inland can reduce housing costs, with area residents spending 21.44% of the median household income on mortgage or rent payments and property taxes.