When it comes time to retire, many people reevaluate where they live. After all, leaving the workforce is an opportunity to shake things up and go after the lifestyle you’ve always wanted. But before you move, it’s smart to do a little bit of extra research. That way, you can check and make sure your budget will support your preferred destination. Whether you’re getting close to retirement or simply enjoy planning ahead, here’s what you need to know to retire well in South Carolina.
Cost of Living
At times, assessing an area’s affordability can be a bit challenging. However, by looking at the cost of living scores for a state, you can get a basic idea fairly quickly.
With cost of living scores, you can see how states compare to the national average as well as each other. For simplicity’s sake, the national average is always reflected as 100. When a score is above that mark, it means the state is more expensive than average. With a score under 100, the opposite is actually true.
In South Carolina, the cumulative cost of living score is 94.2, putting the state just a tad below the national average. When you take a closer look at individual categories, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Groceries and utilities are above average, coming in at 101.8 and 105.0, respectively. On the other side, transportation has a score of 93.5, while healthcare comes in at 95.6.
One spot where South Carolina really stands out from the crowd is housing. In that category, the state has a score of 80.1, putting it well below the national average.
The low housing costs are also reflected in South Carolina’s average home value, which sits at $220,940. That’s far below the national average of $287,148, showcasing just how affordable a home can be in the Palmetto State.
While you may think that the lower home value means there is a housing quality issue, that isn’t always the case. Instead, it often means that similar properties have lower price tags in South Carolina than they do in an area that has pricing nearer to the national average. It’s a mark of affordability, not necessarily declining quality.
When it comes to points that many retirees overlook by mistake, taxes are often a big one. How much you’ll need to pay to cover your taxes has a substantial impact on your budget. After all, you can’t avoid paying what you owe.
By looking at how taxes are levied in a state, you can estimate the impact this line item may have on your budget. In turn, you can decide if the area is reasonably affordable or if you’re savings can support the cost.
South Carolina does have a state income tax. It uses a bracketed system, with rates ranging from 0 to 7 percent. The rate you pay depends on your taxable income level, with higher amounts of income being taxes at higher rates.
However, the Palmetto State doesn’t tax Social Security. Additionally, retirees may be eligible for additional deductions for other kinds of retirement income, reducing their burden further.
When it comes to sales tax, South Carolina has a base rate of 6 percent. However, counties do have the ability to add on to that – up to an additional 1 percent – so some areas may have a sales tax rate as high as 7 percent.
For property taxes, South Carolina’s rate is pretty low. Plus, seniors who are age 65 or older can qualify for a Homestead Exemption that allows them to reduce the taxable value of their home by up to $50,000.
Part-Time Job Opportunities
For many retirees, retirement doesn’t actually mean leaving the workforce completely. Instead, it involves transitioning into a part-time job, allowing them to bring in some income, remain active, and interact with others.
While the availability of part-time jobs can vary depending on your line of work, looking at the unemployment rate in the state can give you some clues. When unemployment is low, opportunities are generally more plentiful. When it’s high, the opposite tends to be true.
As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in South Carolina was 4.6 percent. That’s markedly below the national average during that time, which measured in at 5.8 percent. Overall, that’s good news for anyone looking for part-time job opportunities, as there is a good chance you can find something, especially if you are open-minded about the type of work.
Best Cities for Retirees in South Carolina
When you are deciding on where to retire, you can’t just look at the state; you also have to pick a city. The town you choose impacts your access to amenities, lifestyle, and budget, making it a critical part of the equation.
Luckily, South Carolina has plenty of great options. If you prefer city life, Columbia is a great choice. The area has a vibrant energy and plenty of amenities. Plus, it’s home to the University of South Carolina, and local residents age 60 and older can take classes without having to pay tuition.
For retirees who prefer a quaint town that’s near mountains and lakes, Seneca is a great choice. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound, and there are quite a few museums in the area, too. Plus, you have decent access to critical amenities, making it a solid option.
If you want to be near Myrtle Beach, you may enjoy Murrells Inlet. You can enjoy a maritime community, nearby golf courses, local beaches, and more, all while being close to the Myrtle Beach attractions.
For an area with historic charm, maybe Charleston would be a better fit. It’s brimming with southern hospitality and offers a lovely coastal setting mixed with fun boutiques, intriguing art galleries, and exceptional food.
How Much It Costs to Retire Well in South Carolina
Since the Palmetto State has a below-average cost of living, you can do well there even if your savings is a bit more modest. Overall, if you hope to retire well in South Carolina, having an annual retirement income near $60,537 should do the trick. You’ll be able to handle your needs and enjoy some wants, ensuring your retirement is comfortable and enjoyable.
Can you think of any other tips or insights that could help someone retire well in South Carolina? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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