With its beautiful beaches, stunning marshlands, and vibrant communities, South Carolina is undoubtedly one of the best places to live and raise a family in the United States. From beachy Sullivan’s Island real estate to the historic downtown Beaufort, South Carolina has something for everyone.

If you’re considering moving to the Palmetto State, choosing between all the wonderful places to live can feel daunting. To help make your search easier, we’ve compiled this guide of the top 10 places to live in South Carolina for families.

What to Look For

When deciding where to settle down with your family in South Carolina, several key factors must be considered. For starters, you’ll want to choose a safe location. Crime rates, emergency response times, and public safety policies are all important safety-related factors to consider. You should also look into education quality. Public and private school ratings and the availability of specialized programs and extracurricular activities should help you determine where you choose to live. The presence of nearby universities and colleges can also be a perk for those with older children.

Additionally, the amenities and attractions of the area will play a role in your decision. Parks, trails, libraries, and museums are all great places for families to enjoy quality time together. These features contribute to an overall family-friendly atmosphere that can make a town more attractive for raising kids.

The cost of living should also be taken into account. The median home and rental prices vary widely across South Carolina’s diverse regions. While each location on this list has a different cost of living, they all offer an ideal balance between value and quality of life.

1. Mount Pleasant

A suburb of Charleston with over 90,000 people, Mount Pleasant offers a small-town atmosphere with all the amenities of a larger city. The area boasts excellent public schools and plenty of recreational opportunities, including parks, trails, and beaches. Its location along the Charleston Harbor also provides access to waterfront activities. Houses for sale in Mount Pleasant, SC, tend to be more expensive than other areas in the state, but many families find the higher cost of living worth it.

Mount Pleasant is home to historic sites like Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Downtown Charleston is just a short drive away, making it easy to take advantage of the city’s cultural amenities. The town’s tranquil, family-friendly atmosphere makes it a fantastic place to call home.

Mt Pleasant

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2. Daniel Island

This unique island community in the city of Charleston boasts charming residential neighborhoods, a variety of parks and trails, and several recreational amenities. With its quaint downtown area, top-quality schools, and abundant outdoor activities, Daniel Island is a great place to raise a family. The 4,000-acre island is conveniently located just 15 minutes from big-city amenities like shopping centers, entertainment venues, and a major international airport.

Daniel Island is surrounded by rivers, creeks, and lovely views of the marshes. Residents are drawn by the island’s natural beauty and adventurous families can take advantage of the eight main parks in the area. There is also a professional sports facility – the Credit One Stadium – and a private country club called the Daniel Island Club. Families looking for a safe, small-town experience in an ideal location will love calling Daniel Island home.

3. Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island is another suburb of Charleston with a modest population of approximately 2,000 people. This small town offers a peaceful atmosphere with top-tier public schools, including Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, a one-of-a-kind oceanfront charter school. Its quiet, close-knit community, unbeatable beaches, and gorgeous nature trails make it a great place for families to call home.

Sullivan’s Island is also full of attractions and activities, like the Fort Moultrie National Historical Park and Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. The town’s numerous restaurants offer tasty seafood dishes and spectacular beachfront views. Families who love the ocean and the outdoors will find no shortage of things to do in this idyllic coastal town.

Sullivans Island

4. West Ashley

This charming neighborhood within the Charleston city limits is west of the Charleston peninsula and across the Ashley River. It is connected to the peninsula by a small drawbridge and is home to a number of sprawling plantations, including Middleton Place, Drayton Hall, and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. West Ashley’s charm is enhanced by its leafy landscape and picturesque tidal channel.  

Families looking for a safe haven with natural beauty will find it in West Ashley. Walkers and mountain bikers enjoy traversing the West Ashley Greenway trail. The area also has a mix of major malls, global fusion restaurants, laid-back eateries, and lively bars. The town’s numerous meeting places create a vibrant atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.

5. Isle of Palms

Also located just outside Charleston, Isle of Palms is a beach town with about 4,000 people. It offers a laid-back atmosphere with prime access to the Atlantic Ocean. The town has several miles of white sand beaches, making it a great spot for relaxing beach days or playing in the surf. Isle of Palms Wild Dunes Resort offers a range of recreational activities for families, including golf, tennis, and more.

Isle of Palms also offers fantastic public schools that have been consistently rated among the best in South Carolina. With its array of shops and restaurants, the town has plenty to keep families busy. From its mild year-round climate to its abundance of outdoor activities, Isle of Palms is perfect for laid-back coastal living.

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6. James Island

This town in the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area is a popular choice for families, and with good reason. Once covered in farmland, James Island is now a charming residential community with a small-town feel. Surrounded by the waters of the Charleston Harbor and the Stono and Folly Rivers, the area boasts popular local beaches, majestic trees, and scenic marsh views.

Home to over 11,000 people, James Island offers great schools, plenty of shopping opportunities, and beautiful outdoor spaces. The town’s diverse population and reasonable cost of living make it a great place for families of all backgrounds. Its proximity to downtown Charleston also gives it access to the city’s vibrant food and culture scene. Overall, James Island is an excellent place for families looking for a balance of affordability and quality of life.

7. Beaufort

Located along the South Carolina coast 70 miles from Charleston, Beaufort is a charming city with over 13,000 people. Its stunning waterfront views, quality public schools, and abundant historical sites make it an ideal spot for raising a family. Beaufort’s old town Historic District has an array of homes and buildings dating back to the 1700s.

Walkability is also a great selling point for Beaufort, as most of the city’s attractions are within easy walking distance. There are plenty of activities to enjoy, including kayaking in tidal creeks, exploring local art galleries, and fishing off the pier. Families who want an authentic Southern experience will find it in Beaufort.

8. Forest Acres

Forest Acres is a lively suburb of Columbia with about 10,000 people. It has great public schools, plenty of shopping and dining options, and many lakefront outdoor activities. Its central location makes it easy for families to access Columbia’s many attractions, from the South Carolina State Fair to the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden.

The dense suburban feel of Forest Acres makes it a fantastic place for families looking to be close to the city but still enjoy a quieter lifestyle. Its diverse population and affordable cost of living make it an attractive spot for young families and retirees alike.

9. Summerville

This town in the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area is home to more than 50,000 people drawn to the area’s reasonable cost of living and family-friendly atmosphere. Residents love that Summerville is steeped in natural beauty and has many outdoor parks and gardens to explore. The historic downtown area also contributes to its southern charm. 

Located just 24 miles from Charleston, Summerville is a diverse community with a wide variety of shops and restaurants to enjoy. Its close proximity to a major metropolitan area lets residents enjoy all of the benefits of big city life while living in a safe and comfortable environment. It is also just a short ride from Rainbow Row and the Edge of America.

10. Lexington Town

Another quaint Columbia suburb, Lexington, boasts a population of 24,000 and is one of the fastest-growing cities in South Carolina. Its affordable cost of living, friendly atmosphere, and award-winning public schools make it a wonderful place to settle down.

Tent camping on the blue waters of Lake Murray

Source: Carol Mellema/Shutterstock.com

Lexington also offers plenty of recreational activities due to its proximity to Lake Murray. The town’s numerous parks and trails provide a great place for families to spend time outdoors. Its charming downtown area has plenty of shops and restaurants to explore. Lexington is an excellent spot for those looking for a small-town feel with easy access to the big city.

Find Your Perfect Home in South Carolina

No matter where you choose to settle down, you’re sure to enjoy the great state of South Carolina. With its diverse array of cities and towns, there’s something to cater to every family’s needs and wants.

If you’re interested in starting your search for your next home in one of these great locations or beyond, the team at Dunes Properties would love to help. Our licensed real estate agents are here to show you the best of South Carolina and match you with the perfect fit. Contact us today to get started!