South Carolina vs North Carolina

By PropertyClub Team
May 16th 2024
South Carolina and North Carolina are similar in more ways than just their names. These two states sit at the heart of southern living and are renowned for their beautiful mountain ranges, mild temperatures, historic cities, and sizzling signature barbecues. That can make it difficult for people to choose between South Carolina vs North Carolina.

With so many things in common, choosing between these Southern staples can be difficult. But our South Carolina versus North Carolina comparison will help you understand their key differences and pick the best one for your living necessities.

hash-markCost of Living

North Carolina and South Carolina are well-matched in terms of affordability. While North Carolina’s population density is nearly double that of its southern neighbor, the median annual household income for both states sits roughly around $60k. This is slightly below the national average and makes both states highly affordable. However, with home prices middling close to $181k, South Carolina’s housing market is marginally cheaper than North Carolina’s.

All in all, South Carolina wins in terms of affordability.


Both of the Carolinas boast weather that is warm, mild, and comfortable. However, because South Carolina sits closer to the equator, summers tend to be hotter, and winters more tolerable. North Carolina’s higher elevation makes it a little colder, windier, and more prone to snowy winters.

While the two are fairly even in terms of temperament, South Carolina is better suited for those attracted to warmth, sunshine, and lazy beach days. 

hash-markJob Opportunities

While poverty levels in both states sit roughly 3% above the national average, their job markets vary dramatically. South Carolina’s economy relies heavily on tourism, which can be an unstable market depending on the season. North Carolina was known for its farming, textile, and furniture industries; however, the state has recently become a leader in technology, science, and education.

Over 200 major corporations have facilities in the state, making North Carolina the better market for business professionals. 


Classic southern charm is abundant in both of these south-bound states. However, South Carolina and North Carolina have very different atmospheres. With its easy-going nature and small-town attitude, South Carolina is better suited for those who prefer a slow-paced lifestyle. Its communities offer a peaceful alternative to the hustle and bustle of North Carolina, whose large population often makes living a bit more upbeat. While this is great for the young professionals who flock to the state for its business opportunities, South Carolina is ultimately the better option for a slow-and-sweet lifestyle.  

hash-markCrime Rates

In terms of crime, both South Carolina and North Carolina sit above the national average. However, North Carolina is still quite a bit safer than South Carolina. North Carolina’s overall crime rate of 26.87 sits roughly 20% below South Carolina’s, making it the safer option. South Carolina's crime rates are high enough that it ranks as one of the most dangerous US states

hash-markCity Life

South Carolina has some of the most stunning cities in the southeast. Areas like Charleston, Greenville, and Clemson are high-traffic tourist destinations with abundant historic architecture, beautiful scenery, and exquisite food. However, there simply aren’t enough of these incredible cities to go around. North Carolina is much geographically larger than South Carolina, giving the northern state a major advantage for city living. Its urban footprint includes staples like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro – all of which are larger and more densely populated than their southern neighbors.

With more large cities, North Carolina is the clear winner for urban entertainment and city living. 


While both Carolinas have various beaches, North Carolina is better known for its stunning mountain ranges and forest scapes. With Highlands, Asheville, Bryson City, Boone, and Blowing Rock all right within the state, North Carolina is great for people who prefer rock climbing over sunbathing. South Carolina, on the other hand, is home to Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and many other beloved beach-vacation destinations.

South Carolina is the winner for local beaches as it has many world-class vacation spots and warmer temperatures than NC.


Neither North Carolina nor South Carolina charges social security, inheritance, or estate taxes. Additionally, residents in both states will appreciate property taxes well below the national average. However, this is where the similarities end. While South Carolina’s income tax is higher than North Carolina’s, the state is more tax-friendly to retirees and pension holders. Additionally, South Carolina allows better terms for homestead exemptions than its northern neighbor, making it the better option for tax purposes.

South Carolina is also one of the states with the lowest property taxes, making it an attractive destination for those looking to own a home. To learn more about property taxes across the states, check out our article on states with no property taxes.


These states have fabulous education systems! However, because North Carolina has nearly double South Carolina’s population density, it tends to have a larger abundance of both schools and students. This past year, the University of North Carolina alone had 244,492 students enrolled, easily surpassing the University of South Carolina. Additionally, North Carolina’s high school graduation rate is slightly higher than South Carolina’s, making it the better choice for education. 

hash-markOverall Quality of Life

Both South and North Carolina have their distinct advantages when it comes to the overall quality of life. South Carolina is perfect for those who are looking to retire or who want to start a family away from the city. Its stunning beaches, great tax exemptions, and generally go-with-the-flow nature make it the ideal state to find a little peace of mind. However, North Carolina is generally safer and has better school systems, employment opportunities, and cityscapes. These advantages make this state the better option for business professionals and anyone who prefers security and stability over a leisurely lifestyle. And, with beautiful mountain views, residents of North Carolina are equipped with everything they need to lead a quality, well-fulfilled life.