The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Carolina For 2023

We used Saturday Night Science to determine the worst small towns in South Carolina.

Most Americans have never been to small town South Carolina. However, as the South Carolinian who live there know, small town South Carolina is an awesome place to call home.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, South Carolina has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Palmetto State. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.

After analyzing more than 141 of South Carolina’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in South Carolina where you’d never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in South Carolina for 2023:

  1. Watts Mills
  2. Blackville
  3. Edisto
  4. Ware Shoals
  5. Denmark
  6. Estill
  7. Fairfax
  8. Saxon
  9. Timmonsville
  10. Saluda

So what is the worst small town to call home in South Carolina for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Watts Mills is the worst small town to live in South Carolina.

While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Watts Mills home. Everyone

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in South Carolina or the worst places to live in South Carolina.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Carolina For 2023

1. Watts Mills

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,157
Median Home Value: $1,000 (1000th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (9th worst)

2. Blackville

Blackville, SC

Source: Wikipedia User Efy96001 | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,135
Median Home Value: $67,500 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (70th worst)

3. Edisto

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,991
Median Home Value: $43,700 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (29th worst)

4. Ware Shoals

Ware Shoals, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,022
Median Home Value: $54,300 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (59th worst)

5. Denmark

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,186
Median Home Value: $63,500 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (13th worst)

6. Estill

Estill, SC

Source: Wikipedia User Efy96001 | CC BY-SA 3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,426
Median Home Value: $70,000 (2worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.0% (4th worst)

7. Fairfax

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,142
Median Home Value: $52,200 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.3% (3rd worst)

8. Saxon

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,007
Median Home Value: $52,900 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (35th worst)

9. Timmonsville

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,158
Median Home Value: $74,800 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (37th worst)

10. Saluda

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,179
Median Home Value: $68,200 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (78th worst)

Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in South Carolina is lousy or not?

To rank the worst small towns to live in South Carolina, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. Assuming that people like low crime, solid education, things to do, and a stable economy isn’t a stretch.

We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.

Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower, the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there’s no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which there were many – 141 to be exact.

We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets them from the cities. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in South Carolina.

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In South Carolina

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Palmetto State with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in South Carolina, according to science:

  1. India Hook (Pop. 4,092)
  2. Sullivan’s Island (Pop. 2,220)
  3. Isle of Palms (Pop. 4,318)

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In South Carolina

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Watts Mills 2,157 14.9% $1,000
2 Blackville 2,135 6.5% $67,500
3 Edisto 1,991 11.0% $43,700
4 Ware Shoals 2,022 7.0% $54,300
5 Denmark 3,186 14.1% $63,500
6 Estill 2,426 19.0% $70,000
7 Fairfax 2,142 19.3% $52,200
8 Saxon 4,007 10.3% $52,900
9 Timmonsville 2,158 10.2% $74,800
10 Saluda 3,179 5.8% $68,200
11 Allendale 2,827 9.1% $45,300
12 Barnwell 4,526 12.1% $116,400
13 Southern Shops 4,264 5.7% $60,300
14 City View 1,426 8.4% $1,000
15 Wedgefield 1,994 14.5% $86,600
16 Mullins 4,068 13.5% $80,000
17 Branchville 1,158 13.9% $77,000
18 Wilkinson Heights 1,995 12.3% $80,400
19 Iva 1,253 11.0% $75,600
20 Bamberg 3,103 8.7% $75,900
21 Buffalo 1,330 13.4% $43,000
22 Brookdale 4,221 15.1% $76,400
23 Abbeville 4,902 9.6% $92,200
24 Winnsboro Mills 2,048 6.6% $55,500
25 Blacksburg 2,390 10.8% $117,200
26 Arcadia 3,397 13.4% $66,300
27 Judson 1,513 9.7% $73,400
28 Edgefield 4,434 21.7% $86,300
29 East Gaffney 2,773 6.6% $71,200
30 St. Stephen 1,454 10.2% $100,800
31 Mccoll 1,950 8.0% $47,800
32 Monarch Mill 1,528 4.3% $70,600
33 Calhoun Falls 1,878 4.8% $71,500
34 Pelzer 1,335 13.8% $128,200
35 Walhalla 4,076 13.7% $121,100
36 Graniteville 2,625 4.6% $86,900
37 Santee 1,029 6.6% $117,700
38 Catawba 1,501 10.3% $1,000
39 Manning 3,919 16.2% $107,600
40 Pageland 2,854 7.8% $106,100
41 Great Falls 1,860 6.7% $48,500
42 Cherryvale 2,912 26.4% $55,900
43 South Sumter 1,755 12.3% $66,700
44 Gaston 2,089 5.4% $99,800
45 Johnston 2,248 4.0% $89,700
46 Fairforest 1,565 4.5% $1,000
47 Honea Path 3,659 6.9% $90,200
48 Slater-Marietta 1,874 5.0% $71,200
49 Langley 1,975 5.8% $33,600
50 Varnville 1,954 12.8% $84,600
51 Williston 2,909 6.2% $163,900
52 Whitmire 1,503 4.2% $44,300
53 St. Matthews 2,038 15.6% $120,100
54 Wagener 1,357 10.9% $93,300
55 Hopkins 1,757 5.1% $93,400
56 Gloverville 3,102 6.7% $66,800
57 Holly Hill 1,346 9.3% $156,400
58 Burne 3,058 5.5% $137,400
59 Ridgeland 3,664 1.8% $172,300
60 Eureka Mill 2,036 11.2% $99,500
61 Privateer 1,964 5.1% $102,300
62 Mccormick 2,936 4.7% $75,600
63 Liberty 3,349 9.2% $116,300
64 Irwin 1,276 1.4% $108,300
65 Latta 1,632 10.9% $105,000
66 Springdale 2,593 6.4% $79,900
67 Winnsboro 3,234 14.2% $115,400
68 West Pelzer 1,136 3.6% $102,900
69 St. George 2,185 0.5% $140,300
70 Loris 2,473 5.1% $156,300
71 Pacolet 2,154 5.6% $80,400
72 Ridgeville 1,592 6.2% $158,600
73 Westminster 2,385 7.8% $134,100
74 Joanna 1,470 0.0% $56,400
75 Clearwater 3,985 11.5% $132,400
76 Chesterfield 1,404 6.7% $126,100
77 Bishopville 3,042 9.6% $132,800
78 Dunean 3,292 7.1% $117,200
79 Kingstree 3,244 2.6% $104,700
80 Wellford 3,217 7.3% $179,300
81 Duncan 3,937 5.1% $138,300
82 Cowpens 1,990 3.8% $109,200
83 South Congaree 2,613 4.5% $143,100
84 Awendaw 1,585 13.1% $267,500
85 Cottageville 1,155 4.8% $125,000
86 Andrews 2,721 1.1% $94,800
87 Belton 4,320 5.9% $101,600
88 Johnsonville 1,170 7.4% $87,700
89 Lamar 1,074 1.5% $112,200
90 Jackson 2,024 4.4% $152,400
91 Cane Savannah 1,353 7.7% $145,900
92 Ravenel 2,543 4.1% $226,600
93 Pendleton 3,447 5.3% $167,300
94 New Ellenton 2,423 5.9% $117,600
95 Lake Secession 1,121 9.8% $269,300
96 Utica 1,729 1.3% $91,400
97 Arial 1,969 0.9% $141,000
98 Dalzell 3,319 8.3% $125,600
99 Golden Grove 3,317 0.2% $120,800
100 Inman 2,896 5.0% $106,000
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

16 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Carolina For 2023

  1. Wow..been to all these small towns…regardless of the information posted…it is best to visit the place to get to know the people…there is alot more to offer than just numbers

  2. Snellings, I really don’t know where this information was gathered from but it’s ALL false. First I wish my house did cost 33k and education is very good my daughter can go to Williston school Barnwell schools or Christan Academy. And a lot of our community don’t work at Wal Mart whoever did this research must don’t know of Kimberly Nuclear, Kronotex, SRS or the other company’s that is local.

  3. I am familiar with some of these towns; but most familiar with Neeses than any of the rest. I think the comments and opinions of the “writer” were misleading and quite unfair to the Home of some of my Family and Friends.
    Also the town where I was first taken to Church as a child. I was too young to remember that church, but some of my relatives still live there where the have since the ’50’s.
    In fact, my most senior male relative and his wife live there and I’m sure they would not agree with the premise of this article. Too bad that “writers” publish stuff like this without any consideration of the “personal” real-life stories of the “real people” who choose to call “Small town America” their home.
    I have fond memories of other Families, whom we grew up with and who’s lives were molded in the same “Church Family” as I was.
    Stories like this do a great dis-service to “real people” who I know and Love.
    I’m sure the same goes for families who choose to live in the other towns who this “writer” tagged as a town where “You’d never want to live”.
    Every time I travel US Hwy 321 through the “heart of Neeses, SC”, I don’t see it as a place where I’d “never want to live” I see it as a place that was part of molding my life because of the “People” who lived there and touched my life in a significant way.

  4. Windsor is not that bad, I thought for sure there were more people living there, the only thing I never liked was the nosy gossipers, most of them work or have worked at Windsor general, that’s the worst store

  5. Vance’s crime rate??
    The “Chief” of police spends 100% of his time in the portion of Hwy 6 that lies within the city limits. This speed trap is that rathole’s only source of revenue.

  6. I imagine the data he offered was correct as far as census and employment, etc. But the score is definately skewed by lack of or incorporating the wrong data into the scale. It doesn’t look like he removed the retired people for income and employment. Or the fact that any basic need or employment opportunity is a rocks throw outside of the city limit signs for these quaint little towns. This article certainly was not infotainment as he implied it was bias and ignorant. Bless his heart….

    1. I agree Karen….. I see there are similar articles about other states….. I haven’t read them but if they are conclusions drawn only from “statistics he found on the internet” I imagine the “real people” living in those small towns and others who are familiar with them feel the same as we have expressed here. 🙁

  7. I disagree with your analysis of Lowndesville,SC. We have lived in Columbia, Fort Mill, Anderson, and other places in SC and we love this place better than any. Sure it is very small, but the people that live here are fantastic. when we first moved here people up and down the road we live in dropped by to welcome us. They invited us to their churches and social events that they have. One of the biggest reasons that the town has lost so many younger folk is the fact that factories have closed nearby and the town could not help that. All of the few churches work together and help people out when they are sick, or if there is a death. I have NEVER lived in a town so friendly! Your article will also make it hard for people who need to move away to sell their property! Disgusting article!

    1. Oh yes and Lowndesville is on Lake Russell with some of the cleanest water in SC and some of the biggest and best bass caught anywhere!!!!!

  8. I believe your analysis of some of the small towns is skewed. Lowdnesville is a great retirement location. I have live all over the South–wouldn’t trade my current location for any of the former. Might add that I am not uneducated or criminally inclined. Also wish I could have purchased my home in the $40,000 range you outlined. You really shouldn’t “judge a book” by statistics, but, rather by the people who live there.

  9. I am going to ask my friends that are on Facebook to comment on this post. I am sure that they will disagree also. The cost of living is the same as most places and we are getting a new water line put in which will be helpful if any new businesses want to open here. There are several local hunting clubs that own land or rent land because of the great hunting opportunities here. The fishing is great with a clean deep lake full of bass,crappies,catfish, and bream! there are a good many people who own homes on Lake Russell that come in for weekends and holidays and they love it here too. I am so sorry that you published these towns that you say are the 10 worst towns in South Carolina, because not only the great residents of Lowndesville hurt by it, but the other residents of these towns are hurt too! Shame on you!

  10. I believe that my first comment is what I think about your post. Lowndesville is a great place to live and your survey should have included conversations with the people that live here.

  11. What is the importance of an article like this. We are the Johnson family from Neeses. After leaving for New York and Philadelphia to work most of us returned after retirement and brought savings and retirement income and purchased homes and are living royalty. It is a plus to travel out on the weekend to eat, shop and attend movies. Neeses is clean, friendly and peaceful. Try interviewing actual people who have lived there all of there lives.

  12. Mina Thompson,great comment. Your post is one reason we moved to Lowndesville. We are angry that our little town made this awful list because it is a slam on the people and the great real estate on a wonderful,clean lake,(Russell).

  13. Thanks everyone for your being this will be my first visit to South Carolina and I will be visiting Camden for the 4th of July, can share their thoughts on Camden?

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