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The Palmetto State of South Carolina is truly a glorious place. You have some of the best beaches in the south. Charleston might be one of America's finest cities. And there's more history in South Carolina than in the rest of the south combined.
You've got some great colleges, lots of culture, and the large areas of farming are a vital part of our economy.
But you knew that already if you live there.
But is it all charming in South Carolina? Of course not. Just like every other state, South Carolina has its issues. There are some cities that a real hot mess right now. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which South Carolina cities have some serious issues, at least on paper.
After analyzing 64 of the Palmetto State's most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places you could live in South Carolina:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.
We understand there's a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in South Carolina? That would be Batesburg-Leesville.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In South Carolina
- Cheapest Places To Live In South Carolina
- Most Dangerous Cities In South Carolina
The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Carolina For 2020
Batesburg-Leesville needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Batesburg-Leesville. That's not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Batesburg-Leesville. Of the 64 cities considered in this ranking, Batesburg-Leesville had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Batesburg-Leesville have South Carolina's 18th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 18th and 24th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of "Worst City in South Carolina."
If you know anyone in Batesburg-Leesville, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Georgetown is the 15th most dangerous city in South Carolina. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 17.5 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That's lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Georgetown might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Georgetown are really low. People here earn about $30,972 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Georgetown are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in South Carolina than in Georgetown.
The crime in Marion is the 3rd-highest in the state, and there were two murders here two years ago. That's really a shame for such a little town. Plus, the unemployment rate is 20.5%, which is the highest in the state of South Carolina.
They need jobs here. The problem is, the closest town is Florence, and that's a half hour away.
Little Chester, on the way to Charlotte, is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $75,100. That means it ranks as the lowest in South Carolina.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Chester has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 29th worst in the state, it's one of the worst places you can live in South Carolina.
According to science, Greenwood is the 5th worst place you can live in South Carolina.
Let's see why. Greenwood has the 4th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Greenwood is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($92,000), and the 21st-highest unemployment rate in the state (8.4%), and across the board, Greenwood doesn't sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there's simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We're aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you'd have to drive a ways away.
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Dillon is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It's that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 68 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 15.3 chance of being robbed each year. That's off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 12.0%, which isn't horrible, but the 12th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $36,125 a year in combined household income, which is below the poverty line for a family of four.
To make matters worse, the schools spend the least amount, per student, than any other schools in the state.
Dillon is located right along I-95 on the North Carolina border.
Darlington's crime is nearly in the top 10 in the state of South Carolina, and folks here are struggling to make ends meet. Besides having a good school system, there's not a lot of upside to living here. Unless you like car racing.
Darlington is world famous for its racetrack, which brings in throngs of NASCAR fans from all over the country. The Bojangles Southern 500 is coming to town in September this year. Lock your cooler if you go. You wouldn't want to have any beer stolen.
If you've ever driven north on Route 52 into North Carolina, you might have passed through the tiny town of Cheraw. It's located at the base of Sand Hills State Forest, so it's in a beautiful place.
Unfortunately, science doesn't measure beauty, and according to the data, Cheraw needs a fixin'. The median income here is staggeringly low, and at $23,000 a year, folks here are struggling to make ends meet. While the unemployment rate isn't horrible, it's not good either.
If you're passing through, maybe give a wave and a friendly smile. Folks down here sure need it.
When you're looking at the worst places you could live in South Carolina, Walterboro ranks 9th worst. Let's see why.
Here in Walterboro, crime is the 20th highest in the state, and 1 out of 16.5 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That's not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 144 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That's really high.
When you look at adult education in South Carolina, the folks in Walterboro have the 26th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Walterboro undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 6th highest in South Carolina, at 14.9%. That's actually on par with the national average, which means South Carolina has some hard workers.
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $83,600 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (19th worst)
More on Clinton: Data
Clinton, part of Laurens County, is the 10th worst place to live in South Carolina for 2020.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $30,707, and crime 3worst in South Carolina.
Additionally, the poverty level is 28.1% in Clinton.
How we determined the worst places to live in South Carolina for 2020
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered -- leaving 64 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 64 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".
Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in South Carolina -- Batesburg-Leesville. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in South Carolina. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In South Carolina
If you're looking at areas in South Carolina with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Batesburg-Leesville ranks as the worst city to live in South Carolina for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in South Carolina:
- Mauldin (Pop. 25,009)
- James Island (Pop. 12,010)
- Mount Pleasant (Pop. 83,700)
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In South Carolina
- Richest Cities In South Carolina
- Safest Places In South Carolina
- Best Cities For Singles In South Carolina
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In South Carolina?