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 61 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:
- Walterboro (Photos)
- Dillon (Photos)
- Chester (Photos)
- Laurens (Photos)
- Hartsville (Photos)
- Cheraw (Photos)
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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in South Carolina for 2018
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 5,200 people were considered — leaving 61 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 61 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 — Walterboro. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in South Carolina.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 5,287Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 6)
Home Values: $110,000 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.2% (7th worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in South Carolina, Walterboro came in 1st. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, South Carolina residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in South Carolina, you can see some really big differences. In Walterboro, the number of people out of work is 16.2%
In South Carolina, that’s the 7th highest in the state.
The residents in Walterboro have the 8th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Walterboro average $27,175 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $110,000 on average. That’s the 17th lowest in the state.
Population: 6,675Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $99,100 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (17th worst)
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 52 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 9.2 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 11.1%, which isn’t horrible, but the 17th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $36,718 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.
Population: 5,273 Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $90,500 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (10th worst)
Batesburg-Leesville is one of the poorest cities in the state of South Carolina. This city has 14.0% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $34,742 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Batesburg-Leesville has the 18th highest crime rate in South Carolina. While the numbers aren’t staggering (South Carolina is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Palmetto State.
Population: 5,498Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Values: $73,900 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.1% (4th worst)
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 $73,900. That means it ranks as the 1st 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 23rd worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in South Carolina.
Population: 6,185 Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Values: $86,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.9% (5th worst)
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.
Population: 6,756 Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Values: $98,800 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.9% (3rd worst)
The crime in Marion is the 4th-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 19.9%, which is the 3rd 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.
Population: 9,046Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Home Values: $78,900 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (19th worst)
If you’re looking to live in South Carolina, Laurens might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Palmetto State for 2015.
The average family earns $29,500 a year out here, and 2580.0% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 10.3% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Laurens, every year, you have a 1 in 24.3 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 31st most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Population: 8,081 Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 7)
Home Values: $77,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (10th worst)
The unemployment rate is a little lower here (6.9%), and the crime is a tad lower here as well, but things in Union aren’t exactly peachy keen. Homes are valued at $85,000, which is 14th lowest in South Carolina.
On a positive note, the teacher-student ratio one of the lowest in Dillon, meaning the public school kids are getting a lot of attention, and hopefully a lot of love, too.
The city of Union doesn’t even have a Facebook page yet.
Population: 7,816Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $106,400 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.8% (1st worst)
Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Hartsville has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (21.8%) and homes are the 15th cheapest in the state ($106,400).
Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Hartsville.
Population: 5,793Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Home Values: $109,900 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.2% (2nd worst)
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.
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, Walterboro ranks as the worst city to live in South Carolina for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in South Carolina:
- Mount Pleasant (Pop. 77,907)
- Tega Cay (Pop. 9,026)
- Mauldin (Pop. 24,723)
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- 5 South Carolina Foods Taste Tested By Californians
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Carolina
- These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In South Carolina
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In South Carolina
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