These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Carolina For 2018


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Palmetto State are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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 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:

  1. Walterboro (Photos)
  2. Dillon (Photos)
  3. Batesburg-Leesville
  4. Chester (Photos)
  5. Darlington
  6. Marion
  7. Laurens (Photos)
  8. Union
  9. Hartsville (Photos)
  10. 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.

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

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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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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.

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1. Walterboro

Walterboro, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,287
Rank 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.

2. Dillon

Dillon, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,675
Rank 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.

3. Batesburg-Leesville


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.

4. Chester

Chester, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,498
Rank 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.

5. Darlington


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.

6. Marion


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.

7. Laurens

Laurens, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,046
Rank 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.

8. Union


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.

9. Hartsville

Hartsville, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,816
Rank 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.

10. Cheraw

Cheraw, South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,793
Rank 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:

  1. Mount Pleasant (Pop. 77,907)
  2. Tega Cay (Pop. 9,026)
  3. Mauldin (Pop. 24,723)

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In South Carolina

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Walterboro 1 7 5,287 16.2% $110,000
Dillon 2 2 6,675 11.1% $99,100
Batesburg-Leesville 3 1 5,273 14.0% $90,500
Chester 4 3 5,498 19.1% $73,900
Darlington 5 9 6,185 17.9% $86,000
Marion 6 5 6,756 19.9% $98,800
Laurens 7 6 9,046 10.3% $78,900
Union 8 15 8,081 14.0% $77,600
Hartsville 9 10 7,816 21.8% $106,400
Cheraw 10 11 5,793 21.2% $109,900
Georgetown 11 8 9,071 17.5% $120,600
Abbeville 12 12 5,184 14.7% $80,400
Clinton 13 14 8,409 7.5% $85,900
Lancaster 14 16 8,971 15.9% $105,600
Greenwood 15 4 23,260 12.7% $92,700
Bennettsville 16 13 8,692 13.4% $83,200
Myrtle Beach 17 18 30,106 10.1% $173,600
York 18 17 7,989 7.5% $129,100
North Charleston 19 20 106,113 8.9% $144,200
Central 20 39 5,187 10.6% $112,700
Orangeburg 21 23 13,478 12.1% $127,200
Newberry 22 21 10,338 9.7% $89,500
Seneca 23 29 8,228 10.0% $139,500
Conway 24 26 20,631 11.2% $145,900
Gaffney 25 26 12,859 6.4% $102,400
West Columbia 26 30 15,947 8.2% $131,200
Cayce 27 33 13,684 7.5% $120,000
Camden 28 19 7,017 6.9% $146,400
Sumter 29 32 40,760 13.0% $134,100
Anderson 30 25 27,206 8.7% $122,900
Moncks Corner 31 28 9,300 7.5% $176,800
Spartanburg 32 22 37,570 10.1% $115,900
Clover 33 24 5,593 9.8% $120,900
Easley 34 31 20,464 7.2% $140,100
Columbia 35 36 132,537 9.5% $164,200
Rock Hill 36 35 70,251 9.5% $136,000
Florence 37 37 38,221 9.1% $155,700
Beaufort 38 34 13,074 5.6% $200,500
North Myrtle Beach 39 38 15,201 6.3% $260,000
Aiken 40 47 30,403 7.4% $175,400
North Augusta 41 44 22,310 9.6% $155,500
Greer 42 40 27,739 5.1% $149,400
Irmo 43 45 11,851 7.6% $123,600
Greenville 44 42 62,776 6.9% $237,800
Hilton Head Island 45 46 39,651 4.3% $446,700
Bluffton 46 43 15,765 5.3% $221,200
Goose Creek 47 48 40,553 7.0% $169,800
Summerville 48 49 47,919 7.3% $182,800
Port Royal 49 52 11,891 8.1% $207,600
Fountain Inn 50 41 8,044 5.3% $119,400
Fort Mill 51 50 13,181 5.5% $209,100
Hanahan 52 51 20,710 4.9% $189,800
Charleston 53 53 129,888 5.9% $269,400
Clemson 54 58 15,008 4.9% $197,500
Simpsonville 55 55 20,183 4.9% $153,900
Forest Acres 56 56 10,571 6.4% $186,900
Lexington 57 57 20,315 4.2% $174,900
James Island 58 54 11,844 5.7% $244,000
Mauldin 59 59 24,723 6.1% $154,800
Tega Cay 60 60 9,026 6.0% $301,200
Mount Pleasant 61 61 77,907 4.6% $393,800

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10 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Carolina For 2018

  1. I live and teach in York. I have to question where the writer got the education statistics. We are ranked in the top 10 the state, not the bottom third. I’m not saying York is Eden (we have a 70% poverty index), but if you are going to write an article calling places the “worst place to live” get the facts straight.

  2. I read your release regarding the 10 worst places to live in South Carolina. Needless to say it was a real shock to see what you said about Cheraw, SC. I have lived here since 1978 and you certainly don’t know all the pluses for this town and area. First of all, your data regarding the median income is way off base. According to the US Bureau of Census, American Community Survey in 2015 the median income for the Cheraw area is $41,170 and area population is estimate to be 14,944. We have one of the most beautiful historic districts in the State, a very active arts commission bringing entertaining and cultural opportunities on a continuing basis to our town. We have great recreational programs for our children, and good schools. We are fortunate to have a good industrial base in our community, with long standing successful companies employing 3,500 in our town. This figure does not include the many positions in our schools and small businesses around the area. Cheraw is fortunate to have Northeastern Technical College with an enrollment of over 1,000. We are home of the official SC Jazz Festival each October, which brings top notch Jazz artist to our town and visitors from all over the country. We will be hosting the National Dog Trials here at our H. Cooper Black Recreational facility this fall.

    Don’t feel sorry for us living in Cheraw. We are thankful to live in a town like Cheraw. Is there room for improvement——— of course. The same can be said for any city or town all over this great country of ours. As president of the Greater Cheraw Chamber of Commerce, we continue to work towards improvement. Come to Cheraw and interview our citizens and visitors. I am sure you will leave with a “hug,” and a different perspective regarding our beautiful town..

    Articles such as your do more harm to communities than help improve them. This is especially true for businesses and industries we may try to recruit, in order to provide more job opportunities and improve the standard of living.

    Make sure you have accurate facts and an understanding of our town before you release misleading information.

    Roger J. Jones
    President
    Greater Cheraw Chamber of Commerce

    1. Folks! This is, by the publisher’s own definition: infotainment. Y’all are taking it way too serious. No matter how thin you fry cornbread, it still has two sides! From my own personal experience of living in a small city, I believe the best thing is to be involved with your city’s Downtown Development Authority<research that!

  3. I am in complete agreement with Roger Jones. Cheraw is known for some of the most beautiful homes in the state. It has two very beautiful golf courses and one of the nicest State Parks anywhere. It is recovering from the stupidity of NAFTA better than most textile based areas and has some promising business opportunities. The old town is scenic and has some good reasons to shop there. The churches are beautiful, plentiful and well attended. Community relations are a plus. While I live in the sister town of Chesterfield (which wasn’t even mentioned) I am in Cheraw daily as I play golf and attend church there. If there is a weak spot it is the typical small town store vacancies due to the presence of Walmart. But, there are some pretty unique places to shop as well with some of the most friendly people you will find anywhere. This article may have filled space in some newspaper or magazine, but it really does not reflect most of these places accurately at all.

  4. I agree 100% with our Cheraw Chamber of Commerce President, Roger Jones. He was spot on!! I would like to also add, insensitive articles as these, are only hurting our small towns across America. Instead of adding to the problems small towns face today, maybe Nick James needs to put his time and efforts into something more positive, like finding solutions to the problems. If more people would stop dwelling on all the negatives and start focusing on the positives, we may be able to move this country forward.

  5. I am from Chesterfied and to say Cheraw is one of the worst places in the state to live is outrageous. The towns of Chesterfield and Cheraw may be rivals in sports but that’s where it stops with me. The historic downtown part is beautiful. It has many great people and great businesses! I have many friends and family members that live in Cheraw that will certainly agree with me.

  6. As a native of Cheraw, I too was shocked to see that Cheraw was listed as #3. It is a gorgeous town, and I feel privileged to have grown up in such a beautiful place. There is a lot to love in Cheraw.

    I lived in Lancaster for a few years, and they had some of the nicest people there. It was the most expensive town I had ever lived in, but it had a lot to offer when I lived there!

  7. This is, as L G White says:
    September 4, 2015 at 11:56 pm
    Folks! This is, by the publisher’s own definition: infotainment. Y’all are taking it way too serious. No matter how thin you fry cornbread, it still has two sides! From my own personal experience of living in a small city, I believe the best thing is to be involved with your city’s Downtown Development Authority<research that!

    I also agree with what Roger J. Jones, President, Cheraw Chamber of Commerce says. 

    THIS is NOT to be taken seriously.  I know the Batesburg-Leesville area and, while it may be fairly accurate regading employment, Columbia, Lexington, Aiken and Augusta, GA and other cities like those, which have less unemployement are just a short drive away.    Not difficult to look for work and not too far to drive in exchange for a quieter and slower paced lifestyle.   Not everyone wants to go to a movie or restaurant every night or even once a week.  Some people like and want a slow paced area. More people know each other and in that same manner, they also look out for one another.  

    This is just data being manipulated to carry out an agenda.  If you don't believe that, just look up the other stories:

    1.  Most Miserable Cities
    2.  Most Snobbiest
    3.  Most Boring

    THIS is just THREE of those 'data manipulated' lists put out.  I would definitely call them infotainment, because they certainly DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT OTHER FACTORS PEOPLE CHOOSE (WANT) WHEN DECIDING WHERE TO LIVE.  

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