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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 Darlington.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
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 2021
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.
Visit Chester and you can see Aaron Burr Rock. You know Aaron Burr...he's the fool who shot Alexander Hamilton in that delightful musical everyone's always talking about. He's also a real person, who was once arrested for treason (for reasons unrelated to shooting Hamilton, by the way). In Chester, he tried to escape, an attempt that involved Aaron Burr Rock, which is now situated in the center of town.
Weird thing to brag about, right? Well, Chester doesn't have much else going for it. This town in the northern part of the state has an unemployment rate of 10.4% and a median income of $26,330. As a result, more than 1 out of every 4 residents lives below the poverty line.
Abbeville is proud of its Burt-Stark Mansion. The manor house, originally built in the 1830s, bills itself as the place where Confederate President Jefferson Davis held his last council of war, therefore making it the place where Civil War ended.
The mansion is now a museum. That means you can walk through one of the few signs of wealth you'll find in Abbeville. The rest of the town is pretty rough, struggling with low wages and soaring unemployment. As a result, nearly a third of the residents gets by in sub-poverty conditions. Housing, crime, and bad schools are also problems.
Like two troubled companies merging to stay competitive in an ever-changing market, Batesburg-Leesville was formed through a combination. The separate communities of Batesburg and Leesville consolidated in 1992 to form a single town, now with 5,647 inhabitants.
The town faces an unemployment rate of 5.7%, a median income of $43,980, and a poverty rate of 19.4%. This fuels a massive crime problem, with a crime rate more than double the national average. Education and housing are substandard as well.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $78,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (9th worst)
More on Clinton: Data
Clinton ranks as the 5th worst place to live in South Carolina for 2021, let's take a look at why.
Clinton experienced a manufacturing boom in the late 19th century, with the introduction of a series of cotton mills. These had all shut down in the early 2000s, however, undermining the area's economy. What's left? The number 5 worst place in South Carolina to call home.
With a poverty rate of 30.8%, it's not hard to see why Clinton makes this list. That comes with a median income of $28,174 and a jobless rate of 10.4%. Along with high unemployment and low wages, the town suffers from a crime rate nearly double the U.S. norm. Inadequate schools and housing also plague the town.
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.
Come to Greenwood for the South Carolina Festival of Flowers. Or check out the Festival of Discovery, a showcase for local arts, crafts, food, and music. But you might not want to stay in town during the rest of the year. Smothering poverty and rampant crime make this one of the worst places in South Carolina...at least when the town isn't decked out in flowers or discovery.
The 23,269 people of Greenwood deal with a poverty rate of 30.3%. At the same time, crime tops the national average by nearly 190%. Second-rate education and housing compound the problems. For instance, no school in the area ranks better than a 5/10 on Great Schools.
Located along the Atlantic coast in the Winyah Bay, Georgetown came to prominence in its early days thanks to indigo and rice cultivation. As you've probably guessed, those aren't exactly growth industries in the 21st century.
Hence, the town's appearance on this list. An unimpressive median income and an elevated unemployment rate blight the area. At the same time, the crime rate comes in at triple the national average.
There are signs of the old prosperity in town. For a hint of what it used to be like in Georgetown, you can head to the Kaminski House Museum, a preserved mansion that shows the lifestyle in town during the 1700s.
Marion presents itself as a picture of a quaint little town. For the most part, this image matches the fact, right down to the picturesque historic district. But a lot of worry and pain roils below the surface of this otherwise pleasant burg. It ranks as the 9th worst place to live in South Carolina for 2021.
Mostly, crime and poverty mar the otherwise pretty portrait. Just look at the unemployment rate, which sits at 16.4%. Or consider the median income, which hovers at $33,310. Or contemplate a crime rate that tops the U.S. norm by 160%.
Lancaster is named after English royalty. Specifically, the moniker comes from the House of Lancaster, one side of the famous clash known as the War of the Roses. Well, despite the gaudy title, you'll have trouble finding lords and ladies in this community of 9,143 people. To the contrary, the town is mired in unemployment and poverty.
More than a third of Lancaster falls below the poverty line. At the same time, the unemployment rate sits at an astronomical 18.0%. Education is also a problem in the area. With a few exceptions, the local schools score a 5/10 or worse on Great Schools.
How we determined the worst places to live in South Carolina for 2021
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 -- Darlington. 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, Darlington ranks as the worst city to live in South Carolina for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in South Carolina:
- Tega Cay (Pop. 10,412)
- James Island (Pop. 12,076)
- Mount Pleasant (Pop. 86,982)
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- 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?