South Carolina Vs. North Carolina – Which is the better State of the Carolinas

    Photos of North Carolina and South Carolina, mountains, cities

    The first 50 years of Carolina’s history were filled with unrest: corrupt officials, political strife, incompetent landlords, unpaid taxes, and even friction with natives. however, the settlers still found a way to build a new society that followed the coastline, filling it with towns, farms, and a functioning local government. Originally called the Carolina Colony, it was claimed in the 16th century by the Spanish, with parts also occupied by the French.

    Reading: South carolina versus north carolina

    The two regions were officially divided in the 17th century, when the government decided it was too difficult to manage the huge colony that Carolina had become. To resolve their dilemma, in 1961 a governor was appointed to oversee all of Carolina, along with a lieutenant governor who oversaw the northern part of the colony. Shortly thereafter, in 1712, the Carolina Colony was officially divided into South Carolina and North Carolina.

    In 1729, however, King George took over the northern half of the state, making both Carolinas royal colonies, ending all trouble. During this time, both regions continued to develop their own economies, local governments, and culture, making each unique in its own right. In this comprehensive guide, we break down everything you need to know to make an informed decision when looking for the best place to live outside of these two great states. Read on to learn more about North Carolina and South Carolina, and see for yourself which state is the best.

    cost of living

    One of the first things to consider when comparing these two states is the cost of living. To find out where you’re most likely to spend more and save more, we’ve created a side-by-side comparison of the two. While North Carolina has the largest population, this generally translates to a higher cost of living since there are more people in that area. this means more competition and more demand, which translates into higher costs.

    south carolina

    north carolina


    5.08 million

    10.4 million

    median family income



    average property value



    home ownership rate



    general cost of living












    health care







    below the national average

    below the national average

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    While North Carolina’s overall cost of living is still lower than the 100% national average, it is still slightly above South Carolina’s cost of living. In addition, people living in NC pay below the national average for housing, groceries, utilities, and transportation. however, health costs are above average, as is sc.

    But as you can see from the chart above, South Carolina has the upper hand when it comes to a more affordable area to live. In almost every category, South Carolina has proven to be a much friendlier place for those who want a fresh place to start, or to raise families. As a result, South Carolina wins this round, hands down.


    One of the key differences we can see between these two states is their population. As of 2019, North Carolina’s numbers were nearly double those of its neighbors to the south; 10,488,084 to 5,148,714. It’s also worth noting that both states have a growing number of members age 65 and older, with South Carolina currently at 18.2%, while North Carolina is close behind at 16. 7%. Due to their lower costs and the promise of warmer weather, both states attract many retirees from across the country. Because of this, Carolina natives have expressed concern that their states are facing changes due to the large number of newcomers.


    Both states have excellent universities and their educational systems function in a similar way. For example, the North Carolina and South Carolina public school systems operate through districts controlled by locally elected superintendents and school boards. However, because North Carolina has a larger population, they have more students compared to South Carolina. here is a chart that demonstrates the difference in numbers when it comes to your students (taken from a 2013 study).

    south carolina

    north carolina

    number of students



    number of schools



    number of school districts



    graduation rate



    number of teachers in public schools



    teacher to student ratio



    amount spent on each student



    When it comes to their universities, both states also have great options to offer students who want a higher education. North Carolina is home to some of the best places for education, including Duke University and the University of North Carolina. In addition, students have many other options, such as small private liberal arts colleges, mid-sized colleges, and large research universities. South Carolina, on the other hand, offers Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, two of the largest universities in the state. This state is also home to many small liberal arts colleges, as well as a publicly funded military college, the Citadel.


    if you’re a big fan of the outdoors and want to spend some time hiking in the mountains, there’s no better place to do it than north carolina. its collection of mountains are not only some of the oldest in the world, but they are also some of the most adventurous, thanks to the excellent activities on offer. From making art to ziplining, you can be sure any of these mountains can take you to the next level:

    • highlands
    • asheville
    • bryson city
    • boone and blowing rock
    • brevard and hendersonville

    South Carolina offers a diverse landscape where you can go from a view of the sea to views from the sky in a matter of hours. In this state, you can find towering mountainous terrain in the northwest, but no matter where you go, you’ll be able to shout your name on the mountaintops to hear echoes from distant lands. These are just some of the places you can visit to test your fear of heights:

    • sassafras mountain
    • crystal mountain
    • cesars head
    • table rock state park

    While both states offer beautiful mountain views and plenty of high peaks and summits to explore, North Carolina’s mountains are simply stunning. The views to be found in this state are second to none, so if you fancy climbing up to where the air is fresh and pristine, you can’t go wrong with the mountains of North Carolina.

    lakefront property

    Maybe you’re thinking of owning a lakefront property that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of city life you’ve always wanted to get away from. There is no right or wrong here: Both North and South Carolina are known for their beautiful freshwater lakes teeming with wildlife. Whether you want to get out in the sun or catch the fish of a lifetime, here are some of the best lakes to consider in both states for your lakefront property.

    north carolina

    • norman lake
    • jordan lake
    • high rock lake
    • james lake
    • glenville lake

    south carolina

    • marion lake
    • jocassee lake
    • murray lake
    • strom thurmond lake
    • richard b. lake russell

    both states win in this category as north carolina and south carolina have beautiful lakes to choose from. no matter what kind of activities you want to do once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll be happy to find a place to call your sanctuary.

    big city life

    Another big difference between these two states is that one offers big city living, while the other offers a small town feel. Of course, a big contributing factor to this is the gap in population, which was discussed above. In addition, North Carolina is the largest state geographically, allowing for more development, more growth, and more people.

    but what does this mean for people who are deciding between the two? If you’re looking for a busier state with more things to do and places to see, North Carolina is your bet. But if you’re looking for a quieter place and hope to be more in touch with nature, South Carolina may be the place for you.

    However, this doesn’t mean you can’t find a quiet spot in the big city: North Carolina also offers areas to relax whenever you need to. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for the excitement of big city living, South Carolina can’t compare to North Carolina, so it’s the clear winner here.


    During the summer months, you’ll want to be in an area close enough to the beaches to help you beat the heat. While both options have great beaches on offer, they’re not as easily accessible in North Carolina as they are in South Carolina, which can be a bit of a pain. here are some picturesque destinations in both states that you’ll want to be close to, no matter the season.

    north carolina

    • emerald isle
    • bald head island
    • cape hatteras
    • corolla beach/currituck
    • ocrakee island

    south carolina

    • kiawah island
    • hilton head
    • sullivan’s island
    • pawleys island
    • huntington beach state park

    because south carolina has more towns and cities strategically located near the coastal regions, it is the best option for those who want to enjoy their days in the sun and water. it’s also the perfect place to enjoy all of your favorite water activities, with one exception.


    If surfing is an important part of your life, there is no doubt that you need to move to North Carolina right now. With some of the best waves on the entire East Coast, its waters are not only a favorite with locals, but also welcome visitors from all over the country. One such area is Wrightsville Beach, which has drawn surfers to its shores for years. Even people who don’t normally surf won’t be disappointed with the other activities in this area.

    With a wide range of outdoor experiences, water sports and excursions, you can be sure that your stay here will be unforgettable. Whether you want to try deep sea fishing, scuba diving, or paddle boarding, there’s an activity for everyone here. Unfortunately, the waves in South Carolina cannot compare to those in North Carolina, and as such, surfers often travel north just to catch the biggest wave of their lives. Because of this, North Carolina is the obvious winner.



    This category is subjective; there is no good or bad weather, and it all depends on what we prefer. However, there are slight differences between the climate of North Carolina and the climate of South Carolina. While SC has warmer temperatures, NC has a more seasonal climate. again, it doesn’t vary that much, and temperatures in both states won’t go above 80 degrees or below 30 degrees on average. in the end, you will be perfectly happy either way; you just need to find out your preferences to decide which state will be more beneficial for you.

    property taxes

    You may be wondering about real estate taxes before you invest in either state. Well, you’ll be glad to know that there are no inheritance or estate taxes for both South Carolina and North Carolina. In 2013, North Carolina repealed its estate tax, so you can choose any of these states. however, there is a big difference when it comes to property tax. South Carolina residents enjoy one of the lowest property taxes, ranking 45th in the country, while North Carolina ranked 31st.

    South Carolina residents pay an average of just 0.56% of their home’s market value, while North Carolina residents pay an average of 0.85%. In addition, SC homeowners over the age of 65 can typically take a $50,000 deduction on their property taxes. North Carolina, meanwhile, offers a $25,000 property tax exemption, provided the person over the age of 65 meets certain criteria. In this category, South Carolina is the winner.


    Sports fans can rejoice in both states, offering plenty of action-packed sports games and teams. however, there is a distinction as to which teams perform and dominate in certain sports. For example, North Carolina is the best state when it comes to college basketball and the best schools are the driving force behind many championships. some of the most popular basketball schools here are:

    • duke university
    • north carolina state university
    • wake forest university

    When it comes to college football, however, South Carolina has the upper hand, due to the success of the Clemson Tigers. as such, it has ranked among some of the most elite college football programs in the country. However, when it comes to professional sports teams, North Carolina has a lot more compared to South Carolina, and some of its most successful teams are:

    • charlotte hornets
    • carolina panthers
    • carolina hurricanes
    • charlotte knights

    southern charm & hospitality

    When it comes to southern charm and hospitality, both states have several old and historic cities, like Georgetown and Charleston, along with interesting mid-sized towns. Additionally, both states have college towns like Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina and Clemson in South Carolina. Both states also offer plenty of cities that can top any list of best cities for retirees; you can choose between:

    north carolina

    • asheville
    • brevard
    • murphy
    • new bern

    south carolina

    • beaufort
    • charleston
    • bluffton

    While both states offer great cities and towns for retirees or those who want to live in a more rustic and hospitable historic area, North Carolina has more cities to choose from.

    state taxes and retiree taxes

    one of the biggest considerations for retirees is taxes, and south carolina would have won in this comparison as it has lower taxes in most categories. However, in 2014, North Carolina made it much more difficult to compare taxes between these two states, and there isn’t much of a difference between the two. As of 2019, South Carolina had the 40th highest tax in the country, with North Carolina following at 32nd.

    While several considerations and factors are taken into account before getting a true picture of individual taxes, there are a few things to keep in mind that apply to most people:

    • Neither state taxes social security.
    • South Carolina has a higher tax rate, along with slightly higher exemptions.
    • sales tax in north carolina is 1.25% lower compared to south carolina. however, local taxes can reduce the difference.
    • South Carolina’s retirement income taxes are more favorable.
    • North Carolina has a higher property tax High as a percentage of home value.
    • None of the states have estate or inheritance taxes.

    labour markets

    It should come as no surprise that while both states have plenty of opportunities, North Carolina is the place to be if you’re looking for more professional-level jobs. Both North and South Carolina have large industries in food and restaurants, primary and secondary education, as well as construction. Although both states have a lower median household income compared to the national average, they are also experiencing tremendous economic growth. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the job market in both states along with the national average, using Charlotte and Charleston as examples.

    job market

    charlotte, north carolina

    charleston, sc

    united states

    current unemployment




    future job growth




    recent job growth




    job growth in 3 years




    job growth in 5 years




    10 years of job growth




    Based on the projected values ​​that the examples have established above, both states are on track for economic and job growth. However, if you are looking for more job variations and a dynamic place to work, North Carolina is the best option for you.


    Depending on your preferences, it might be hard to choose between the two, especially since they share similar climates and topography. All in all, both states would be a great place to move to as they both offer something different from the other.

    However, from what we’ve seen, we can tell that North Carolina has some more perks like bigger cities to choose from, higher mountains to explore, and plenty of jobs to keep you on the go even during the pandemic. In addition, NC college towns, such as those located in the Research Triangle, are becoming increasingly progressive. Ultimately, North Carolina has striven to become a more tax-friendly state and as such has attracted many retirees and many others from across the country.

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