Florida vs. South Carolina for Retirement: Which Is Better?


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Choosing the best place to retire is one of the most crucial decisions for baby boomers. The southeastern region of the United States is a popular choice, with Florida and South Carolina ranking high among the preferred states for retirement. 

Florida is better for retirement if you like warm weather, beaches, and water sports. It offers educational opportunities and good healthcare services. However, South Carolina is equally great since it offers numerous recreational activities, low retirement tax rates, and warm weather.

Category Florida  South Carolina
Retirement Taxes No state income tax. $50,000 household exemption for permanent residents. Slightly higher taxes on gas, liquor, sales & property, and car registration Personal income tax rate of up to 7%. 6-9% of sales tax. Up to $3000 reduction in retirement income tax for seniors above 65 years. 
Weather and Climate Warm all through the year, including winter. Temperatures and humidity can get extremely high during the summer. 

Frequent flooding and wave damage.

Also experience a warm and pleasant climate all year round. The summer temperatures and humidity can also get quite high.

Hurricanes and storms are frequent. 

Healthcare Access Continuing care retirement communities, Medicare Supplement Plan G. Quick access to high-quality health centers Homecare services, caregivers support, senior centers, hospice, palliative care
Recreation Activities Golf, water sports on the beach, hiking, theme parks, and Bingo sessions with planned communities Film festivals, art galleries, theaters, fresh seafood restaurants. 
Education Opportunities Waived fees for retirees above 60 in state universities on a space-available basis Free education for retirees above 60 in state universities for both credited and audited courses
Housing Options Owning is expensive because of property taxes. Cheaper options are renting, and senior living facilities including retirement rental communities, assisted senior living, and nursing homes.  Low property taxes but high house prices. Retirees opt for renting, including in rental retirement communities, and living in senior living facilities, which are all cheaper than owning a home. 
Accessibility Buses, Trolley, Florida Shuttle Transportation, Amtrak, Bikes South Carolina Senior Transportation Services, Bikes, Shuttles

Both Florida and South Carolina are popular retirement destinations for baby boomers. They both offer excellent relaxation opportunities. Their strategic positions along the coast also ensure you can take in the beautiful sceneries on the beach and engage in different outdoor activities. When it comes to retirement taxes and access to healthcare, both states are a good option for retirees.

Choosing between Florida and South Carolina could present a challenge. In this article, we compare the two states to help you identify which one is your preferred location for your retirement years.

Florida vs. South Carolina for Retirement: Which Is Better?

An Overview of Florida and South Carolina

Florida is a southeastern state that boasts a population of 21 million. This highly populated state ranks third among the most populous states of the United States. The state is well known for the warm weather all around the year, and it’s an international hotspot for golf lovers. Florida even hosts the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.

Florida is home to different outdoor activities that will keep you busy as you’re living there. Whether you are looking for hiking activities, a day at the beach, or some relaxation on the golf course, Florida has something for everyone.

Like Florida, South Carolina is a southeastern state along the coast. It’s popularly known as the Palmetto State and is home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. The coastal state is also known for some of the best golf courses and historical landmarks.

If you’d rather lead a quiet life, you may be better suited for the North West and Central South Carolina. These regions provide access to some of the best cities, including Atlanta and Charlotte, while maintaining a slower-paced life.

Retirement Taxes

One of your most significant factors to consider as a new retiree is the retirement tax you’re expected to pay. Different states have different laws on the taxes imposed on retirees. In this regard, both Florida and South Carolina are relatively tax-friendly, making them a popular choice for many baby boomers.

In Florida, the state doesn’t impose any income tax on retirees. Therefore, retirement income, including social security benefits, remain untaxed. This includes any public and private pensions, 401(k) withdrawals, and IRA income.

The state uses gas, car registration fees, and liquor to raise the necessary funds. Although these items are taxed slightly higher than in other states, you will still get to save a considerable chunk of your hard-earned money if you’re a high-income earner. Individuals who rank lower in the income bracket may end up spending more on everyday items. 

Permanent residents of the state also benefit from a household exemption that can get to $50,000. Although the state imposes sales and property taxes, you can choose to rent instead of owning a home to avoid the hefty tariffs. 

Just like Florida, South Carolina has a lower tax burden compared to other states in the country. The highest tax rate on personal income is 7%, and the sales tax ranges between 6-9% depending on the county. Seniors who are above the age of 65 also get to enjoy tax benefits, including reductions of about $3,000 in retirement income.

Property taxes in South Carolina are also among the lowest in the country. The state also imposes the lowest gasoline taxes, which translates to the lowest transportation costs in the United States. 

Climate

Both Florida and South Carolina experience the same weather and climatic patterns, seeing as they are both located along the coast. 

In both states, the weather is generally warm, even during winters. Most people who move to the southeastern coast do so during winter to escape the chilling temperatures in their home states. If you retire to any of these states, you won’t need to leave your cooling system running during the cold seasons.

On the flip side, the warm climate also means that summers can get unbearably hot. The temperatures spike to dangerous highs and the humidity also rises. When you’re indoors, you can always turn on the air conditioner. However, walking outside during the summer will require some getting used to. 

When looking at the climate in these southeastern states, we also have to mention the frequent rising oceans and coastlines. The ocean’s constant rising levels mean that the coastline is susceptible to high tides, wave damage, and flooding. 

Florida is the flattest state in America, which is also a significant factor. Whenever the weather becomes warmer, glaciers in the ocean melt, causing the water levels to rise. Although some state cities are looking for ways to go around these problems, most of them aren’t doing much about it. 

You may also have to deal with the frequent hurricanes in the southeastern states. South Carolina’s position along the eastern coast is the reason for the frequent storms. The state is affected by at least one hurricane annually. Towns along the coast, including Myrtle Beach and Charleston, often experience flooding, which can be quite destructive.

Healthcare Access

As a retiree, one of the things you need to be assured of is your health coverage. Whether you have retirement income or not, you need to ensure your health bills will be covered. Old age commonly comes with a number of illnesses and ailments. Hence, it’s important that you are well covered should any health concerns arise.

According to US News & World Report study, Florida ranked #46 while South Carolina ranked #36.

However, both states seem not to be too badly off when it comes to access to healthcare. 

Florida has some of the best continuing care retirement communities, ensuring you have financial security for your health bills. These communities will help you put a life care plan that will help you in the future. The life care plan also ensures you have reduced the overall costs of care.

Similarly, South Carolina has excellent healthcare options for retirees in the state. Seniors get to choose from home care services, companionship, senior centers, caregiver support, hospice, and palliative care. 

All these options offer excellent healthcare services to seniors in South Carolina. Alternatively, retirees can opt for retirement homes where they are assured of the constant care they need. 

Recreational Activities

Florida vs. South Carolina for Retirement: Which Is Better?

As a retiree, you’ll have loads of free time. Therefore, when choosing your retirement location, consider factoring in the different activities you can enjoy as you kill time. The best place will have various things that you can engage in, so you’re never bored. 

Both of these states provide a variety of outdoor activities. The warm and pleasant climate all year round means that there’s always something to do outdoors, even during winter. 

The Sunshine State offers different relaxation activities, and you only need to find an activity that interests you. 

You can play golf in one of the numerous courses in the state. You can also opt to explore the many beaches and work on your tan whenever you want. If you’re better inclined to hiking and other outdoor activities, you’re going to love walking through the Everglades and other hiking trails. 

If your idea of relaxation is a more laid back lifestyle, you will still have something to do. Planned communities are quite popular and offer more sedate activities, for example, Bingo sessions, visiting theme parks, or going for neighborhood walks.

Baby boomers who would love to delve into the world of arts and culture are going to love living in South Carolina. The state offers a rich history and cultural diversity that anyone with so much time on their hands will want to explore. The state holds various film festivals, art galleries, concerts, and theaters. 

If you’re a foodie, then you’ll love retirement in South Carolina. The state is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. It is also well known for the fresh seafood cuisines that you can sample.

For seniors who’d like to remain active, South Carolina is also a great location for your sunset years. Some of the best golf courses are found here so you can play or learn to play if you’ve never gone golfing before. The beautiful beaches of South Carolina also offer different kinds of water sports for your enjoyment. And to crown it all, there are beautiful sceneries and mountain trails that offer the perfect hiking spots. 

Educational Opportunities

Most states usually have excellent education opportunities for resident retirees, and Florida and South Carolina are no exceptions. 

In Florida, retirees who are above the age of 60 can join any state universities and have the application, tuition, and other related fees waived for them. State universities can only grant this privilege on a space-available basis and only to residents who attend the classes for credit. However, the retirees don’t get academic credit for attending classes for which fees are waived. 

The State of South Carolina also has a similar policy in place. Citizens who are above 60 years old get to attend any of the state-owned colleges free of charge, also on a space-available basis. Seniors can use this opportunity for both credited and audited courses.

If you would like to attend any of the colleges, you’ll have to apply for enrollment and meet the fees for textbooks and other necessary materials as part of the course requirements. 

Accessibility

In both states, the best method to get around would be to drive. However, you may not always want to drive yourself around after retirement. Besides, with the influx of tourists visiting the southeastern coast each year, there are high chances you’ll be stuck in traffic severely. 

So, what other options are there?

In Florida, transportation options are different according to the city, seeing as each has a different infrastructure in place. If you’re only making short trips in the state, a bus or trolley should help you navigate. Alternatively, you can use the Florida Shuttle Transportation service to commute between the state’s major cities. 

For longer distances, using Amtrak services will be a more convenient option. This option allows you to travel long distances without the hassle of flying, and you’re assured of better safety of your luggage. Besides, Amtrak allows you to conveniently commute between cities that are quite far apart at an affordable price. 

Depending on the county you’re in, you can also use bikes to get around. Cities such as Punta Gorda and Miami Beach are very bike-friendly. You’ll even find bike-sharing programs here. 

If you’re unsure what transportation method to use, convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) will be quite helpful. 

Like Florida, South Carolina offers different ways to get around. If you aren’t so big on driving yourself everywhere, you can use the public transportation available. One of the best things about South Carolina is that the state also provides senior transportation services by county.

These services are usually safe, reliable, and customized to the clients’ needs. By using these services, you’ll get someone to accompany you to doctors’ appointments, social outings, airport shuttle, and even errands and grocery shopping. These services are available 24/7, and you need to book an appointment to gain access. Whatever the case, the state’s senior transportation services provide the best way for seniors to move around. 

If you opt for something else, you can choose to use the state or county shuttles. You can also cycle your way around the town as you do your errands. 

Housing Options

You need to consider the housing options before you decide to move to any state after retirement. For seniors looking to move to either Florida or South Carolina, you get to choose from various options. 

In Florida, the average value of homes is $259,642. Additionally, homeowners have to pay property taxes, which are dependent on the county requirements. Seniors who decide to become permanent residents qualify for a household exemption of up to $50,000. Even then, the property taxes can be quite excessive, and not many retirees opt for owning a home in Florida for this reason.

Retirees may find that renting a home in the state is a more affordable option. In this case, they get to choose from different retirement community rentals. These rentals are advantageous in that they also offer some incredible amenities, all designed for senior living. These activities communities help to keep seniors active and mingle with others to keep their social life alive. 

If renting or owning a home is out of the question, seniors can also retire to any senior housing facilities. This option includes assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, and nursing homes. It is especially helpful for seniors who require some assistance moving around or have prevailing medical conditions.

The property taxes in South Carolina are some of the lowest in the country. However, the prices of the houses in the state are also among the highest. South Carolina is a popular destination for tourists, baby boomers, and people looking to benefit from employment opportunities. Therefore, houses along the coast have high price tags. 

When looking for the best housing opportunities in the state, you’ll be better off checking into one of the retirement homes communities or renting the property instead of looking for ownership.

Conclusion

So there you have it, an extensive comparison of Florida and South Carolina as retirement locations. 

With both states offering so many benefits for retirees, from great climate, numerous recreational activities, to wonderful and accessible healthcare plus education opportunities, it’s up to you which state you’ll choose to live in during your retirement.

Sources

Anja

Hey there, my name is Anja, I’ve seen and supported my mom’s incredible transformation in her fifties. Seeing how my mom “awakened” and took full control over her life really impressed me. I got inspired and started dreaming about how we could inspire more people, especially women, to open up and create a second life for themselves. That’s how the idea of aginggreatly.com came to life…

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