South Carolina vs. North Carolina - Which is the best state in the Carolinas? (2023)

South Carolina vs. North Carolina - Which is the best state in the Carolinas? (1)

The first 50 years of Carolina history were filled with turmoil: corrupt officials, political strife, incompetent landlords, non-payment of taxes, and even friction with the natives. However, the settlers still found a way to build a new society that followed the coast and filled it with cities, farms and a functioning local government. Originally called Colonia de Carolina, it was claimed by the Spanish in the 16th century, with the French occupying parts of it as well.

The two regions were officially separated in the 17th century when the government decided it was too difficult to manage the large colony that Carolina had become. To resolve their dilemma, a governor was appointed in 1961 to oversee all of Carolina, along with an assistant governor to oversee the northern part of the colony. Soon after, in 1712, the Carolina colony was officially divided into North and South Carolina.

In 1729, however, King George took over the northern half of the state and made royal colonies in both Carolinas, putting an end to all troubles. During this time, both regions have continued to develop their own economies, local governments and cultures, making each one unique. In this comprehensive guide, we're going to summarize everything you need to know to make an informed decision when looking for the best place to live in these two great states. Keep reading to learn more about North Carolina and South Carolina and see for yourself which state is better.

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 the most and save the most, we did a head-to-head comparison of the two. Although North Carolina has the largest population, this generally means a higher cost of living as there are more people living in that area. That means more competition and more demand, leading to higher costs.

Carolina do sul

North Caroline


5.08 million

10.4 million

median family income

52.306 $

$ 53.855

median property value

170.000 $

180.000 $

home ownership fee



total cost of living












health care



public utility services




Below the national average

Below the national average

Although the cost of living in North Carolina is still 100% lower than the national average, it is still slightly higher than the cost of living in South Carolina. Additionally, people living in North Carolina pay below the state average for housing, groceries, utilities, and transportation. However, like SC, health care costs are higher than average.

(Video) Which Carolina Is Better? North Carolina Vs South Carolina

But as you can see from the chart above, South Carolina comes out on top when it comes to the most affordable area to live. In almost every category, South Carolina has proven to be a much friendlier place for anyone looking to start a new life or raise a family. As a result, South Carolina easily wins this round.


One of the main differences between these two states is the population. In 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 aged 65 and over, with South Carolina currently at 18.2% while North Carolina is close behind at 16.7%. Both states attract many retirees from across the country due to their lower costs and warmer climate prospects. Because of this, native Carolinians have raised concerns that their states are facing changes due to large numbers of newcomers.


Both states have excellent universities and their education systems work in similar ways. For example, the North Carolina and South Carolina public school systems operate through districts controlled by locally elected superintendents and school boards. However, since North Carolina has a larger population, they have more students compared to South Carolina. Here is a table showing the difference in numbers compared to your students (from a 2013 study).

Carolina do sul

North Caroline

number of students



number of schools



number of school districts



achievement rate



number of teachers in public schools



teacher-student relationship



Amount spent by each student

9.514 $

8.390 $

When it comes to their universities, both these states also have a wide range of students pursuing higher education. North Carolina is home to some of the best educational institutions such as 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, has two of the largest universities in the state, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. 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 outdoor enthusiast 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 is not only among the oldest in the world, but also among the most adventurous thanks to the great activities it offers. From art to ziplining, rest assured that any of these mountains can take you to the next level:

  • Highland
  • Ashville
  • city ​​of bryson
  • Boone and blown rock
  • Brevard e Hendersonville

South Carolina offers a diverse landscape where you can go from an ocean view to a heavenly view in just a few hours. In this state, you can find towering mountainous terrain in the northwest, but no matter where you go, you can shout your name from the mountain tops to hear echoes from distant lands. These are just some of the places you can visit to test your fear of heights:

  • Sassafras-Berg
  • crystalline mountain
  • head of caesar
  • Table Rock State Park

While both states offer beautiful mountain vistas and plenty of peaks and towering peaks to explore, North Carolina's mountains are breathtaking. The views that can be found in this state simply cannot be beat. So if you like to climb where the air is fresh and pure, then you can't go wrong with the North Carolina mountains.

(Video) North Carolina VS South Carolina - (North Carolina and South Carolina Compared)

Land on the shore of the lake

Maybe you want to own a lakefront property that will transport you away from the hustle and bustle of city life that you've always wanted to escape. There's no right or wrong choice here - both North Carolina and South Carolina are known for their beautiful freshwater lakes teeming with wildlife. Whether you're looking to enjoy the sun outside or catch the fish of a lifetime, here are some of the best lakes to consider for your lakefront property in both states.

North Caroline

  • norman lake
  • Jordansee
  • Hoher Felsensee
  • see a james
  • lago glenville

Carolina do sul

  • Ver a Marion
  • Lago Jocassee
  • lago murray
  • Ver Strom Thurmond
  • Lago Richard B. Russell

Both states win in this category as both North Carolina and South Carolina have beautiful lakes to choose from. No matter what kind of activities you want to get involved in, once you find your dream home, you'll be happy to find a place you can call sanctuary.

big city life

Another big difference between these two states is how one offers big city living while the other has a small town feel. Of course, the aforementioned population gap also contributes to this. Additionally, North Carolina is the largest state geographically, allowing for more development, more growth, and more people.

But what does that mean for people choosing between the two? If you're looking for a busier state with more things to see and do, then North Carolina is your choice. But if you're looking for a quieter place and hope to be more in touch with nature, South Carolina might be the place for you.

However, that doesn't mean you can't find a quiet spot away from the big city – North Carolina also offers areas to relax when you need it. Unfortunately, if you're looking for the excitement of big city living, South Carolina is no match for North Carolina, making it the clear winner here.


During the summer months you need to be in an area close enough to the beaches to face the heat. While both options have great beaches, they're not as easily accessible in North Carolina as they are in South Carolina, which can be a little tricky. Here are some scenic destinations in both states that you should stay close to, no matter the time of year.

North Caroline

  • Green Island
  • bald island
  • capa hatteras
  • Corolla/Currituck-Strand
  • ocracoke island

Carolina do sul

  • Kiawah Island
  • hilton head
  • Insel Sullivans
  • Pawleys-Insel
  • Huntington Beach State Park

As South Carolina has more cities and towns strategically located near the coastal regions, it is the best choice for those who want to enjoy their days of sun and water. It's also the perfect place to enjoy all your favorite water activities, with one exception.

(Video) 10 Things About North Carolina before you move there.


If surfing is an important part of your life, then there's no doubt that you need to move to North Carolina now. With some of the best waves on the entire East Coast, its waters are not only a favorite with locals, but also attract visitors from across the country. One of these areas isWrightsville Beach, which for years has attracted surfers to its coast. Even non-surfers won't be disappointed with the other activities in this area.

With a wide range of outdoor experiences, water sports and excursions to choose from, you can be sure that your stay here will be unforgettable. Whether you want to try your hand at deep sea fishing, scuba diving or paddle boarding, there is something for everyone here. Unfortunately, South Carolina's waves can't compare to North Carolina's, so surfers often head 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 in North Carolina and South Carolina. While SC has warmer temperatures, NC has a more seasonal climate. Again, it doesn't vary much, and temperatures in both states don't go above 80 degrees or dip below 30 degrees on average. In the end, you'll be perfectly happy anyway; You just need to find out your preferences to decide which condition is most beneficial for you.

property taxes

You might be wondering about property taxes before investing in any state. Well, you will be happy to know that there are no inheritance or estate taxes in South Carolina or North Carolina. In 2013, North Carolina eliminated its estate tax, giving you the freedom to choose between any of these states. However, there is a big difference when it comes to property taxes. South Carolina residents enjoy some of the lowest property taxes, ranking 45th in the country while North Carolina ranks 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%. Additionally, South Carolina homeowners age 65 and older can typically deduct $50,000 from their property taxes. Meanwhile, North Carolina offers a $25,000 property tax break if a person age 65 and older meets certain criteria. In this category, South Carolina is the winner.


Sports fans can rejoice in both federal states because they offer many action-packed sports games and teams. However, there is a difference in the performance and dominance of teams in certain sports. For example, North Carolina is the top state when it comes to college basketball, with top schools being the driving force behind many championships. Some of the most popular basketball schools here are:

  • Duke University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Wake Forest University

However, in college football, South Carolina has an advantage due to the success of the Clemson Tigers. As such, it was ranked among the nation's elite college football programs. However, when it comes to professional sports teams, North Carolina has a lot more to offer compared to South Carolina, and some of its most successful teams include:

(Video) REVEALED: Living In SOUTH CAROLINA vs NORTH CAROLINA | This May Surprise You!

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Carolina-Pantera
  • carolina huracan
  • charlotte ritter

Southern charm and hospitality

When it comes to Southern charm and hospitality, both states have a number of old and historic cities such as Georgetown and Charleston, as well as 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 many cities that could top any list of the best cities to retire to; You can choose between:

North Caroline

  • Ashville
  • Brevard
  • murphy
  • new bern

Carolina do sul

  • beaufort
  • charleston
  • Bluffton

While both states offer great cities and communities 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 taxes for retirees.

One of the biggest considerations for retirees is taxes, and South Carolina would have won in that comparison, with 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. In 2019, South Carolina had the 40th highest tax in the country, while North Carolina followed at 32nd.

While there are some different considerations and factors that go into each tax before you get the full picture, there are a few things to keep in mind that apply to most people:

  • No state taxes for Social Security.
  • South Carolina has a higher tax rate, along with slightly higher exemptions.
  • Sales tax in North Carolina is 1.25% less than in South Carolina. However, local taxes may reduce the difference.
  • South Carolina taxes on retirement income are more favorable.
  • North Carolina has a higher property tax as a percentage of home value.
  • None of the states have an estate or inheritance tax.

labor markets

It should come as no surprise that while North Carolina offers many opportunities, if you are looking for more professional-level jobs, North Carolina is the place to be. Both South Carolina and North Carolina have large food and restaurant industries, primary and secondary schools, and construction. While both states have lower median household incomes compared to the national average, they are also experiencing strong economic growth. Here is a direct comparison of the job market in both states along with the national average, using Charlotte and Charleston as examples.

working market

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charleston, Carolina do Sul


current unemployment




future job growth




recent job growth

-5,6 %

-3,7 %


3 years of professional growth

-0,7 %

1,0 %


5 years of professional growth




10 years of professional growth




By the forecast values ​​established by the examples above, both states are on track for economic growth and employment. However, if you are looking for more job variety and a dynamic workplace, North Carolina is your best bet.


Depending on your preferences, it can be difficult to decide between the two, especially since they share similar climates and topography. In general, any state would be a great place to move to, as they both offer something different from the other.

(Video) North Carolina and South Carolina Compared

However, from what we saw, we can say that North Carolina has some more beneficial advantages like; Like bigger cities to choose from, higher mountains to explore, and loads of jobs to keep you moving even during the pandemic. Additionally, North Carolina's college towns, located in the Research Triangle, are becoming increasingly progressive. Finally, 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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