Best US Cities for Retirees in 2024: Greenville, SC

Best US Cities for Retirees in 2024: Greenville, SC

Over the last three years, multiple business surveys have ranked Greenville, South Carolina as one of the fastest growing cities and hubs of economic development in the USA. Little wonder that Americans across the country looking for an ideal retirement destination target Greenville, SC in nearly 2,250 retirement-related searches each year.

Recent IRS data show that over 19,000 taxpayers—a mind-blowing 5x—ended up making the move to Greenville County, seat of Greenville! Not surprisingly, the most recent World Population Review statistics for 2024 show that the population of Greenville, SC has grown by 3.6% since the last census.

Google Search Interest in Retirement-related Queries data for Greenville, SC

Clearly, Greenville, SC is attracting a lot of settlers. But what is it like to live in, and does it make for a great place to retire to?

At PlayLouder, we know that there’s only one way to get at the truth – dig in deep! So, my wife and I crunched the numbers, talked to people, analyzed everything we could lay our hands on. 

From coffee to crime to culture, we covered just about everything that someone moving to Greenville, SC would want to know about.

And so here it is, a snapshot of what retiring to Greenville, SC is like in 2024. 

Main Pros and Cons of Greenville, South Carolina for Retirees

If you’re having one of those weeks, here’s a bite-sized takeaway, before you come back to pore over the details over the weekend.

Pros

Greenville, SC is arguably one of the best places to raise a family, particularly if sports and games, wide open spaces and close-knit communities are central to your family life. The affordable cost of house ownership as well as gas are especial advantages if you're aiming to streamline expenses and prioritize financial prudence. 

Cons

If, however, you prize the freedom to leave your key in the car and your front door unlocked at all times, moving to Greenville will necessitate significant habit and lifestyle adjustments. Additionally, the city has a reputation for traffic congestion, especially in downtown areas, which can pose a challenge for those with long daily commutes.  

Cost of Living

Overview

Without a doubt, one of Greenville’s top attractions is the fact that it supports a family-friendly, active, outdoors lifestyle while providing all the amenities of big city living – and all this without burning a hole in your pocket.

Barring a handful of expenses such as sneakers and upscale dining options, the cost of living in Greenville, SC works out to be on par with the US national average, and significantly lower than in major metros.

Unless your plan includes educating your kids at a private, international school or hosting the US variant of the Tomatina festival, moving to Greenville, SC will almost definitely yield far more bang for your retirement bucks than nearly anywhere else as attractive.

What are the prices like in Greenville, SC? Let’s break it down. 

Housing and Utilities

Depending on whom you talk to, the increase in housing costs over the past year in Greenville, SC will be pegged at anywhere between 5% and 10%.

That said, one-room apartments are roughly 10% more costly to rent in Greenville, SC and 3-bedroom units are a steep 64% pricier than the country average, according to data from Numbeo.

Renting outside the city works out cheaper, especially for smaller units; a one-bedroom costs on par with the country average. A three-bed will still cost you more, by about 21%.

For those looking to buy, Numbeo data suggest that per square foot costs are, on average, roughly 19% higher than the country average. This didn't make any sense, since it contradicted what I'd been hearing from my local sources, so I went and looked up a bunch of realtors in the area.

Cost of Real Estate data in Greenville, SC

Here is what I found: the median price on a 3-bedroom property in the Greenville, SC area runs to around $346,000. Compare this against two statistics:

  • According to June 2023 statistics from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average US home costs $495,100.
  • A 2024 survey by Forbes estimated the median cost of homes in the US at roughly $426,000.

Reassuringly, houses in Greenville, SC are, in fact, cheaper than in the rest of the country – by a good 30% when compared to the Dept of Housing data, and by roughly 19% compared to the Forbes data.

Cost of Utilities data in Greenville, SC

The cost of maintaining a home (heating and cooling, other utilities) is significantly lower than the US average, I found (by about 21%). On the other hand, internet costs are on par with the rest of the country, while cellphone bills are slightly higher (5%).

Food, Grocery and Apparel

Cost of Food and Grocery data in Greenville, SC

With the exception of a few produce items, such as apples, potatoes and tomatoes, I found that Greenville, SC prices for most essentials are on par with the US average. Similarly, dining out at a regular restaurant is also unlikely to run up a large check, unless it's a fancy establishment.

Wardrobe maintenance tends to cost more in this area, however, with prices higher than average by anywhere from 3% to 20%, depending on item type. Expect to pay about a fifth more than elsewhere for sneakers. 

Cost of Apparel data in Greenville, SC

Transportation and Fuel

The Numbeo data showed public transit costs in Greenville to be slightly higher than average (by about 4%). Locals additionally shared with us that the Greenville city bus service (operated by Greenville Area Transit or GREAT) is decent, if not great.

Cost of Transportation and Fuel data in Greenville, SC

One area that represents potentially significant cost savings is gas – Gas is roughly 16% cheaper than the national average in Greenville, SC, I found. You can also look forward to saving roughly 6% on an entry-level, mid-sized sedan in South Carolina compared to the nation-wide average cost.    

Local Economy and Part-Time Job Opportunities

In February 2024, CNN Business declared that, at an annual growth rate of 5.7%, South Carolina is one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. 

I decided to find out whether Greenville, SC had been coming in for a slice of the growth pie. Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve (commonly known as FRED) showed me that from 2018 to 2022, Greenville, SC has recorded an impressive 5.4% average growth in the city’s GDP.  

Employment Growth Rate data in Greenville, SC

What's more, Greenville is poised to see jobs grow at a decent clip of 1.3% over the next year (figure above). Expert economists at the state's leading universities estimate that there are an average 2.3 jobs for every job-seeker in the state.

Even as the US is seeing a nationwide slowdown in economic growth, According to the analysts at CNN Business, the main drivers of job growth in Greenville County are the booming automotive, aerospace, retail and distribution sectors. Take a look at the bar graph for a bird's eye view of the growth in jobs across sectors in Greenville, SC (figure below).

Economic Growth Rate data in Greenville, SC

Our local sources confirmed the uptick in employment opportunities in Greenville, SC, sharing that the city has over $650 million worth of major infrastructure projects underway. including:

  • City improvement (roadworks, public parks, zoo) –   $55 million
  • Communication (fiber optic internet infrastructure) –   $100 million
  • Manufacturing (lithium batteries & power systems) – $500 million

Job Prospects for Retirees

When evaluating Greenville’s potential for providing jobs suitable to retirees, my wife and I had a pretty clear idea of what we were looking for – after all, we knew what we wanted for ourselves when we chose to retire early. Accordingly, these were the main criteria we looked for:

  1. The profile requires higher level education, e.g., an advanced diploma or college degree.
  2. The position is mid- to senior-level within the organization (in other words, no entry-level jobs).
  3. The work ideally calls for administrative and/or managerial experience.

Filtering through online job listings for Greenville, SC, my search revealed that there are roughly 90 to 120 positions corresponding to these requirements posted during the peak hiring season of January-March, as well as during the September-October fall recruitment spike.

Employment Opportunities for Retirees data in Greenville, SC

Profiles include positions coordinating operations in different sectors, openings in education, retail (marketing, merchandising) and hospitality (cook, baker), as well as jobs calling for technical or specialized skills in law, healthcare and IT (see pie-chart above).

Apart from these ‘indoor’ job profiles, I found that the Greenville, SC area has numerous outdoor roles such as park rangers, animal caregivers, veterinarians, camp counselors and guides/ instructors in a range of topics, from boating to environmental awareness. Recruitment to these, often seasonal positions, peaks just before summer (March-April).       

The pay for the indoor jobs ranges from $9.82 to over $28 hourly for positions requiring specialist skills. In addition, nearly four-fifths of the listings (roughly 77%) offer either or both health and dental insurance coverage as part of employment benefits.

Outdoor jobs similarly command varied pay, from a low of $8 hourly to salaries of over $100K a year for jobs requiring advanced degrees.

Healthcare Facilities, Costs, and Quality

Greenville, SC enjoys the reputation of being a healthcare hub, boasting no less than three premier hospitals – Greenville Memorial Hospital (aka Prisma Health), Bon Secours St. Francis Mercy Health and Shriner's Children's Hospital.

The 864-bed Prisma Health is a Level 1 Trauma Center with over a dozen specialty departments from diabetology to oncology, with award-winning nursing care as well as surgical specialties. Bon Secours, likewise, is renowned as being among the country's top hospitals in terms of patient satisfaction.   

With its trusted hospitals and over a thousand healthcare professionals actively practicing in the area, there's not a doubt that your healthcare needs will be amply met in Greenville, SC.

Cost of Average Healthcare data in Greenville, SC

As per Payscale.com data, the cost of healthcare for both you and your pet is also likely to be lower in Greenville, SC. 

At roughly $122, your regular doctor's visits come out 2% cheaper than the US average, while your furry friend's bill is likely to be about 8% lower than elsewhere. Visits to the dentist or optometrist are significantly cheaper in Greenville (see figure).

Besides across-the-spectrum healthcare, Greenville, SC also has a number of institutions with 4-star or even higher ratings that specialize in senior healthcare.

Besides across-the-spectrum healthcare, Greenville, SC also has a number of institutions with 4-star or even higher ratings that specialize in senior healthcare. 

Safety and Accessibility

Crime and safety

When I first began researching Greenville, SC safety stats, I had mixed feelings. The city's crime rate of 4,219 is, after all, a fair bit higher than the national average of 2,324 per 100K individuals. 

To get a more complete picture, I ran a comparison of Greenville, SC against crime and safety data from nine other cities with similar populations (figure below).

Crime and Safety Comparison data in Greenville, SC

One thing was immediately apparent – Greenville's safety rating was above the median safety rating for similar-sized US cities. In fact, the stats showed that Greenville's crime rates haven't risen as steeply as those of all the other cities, with the city scoring 53 against the 10-city average of 66.

Bearing out this fact, I came across a handful of news reports from the last 12 months, describing how Greenville, SC has reined in growing crime, in spite of its burgeoning population.

But does the city actually feel safe on the ground? To find out, my wife and I reviewed all the information that our local contacts had shared with us. And what we found was reassuring:

For the most part, the people we spoke to had led safe, uneventful lives in Greenville. We'd encountered only a couple of instances where individuals shared brushes with crime.

One person had had valuables stolen from their car, and someone else had had to give police testimony about a parking lot crime that they hadn't even witnessed.

There was one thing, though, that almost everyone had brought up – the necessity of taking basic safety precautions. Given how this was a common thread in all our conversations and research, we decided to summarize the advice here.

Safe living tips from current and former residents of Greenville, SC

  • Lock car doors even in safe neighborhoods.
  • Do not leave valuables in cars.
  • Ensure that doors and windows are locked at home
  • For heightened safety, install security grills over windows.
  • Arm your home with automated security alarms.
  • Make sure all entrances and exits to your home are well-lit.
  • Avoid moving around alone in ill-lit or lonely areas.
  • When out alone at night, carry mace or pepper spray.  

Safest neighborhoods

To get at the question, “which are the safest areas to live in in Greenville?” we decided to tally data from multiple sources – the impressions shared by our own contacts, discussion threads on forums for people visiting or moving to Greenville, as well as real estate and home security services websites.

This is an unranked list of the top 7 safest neighborhoods to call home in Greenville, SC. The within-city areas included:

  • Alta Vista
  • Augusta Road (southern stretch)
  • North Main (northern stretch)

The safest suburbs on the outskirts of Greenville include:

  • Gower Estates
  • Wade Hampton
  • Dellwood
  • Richmond Hills

Besides naming these localities, some of our contacts expressed their own preference for living in nearby towns that are very safe, and within convenient driving distance of Greenville. The top choices included:

  • Mauldin
  • Travelers' Rest

Accessibility: Getting to Greenville, SC

By road

  • Columbia, SC: The approximately 118-mile drive northwest to Greenville, SC takes an estimated travel time of about 2 hours. Start by taking I-26 West from Columbia. After approximately 75 miles, take exit 51B to merge onto I-385 North toward Greenville. Continue on I-385 North for about 20 miles until it merges with I-85 North. Follow I-85 North for about 5 miles into Greenville.
  • Asheville, NC: Greenville, SC lies roughly 60 miles south of this city. The drive is typically about 1 hour 15 minutes long. Begin by taking I-26 East from Asheville. In approximately 45 miles, take exit 54 for US-25 South toward Greenville. Continue on US-25 South for about 15 miles till you hit Greenville.
  • Charlotte, NC: From here, it's approximately 100 miles southwest to Greenville, SC, and travel time is an estimated 1 hour 45 minutes. Start by taking I-85 South from Charlotte. After approximately 95 miles, take exit 51 for I-385 South toward Columbia/Greenville. Continue on I-385 South for about 5 miles until it merges with I-85 South. Follow I-85 South for about 5 miles, all the way into Greenville.
  • Knoxville, TN: At an estimated 3 hours and 30 minutes, Greenville, SC is about 225 miles east of Knoxville, TN. Begin by taking I-40 East from Knoxville. In approximately 80 miles, merge onto I-26 East toward Columbia. Continue on I-26 East for approximately 140 miles until you reach Greenville.
  • Atlanta, GA: Greenville, SC is approximately a 145-mile drive northeast of Atlanta, GA, and the drive typically takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. Start by taking I-85 North from Atlanta. Continue on I-85 North for about 145 miles, all the way into Greenville.

Aside from driving yourself, you could also take a bus to Greenville, SC from practically any other nearby city. Providers such as AMTRAK, Greyhound, FlixBus and Wanda Coach operate services to Greenville from numerous major cities – nearby Columbia, Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh, as well as places further afield like Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Washington, DC, among others.

By rail

Greenville, SC is on one of the oldest train routes in the country, and continues to be well-connected by AMTRAK trains that stop at the station on West Washington Street. Trains to Greenville run from nearby North Carolina (Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro) in addition to major metros like Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Washington, DC and others.      

By air

Greenville, SC is served by the Greenville-Spartanburg international airport (GSV). Flights operated by most major airlines including American, Delta, Southwest and United connect the city to practically every other major city, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Boston and Seattle.

Climate

One of the greatest attractions of Greenville, SC, especially for retirees, is undoubtedly its sub-tropical climate. With hot summers and mild winters, the weather in the area is ideal for engaging in all your favorite outdoor activities, be it camping and fishing at a relaxed pace, or more vigorous pursuits like rock climbing or white water rafting.

The city boasts four distinct seasons – a warm and sunny spring that sees occasional showers is followed by a hot and humid summer. Fall is cooler and drier, while winter skies are overcast with temperatures ranging from cool to moderately cold.

Annual Temperature Range data in Greenville, SC

Weather Preparedness

Greenville, SC generally sees little snow, the highest probability of snowfall being in late January and early February. On the other hand, thunderstorms are a regular feature of the spring and summer months, with the greatest likelihood being in March and again in July. These storms typically build up during the afternoon and evening, between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m..

During the months of March and April, and again in September, the area is also prone to tornadoes. Residents would thus be well-advised to stay tuned to weather bulletins, and to be alert to the difference between a ‘severe weather watch’ (typically affords a window of a few hours to prepare) and a ‘severe weather warning’ (requires immediate action). Of course, the general precaution is to avoid being outdoors during severe weather of any kind.

Environment Quality

Despite being in an industrialized area, Greenville, SC manages to maintain a decent if not enviable environment, thanks to the abundance of greenery in and around the city. 

Its AQI or Air Quality Index typically ranges from slightly above 10 to figures in the 110–120 range, well below the 300 AQI cutoff recognized as the danger mark for air pollution. The average particulate matter count for 2.5PM also typically stays below the EPA annual cutoff of 12 μg/m³, and well under the 24-hour danger threshold of 35 μg/m³ (see figures below).

Air Quality Index data in Greenville, SC
Particulate Matter data in Greenville, SC

Like all green regions, though, Greenville does throw up its share of pollen woes for those prone to allergies. Its mild winters mean that tree pollen allergies see an early onset, with spikes in mid-March and again during the first half of April; the worst offenders are oak, beech, birch and pine. 

Grass allergies tend to rear up from mid to late May – naturally growing grasses such as ryegrass and sweet vernal as well as cultivars like Bermuda can trigger allergies. Allergies due to ragweed, marsh elder and other weeds typically surface in the fall, peaking by mid-September.

Education and Learning

The education landscape of Greenville, SC mirrors the inclusiveness of its population age spectrum, catering to the learning needs of individuals across the lifespan, from kindergarteners to senior citizens seeking greater personal fulfillment.

Traditional Academics

Greenville is home to the Princeton Review-recommended (but somewhat pricey!) Furman University, where annual tuition for an undergraduate degree works out to roughly $59,000. (Note that Furman doesn't distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students, so the same rates apply across the board.) 

Besides Furman, the city has two Christian universities, namely Bob Jones and North Greenville Universities, both of which offer a host of undergraduate degree programs, with the latter offering graduate programs as well.

In addition, the city's Greenville Technical College (GTC) offers a wide range of associate degrees and diploma courses aimed at workforce skilling and certification in a wide variety of domains, from arts to advanced manufacturing. GTC course tuition ranges from as little as $295 to $4,289 per semester.

Continued Learning

Furman University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) as well as GTC's ‘Corporate and Continuing Education' (CCE) initiative are both options for retirees wanting to explore new knowledge and skill domains.

A modest annual registration fee of $65 is a pre-requisite for taking courses from OLLI, which span diverse topics such as poetry appreciation, submarine design and operations, yoga therapy, European history, coping with dementia and pickleball. The course fees range from $35 for a single four-week course to $315 for an annual, 9-course package.

GTC's CCE courses likewise cover a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from art and literature to culinary arts to healthcare support training to specialized, technical subjects such as asbestos certification for construction professionals, indoor air quality monitoring, forklift operations and safety and hazardous waste management. Fees correspondingly range from as little as $99 for an introductory first-aid course to over $5,000 for in-depth, specialist courses.  

School Education

Per NCES data, there are a total of 92 public schools and 30 private schools in South Carolina's Greenville County. The schools cater to the entire pre-KG through K12 spectrum of students.

Well-reputed public schools include Oakview Elementary and Augusta Circle Elementary, GREEN Charter School and Greenville Middle Academy, Greenville Technical Charter High School and Wade Hampton High School.

Demographics and Social Profile

Demographics and Social Profile data in Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC is home to a population of about 72,310 individuals, as per the 2022 census. Senior citizens (aged 65 and above) make up 14.5% of this population, while the youth demographic (those aged 18 or lower) constitute a little under 23%, giving the region a healthy distribution of people across the lifespan.

In terms of gender, the distribution is well-balanced, with 52% being females. The racial representation in Greenville includes predominantly people of White/ Caucasian origin (roughly 68%) as well as individuals of Black/ African-American ethnicity (approximately 23%), with smaller numbers of individuals of Asian and Hispanic/ Latino origin (see tree chart above).

Greenville also has a significant foreign-born population of approximately 5,200 (roughly 7.2%). The major nationalities represented among these are Mexico (23%), India (6%) and Honduras (5%).

Since 2000, Greenville, SC has consistently returned a majority Republican vote (46% in the last polls) in every presidential election. The city is known to have a rather conservative political stance.

Founder at Play Louder !

Joe DiSanto is the founder of Play Louder! He has built multi-million dollar businesses, produced critically acclaimed documentaries and an Emmy-winning TV show, invested millions in real estate, and semi-retired at age 43. Now, Joe serves as a Fractional CFO for several creative firms and is sharing a lifetime of fiscal know-how via Play Louder, an invaluable resource that helps individuals and business owners increase their net worth and plan better for their future.