Coasting into The Palmetto State: The moveBuddha 2023 South Carolina Migration Report

The South is rising again in South Carolina. Long overshadowed by larger neighbors, a tide of new residents is seeing this coastal gem as their #1 destination. So far in 2024, the state is snagging the highest rate of new moves in the country, up 5% since 2023. Today, 2.18 new South Carolinians move in for every one that leaves.

Big takeaways

  • South Carolina ranks #1 in 2023 and early 2024 as the top move-to state in the nation.
  • Mover search data shows an unwavering appeal for moving to South Carolina: Every year since 2020, there have been twice as many searches for moves into the state as there are for those looking to move out.
  • Growth was driven by New Yorkers, but more recently, it’s Floridians escaping high costs. 25% of all searches for moves into South Carolina in 2023 were from these three states: Florida (10%), California (8%) and New York (7%).
  • 2023 top move-to cities: Conway, Aiken, Myrtle Beach, Greer, Murrells Inlet — all small towns offering affordability and high quality of life.
  • Homes in #1 Conway are around $276K as of February 2024 (Zillow). That’s below the state average ($288K) and nearly 80% of the cost of the average US home ($348K).
  • As a top growth state, drawing in nearly 100,000 new residents, South Carolina may face challenges maintaining affordability along with this rapid population boom.

According to moveBuddha’s most up-to-date user search trends, which predict upcoming moves based on requests for moving services, South Carolina is averaging 2.18 new residents for each one that leaves the state in 2024.

If interest continues at this rate, South Carolina will add more than the 90,600 new residents the Palmetto State welcomed in 2023.

We wanted to know where all those newcomers are settling from 2023 into 2024.

Table of Contents

1. South Carolina Moves: Looking at statewide trends into 2024
2. South Carolina Gains: Which state residents are moving to SC the most?
3. South Carolina Exits: Which states are South Carolinans moving to the most?
4. Top Move-to Cities Forecast:  Which cities are most popular to move to?
5. Sources and Methodology

moving to south carolina

I. Moving to South Carolina: Everyone’s moving to South Carolina in 2024

From July 2022 to July 2023, South Carolina ranked #5 in the nation for population increase, adding a new population almost the size of Mount Pleasant in just one year. Only outdone by Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, South Carolina now ranks among the top states for overall growth and brings in the top prize for its growth rate.

And according to moveBuddha data, South Carolina’s popularity has remained strong over the past four years. The state has averaged about two times more moves in than moves out from 2020 into this year.

Both jobs and retirements are bringing in new moves. 

Boeing opened a manufacturing plant in South Carolina in 2011, and other big employers, from BMW to Amazon, Google, and, moved in, bringing job positions with them. Done working? Retirement communities are growing due to low costs and gorgeous beaches.

South Carolina is the most popular state to move to in 2023, and in 2024 too

The migration report found that South Carolina was the top move-to state of 2023, with the highest ratio of inflow to outflow throughout the year.

And early 2024 data shows the state continues to double down on newcomers more than any other state:

State 2023 in-to-out ratio rank 2024 in-to-out ratio rank
South Carolina 1 1
Arkansas 6 2
Alaska 2 3
North Carolina 3 4
Tennessee 4 5
Wyoming 9 6
West Virginia 4 7
Idaho 8 8
Oklahoma 7 9
Alabama 10 9


south carolina migration

2. Which states are fueling South Carolina’s growth?

moveBuddha data shows while many people from New York are heading to South Carolina to join the state’s growing economy, many from Florida and Texas are also arriving to escape their increasingly sweltering summers.

In 2022, New Yorkers were dominating inflow, but in 2023, an increasing number of Floridians are moving into SC.

South Carolina’s more affordable cost of living remains can represent significant savings compared to Florida, where real estate’s median home sales price has skyrocketed 65% over the past 5 years.

Which states are moving to SC the most in 2024 so far?

According to the latest moveBuddha search data, of all queries for moves to South Carolina from other states in early 2024, Florida and California remain in the top two spots, followed by North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Rank State % of all moves into SC from out of state
1 Florida 9.9%
2 California 9.2%
3 North Carolina 6.7%
4 New York 6.7%
5 Pennsylvania 6.6%
6 New Jersey 5.0%
7 Colorado 4.8%
8 Georgia 4.4%
9 Texas 4.3%
10 Illinois 4.0%


south carolina moving trends

3. And which states do South Carolina folks head to most?

When SC residents choose to leave the state, which states are they headed to the most?

We looked at all queries for moves exiting South Carolina into other states in 2023 and found which are most popular for moves exiting the Sunshine State. The top destinations are North Carolina, Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia.

Which states are South Carolina folks heading to the most in 2024, so far?

Looking at early 2024 queries for moves exiting South Carolina, in the first few months of this year, South Carolina residents are looking to move to Texas, California, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia the most. 

Rank State % of moves exiting SC for other states
1 North Carolina 15.8%
2 Florida 10.0%
3 Texas 7.7%
4 New York 5.7%
5 Ohio 5.6%
6 Tennessee 4.8%
7 Georgia 4.5%
8 California 3.6%
9 Colorado 3.6%
10 Washington 3.4%


south carolina small towns

4. Data Shows Everyone's Headed to More Affordable Pastures: Conway and Aiken

When we crunch our moveBuddha numbers we like to compare inflow to outflow. This shows us how many more people are moving into an area than out and often sheds light on cities, especially those that are popular to move into (vs. out of).

Using an in-to-out ratio we can see which cities attract proportionally more moves in than out.

Here are the South Carolina cities that were most popular in 2023:

Rank (Higher inflow than outflow in 2023) City, ST
2023 Moves In-to-Out
1 Conway, SC 386 to 100
2 Aiken, SC 383 to 100
3 Myrtle Beach, SC 285 to 100
4 Greer, SC 279 to 100
5 Murrells Inlet, SC 259 to 100
6 Summerville, SC 250 to 100
7 Greenville, SC 229 to 100
8 Gaston, SC 223 to 100
9 Florence, SC 198 to 100
10 Anderson, SC 188 to 100
11 Hilton Head Island, SC 183 to 100
12 Rock Hill, SC 180 to 100
13 Simpsonville, SC 179 to 100
14 Charleston, SC 178 to 100
15 Beaufort, SC 164 to 100
16 Spartanburg, SC 160 to 100
17 Clemson, SC 158 to 100
18 Mount Pleasant, SC 148 to 100
19 Fort Mill, SC 135 to 100
20 Irmo, SC 130 to 100

Note: For our analysis, we only include cities with a minimum of 25 inbound queries and 25 outbound queries, which narrows our list down to a list of 28 of the most searched South Carolina cities.

South Carolina’s Small Towns Are Its Big Winners

What are new movers seeking? Movie-perfect small towns with gorgeous main streets, plenty of entertainment, and rock-bottom prices.

South Carolina’s winning cities aren’t the state’s largest cities. Instead, they are the places where history, play, and quality of life dominate.

  • Conway - This historic small town a stone’s throw from Myrtle Beach (and its international airport) boasts plenty to do, thanks to Coastal Carolina University and a scenic riverwalk along the Waccamaw.
  • Aiken - Newcomers likely hear about Aiken because of its proximity to Augusta National, home of the Master’s Golf Tournament. When they arrive, they’ll find a pedestrian downtown, complete with rocking chairs and a bucolic history in horseracing.
  • Myrtle Beach - A hotspot for retirees, Myrtle Beach is a sun worshipper’s paradise and a tourism Mecca. Couple its silky soft sand with astonishingly low property taxes, and you have a recipe for new moves.
  • Greer - Between Charlotte and Atlanta, and near the cultural offerings of all of Spartanburg’s 7 colleges, Greer is a home base with access to larger places. Yet Greer itself oozes Southern charm, with a brick main street and vibrant restaurant scene.
  • Murrells Inlet - This expanding beach town south of Myrtle Beach is a golf and beach destination where you can stroll marsh boardwalks while taking in the sunsets. Movers put it on their radar once it was named America’s #1 affordable beach town for retirement

With so many affordable cities on the top ten (a typical home in #1 Conway is 51% cheaper than the US median real estate price), a new move to any of South Carolina’s top ten most desirable cities of 2024 will save newcomers cash on the typical home.

City, ST y/y % increase Feb 2023 Feb 2024
Conway, South Carolina 2% $271,467 $276,148
Aiken, South Carolina 1% $244,125 $247,384
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 1% $297,037 $301,182
Greer, South Carolina 2% $321,440 $327,600
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina 3% $367,971 $379,248
Summerville, South Carolina 4% $361,855 $375,986
Greenville, South Carolina 4% $287,537 $299,060
Gaston, South Carolina 0% $109,810 $109,978
Florence, South Carolina 4% $199,479 $206,846
Anderson, South Carolina 7% $230,205 $246,565

Which cities are most popular to move to in 2024, so far?

To get some insights into where people are planning to move to in 2024, we have gathered up our latest 2024 moveBuddha search data (Jan 1 to March 15).

As we do for the 2023 analysis, for this 2024 forecast we only include cities with a minimum of 25 inbound queries and 25 outbound queries, which narrows our list down to 4 cities that are already seeing significant interest from movers in early 2024.

Rank City, State 2024 In-to-Out Ratio
1 Myrtle Beach, SC 2.66
2 Greenville, SC 2.08
3 Charleston, SC 1.49
4 Columbia, SC 1.21

Will South Carolina Keep Drawing in Moves in 2024? 

South Carolina isn’t a secret anymore. It stands to grow even faster in 2024 than it did in 2023, adding close to 100,000 residents this year. The real question is whether the state can continue to absorb newcomers at record rates and keep its signature affordability, small-town charm, and all the things that make it attractive to current movers.

Will South Carolina succeed? Only time will tell. What we do know is that a slowdown in new moves doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. With the Palmetto State charming residents of neighboring states and those coming from California alike, the cat is out of the bag in 2024.

5. Sources and Methodology

This report primarily uses moveBuddha proprietary data. For understanding the cost of area homes we use Zillow’s Home Value Index.

moveBuddha proprietary data:

moveBuddha collects mover search queries via their Moving Cost Calculator which amounts to half a million searches annually from people wanting to move, this includes everything from a DIY move to a full-service move and everything in-between. This data provides real-time insights into where people are moving to and leaving from, including popular cities and states

  • Data used in this report spans from January 1, 2020 through March 15, 2024 capturing searches by individuals planning a move.
  • Search data amounts to over half a million searches annually.
  • For state-level analysis, we only look at moves crossing state borders.
  • For city-level analysis, we only included cities with a minimum of 25 inbound queries and 25 outbound queries.
  • More information about our move data can be found in our annual Migration Report.

The moveBuddha in-to-out  ratio 

  • In moveBuddha migration reports, our analysts primarily use an in-to-out move ratio. The in-to-out ratio is calculated by taking the number of searches for moves divided by the number of searches for moves out of a city or state.
  • A ratio greater than 1 indicates higher inflow than outflow.
  • A ratio less than 1 indicates higher outflow.

Sample data: 

Example state or city 2022 In-to-Out Ratio 2022 In-to-Out Ratio (x100) 2023 In-to-Out Ratio 2023 In-to-Out Ratio (x100) % point change from 2022 to 2023
South Carolina 1.95 195 2.08 208 13
Conway, South Carolina 2.86 286 3.86 386 100
Greenville, South Carolina 2.31 231 2.29 229 -2


South Carolina's in-to-out ratio dropped 13 percentage points from 2022 to 2023. In 2022, there were 195 moves in for every 100 headed out, but that inflow dropped down to 208 moves in for every 100 out in 2023.

Conway, South Carolina saw 286 moves in for every 100 out in 2022; in 2023, that ratio dropped just 100 points to 386 moves in for every 100 out.

Greenville, South Carolina saw 231 moves in for every 100 out in 2022; in 2023, that ratio dropped just -2 points to 229 moves in for every 100 out.

Zillow — Zillow Home Value Index city data

The Zillow Home Value Index or ZHVI provides us with the typical home value within each city at a given period of time.

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