16 Pros and Cons of Living in Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, S.C, is the second oldest city in the state, second only to Charleston.

Beaufort is much smaller than Charleston and is often listed as one of the best places to live in the state or even the nation.

Beaufort has its own antebellum mansions on the waterfront just as Charleston does, but without the flood of tourists.

The city is filled with southern charm and great beaches are nearby. 

The only real downside is that it is a bit isolated.

Beaufort, SC History Museum

Beaufort, SC History Museum
Beaufort, SC History Museum

Pros of Living in Beaufort

1. The scenery

There are nearby beaches that are beautiful.

There are centuries-old oak trees covered with moss that mark much of the South Carolina coast.

Stately, historic mansions and historical buildings give the downtown a feel that rivals Charleston.

Springtime has beautiful flowers that make it even more appealing.

There are not many towns anywhere more visually appealing than Beaufort.

2. The weather

Summer can get hot since it is just a bit inland, but in general, the weather is great.

Winters are very mild, with temperatures rarely dipping below 40, and many winter days in the 50s.

There can be a lot of rain in the fall, but even then temperatures are mild.

One of the main reasons South Carolina has become a retirement destination is the weather. 

The very hot part of summer is usually not more than a week or so.

3. Outdoor activities

The beaches around Beaufort are not overcrowded like some tourist destinations.

All kinds of water sports can be enjoyed year around.

There are ample hunting and fishing opportunities.

You can learn to catch shrimp in the marshes too.

The area has a lot of golf courses, as well as tennis centers for even more outdoor fun.

No matter what outdoor activity you like, you will find plenty of it in Beaufort.

4. Lower taxes

The gasoline tax is very low in South Carolina, and the state usually has the lowest fuel costs in the nation as a result.

Property taxes are also relatively low in the state, and in Beaufort.

There are a lot of deductions for your state income tax, so you may not have to pay much there either.

According to Wallet Hub, South Carolina has the 11th lowest tax burden in the nation. 

The lower tax burden is another reason this area has become a favorite place to retire.

5. Hospitality

Real southern hospitality reigns in South Carolina, and Beaufort has maintained that southern charm over the years.

Many coastal areas have become a bit more upscale, and have lost some of that charm, but not Beaufort.

People will say hello on the street, and stop to talk and enjoy each other’s company.

People in this area tend to be welcoming to strangers, as well as old friends.

You will feel right at home almost immediately if you move to Beaufort.

6. The food

There is, of course, traditional southern food that is always good, and most of it is fried in some way.

Add to that the coastal low-country culture, and you have a cuisine that is unique to the area along the coast.

Seafood abounds, and it is fresh.

You can eat seafood that was caught the same day in restaurants.

People in the south love their good food, and it seems that every social function that exists involves some really good food.

7. History

Beaufort was founded in 1711, the second oldest city in the state.

There are buildings in the downtown area that are older than the nation itself.

It has a rich history involving the Revolutionary War, as well as the Civil War.

There are some great museums, but the city itself is also a museum of American history. 

8. Cultural diversity

After the Civil War, freed slaves took up residence in the coastal barrier islands and created the Gullah culture, and that is just one cultural aspect you will discover in this area.

There are Native American cultures as well that have an influence.

There are a lot of festivals and celebrations of various cultures, as well as expressions in art throughout the area.

It is a great place to experience the art of several cultures in one place.

Cons of Living in Beaufort

1. Weather

While the weather is positive, it can also be negative.

Summers can get very hot and humid.

This hot period is brief each year, but it is hard to contend with if you don’t have air conditioning.

There is the threat of hurricanes in the fall, and if one is within 300 miles there will be days of torrential rainfall.

It is just far enough inland that you do not get the benefit of ocean breezes.

Freezing temperatures are rare, but when they do happen you will find the area unprepared.

2. Bugs

Mosquitos are the main culprit and are an aggravation for months each year.

It can make your outdoor fun a little less fun.

There are also roaches and palmetto bugs, which are very similar.

Contending with insects is something you will have to get used to.

Most homes have an exterminating service that can keep them under control. 

You will have bugs, both indoors and outdoors, and that is something you have to get used to.

3. Housing costs

The area has become more popular with retirees, and more people want to move to the area, and that has driven the cost of housing up significantly.

The median home cost in Beaufort is $363,000, while the median cost in the state is $223,000. 

The cost of living, in general, is not much higher than average, but the cost of housing makes it seem worse.

Rentals are also more expensive.

Beaufort County is slightly above the national average, and the rest of the state is well below the national average.

4. Fried food

There is plenty of healthy fresh food available in the Beaufort area, but the southern tradition of fried food is hard to escape.

It tastes good, so few people can resist it.

As a result, there tend to be a lot of overweight people in the south and Beaufort is no exception.

Healthy food choices exist, but unhealthy delicious food choices also exist.

You will have to have a lot of self-discipline to eat healthily consistently.

5. The rich and the poor

There is a lot of wealth in the low country and in Beaufort County, and there is a fair amount of poverty.

As many as eight percent of the people in Beaufort are below the poverty level.

The caricature of the million-dollar mansions, and falling-down shacks, is not altogether inaccurate.

Jobs are plentiful enough but often not paying well.

This is more obvious in the Beaufort area, but it is an issue throughout the state.

6. High crime rate

Perhaps because of the poverty, the overall crime rate in Beaufort is 41 crimes per 1000 people, which is one of the highest in the nation for cities of its size.

Most of the crimes are property crimes such as theft.

There are some violent crimes, however.

Murder rates are very low, but the rate of robberies and rapes is slightly higher than the national average.

The downtown area is very safe.

7. Isolation

Beaufort has a lot to do and enjoy and you may never get bored.

Even so, it is a bit isolated from larger metropolitan areas.

The city has only 14,000 people. 

The nearest larger city is Charleston, which is 80 miles by highway, but it is much shorter by boat.

Beaufort is on a barrier island, and there is only one road out to the Interstate.

You may miss some of the conveniences of being in a larger city, and it takes time to get to any of them.

8. Education

Schools in the Beaufort area are not rated highly by state or national standards.

There are some private schools that are expensive. 

There is a technical college, and the state university has a branch in the city, but there are not a lot of educational opportunities for young people.

Pros and Cons of Living in Beaufort, SC – Summary Table

Pros of Living in BeaufortCons of Living in Beaufort
1. The scenery1. Weather
2. The weather2. Bugs
3. Outdoor activities3. Housing costs
4. Lower taxes4. Fried food
5. Hospitality5. The rich and the poor
6. The food6. High crime rate
7. History7. Isolation
8. Cultural diversity8. Education

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Beaufort an interesting place?

It was started in 1711 by wealthy planters.

It has maintained its Antebellum architecture as well as its small-town atmosphere over the years.

It has a beautiful waterfront district in the downtown area featuring mansions overlooking the bay.

It is a smaller version of Charleston, which is more famous.

How is Beaufort ranked against other cities its size?

Conde Nast magazine ranked Beaufort as one of the 26 most beautiful towns in America.

It was the only one from South Carolina on the list.

Also, in 2021, USA Today ranked Beaufort as one of the top 10 coastal towns in the United States.

Beaufort has consistently ranked among the best small towns for livability, and potential retirement sites, both at the state and national levels.

Why is barbeque sauce yellow?

One of the quirks of the area is mustard-based barbeque sauce.

Most barbeque sauce is ketchup based and red or brown in color.

Having mustard in the sauce makes it yellow and even gives the meat a slightly yellow tinge.

It has a unique flavor that originated in the South Carolina lowlands.

What makes Beaufort unique?

Nearby Hilton Head Island is a major resort area with very wealthy retirees and world-class golf courses.

The barrier islands of the area are getting more tourist-oriented, and more like resorts.

Beaufort is in the middle of all this and retains its identity as a small southern town.

Beaufort has a lot of history and has some tourism, but it has avoided becoming a tourist center itself.

What movies have been filmed in Beaufort?

Beaufort has been popular as an area for movie making at various times.

It was the site for parts of Forrest Gump, the Prince of Tides, and most of the Big Chill was filmed in Beaufort.

The historic downtown, as well as marshy areas around the city, make it a natural site for movie making.

What was Beaufort's role in the Civil War?

It was the first southern city conquered by Union Forces near the beginning of the war in November of 1861.

The victory in Port Royal Sound closed off a major river from the Confederacy.

Many of the old buildings were converted into hospitals for wounded Union soldiers.

1 Comment on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Beaufort, SC

  1. C
    Christina M. says:

    Just wanted you to know that I have lived in Beaufort almost 7 years, moved from Greenville SC.
    In the late afternoon, there is always a nice breeze coming through! There is a breeze! Article said no breeze because of being inland but places in Beaufort (my neighborhood) every day around 5:00, a wonderful breeze comes and stays until 7:00 or so.
    Thank you, I loved your article & Beaufort is a fabulous place to live!

Leave a Comment