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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Pawleys Island, SC

Written by Brittany Slagle

Thinking of relocating to Pawleys Island, SC? Whether it’s the allure of coastal living or the charm of a serene community that draws you in, there’s much to consider before making the move. 

Pawleys Island, nestled along the South Carolina coast, offers a unique blend of scenic beauty, historical significance, and a laid-back lifestyle. Here are ten essential things to know before considering Pawleys Island as your new home.

1. Pawleys Island is a stunning city

One of Pawleys Island’s biggest draws is its magnificent beauty all around the city. This peaceful island is perfect for those who value solitude and the experience of being one with nature.

The entire length of the town is bordered by a gorgeous seashore. Locals spend their time on the water doing things like boating, surfing, crabbing, and simply unwinding.

Huntington Beach State Park, Hobcaw Barony, and Brookgreen Gardens, which is home to the Lowcountry Zoo, are just a few of the beautiful nature preserves in close proximity to Pawleys Island.

2. A great location for retirees

Pawleys Island has become known as an ideal destination for retirees in recent times. Its picturesque surroundings, pleasant climate, and abundance of activities catering to an active lifestyle contribute to its appeal as one of the top choices for retirees seeking relocation along the Atlantic coast.

Furthermore, South Carolina’s exemption of taxes on social security payments means that your finances would stretch further in this area.

Additionally, South Carolina boasts one of the country’s lowest property tax rates, which eases the burden of homeownership, particularly for individuals working within a fixed budget.

3. Enjoy the relaxed, small-town feel

When it comes to South Carolina, Pawleys Island is as pristine as it gets. It has a more relaxed atmosphere than nearby Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach.

It has a more relaxed, rustic vibe than other beach destinations because it is less developed and attracts fewer tourists.

Meanwhile, many of the shops and boutiques in Pawleys Island’s modest commercial sector are owned by independent, local entrepreneurs, adding to the island’s unique character.

4. It rains a lot in Pawleys Island

Pawleys Island enjoys consistently moderate temperatures throughout the year, offering a comfortable living environment regardless of the season.

During winters along The Grand Strand, average highs typically reach around 60 degrees, while summer highs commonly hover near 90 degrees.

Snowfall is not frequent in this region, although Pawleys Island experiences over 50 inches of rainfall annually, partially due to hurricanes.

5. There’s a high risk of hurricanes

Hurricanes are a common occurrence on Pawleys Island. It lies in a high-risk hurricane area and has been hit by nearly 90 storms since 1930. That works out to roughly one each year.

Its proximity to the water increases the likelihood of disastrous flooding and other forms of disaster.

For example, in 1989, Hurricane Hugo wrecked more than 100 residences in the city.

6. Traffic could occasionally get bad

While it’s true that fewer people visit Pawleys Island these days, the island itself is still somewhat tiny, with few major thoroughfares.

Since there is only one main road through the city and onto the island, traffic can get backed up during the peak season.

People who live in the area often lament the heavy summertime traffic on the US-17 Ocean Highway.

7. There are fewer shopping options

If you’re looking for a big city, Pawleys Island isn’t it. The town of Pawleys Island is more like a huge village. As a result, you won’t find as many shops here as you would in a larger city.

You’ll hardly find major stores like Walmart on Pawleys Island. It takes around 20 minutes to drive from the island to the nearest Walmart. You won’t find many places to shop for clothes or electronics, either.

Of course, that could be a plus for people who like a more genuine and unadulterated adventure.

8. The city might not cater to the needs of young families

Pawleys Island’s appeal to seniors is a plus, but this also means that the island may not meet the needs of younger generations as well.

The majority of the area’s gated communities cater to retirees and those who are at least 55 years old. Ricefields is one of the rare residential areas that are open to younger families.

Therefore, compared to nearby cities, Pawleys Island’s school system often receives less funding per student. Its public schools received a C+ from Niche.com.

It also means that there are not many high-paying employment opportunities available at huge firms in the area. Tourism and related service businesses provide the bulk of the area’s jobs.

9. Housing costs are higher than the national average

The cost of living index in this city is 94, 6% less than the national average. In Pawleys Island, a single person will need $35,743 per year to cover basic living expenses, including rent or mortgage, groceries, child care, transportation, medical care, insurance, and taxes. 

However, the city’s median home price is $519,184, higher than the national average of $430,000. This is due to the city’s proximity to the water, thus the expensive real estate.

10. The violent crime rate is higher than the national average

Pawleys Island boasts a remarkably low violent crime rate of 5.5, far below the national average of 22.7. This highlights the community’s commitment to safety and tranquility for its residents. However, in terms of property crime, Pawleys Island faces a higher-than-average rate of 96.9, significantly surpassing the US average of 35.4. 

Despite the area’s overall safety, residents need to remain vigilant against property-related concerns to ensure a secure living environment.

In Summary

Pawleys Island, SC, presents a picturesque coastal setting ideal for retirees seeking a serene lifestyle. The city’s natural beauty, relaxed atmosphere, and favorable tax benefits for retirees make it an attractive choice. 

However, its susceptibility to hurricanes, occasional traffic congestion, limited shopping options, and higher housing costs may pose challenges. Additionally, while the area boasts a low violent crime rate, property crime rates surpass the national average. Prospective residents should weigh these factors when considering Pawleys Island as their new home. 

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