Off grid living in South Carolina ( The Palmetto State )

South Carolina is located on the east coast of the country, right between North Carolina and Georgia. The population of South Carolina is around 5 million people and it is steadily growing every year. Tourism is a big part of South Carolina’s local economy and every year around 25-30 million people visit this state, although tourism is great if you have a business but for the average resident it isn’t the best thing as prices in areas where there are a lot of tourists can get fairly high.

Living off the grid in South Carolina is legal, this is one of the better states for off grid living, due to the cheap cost of living, housing, and low property tax. You will also have the ability to grow different types of crops and to harvest rainwater without any problems. On the other hand, the bad shape of the roads, the poor education system, and high prices in some areas due to tourism might make living off the grid somewhat difficult.

If you want to live off the grid in South Carolina then you will most likely harvest rainwater, my personal recommendation is to use a large volume gravity fed water purification system especially if you have a large family Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

Although South Carolina has over 5 million people, it still only has 3 cities that have a population above 100k, namely Charleston with 135k, Columbia 130k, and North Charleston with 110k population. The smallest city in South Carolina is Fingerville with only 26 residents. Generally speaking, states which have a lot of tourists do not make a great off grid living state, although in some areas of the state things are a lot better for off gridders.

There are a couple of issues that South Carolina has, namely the fairly bad infrastructure and the education system, although if you compare them to the neighboring states South Carolina, is somewhat above them. In some areas, the roads are in such a bad shape that they cause massive traffic jams, this is mostly due to budget cuts for maintaining the roads. These budget cuts were made around a decade ago and until it started being a serious problem most of the local authorities making these budget cuts have long left the office and the newly elected officials struggle to maintain the roads.

If you are from a southern state then you will have no problem adjusting to the local climate, but if you are from the northern states then get as summers are so hot and humid that you can not even sweat. This is why most people living in South Carolina do have an air conditioning system, but people who live off the grid rarely have that luxury. If you want to know how off grid living is in the neighboring state then check out my recent article Off grid living in North Carolina ( Old North State ).

South Carolina climate

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, summers are hot and humid and the winters are fairly mild and humid. The average summertime temperature is around 90°F and it is slowly increasing every year with global warming, during the wintertime the average temperature is around 60°F. Due to the high humidity on some of the days, you might feel that you are in an oven especially if you are in one of the bigger cities as all that concrete just radiates the heat back. If you want to look at another state on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in Virginia ( Mother of States ).

Best crops to grow in South Carolina

As the local climate is a subtropical one, a lot of crops can be grown in South Carolina. You will be able to grow here oats, hay, wheat, cotton, corn, and peaches for which the state is famous. In addition to field crops, you can also grow plenty of different types of fruits and vegetables. The growing season is fairly long, although the main problem you will face is the different types of bugs that eat or destroy crops. If you want to know how can you live off the grid in the neighboring state then check out my recent article Off grid living in Georgia ( Peach State ).

Freshwater availability in South Carolina

South Carolina doesn’t have a problem with freshwater, annually it gets around 45″ of rain and there are plenty of sources of water both above and below ground. Harvesting rainwater is also legal so if you do not have access to a local stream or to groundwater then your best option will be to harvest rainwater and store it in water tanks. As there are not a lot of big animal farms in South Carolina, most of the groundwater is fairly clean.

South Carolina wildlife

South Carolina’s wildlife is typical of a southern state, you will find white-tailed deer, coyote, gray fox, black bears, river otter, and manatees. In the local rivers and lakes, you will find bream, crappies, striped bass, trout, catfish, and smallmouth bass. On the coastline, you will find sharks, sheepshead, black drum, tarpon, and flounder. You will need separate licenses both for freshwater and saltwater fishing http://www.dnr.sc.gov/licensing.html.

Generating power off the grid in South Carolina

  • Solar power: As the summers are fairly long, generating power with solar panels is an excellent idea. You can apply for a tax credit of around 25%, although there is also something called the federal tax credit for renewable energy of around 30% but I am not sure if you can apply for both of them.
  • Wind power: If you want to set up a wind turbine in South Carolina then you should apply for the federal tax credit or the federal investment credit as both have the same percentage of around 30%.

South Carolina off grid laws

You can live off the grid legally in South Carolina, on top of that there are no laws prohibiting you from harvesting rainwater which is a  must for most people living off the grid. If you have children then you should think about homeschooling your children as the education system is fairly bad in this state. The homeschooling laws in South Carolina are fairly relaxed although you will have to notify the local authorities that you are homeschooling.

South Carolina road access

As I have previously mentioned, the roads in South Carolina are in a fairly bad shape, although there are roads in most of the areas of the state, some of them simply look abandoned. There is no need to buy a snowmobile as snow isn’t that common in South Carolina, even if it snows it tends to melt in a couple of days.

Price of land in South Carolina

The price of land in South Carolina is around 27% cheaper than the national average and around 10% cheaper than in North Carolina. There are a lot of tourist hotspots especially near the coast and the prices in this area for land and property can be extremely high. Generally speaking, the cheapest lands and properties are in the western and southwestern parts of the state.

South Carolina property tax

South Carolina has one of the lowest property taxes in the country, it is at 0.57% and the national average is 1.08%. Although a lot of people blame the bad shape of the roads due to the low property tax, but the truth is that the main problem is not a lack of money but the distribution of it, as South Carolina makes a lot of money from the tourism industry.

Cost of living in South Carolina

Generally speaking, South Carolina is around 12% cheaper than the national average, and it is even cheaper than its neighboring state North Carolina. You will pay around 27% less for housing, 15% less for transportation, and around 5% less for groceries. On the other hand, you will pay around 3% more for healthcare services and for utilities.

South Carolina jobs

The unemployment rate in South Carolina is very low, currently, it is at 2.6% and the national average is at 4%. The minimum wage in South Carolina is $7.25 which is as low as you can get. The biggest industries where most people work aerospace and defense, biotechnology, agriculture, tourism, and recycling.

South Carolina crime rate

The crime rate in South Carolina is above the national average currently there are around 4.88 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Salem, Plum Branch, Quinby, Daufuskie Island, and Salley. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Gaffney, Pickens, Myrtle Beach, Manning, and Cheraw. Usually, a state with such a high crime rate has a lot of cities with over 100k people, but South Carolina only has 3.

South Carolina natural disasters

South Carolina has a couple of natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heatwaves, and thunderstorms. During some years massive winter storms can occur although these are fairly rare.  The most commonly occurring natural disaster is heatwaves as these do occur almost every year.

In conclusion

Overall South Carolina is a good state for off grid living, the prices are fairly low as long as you do not move to an area that is a tourist location. Due to the fairly bad shape of the roads, you might want to invest in a 4×4 vehicle, and if you are not a fan of the local climate then living off the grid will be difficult especially without air conditioning.