Cost of Living in South Carolina in 2023

Cost of Living in South Carolina: How Do Salaries Measure Up?

South Carolina is renowned for its palmetto trees, historical charm, and miles of coastline. But beyond its beauty, the state has a varied economic landscape that affects the cost of living for its residents.

South Carolina: Cost of Living and Living Wage Analysis

In South Carolina, understanding the living wage versus the actual minimum wage is essential for evaluating the financial dynamics faced by residents. The living wage represents the hourly earnings required for an individual to support their family, based on the assumption they’re the sole provider working full-time (2080 hours/year).

Key Metrics:

  • The state’s minimum wage is consistent for all individuals at $7.25, irrespective of their number of dependents. This rate is determined annually, with the value as of January 1st being the reference.
  • Poverty wage is derived from an individual’s gross annual income, then converted to an hourly rate for clearer comparison.


  • 1 Adult: Living Wage: $16.73, Poverty Wage: $6.53, Minimum Wage: $7.25
  • 2 Adults (1 Working), 0-3 Children: Living Wages range from $26.17 to $40.31, with Poverty Wages from $8.80 to $15.61.
  • 2 Adults (Both Working), 0-3 Children: Living Wages range between $13.04 and $25.51.

Typical Annual Expenses:

  • 1 Adult, No Children: Food: $3,926, Medical: $3,041, Housing: $10,109, Transportation: $5,477, Civic: $3,074, Other: $4,253.
  • 2 Adults (1 Working or Both Working), No Children: Food: $7,198, Medical: $6,350, Housing: $10,557, Transportation: $9,851, Civic: $6,107, Other: $7,420.
  • Expenses, such as child care, see a marked increase with the addition of children, ranging from $6,053 for one child to $18,159 for three.

Income Requirements:

  • Without children, a single adult needs an after-tax annual income of $30,012, or $34,806 before taxes.
  • For households with 2 Adults (1 Working or Both Working) and no children, the required post-tax annual income is $47,614, and $54,433 pre-tax.
  • As the number of children in a household increases, so does the necessary income.

How do salaries stack up in South Carolina? We analyze the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for modeled wages released in 2023 to see what incomes you might expect across various occupation in South Carolina. What work you choose might affect your ability to ability to comfortably live in South Carolina. Let’s delve into the average salaries for various professions in South Carolina and see how they measure up against the state’s cost of living.

Educational and Library Occupations

Those in educational instruction and library occupations earn an average of $55,619.20 annually. This category includes:

Arts, Design, and Media

Workers in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations earn an average of $56,368.00, with graphic designers earning around $53,372.80 and producers/directors making an impressive $78,416.00.


The healthcare sector, unsurprisingly, sees a wide range of salaries:

  • Pharmacists top the list with $119,995.20
  • Registered nurses earn $72,446.40
  • Healthcare support staff, like home health aides, make around $29,182.40

Food Preparation and Serving

Considering South Carolina’s rich culinary history, it’s no surprise that chefs and head cooks earn about $57,345.60. However, waiters and waitresses have an average annual wage of $23,857.60.

Office and Administrative Support

With an average salary of $41,184.00, this category includes roles like executive secretaries ($57,740.80) and general office clerks ($34,486.40).

Construction and Maintenance

Carpenters in South Carolina earn around $46,404.80 annually, while electricians make approximately $53,040.00.

Installation, Maintenance, and Repair

Workers in this category, which includes roles like aircraft mechanics ($59,446.40) and general maintenance workers ($47,028.80), earn an average salary of $51,064.00.


With an average annual wage of $44,012.80, production occupations include positions like bakers ($34,257.60) and food processing workers ($37,544.00).

The Big Picture

When comparing these salaries to the cost of living in South Carolina, it’s essential to consider factors like housing, transportation, groceries, utilities, and healthcare. Generally, South Carolina’s cost of living is lower than the national average, especially in areas like housing. However, utilities and healthcare costs can be slightly higher.

For individuals in higher-paying professions, such as healthcare practitioners, the cost of living in South Carolina can be comfortably manageable. Conversely, those in lower-paying roles, such as food preparation or certain administrative positions, may find it more challenging to meet all their financial obligations without additional income sources or stringent budgeting.


South Carolina offers a diverse array of job opportunities, and while the cost of living is relatively low, salaries vary considerably across sectors. It’s crucial for potential residents and current inhabitants to understand their industry’s average salary and how it compares to the state’s living costs to make informed financial decisions.

The cost of living data above is from Glasmeier, Amy K. Living Wage Calculator. 2023. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. . And the salary data is from data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2023.