Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the cornerstone of the famed Grand Strand -- the 60-mile stretch of uninterrupted beaches in South Carolina. The area’s scenic beaches and lively community attract about 15 million visitors each year, but it’s the more than 31,000 residents who get the best of both worlds.
“While a lot of people have to set a vacation time to come visit, I can have a vacation much more frequently just by living here,” says Kimberly Miles who has lived in Myrtle Beach for six years. “It’s great to take part in all of the amenities offered here.”
Getting around: A native of Washington, D.C., Miles is accustomed to navigating congested roadways, which comes in handy during the summer months when the area is hit with heavy traffic. The peak season -- the months of June, July and August -- is when traffic is worst, but Miles said it’s nothing compared to other major cities.
But if you don’t want the hassle of navigating traffic, there are alternatives. Miles says the Coast RTA -- Myrtle Beach’s public bus system -- taxi cabs and bicycles are convenient options for those who’d prefer not to drive.
Owning a home: Compared to many other beach towns, owning a home in Myrtle Beach is very affordable, said Miles, who closed on her first home at the end of February. The average cost of a 2,400-square-foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms is around $237,000.
And according to Miles, in addition to houses, there are plenty of condos, townhouses and even some multimillion-dollar homes to choose from. Along the intercoastal, there are several pricier houses with proximity to the ocean as the main selling point.
Finding fun: In Myrtle Beach, there is never a shortage of activities to enjoy. “Because we are a vacation destination, pretty much you name it, you can do it,” Miles says. “There’s something going on every night of the week.”
Locals enjoy listening to live music, eating at one of 1,600 restaurants, watching fireworks in the summertime and participating in outdoor activities. One popular location is Broadway at the Beach, a complex complete with retail stores, restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment.
Tallying the cost of living: Based on a 2008 report, Myrtle Beach falls just below the national average on the cost of living index. Home prices, utilities and transportation costs are generally affordable, and beach entry and various entertainment are free. It’s no problem to live comfortably in the area on a modest salary, Miles says.
“In general, it’s much more affordable to live in South Carolina than in other states,” she says.