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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Reader Requested Short Review of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The Grand Strand on the eastern edge of South Carolina is a 60-mile stretch of real estate famous for its wide white beaches, golf courses, shopping venues, dinner theaters, theme parks, nightclubs and restaurants (nearly 2,000 of them). A dozen resort towns are located within the Strand, and Myrtle Beach (population 32,000 with 345,000 in the metro area) is the largest.

This area really started booming in the 1970s and 1980s, but within just the last decade or two alone, Myrtle Beach has grown by 25%. Racially diverse, it is an entertainment Mecca and a tourist magnet, each year attracting 16 million tourists from around the country.

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Myrtle Beach is also home to a large retiree population, with nearly 40% of residents age 45 or better. The median home price is $140,000, and glistening tall condominiums, overlooking the ocean and golf courses, are abundant. The overall cost of living is 8% below the national average, making this an affordable seashore locale.

With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, Myrtle Beach residents have their choice of water activities, from fishing charters and cruises to snorkeling and jet skiing. The beaches go on forever, but they are crowded. The Boardwalk is lined with restaurants and shops and has expansive water views.

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The area is home to a riverboat, where gamblers gather, the Carolina Opry, where music-lovers gather, and a Ripley's Believe It or Not, where lovers of odd things gather. Broadway at the Beach is a shopping center with 100 specialty shops, eateries, hotels and a lake. Tanger Outlet Mall is here, too, as is the Coastal Grand Mall. There is, however, no true town center, and cultural amenities are few (although the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is award-winning).

Myrtle Beach Bike Week draws 200,000 Harley Davidson motorcyclists each May, and Mustang Week, which involves 500 car owners, 6,000 spectators and drag racing, takes place each July. Canadian-American Days Festival brings in thousands of Canadian sun worshippers every March. And, of course, golfers love the 120 nearby public and private courses.

Columbia Grand Strand Regional Medical Center is award-winning for cardiac surgery and overall patient safety. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients.

Coastal Rapid Public Transit Authority (Coast RTA) is the local bus service and runs up and down the Strand, and a para-transit service is available. A shuttle runs to the airport 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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For residents age 50 and better, the Grand Strand Senior Center provides services that include yoga classes, craft classes, golf outings, quilting get-togethers, health checkups, dancing, grief and bereavement support groups and tax and driving seminars. Annual trips take adventurers to destinations such as Costa Rica, Ireland and Italy. Myrtle Beach also has two public libraries, and Carolina Coastal University (9,500 students), located next door in Conway, has an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) with classes and workshops designed for people age 50 and better (although classes are open to people of all ages).

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The climate is hot and humid in the summer and mild and less humid in the winter. The average January high is 56 degrees, and the average July high is 88 degrees. The sun shines 215 days of the year, and on average, the area receives 50 inches of rain per year.

Myrtle Beach has some drawbacks. While the city is a fun destination, it is clogged with tourists year round. Vacationers arrive in the summer. College students party in March and April. Bikers hang out in May, and "snowbirds" land in the winter. The city also experienced historic flooding in October, 2015. In the fall of 2016, it was damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Neighborhoods flooded; stores were swamped; the historic piers were severely damaged, and the beach lost much of its sand.

The top drawback, however, is that the city has a crime rate double the national average and has had for years. Much of the criminal activity is blamed on tourists and drunken college kids, but it is doubtful that these groups are shooting at each other and committing murder. City leaders say that the crime stats are calculated incorrectly, but locals say that parts of the city do not feel safe.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Maybe   |   Is South Carolina Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes

Plenty of entertainment options, affordable real estate, beautiful beaches, water recreation, a good hospital and a nearby OLLI are pluses, but the high crime rate should make retirees think carefully before moving here.

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South Carolina:

South Carolina is nicknamed the Palmetto State and its motto is "Dum spiro spero," which is Latin for "While I Breath, I Hope." It is 40th in size in the United States and was the eighth state to be admitted to the Union on May 23, 1788. The largest city and state capital is Columbia.

Formerly known as the Province of South Carolina, the area was also one of the 13 colonies that declared its independence during the American Revolution. The state was the first to secede from the Union and was the first and founding state of the Confederate States of America.

South Carolina is in what is considered the Deep South and is bordered by the states Georgia on the south and North Carolina on the north.

The state does not host any major professional sport franchises. However, the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes actually represent both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Stats:

Population - 4,961,018

Persons 65 years old and over - 16%

High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 85%

Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 25%

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 5%

White persons, not Hispanic - 64%

Median household income - $45,483

Social Security taxed? No

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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