4 Reasons I Chose To Retire On South Carolina’s Beautiful Grand Strand (2023)

That last winter in Chicago was as nasty as a cantankerous hornet. It was time to live my dream: a warm beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Researching properties, I was convinced coastal real estate in the United States was too expensive. But I could teach at an international school in Panama and live in a cottage on the ocean. I sold my house and dusted off my teaching certificate. Then someone suggested Myrtle Beach. I was decades beyond a spring break lifestyle but curious enough to research. Surprisingly, I found oceanfront properties that I could afford.

Three months later, I moved into my North Myrtle Beach condo. This little village is one of six beach towns known as The Grand Strand: 60 miles of uninterrupted sand and surf. Myrtle Beach is the largest town and spring break heaven. North Myrtle Beach is a family vacation destination and home to many retirees and snowbirds. I describe my lifestyle as college without living on ramen noodles and writing essays. North Myrtle Beach has everything I need as well as activities that appeal to guests, such as world-class golf and deep-sea fishing. Plus, my taxes are one-sixth of those I paid in Illinois for a smaller house.

Another important consideration was a dependable cycle of pleasant seasons, instead of Chicago’s two seasons: winter and road construction. Although some Grand Strand residents go further south for the winter, I enjoy a short winter that requires no more bundling up than a light jacket. It so rarely gets below freezing, local media broadcast “dangerous cold” alerts for 27 degrees.

4 Reasons I Chose To Retire On South Carolina’s Beautiful Grand Strand (1)

1. Autumn’s Wine And Festivals

Wine tastings and wineries are popular fall activities. La Belle Amie Winery is in a forest and provides live music to enthusiastic oenophiles. Guests bring lawn chairs, sip wine, and dance on the decks. Food booths sell local snacks and picnic foods. I wear sturdy shoes to stroll along the property’s enchanting forest paths. Signs warn “Beware of ‘gators and snakes.”

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Autumn is festival season along the Grand Strand. In September, North Myrtle Beach’s Italian Irish Festival draws a crowd with its ethnic food booths, local crafts, spaghetti-eating contests, and live music.

In October, a nearby village hosts a shrimp fest offering shrimp raw and cooked every which way. Live music plus one hundred food and craft vendors make the shrimp fest an all-day outing. Every autumn weekend offers festivals on various autumn themes in nearby towns.

Live music on Main Street every Thursday continues through September. All of downtown is crowded with music lovers with their lawn chairs and drinks. Bars and restaurants that line Main Street do a lively business.

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2. Winter’s Brief, Cozy Beauty

By December, beach walks require a scarf and sweatshirt. Dolphins swim close to shore, and storms churn up interesting shells. The town lights up with holiday decorations. The Great Christmas Light Show, beginning late November, is a drive-through experience with music and lights throughout the sports complex. From an inspiring nativity scene to scenes of firemen dousing a housefire, the drive evokes both awe and amusement. Cost is per car, not per person. Hot chocolate and donuts are served in Santa’s house where Santa takes toy orders from children.

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Brookgreen Gardens, just 30 miles south of North Myrtle Beach, has plenty to see all year. Membership is just $70 a year and allows unlimited visits. Their Nights of a Thousand Candles, with 2,700 hand-lit candles and millions of twinkling lights, is one of the most popular holiday events in the Southeast, running from late November to New Year’s Day.

Barefoot Landing has unique shops and restaurants along the Intercoastal Waterway and inlets. Lights begin twinkling in late November. The Landing exudes a holiday vibe with the carousel turning, choirs singing, and shops selling gifts. Favorite shops for gifts include honey from Savanna Bee, hand-crafted candles and soaps, stylish charcuterie boards, and (for fun) alligator jerky from the Beef Jerky Store.

In Chicago, my musical Christmas treat was The Nutcracker by the Joffrey Ballet. Here, I chose from a variety of holiday performances at The Carolina Opry, House of Blues, and The Alabama Theater. Some churches offer near-professional holiday shows. Retirees who have escaped bitter winters share their talents for free or for a small donation.

Pro Tip: While at Barefoot Landing, visit Paris, a coffee shop serving fresh pastries and macarons in a cozy room with Parisian décor and a fireplace.

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3. Spring’s Exuberant Blossoming

Toward the end of February, the magic begins. Pansies, daffodils, and tulips begin blooming, and pots of spring flowers appear in stores. Leaves begin budding. Ducks in the town’s numerous ponds display watery flirtations while nesting birds fill the air with song.

If I had to pick one season to visit Brookgreen Gardens, it would be spring. Botanical gardens include all the flowers, shrubs, and trees that make this region so colorful and fragrant. The azaleas alone are worth the trip. The zoo houses all species native to the area. The Butterfly House is open May to October and has local species as well as tropical butterflies housed in a lush setting. Spring is also the best time to experience the Garden’s Creek Excursion, which cruises waterways that wend around historic rice fields on a pontoon boat with an interpreter who explains the history and points to local wildlife.

Brunch is popular every season, and Blueberry’s Grill is a local favorite. The chef’s specialty is a crab cake benedict with fried green tomatoes and a remoulade sauce. The salmon benedict is just as yummy. If the wait is long, just move a fourth mile north to The Kitchen Table. The food is almost as good, and their patio overlooks a salt marsh lively with birds, jumping fish, and sun-basking turtles. By spring, I’m ready for outdoor dining, and many eateries here have patios.

The shag, described as the jitterbug on quaaludes, was born in North Myrtle Beach and draws dancers from all over the country to bars on Main Street. They have frequent live music nights for shaggers and people who want to learn this nostalgic dance to the tunes of the ’60s and ’70s.

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Pro Tip: The Shoe Center has a large selection of shoes and small handbags that are perfect for the shag and other social dances. It is also the best store for beach footwear.

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4. Summer’s Sun, Sand, And….

In summer, beaches are lively with vacationing families, but never overcrowded. The beaches are cleaned and smoothed by a nightly crew, and hazards are lessened with lifeguards and rules requiring guests to fill every hole they dig. Glass containers are not allowed. Liquor is forbidden in a “nod-nod, wink-wink” fashion. Pour your adult beverage into a plastic cup, and the beach patrol will not ask what’s in it. The law allows swift removal of loud, drunken parties.

Locals have found oases of peace and ways to cope with crowds. I do my shopping on beautiful beach days. Visitors are in the ocean, not the grocery.

Pro Tips: This is the season to rent a captained pontoon boat from Royal Tiki Charters and cruise the intercoastal waterway. Their pontoons have canopies, comfortable deck chairs, a refrigerator, and even a head. A carryout seafood dinner with the catch of the day, steamed clams, and key lime pie is the perfect way to enjoy a sunset while floating by deserted islands and coastal wildlife reserves.

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More Grand Strand Pro Tips

Visit North Myrtle Beach’s hidden gem, Russell Burgess Coastal Preserve, which goes over the Intercoastal waterway. Its benches are great places to bird-watch and enjoy tidal changes. I take a sun hat and a book. Some bring fishing poles and crab nets. If my catch of the day is a tan and a smile, I stop by Platt’s Seafood for the freshest ready-to-cook seafood in town.

Of course, I miss Chicago’s cultural venues. I visit the Windy City several times a year on inexpensive, non-stop flights from Myrtle Beach. My teaching skills are helping illiterate adults learn to read and write.

Accessibility Note: All places mentioned in this article are accessible to people who use mobility aids. The Grand Strand accommodates its large population of seniors with a generous number of handicapped parking places, wooden walkways to beaches, and ramps to restaurants and attractions. I also appreciate golf cart services — free, but tips are accepted — from parking lots to festivals and shopping malls. Even the airport provides golf cart rides from parking lots to the terminal.


Which major tourist destination is located along South Carolina's Grand Strand? ›

The City of Myrtle Beach is a residential community and vacation destination at the heart of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of natural beauty on South Carolina's northeastern coast.

What does Grand Strand mean in South Carolina? ›

The Grand Strand

A roughly 60-mile stretch of sand — essentially an uninterrupted arc of beaches — that ranges from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line near Little River south to Georgetown, S.C., and the Winyah Bay.

What makes up the Grand Strand SC? ›

The Grand Strand is comprised of a sixty-mile stretch of beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. It ranges from Little River all the way down to Georgetown, South Carolina and encompasses all the towns in between including Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach, Garden City, North Myrtle Beach and, of course, Myrtle Beach.

What does Grand Strand mean in Myrtle Beach? ›

The term "Grand Strand" comes from an old definition of "strand" meaning the area of land that borders a body of water. With an incredible 60 miles of uninterrupted beach, the Myrtle Beach area is certainly grand.

What is the Grand Strand known for? ›

One of the most popular vacation spots in the US, the Grand Strand is a section of coastline known for its numerous golf courses, entertainment, amusement parks and resorts.

What is the number 1 attraction in South Carolina? ›

Middleton Place is the number 1 attraction in South Carolina. The former plantation is a force to be reckoned with. It features 65 acres of land with pristine gardens, a plantation house museum, and even a working farm.

What is the greater Grand Strand promise? ›

The Greater Grand Strand Promise is designed to provide clear recognition for the commitment made by businesses, visitors and residents to protect the health, safety and well-being of everyone.

Why do they call it the Strand? ›

The Strand was named after a street in London that was a popular shopping, theatre, and recreation district for the upper class. 'Strand' comes from the Old English term strond, which was used to describe a shore or riverbank. In the mid-1800s, The Strand was home to shops housed in wooden structures.

Who owns Grand Strand? ›

Grand Strand Medical Center is a for-profit, 403-bed hospital in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina owned and operated by HCA Healthcare.

What does strand mean beach? ›

Definition of strand

(Entry 1 of 5) : the land bordering a body of water : shore, beach.

How long is the Grand Strand of SC? ›

Popularly known as the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is one destination made up of 14 unique communities that stretch 60 miles along the northeast coast of South Carolina.

Why should I move to Myrtle Beach SC? ›

Thanks to its pleasant weather, abundant activities, health care options and housing costs, Myrtle Beach is a popular retirement spot. But the region's many job opportunities attract plenty of younger residents, too.

What's so special about Myrtle Beach? ›

What Is Myrtle Beach Most Famous For? Myrtle Beach is a lively seaside escape with a spectacular 100 km Grand Strand stretch of sand. Named for a local evergreen shrub, the city has long attracted visitors with its mild subtropical weather and powder-soft sands.

What is the cheapest month to go to Myrtle Beach? ›

Top tips for finding cheap flights to Myrtle Beach. Book at least 1 week before departure in order to get a below-average price. High season is considered to be March and April. The cheapest month to fly from United States is November.

How big is the Grand Strand? ›

The “Grand Strand” moniker is the handiwork of a local newspaper columnist, who in 1945 penned the name for the 60-mile stretch of coastline running from Georgetown on the southern end to Little River in the north.

What beaches are in the Grand Strand? ›

Here are the six famous South Carolina beaches located in the lovely Grand Strand.
  • Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach proper is the most recognizable beach with the Boardwalk and SkyWheel next to the beach. ...
  • North Myrtle Beach. ...
  • Atlantic Beach. ...
  • Surfside Beach. ...
  • Garden City Beach. ...
  • Litchfield Beach.
21 Oct 2022

What is Pee Dee in SC? ›

The PeeDee region of South Carolina including Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter, and Williamsburg Counties. Find Your Legislator. Locate a South Carolina legislator by address and zip code.

Where do the rich vacation in South Carolina? ›

Inside South Carolina's exclusive members-only community. For wealthy Southerners, Kiawah Island is what the Hamptons is to New Yorkers.

Is the Grand Strand an island? ›

The Grand Strand is an arc of beach land on the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, United States, extending more than 60 miles (97 km) from Little River to Winyah Bay. It is located in Horry and Georgetown Counties on the NE South Carolina coast.

How many miles of beach is the Grand Strand? ›

With 60 uninterrupted miles of beautiful sandy beaches, this coastal strip of South Carolina known as the Grand Strand is the necklace that strings together a diversity of beach destinations.

How many golf courses are on the Grand Strand? ›

Known as the "Golf capital of the World," the Grand Strand is home to over 80 golf courses.

Is strand a German name? ›

North German Danish and Swedish: topographic name for someone who lived by the seashore from Middle Low German Danish Swedish strand 'shore'. The Swedish name is mainly ornamental.

What was the Strand called before? ›

The Strand Ballroom & Theatre (formerly the Paramount Theatre, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel and commonly The Strand) is a live music venue located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

Where is the last name strand from? ›

North German, Danish, and Swedish: topographic name for someone who lived by the seashore, from Middle Low German, Danish, Swedish strand 'shore'.

Why is Myrtle Beach called Dirty Myrtle? ›

Some say it came from a beer popularized decades ago called “Dirty Myrtle.” Others think it had to do with water quality testing of this stretch of the Atlantic, or the fact that the ocean water often looks brown, rather than the pristine blues of Florida.

How deep is the ocean in Myrtle Beach? ›

The beach profile is relatively steep, and water depths are more than 6 m (20 ft) at a distance of 342 m (1125 ft) offshore of the +1 meter contour (Figure 4.3A).

Who owns Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach? ›

“It's a grind,” said Grand Strand Brewing Company CEO Clayton Burrous. “Beer's a tough business, but we're super fortunate, we could not be more excited to be in the building that we're in, to be in the community that we're in.” Burrous has spent 13 years in the beer business on the brewing and distribution sides.

What are the examples of strands? ›

A single hair, a noodle, even a line of thought — any of these things could be called a strand, a long thin length of something. The noun strand describes things that are long and thin like a rope, or a strand of spaghetti, hair, or thread.

Is Strands Beach parking free? ›

Is Strands Beach parking free? Parking is free. How do you get down to Strands Beach? Park in the parking lot off of Selva.

Can you swim at Strand beach? ›

With its five kilometre long stretch of white sand, Strand Beach is a perfect family beach for swimming, sunbathing and a variety of marine sports.

Is Grand Strand a Level 1 trauma center? ›

Level 1 Trauma Center in Myrtle Beach

At Grand Strand Medical Center, we have a specially trained team to care for serious emergencies. As the only Level I Adult and Level II Pediatric Trauma Center in Horry and Georgetown counties, we have the resources and expertise to save lives and minimize lasting damage.

Is Grand Strand Medical Center a Magnet hospital? ›

Recognized as Nurse Magnet hospital

Based on American Nurses Credential Center designation as of January 14, 2022.

Is Grand Strand a teaching hospital? ›

In 2015, Grand Strand Health became a teaching hospital and has expanded its residency programs to five: Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine and Transitional Year.

Is strand a beach? ›

Strand (Afrikaans for 'beach') is a seaside resort town in the Western Cape, South Africa.

What region of South Carolina receives the most rain? ›

Inland sections average 40 inches (1,000 mm) to 50 inches (1,300 mm) of rainfall, while near the coast 50 inches (1,300 mm) to 60 inches (1,500 mm), and the Piedmont receives 70 inches (1,800 mm) to 80 inches (2,000 mm) of precipitation.

How far is long SC from the beach? ›

Longs is a small unincorporated community in Horry County, located some 14 miles northwest of North Myrtle Beach at the intersection of Hwy.

What is the best coastal town to live in South Carolina? ›

Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Charleston are three of the best coastal towns in South Carolina for newcomers and area natives alike. Once you have decided on a location, let Pam Harrington Exclusives guide you to a Lowcountry home that you'll love.

What are the pros and cons of living in Myrtle Beach? ›

Pros and Cons of Living in Myrtle Beach, SC – Summary Table
Pros of Living in Myrtle BeachCons of Living in Myrtle Beach
3. Endless Entertainment3. High Crime
4. Many Healthcare Facilities4. Lack of Privacy
5. Mild Climate5. Less Desirability in the Off-Season
6. Reasonable Cost of Living6. Low Incomes
4 more rows

Why do people walk Myrtle Beach at night with flashlights? ›

The Myrtle Beach Police Department has previously had several reports of people shining flashlights on sea turtles trying to come ashore at night to nest in the sand. Other reports say people on the beach have scared away nesting sea turtles.

Is Myrtle or North Myrtle better? ›

Overall, Myrtle Beach is more crowded and louder than North Myrtle Beach, though you might not notice it during the busy summer season when roads are crowded with vacationers from around the world. About 10 miles north of the Grand Strand is North Myrtle Beach, a separate city in itself.

What is the coldest in Myrtle Beach? ›

The hottest day ever recorded in Myrtle Beach was August 22, 1983, when the mercury reached 105 degrees. The coldest day on record was January 21, 1985, with a low of four degrees.

Does Myrtle Beach ever get cold? ›

Myrtle Beach's average temperature in the winter is nearly 60°F – a cool respite from the frigid northern cold. With nearly all Myrtle Beach attractions open year-round, there are endless activities, indoor and outdoor, to keep you busy during your stay at Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort this season.

Is it cheaper to fly or drive to Myrtle Beach? ›

For the most part, driving is going to save you money and offer benefits but sometimes it simply makes more sense to fly. The best answer depends on a variety of factors, like where you're going, how much time you have, time of year, gas millage, and what you plan to do once you arrive at your destination.

What is the most visited city in South Carolina? ›

Charleston[SEE MAP]

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the South, Charleston is a historic port city packed with antebellum architecture.

What are 3 things South Carolina is known for? ›

South Carolina is known for its beaches, golf courses, and historic districts. It ranks 40th in size and the 23rd in population. Its most influential cities are Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg and Florence.

Why is South Carolina a tourist attraction? ›

South Carolina is also well-known as a vacation spot for tourists. It has gorgeous coastlines, verdant wooded areas and parks, golf courses and recreation spots, museums, and many historic points of interest along the way.

Where is the nicest place to live in South Carolina? ›

Best Places To Live In South Carolina In 2022
  1. Charleston. Population. 151,612. Median home price.
  2. Myrtle Beach. Population. 37,100. Median home price. ...
  3. Greenville. Population. 72,095. ...
  4. Columbia. Population. 137,541. ...
  5. Summerville. Population. 51,216. ...
  6. Rock Hill. Population. 74,102. ...
  7. Bluffton. Population. 31,191. ...
  8. Spartanburg. Population. 38,401. ...
20 Oct 2022

What are the good things about living in South Carolina? ›

The pros of living in South Carolina

You will love the friendly and welcoming southern hospitality. Gas taxes are low, which means the costs of transportation are the lowest in the US. There are many outdoor activities such as hiking, enjoying the beach, boating, and fishing.

What is South Carolina best for? ›

The state is known for its family-friendly and affordable beaches, warm weather and hundreds of golf courses. In addition to tourism and manufacturing, major South Carolina industries include government, professional and business services.

What is the most bought car in South Carolina? ›

Ford F-Series

What is the most eaten food in South Carolina? ›

Shrimp & Grits

Undoubtedly one of South Carolina's most iconic dishes, shrimp and grits, once a budget-friendly Lowcountry staple, has become a menu darling across the state.

Why do people love South Carolina? ›

South Carolina is known for its warm temperatures, white sand beaches, parks, festivals, and golf – the things that usually draw people to our beautiful state – but it's our famed southern hospitality, rich culture, flavorful cuisine, and slow living (long before it was a lifestyle movement) that inspires them to ...

What are 5 interesting facts about South Carolina? ›

7 Surprising Facts You May Not Know About South Carolina
  • By Traci Magnus. ...
  • South Carolina Produces More Peaches than Georgia. ...
  • Charleston Is Home to One of the Oldest Trees in the Country. ...
  • Barbecue Was Born in South Carolina. ...
  • The Legend of the Lizard Man. ...
  • The First to Secede. ...
  • South Carolina Has a Monkey Colony.
1 Feb 2020

Is living in South Carolina worth it? ›

Moving to South Carolina is a great opportunity to embrace the low-key Southern lifestyle and explore a diverse state with a rich history, fantastic food and scenery that will take your breath away. Its low real estate prices and property taxes make it a destination to not just visit but to live and possibly retire.


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