Dani is a writer and actress who loves to learn and share tips and information to help others. She lives in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Should You Move to Myrtle Beach, SC?
There is something magical about Myrtle Beach. This place tends to hook people like a drug. I see it so often—people come to vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC, and they decide that they want to wake up in paradise every day. They make this decision based on the emotional high they experience while having the time of their lives in this beautiful, warm beach city.
Unfortunately, many people don't think this decision through before uprooting their lives and moving here. They then find themselves in a bad financial situation and suddenly have no resources to move back to where they came from.
The thing about living here is that you must be prepared for it. It's not like typical bustling cities that can support millions of hopeful people. The economy here is just not set up that way. I'm not saying to avoid moving to Myrtle Beach. I'm saying that the five tips below will help you make a more informed decision before you get yourself into something you can't get out of.
1. Myrtle Beach Is a Lot Like Game of Thrones
Winter is coming.
This is a thought that is on the minds of most locals as the fall season comes to an end. My first winter in Myrtle Beach was mind-boggling. I had never seen Myrtle Beach so empty before. It was like a ghost town—I could drive down Ocean Boulevard for miles without seeing a single soul. If you've ever been to Myrtle Beach in the summer, you'd think this was impossible.
Winters in Myrtle Beach are the complete and utter opposite of summers, and I'm not talking about the weather. The economy doesn't just drop—it hits rock bottom. Many businesses literally shutter up for months until tourists come back. Others reduce operating hours. This leads to less work for locals, with many people becoming seasonally unemployed. Even if you own your business, as in my case, there simply aren't enough customers around to make money.
Everyone who lives here knows that you need to be prepared for winter. It's almost like the city goes into hibernation. That means you need to be financially prepared to make little to no money for two to three months out of the year. If you can't afford this, don't move here.
2. It Has a Huge Drug Problem
In my opinion, it's no surprise that a beach city has a drug problem, so this may or may not surprise you. However, it's definitely something you should consider before moving here. Drugs float around this city just like fresh air does, even in the better and/or richer neighborhoods.
Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas are hot spots for drug trafficking. According to Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, about 50% of violent crimes in the area are drug-related. Overdoses are also an outrageous problem here. Horry County has the highest rate of opioid-related deaths of all counties in South Carolina. In fact, there are more deaths from overdoses than there are murders in this county.
The drug problem in this area is real. If you don't do drugs, this probably won't affect you, but it does raise the crime rate. Another consideration is if anyone in your family struggles with drug use or addiction, this is probably one of the worst places you can move to. You would basically be setting them up for failure.
3. Myrtle Beach Is Getting Expensive
Compared to many metropolitan areas in the United States, Myrtle Beach is an affordable place to live. In fact, the cost of living here is around 15% lower than the national average. Overall, you can stretch your dollar further here.
Despite Myrtle Beach being on the cheaper side of living, prices have been steadily rising over the past decade in all areas. Even more concerning is the fact that this rise isn't slowing down. While the pandemic played a significant role in some of the increase, this was happening long before then.
Housing costs is probably the biggest issue that locals have in Myrtle Beach. The prices have become outrageous, and that's if you can even find a decent place. Because it's a tourist town, many places closer to the shore are short-term rentals. This means permanent residents are migrating to the west side of town, leaving a shortage of housing. This shortage is causing rental prices to rise significantly.
If you're looking to buy a house, you may still have problems. There is plenty of new construction going on, but these houses are being bought almost faster than they can get them up because everyone suddenly wants to move to Myrtle Beach. This shortage of housing is causing outrageous home prices and ridiculous interest rates on mortgages.
If you're planning to be the newest transplant to the area, just know that Myrtle Beach isn't staying cheap. Pretty soon, prices here will rival those of the most expensive cities in the country.
4. Schools in the City Are Packed
Myrtle Beach needs more schools. As stated before, there are so many people moving here, but the county isn't building new schools. This is leading to a ridiculous amount of overcrowding in the main schools.
To paint a picture, I'll go over the high schools in the area. The two major high schools in Myrtle Beach are Carolina Forest High School and Myrtle Beach High School. The majority of students go to these schools.
There are a few other secondary-level schools available that are either specialty or private schools. There is Coastal Leadership Academy which is a charter school on the outskirts of the city. There is the Academy for Arts, Science, and Technology which is a "specialty" school. There is HCS Early College High School which is another "specialty" school. Then you have St. Ann Seton Catholic School, which is private. These schools have a much smaller enrollment, but if you look at the teacher-to-student ratio, you'll see that they're just as overcrowded as the high schools.
To give you an idea of how fast the student population is rising, here are the enrollment numbers for some of the schools for the past few years:
|Carolina Forest High School||Myrtle Beach High School||HCS Early College High School|
2,439 students, 118 teachers
1,520 students, 81 teachers
391 students, 22 teachers
2,506 students, 119 teachers
1,482 students, 81 teachers
393 students, 21 teachers
2,644 students, 123 teachers
1.459 students, 81 teachers
369 students, 22 teachers
2,792 students, 136 teachers
1,509 students, 81 teachers
345 students, 22 teachers
You may notice a certain trend in the table above. Carolina Forest High School has almost twice as many students as Myrtle Beach High School. The enrollment rate at CFHS is also growing while the enrollment rate of the others is staying steady. If you'll recall, as I stated earlier, most locals live on the west side of the city, away from the coast. Carolina Forest is the most popular area on the west side of the city. It also happens to be the fastest growing area which is why the school is so packed.
If you have children, I highly suggest you do a thorough investigation of the schools in Myrtle Beach before you move here.
5. Traffic Can Be Awful; Traffic Accidents Can Be Worse
With so many people moving to Myrtle Beach, there are more and more vehicles on the road every day. Combine this with the number of tourist vehicles coming through, and it's easy to see why traffic can be horrendous at times.
Unfortunately, lots of cars aren't the main problem with the traffic. Horry County and the City of Myrtle Beach are simply not building the city's infrastructure fast enough to keep up with demand. The main road, Highway 501, brings more than half the traffic from major interstates to Hwy 17 in Myrtle Beach. It goes right through Carolina Forest, which is already congested by residential traffic. There is another highway, 544, that branches off to go towards the south part of Myrtle Beach, but by the time you reach it, you're already on the edge of Carolina Forest. In other words, there is no avoiding the congestion.
As a tourist, this might not be so bad. You go into Myrtle Beach, and once you're through all that congestion, you don't deal with it again until you leave (unless you're not driving). However, as a resident, you have to deal with this every single day. Winters aren't bad (see the first paragraph), but summers are an absolute traffic nightmare. Residents are often irritated, frightened, and dealing with frayed nerves trying to make it through the day.
With all this horrible traffic comes car accidents. There are an unbelievable number of car accidents in Myrtle Beach. I have been rear-ended twice in the three years I've lived here, and both accidents resulted in my vehicle being totaled. Horry County has the fourth highest number of car accidents of all counties in South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Transportation 2020 Fact Book. However, the county has the third-highest number of fatal car accidents and the third-highest number of accidents with serious injuries.
The SCDPT further breaks this down by location. The top five intersections that generate the most accidents in Horry County are all in the Myrtle Beach area (one is in North Myrtle Beach). Out of those five, two of them (the first and third highest) are in the Carolina Forest area.
Please understand that I'm not trying to scare you. I'm trying to warn you. Make sure your defensive driving skills (and your patience) are an A+ before you move here.
Time to Make a More Informed Decision
The five points above help to paint a realistic view of what day-to-day life is like as a resident of Myrtle Beach, SC. Too often, people visit on vacation and are blinded by the dream of living on a permanent vacation at the beach. It's true—Myrtle Beach is one of the top vacation spots in the country, so it's supposed to make you feel like you're in a dream. But dreaming and living are two different things.
Make sure you take the above information into careful consideration before moving here. This is especially true if you're moving your whole family here because, honestly, it's not the best place to raise a family. I don't want to discourage you too much—after all, I live here. However, I was raised in the county right next door, and I already knew what I was getting into.
In any case, if you do decide to move to Myrtle Beach, I wish you the best of luck, and let me be the first to say welcome to our beautiful city.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.