Located in upstate South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, Greenville has undergone massive changes in the past ten years. It’s known as one of the state’s most artistic and outdoorsy cities, with an award-winning Main Street and a large downtown park built around the beautiful Reedy River. The area was a hub of textile manufacturing in the 1890s, and by 1915 was the “Textile Center of the South.” But Greenville had a hard time recovering from the Depression and desperate economics of the 1970s. Now employment has experienced a powerful comeback – the diverse economy is going strong, the cost of living is lower than the national average, and the population is expanding.
Known as one of the ‘Top 100 Small Arts Towns in the US’, Greenville residents enjoy an awesome music scene, innovative museums, lush natural landscapes, and amazing recreation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s clear why new residents are flocking to the charms of Greenville. Find out more below about Greenville, including the pros and cons of the city, info on things to do, the best neighborhoods, and much more. When you’re ready to make your move, Great Guys will help you find top-rated Greenville moving companies to make the process as smooth as possible.
Living in Greenville, SC: What to Know Before Moving to Greenville
Greenville is a popular city name in many states, but Greenville, South Carolina, is on everyone’s radar. The unofficial motto and trending hashtag is #YeahThatGreenville because everyone is talking about this city. The city proper has a population of 68,300, but many suburbs and smaller towns surround it, making up the larger Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metro area of 906,630 residents.
The city is the county seat of Greenville County, with its huge manufacturing employers like Michelin and BMW and their smaller suppliers, plus 40 Fortune 500 companies. Add beautiful parks, festivals, friendly residents, and a great music scene, and you have the formula for a charming city that offers a great quality of life.
Pros and Cons of Living in Greenville
- Revitalized and active downtown – A model for urban planning and renewal.
- Strong economy – The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and job growth is increasing.
- Vibrant arts & culture scene – The city is home to one of the top five art festivals in the country and tons of public art.
- Plenty of outdoor activities – The Blue Ridge Mountains and local environment provide fabulous recreation.
- Summers are hot – High temps come with high humidity.
- Traffic – More than 80% of people drive their car to work alone.
- Sprawl – The growing popularity means the population is spreading out into surrounding smaller cities.
- High crime rate – Property crime is almost double the national average.
- Property Tax: The average property tax rate in Greenville County is 0.693%. On a house valued at $250,000, you’d pay $1,733 a year in property taxes. That’s almost $1,000 less per year than the national average. Test out home prices here to find the tax rate for your new home.
- Sales Tax: Both Greenville city and county have a standard statewide sales tax of 6%, and neither add additional tax – so sales tax is 6% everywhere you go!
- State Income Tax: At 7%, South Carolina’s income tax is higher than neighboring states. North Carolina’s is 5.25%, and Georgia’s is 5.75%.
At 49%, renters make up almost half of the Greenville city population. The average rent price is $1,310 per month, compared to the national average of $1,590 per month, as of December 2019.
If you’re looking to buy a house in Greenville, it’s a good time to do it. The median home value, as of January 2020, was $203,452. Home values appreciated 4.2% in 2019, and experts expect that they’ll go up by 4.4% in 2020.
The cheapest neighborhoods are about 10-15 minutes outside of downtown. The median home value in West Greenville is $153,597. Pleasant Valley is south of the city, near I-85, with a median home value of $160,758.
Cost of Living
The US cost of living is measured on an average index scale of 100. At an index of 89.8, Greenville’s overall cost of living is about 10% lower than the national average. The housing index is almost 20% lower at 81.1, and transportation costs are even lower at 76.2. Grocery costs, however, are much closer to the national average, at 99.7, and the health costs index is 101.4.
The median household income is $41,147, a bit lower than the national average of $53,482. However, since the cost of living is lower than the national average, your income will go a bit further. For a Greenville family of four to live a moderate lifestyle, they’d need to earn an annual income of $73,670. Work out your budget here.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Unlike the southern portions of South Carolina, Greenville experiences all four seasons. The summers are intense, with high temperatures and humidity that makes it feel even hotter. The two hottest months are July and August, with average high temperatures of 91°F and 90°F, respectively. The average low temperature is 67°F. On the flip side, the coolest months are December and January, with average highs of 56°F and 55°F, respectively, and an average low of 30°F. Greenville usually gets snow once or twice a year, with the annual total averaging 3 inches.
Monthly average rainfall totals are between 3 and 4.5 inches year-round, keeping Greenville lush and green. With about 4.57 inches, June gets the most rain. December comes in second with 4.45 inches.
The city is far enough from the coast that it normally avoids hurricane threats. But flooding and severe thunderstorms are a threat, along with tornadoes that can spin-off of the storms. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has helpful information on how to prepare for weather threats and stay safe during severe weather.
Economy & Job Market
As of 2019, Greenville unemployment was 3% – lower than the nationwide rate of 3.9%. The job market increased by 0.7% and job growth over the next ten years is forecast to be 39.8%, over 6% higher than the national job growth prediction of 33.5%.
Although textile manufacturing was the major economic driver in the past, today, healthcare, energy, government, and manufacturing make up the major sectors. The ten top employers are Prisma Health, Bon Secours St Francis, Greenville County, the State of South Carolina, Michelin North America, Duke Energy, GEPower, the Fluor Corporation, Greenville County Schools, and Bi-Lo grocery stores.
There are lots of ways to find a job in Greenville in addition to the internet. The largest employer in the area, Prisma Health, holds regular job fairs. And the State of South Carolina, also a top 10 employer, has its own employment website.
Traffic & Transportation
The major interstate surrounding Greenville is I-85, running north-south, with its offshoots I-385 and I-185 going through and around the city. Sprawl is huge in Greenville; lots of people live in the suburbs but work in town, causing time-consuming commutes during rush hours.
Public transit is minimal. The bus system, called the Greenlink, has 12 fixed routes that stretch across the county. All of the buses feature bike racks. The system also has a special ADA paratransit service, called GAP, for those unable to use the regular bus system because of a disability.
The city’s walk score is 43 out of 100, and the bike score is 41 out of 100, making Greenville a car-dependent city. The downtown area is much more walkable than the rest of the city, and locals enjoy strolling and cycling the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile paved trail that runs along the Reedy River to connect schools, shops, restaurants, and parks.
What to Do
Because it’s near the Blue Ridge foothills, Greenville has become a hub for those who love the outdoors. A visit to the Reedy River Falls doesn’t even require hiking boots – the falls are in the heart of downtown Greenville, surrounded by Falls Park on the Reedy. The arts and culture scene is big here, too, with festivals, galleries, and nearly 100 pieces of public art.
Paris Mountain State Park, just north of the city, features hiking trails, lakes, campsites, and Camp Buckhorn, an event facility. Just over an hour away is the amazingly gorgeous crystal clear Lake Jocassee, surrounded by foothills and home to Devils Fork State Park where you can tent camp or rent cabins.
The Greenville Zoo has been in Cleveland Park since 1960, when it opened with native-to-the-area animals, but has become more exotic over the years. It now features an education center, reptile house, South American area, and waterfowl lagoon.
The Greenville Center for Creative Arts, GLOW Lyric Theatre, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Logos Theatre, and the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University are just a few of the venues for exhibits and performing arts that can keep you busy year-round.
The Greenville Drive, the city’s minor league baseball team, is affiliated with the Boston Red Sox and has a ballpark modeled after Fenway Park. And the sports don’t stop there. Greenville is also home to Swamp Rabbits hockey, a team in the South Division of East Coast Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. And the city also has a newish soccer team, the Greenville Triumph, part of USL League One.
Schools & Universities
Greenville County School District, which is the largest district in the state, serves Greenville students. According to greatschools.org, the highest-ranking public schools in the area, Mountain View Elementary and Bell’s Crossing Elementary score 9/10. Almost all of the schools score between 7 and 9 points. The highest concentration of high-scoring schools is northwest of downtown, near the Brookhaven and Taylors areas.
The city is also home to the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, a public boarding school that requires application and acceptance. It boasts some famous graduates, including Danielle Brooks, from Orange Is the New Black and Tony-award winner Patina Miller.
Greenville is home to private and public colleges and universities. Clemson University is just 45 minutes from Greenville, so expect to see lots of orange and purple, especially on game days during the fall. Furman University is a private liberal arts college situated on a campus recognized as one of the nation’s most beautiful, complete with a 40-acre lake. The area is also home to religious-based schools: Bob Jones University is a private, non-denominational Protestant college, and North Greenville University has affiliations with the Southern Baptist Convention.
The University of South Carolina, a public university, also has a branch in Greenville – known as USC Upstate. And Greenville Technical College offers career training, a two-year degree, or the opportunity to start a college career before transferring to a four-year college.
Greenville’s property and violent crime rates are higher than the national average. Ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest crime, Greenville has a score of 64.1 for property crime, compared to the national average of 35.4. For violent crime, the city scores 36.2 out of 100, compared to the national average of 22.7.
The areas with the highest crime are the downtown Greenville area and the surrounding suburbs to the west of the city.
- Electric service: Duke Energy provides electric service. You can start the service online or in person at one of their offices.
- Gas service: Piedmont Natural Gas provides gas service. You can start the service online, but remember that you need to have electric and water active before scheduling your gas hook up.
- Water service: The Greenville Water System handles water service for all Greenville County. You can begin setting up service online or by phone.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: The City of Greenville provides both trash and recycling services for those living inside the city limits. To set up services, give them a call after you find their number here – plus find phone numbers for setting up service in the surrounding towns.
- Internet/Cable service: Spectrum, formerly Time Warner, is one of the major providers for the Greenville area. You can find offers to start service with them here. The other most common provider is AT&T, and you can start service with them online as well.
Best Neighborhoods in Greenville, SC
Moving to Greenville but don’t know where to start house hunting? Here are the top neighborhoods to consider when choosing your new home in Greenville.
West Greenville, just two miles west of Downtown, is bordered by Academy Street and the Reedy River. The artsy and funky side of the city, West Greenville boasts renovated historic buildings, art galleries, design firms, retail, and restaurants. It’s even referred to as the Village of West Greenville, adding to the quirky and chic city feel.
West Greenville’s home values increased by 9.2% in 2019, and real estate projections show an anticipated growth of 7.2% in 2020. Many of the detached homes are older, craftsman-style, and some have been divided into apartments to service the younger population and students. You’ll also find some larger apartment buildings along Academy Street.
You can take an evening stroll each moth through the First Fridays art galleries; grab a bite from The Anchorage, a 2018 James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant; or savor a delicious handmade treat from Van’s Chocolates.
- Population – 1,674
- Median Home Value – $153,597
- Median Rent Price – $1,310
- Schools – No schools in the neighborhood, but nearby schools include Greenville Senior High Academy and Monaview Elementary School
Something to try: A visit to Greenville Center for Creative Arts, a visual arts gallery
Nicholtown is located less than two miles southeast of Downtown and is a truly historic neighborhood. The area borders the Reedy River, Cleveland Park, and is near I-385. Many of the homes here are single-family, under 2000 square feet,
Many of its first residents were formerly enslaved people who purchased their tracts of land just after the Civil War. Over the decades, the area grew and changed, but the population and businesses remained predominantly African-American. In the 1950s, Jesse Jackson’s family moved to Nicholtown, which by then had moved up to middle-class status. By the 1970s, many homes fell into disrepair. Efforts to renovate and update began in 2005, with grants from the federal government.
The area includes Green Forest Park, which features a paved walking and cycling path, and borders Cleveland Park, which is home to the Greenville Zoo. It also features two comic book stores, perfect for collectors.
- Population – 3,483
- Home Value – $192,515
- Median Rent Price – $1,120
- Schools – None in the neighborhood, but Augusta Circle Elementary and Sarah Collins Elementary are nearby
Something to try: New vinyl from Pharmacy Records
Located 7.5 miles northeast of Greenville, Taylors is the largest true suburb in the area. Taylors borders Lake Robinson, Paris Mountain State Park, and the Cherokee Foothill Scenic Parkway, so it’s perfect for access to outdoor recreation.
The Enoree River cuts right through Taylors, and the area once featured a popular spa/resort destination in the 18th and 19th centuries. Home values rose over 3.8% in 2019, and they’re expected to continue to go up in 2020. Most homes are single-family and built after 1980 when the population began to spread out of the city.
Taylors Mill, a part of the old textile industry, has been adapted to house local artistic businesses. You’ll find The Farehouse, an American-style restaurant with an emphasis on community, as well as photography, jewelry, and other creative studios and galleries.
- Population – 21,617
- Home Value – $198,525
- Median Rent Price – $1,338
- Schools – Brook Glen Elementary, Taylors Elementary, Brushy Creek Elementary, Northwood Middle, and Eastside High
Something to try: A locally brewed beer from 13 Stripes Brewery, located in Taylors Mills
Located about 20 minutes northeast of Downtown, Greer is a city in its own right and spans Greenville County and Spartanburg County. The borders include I-85 and two lakes – Robinson and Cunningham. As a suburb of Greenville, it’s home to both the BMW and Michelin manufacturing facilities. That and its proximity to the Greenville-Spartanburg airport make it a convenient location for work and commuting.
The real estate market is booming here, and Zillow predicts that home prices will continue to rise in 2020. Most of the residences are detached, single-family homes built after 1995.
There’s a ton to do in Greer, including visiting Greer Station, the city’s central business district, with 12 square blocks of retail and restaurants.
- Population – 30,899
- Home Value – $223,055
- Median Rent Price – $1,480
- Schools – Chandler Creek Elementary, Skyland Elementary, Crestview Elementary, Greer Middle, Blue Ridge Middle, Blue Ridge High, and Greer High
Something to try: Freedom Blast, Greer’s Independence Day celebration at City Park with music and fireworks
Just 15 minutes south of Downtown, Mauldin is another popular area that’s its own city. Mauldin is bordered by I-385 and I-185, making travel quick and easy. The convenience to highways has no doubt helped the population grow by 65% in the past 20 years.
The number of housing units has nearly doubled since 1995, and home values will continue to rise in 2020. The median age of homes in Mauldin is 21 years, and there are about one-third as many attached homes, condos, and apartments as there are detached single-family homes.
This small city is situated just a few minutes away from Lake Conestee Nature Park, a 400-acre wildlife sanctuary that features hiking and biking trails. Popular restaurants include Little Pigs BBQ, a statewide favorite, and Tato’s Pizzeria, featuring brick oven pizzas.
- Population – 25,130
- Home Value – $189,033
- Median Rent Price – $1,410
- Schools – Mauldin Elementary, Mauldin High
Something to try: Mauldin’s Public Art Trail
Travelers Rest sits about 20 minutes north of Downtown, which means you’ll be even closer to the gorgeous Blue Ridge foothills. The small city borders Paris Mountain State Park to the south and the North Carolina border to the north. The median age of homes is 24 years, and renters make up about 31% of the population.
The city’s name grew from its reputation in the 1800s as the perfect place for travelers and livestock drivers to rest before or after the mountain trek, so the area has lots of history. Travelers Rest has always been a popular suburb of Greenville, but the population has boomed recently.
The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail stretches from downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest. The city also boasts a few great restaurants, like Farmhouse Tacos and Upcountry Provisions, perfect for eating in or grabbing food to go for a hike or picnic.
- Population – 4,965
- Home Value – $219,079
- Median Rent Price – $1,330
- Schools – Heritage Elementary, Gateway Elementary, Northwest Middle, and Travelers Rest High
Something to try: The Travelers Rest Farmers Market, open Saturdays May-September
Just over 15 minutes southwest from Downtown, Simpsonville has a lot to offer on its own. Simpsonville is just south of Mauldin, and I-385 runs right through the middle of town.
Homes here are slightly older – the median age is 23 years. If you’re looking for a home to customize to your taste, many of the homes here are ready for updates and small renovations. The majority of homes are single-family, detached houses, but you can also find apartment complexes or condo buildings.
The city is also full of culture. Simpsonville has an arts foundation, a non-profit that was instrumental in turning an old elementary school into an arts center for the community. Locals enjoy the cute, vibrant downtown, with restaurants like Henry’s Smokehouse, The Castle Cellar Pub, and Papa’s & Beer, a well-known Mexican restaurant.
- Population – 22,072
- Home Value – $245,051
- Median Rent Price – $1,380
- Schools – Bell’s Crossing Elementary, Oakview Elementary, Plain Elementary, Brashier Middle College Charter, Ralph Chandler Middle, and Hillcrest High
Something to try: A concert at CCNB Amphitheatre at Heritage Park
Pleasant Valley, true to its name, is an older neighborhood with a low crime rate. About 10 minutes south of Downtown, most of the homes are modest single-family detached, built in the 1940s and ‘50s. You’ll be able to find some apartment complexes on Augusta Road. The neighborhood borders Brushy Creek and Augusta Road, which leads straight into the city. Pleasant Valley also borders Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course.
Pleasant Valley is a relatively small area and sits near I-85, which makes commuting and running errands a breeze. Augusta Road features great restaurants and fitness studios, like Barre3 and 9Round, The Dive, and Tasty’s Soul Food & Bar.
- Population – 2,558
- Home Value – $160,758
- Median Rent Price – $1,310
- Schools – Blythe Academy, The Chandler School, Hughes Academy of Science and Technology
Something to try: A glass of wine at The 05 Wine Bar
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