The past few years have not been particularly kind to South Carolina, which has repeatedly served as a violent battleground for the nation’s war over race and racism in the United States. But how representative is this narrative of South Carolina as a whole? According to the FBI’s most recent crime report, it depends.

On one hand, all twenty of the safest cities listed in the report fell below the national average of violent crime. What’s more, all but six of them reported rates that at least cut that average in half. Isle of Palms, a town of just under 4,500, went all of 2016 without a single instance of reported violent crime. Even Charleston, the last city on our list, came in at thirty-five percentage points below the national average.

As in any state, there is still room for improvement. When compared to the national average, South Carolina’s overall violent crime rate comes in at a third higher. And in the case of property crime, only 12 cities on our list fell below the national average. But according to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts, that improvement is already taking place. In 2010, the state passed reforms designed to reduce prison populations by rolling back penalties for less serious drug and property offenses. The result was a 16% drop in overall crime within five years, as well as a 25% drop in prison populations by 2014 when compared to previous projections. South Carolinians, then, are fully justified in looking toward the future with optimism—no matter what headlines say.  

The development of thriving individuals, families, and communities depends on a safe environment. For resources on emergency preparedness, crime prevention, and general safety, visit our South Carolina Safety Directory.

The 20 Safest Cities in South Carolina

1. Isle of Palms

Population: 4,419
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0
Property crimes per 1,000: 26.70
Total crimes: 0% violent, 100% property

2. Tega City

Population: 10,032
Violent crimes per 1,000: 0.80
Property crimes per 1,000: 19.24
Total crimes: 4.15% violent, 95.85% property

3. Surfside Beach

Population: 4,372
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.14
Property crimes per 1,000: 48.26
Total crimes: 2.37% violent, 97.63% property

4. Edgefield

Population: 4,762
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.26
Property crimes per 1,000: 8.19
Total crimes: 15.38% violent, 84.62% property

5. Bluffton

Population: 17,498
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.43
Property crimes per 1,000: 15.26
Total crimes: 9.36% violent, 90.64% property

6. Mount Pleasant

Population: 84,277
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.51
Property crimes per 1,000: 17.00
Total crimes: 8.86% violent, 91.14% property

7. Clemson

Population: 15,767
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.65
Property crimes per 1,000: 29.37
Total crimes: 5.62% violent, 94.38% property

8. Clover

Population: 5,874
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.70
Property crimes per 1,000: 21.80
Total crimes: 7.81% violent, 92.19% property

9. Duncan

Population: 3,350
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.80
Property crimes per 1,000: 28.96
Total crimes: 6.19% violent, 93.81% property

10. Fountain Inn

Population: 8,450
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.90
Property crimes per 1,000: 18.82
Total crimes: 10.06% violent, 89.94% property

11. Hanahan

Population: 22,357
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.97
Property crimes per 1,000: 18.74
Total crimes: 10.50% violent, 89.50% property

12. Travelers Rest

Population: 5,074
Violent crimes per 1,000: 1.97
Property crimes per 1,000: 44.93
Total crimes: 4.39% violent, 95.61% property

13. Mauldin

Population: 25,540
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.11
Property crimes per 1,000: 19.85
Total crimes: 10.65% violent, 89.35% property

14. North Augusta

Population: 22,755
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.15
Property crimes per 1,000: 43.46
Total crimes: 4.95% violent, 95.05% property

15. Fort Mill

Population: 14,150
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.40
Property crimes per 1,000: 21.48
Total crimes: 11.15% violent, 88.85% property

16. Liberty

Population: 3,242
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.47
Property crimes per 1,000: 47.81
Total crimes: 5.16% violent, 94.84% property

17. Port Royal

Population: 12,417
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.58
Property crimes per 1,000: 22.63
Total crimes: 11.39% violent, 88.61% property

18. Belton

Population: 4,374
Violent crimes per 1,000: 2.74
Property crimes per 1,000: 49.38
Total crimes: 5.56% violent, 94.44% property

19. Williston

Population: 3,007
Violent crimes per 1,000: 3.00
Property crimes per 1,000: 30.93
Total crimes: 9.68% violent, 90.32% property

20. Charleston

Population: 135,153
Violent crimes per 1,000: 3.02
Property crimes per 1,000: 24.85
Total crimes: 12.15% violent, 87.85% property

How We Chose the Safest Cities in South Carolina

To identify the twenty safest cities in South Carolina, we reviewed the 2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data. Cities that fell below identified population thresholds or that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI were excluded from the ranking system.

Our evaluation is based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. If there was a tie, we also factored in the number of property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). To level the playing field, we calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. This makes it easier to directly compare the likelihood of these crimes occurring in cities with vastly different populations.

Learn more about how we rank our Safest Cities reports.

How Safe Is Your Home?

Wherever you live, feeling safe in your home can bring greater peace of mind and happiness. Whether your city made our list or not, we recommend adding extra security to your home with monitored security services provided by the nation’s leading home security providers.

To learn more about the home security options available to you, check out SafeWise’s picks for Best Home Security Systems of 2018.

If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email

Written by Tamarra Kemsley

Tamarra graduated with a BA in communications in 2012 and with an MA in Islam and the Middle East from Jerusalem's Hebrew University in 2015. You can follow her on Twitter @tamarranicole. Learn more

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