South Carolina’s Top 7 College Towns for 2024

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If you’re eyeing South Carolina for your college experience, you’re in for a treat. The Palmetto State is sprinkled with fantastic college towns each offering their own premier programs and student life. 

So, whether you’re an academic eying the apartments in Clemson or a newly hired professor hunting for the perfect home in Spartanburg, the South Carolina college towns featured in this article have something for everyone. Grab your notebook and lace up your shoes, we’re going on a tour of some of the top college towns in South Carolina.

Beautiful day on the Clemson University campus in Clemson, SC

1. Clemson – Clemson University

Population: 17,681 | Student population: 27,341 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $825

Clemson is synonymous with Clemson University, a powerhouse in engineering and business. The university’s innovative programs in automotive engineering draw students from around the world, fostering a tech-oriented atmosphere. The town thrives economically thanks to the university’s research initiatives and sports teams, which bring in visitors and create well-paying jobs.

The presence of Clemson University also influences local businesses, many of which cater to the student population. The sports scene is a major draw, significantly boosting the local economy during football season and creating a welcome influx of energy for those living in Clemson year-round.

Apartments near Clemson University | Houses for rent near Clemson University

2. Columbia – University of South Carolina

Population: 136,632 | Student population: 35,471 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,107

Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, renowned for its international business program and law school. The university shapes the town by being one of the top employers and playing a vital role in health sciences through its extensive medical facilities.

USC’s influence extends into the Columbia community through the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning. This fosters a practical learning environment for students and supports local businesses by providing a steady stream of interns and work-ready graduates.

Apartments near University of South Carolina | Houses for rent near University of South Carolina

College of Charleston on a gorgeous night in South Carolina

3. Charleston – College of Charleston

Population: 150,227 | Student population: 10,941 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,491

Charleston might be more known for its history, but the College of Charleston enhances this coastal town with top programs in marine biology and historic preservation. Its students contribute to local conservation efforts and heritage projects, which helps maintain the town’s historic charm and tourism appeal.

Economically, the college’s community engagement programs bolster local industries, especially in tourism and hospitality. In the summer, students often live in Charleston and work in local businesses and hotels, providing youthful energy and helping these enterprises thrive.

Apartments near College of Charleston | Houses for rent near College of Charleston

4. Rock Hill – Winthrop University

Population: 74,372 | Student population: 5,174 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,237

Home to Winthrop University, Rock Hill benefits from the school’s strong education and business programs. The university’s influence is evident in local schools where many Winthrop graduates teach and mold the next batch of Winthrop grads.

Winthrop’s impact on Rock Hill is significant as well, with the university being one of the largest employers in the area. Additionally, Winthrop’s arts programs keep a steady supply of talented creatives in the area.

Apartments near Winthrop University | Houses for rent near Winthrop University

Lake on the Furman University Campus just outside of Greenville, SC

5. Greenville – Furman University

Population: 70,720 | Student population: 2,463 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,290

Furman University is known for its liberal arts programs and absolutely stunning campus just outside Greenville. With help from the university’s Community Service Center, Furman students engage with the community through partnerships with local nonprofits and civic initiatives.

Greenville enjoys some economic benefits from Furman through its events and conferences that attract visitors from across the nation. The university’s presence also stimulates local businesses, ranging from cafes to bookstores, all frequented by students and faculty.

Apartments near Furman University | Houses for rent near Furman University

6. Spartanburg – Wofford College

Population: 38,732 | Student population: 1,765 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,162

Spartanburg is home to Wofford College, a small liberal arts college known for its strong programs in government and international affairs. Wofford students often intern with local government agencies, nonprofits, and law offices, providing valuable services and fresh perspectives where they are needed most.

The town benefits economically from having multiple colleges, including Converse College and Spartanburg Methodist College, which contribute to a steady stream of events, visitors, and student spending to support local businesses.

Apartments near Wofford College | Houses for rent near Wofford College

A South Carolina sunset at Coastal Carolina University

7. Conway – Coastal Carolina University

Population: 24,849 | Student population: 10,473 | Average 1-bedroom rent: $955

Coastal Carolina University is a top-tier university for marine science and performing arts. The university’s coastal research influences local environmental policies and practices, helping to sustain the area’s ecosystem.

Additionally, the annual influx of students supports local businesses and contributes to a lively social scene, especially in the arts. Coastal Carolina’s performing arts programs frequently collaborate with local theaters and community groups.

Apartments near Coastal Carolina University | Houses for rent near Coastal Carolina University



College towns are qualified as towns or cities with at least one college or university and fewer than 175,000 people according to U.S. Census data. Average rental data from in May 2024.

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the towns and cities in the state meeting those requirements.

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