Cliffs at Mountain Park, Travelers Rest, SC. Some sources estimate the low cost of living in SC more than makes up for its modest income tax rate compared with no-tax states.

Fidelity, the giant investment advisory firm, recently published “5 things to consider” before choosing where to live in retirement.  I love Fidelity, which is where most of my investments are held, but they missed at least a dozen things to consider before choosing a retirement place, especially if you plan to play golf.

Fidelity’s "5 things" are exclusively about money, as you would expect of a financial services firm. They are all good points, especially this one: “Look beyond potential state-tax savings when considering a move.” As I have written ad nauseum because it is such a common retiree mistake, you need to have enough income in retirement to make living in a no-income tax state a major consideration. After retirement, many people count on social security as a significant source of income, but social security maxes out at around $50,000 a year. To make a compelling argument for no-income-tax states to rise to the top of your list of considerations, you will need supplementary sources of income well in excess of the social security amount. Even in that case if, for example, you prefer South Carolina (6.5% to income tax rate) to Florida (0% income tax as a place to retire, be mindful that the generally lower property taxes ad cost of living in the Palmetto State might neutralize the advantage of the Sunshine State’s 0% state income tax. One website, My Life Elsewhere, indicates that cost of living in Florida is 10% more expensive than in South Carolina.

When you begin to research where you might live in retirement, state income tax should be well down the list, at least to start. What should be at the top is a decision on geography, specifically whether you want to live on the coast, on a lake or in the mountains. Once you and your partner agree on the “topography,” the next decision will be what I call the Proximity Consideration. Would you prefer a rural location free of noise and air pollution, or easy access to a city and all it has to offer? Personal health considerations, current and future, could guide that decision as well. Your level of frustration with traffic could also have an impact. There are wonderful golf communities within a few miles of cities and traffic, and others a good 90 minutes away with clear sailing along the local roads.

After you decide on a few geographical areas to consider, don’t choose too many – too many is more than six, which will burn up a lot of gas and airline miles and confuse the heck out of you. (There are a fine selection of golf communities in most areas.) In moving to the next level in your search, you will need to visit the areas you identify, and the golf communities within those areas, to determine if they are suitable.

And when you visit, there are a whole raft of other considerations which I have conveniently packed into a 150-page guide to the entire search process for a golf home. It is called Glorious Back Nine: How to Find Your Dream Golf Home, and it is available in both paperback and electronic editions at  for just $9.99 and $5.99, respectively. If you would like the benefit of my nearly 20 years of assisting people to find their golf home and all the research I did to produce the book, fill out my one-minute questionnaire for hands-on, no fee guidance in finding your dream home.  Shortly after I receive your responses, we can arrange for a phone conversation to get you started – or to pick up from wherever you are in your search. In the meantime, please consider subscribing to our newsletter, which we publish 10 times a year and which highlights some of the same issues in my book. Subscribe here

Golfweek magazine’s latest rankings of the best public golf courses by state is out, and the Myrtle Beach area owns 12 of the top 20 golf courses in South Carolina. Although the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which ranks near the top nationally, also tops the SC list, the Dunes Beach & Golf Club, Caledonia and True Blue golf clubs hold down the numbers 3 through 5 positions. (#2 is Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island).

The Dunes is arguably not a public golf course since just a handful of Myrtle Beach resorts have access for their guests on the otherwise private golf course. Caledonia and True Blue, sister courses across the road from each other in Pawleys Island, are fully public and also offer an annual membership that is more than reasonably priced. Play enough golf and your green fees, cart included, will not exceed $30, a huge discount over the rack rate that is as high as $200 in peak seasons (spring and fall). Other top 20 South Carolina golf courses located on the 60-mile Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach are Tidewater (#7), Moorland Course at Legends Resort (9), TPC Myrtle Beach (10), King’s North (11), Heritage Club (13), Dye Course at Barefoot Resort (14), Grande Dunes (15), Heathland Course at Legends Resort (16) and Fazio Course at Barefoot Resort (#18).

All these golf courses are located either within, adjacent or close to residential communities. Combining a vacation home and pay as you go golf makes financial sense – no initiation fees, no club dues, no “obligation” to play a few times a week to get a return on your investment. Below are links to current listings of properties for sale in the Pawleys Island area that are close to a few of these outstanding public golf courses.

TrueBlue par three with waterTrue Blue's layout is loaded with sand. On the par three third hole, that challenge is compounded with water.

True Blue Golf Club  The course will gobsmack you the first time you play it. Imagine strips of grass laid down on a prairie of sand, and that is Mike Strantz’ design at True Blue. It may be the first course where you encouraged – in a few cases compelled – to drive your golf cart through huge waste bunkers. A thrillingly bizarre and wonderful first experience. Most of the real estate adjacent to True Blue is of the townhouse variety and, therefore, perfect as vacation homes that can be rented out when not in use by the owner.

Heritage fairway from under treesThe golf course in the community known as Heritage in Pawleys Island combines the seductive elements of sand, water and centuries old live oak trees.

Heritage  Not one of the best-known golf communities or golf clubs in the Myrtle Beach area but locals love the golf course, which is festooned by huge three century old live oak trees and marshland that give Heritage a kind of Low Country seductive quality. Designed by Dan Maples, the course features huge greens and green complexes spread out over land once occupied by two plantations and 600 acres. The amenity-rich community is anchored by its own marina and, in addition to boating, a fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, community pool and owner’s clubhouse.

TPC Myrtle Beach green w bunkersTom Fazio loves bunkering and I do too when there is a clear path between them at TPC Myrtle Beach.

TPC Myrtle Beach  The sprawling community of Prince Creek sits beside and surrounds part of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) of Myrtle Beach, part of the famous TPC network of golf clubs. Prince Creek should be high on the list of those looking for either a vacation home adjacent to outstanding golf, or a permanent home in the laid back Grand Strand in coastal South Carolina.

PawleysPlantation13Members at the semi-private Pawleys Plantation Golf Club call the par 3 13th hole "the shortest par 5 in Myrtle Beach."

Pawleys Plantation  Although it did not make the top 20 list in Golfweek, Pawleys Plantation will the next time around. A $2 million renovation to restore the course to its 1988 layout when Jack Nicklaus first designed it, as well as to make it more playable by removing some of the huge fairway bunkers that are tough to maintain and slowdown play, will be/was completed in October 2023. A course that was good enough to rank in the top 13 courses on the Grand Strand will be even better. Pawleys Plantation comprises the full spectrum of golf properties, including single-family, townhouse condos and a few choice lots with golf course views. Prices for lots run from around $100,000 for patio homesites to $1 million and more for large, multi-leveled single-family homes with marsh views. Townhomes are priced generally from the high $200s.