EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Horry County, SC

Photos of Myrtle Beach with beaches, pier, boat docks, and couple walking a sidewalk in a residential community

EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Horry County, SC

Down in the South Carolina Lowcountry is the world-famous Myrtle Beach. This iconic Southern beach town is part of Horry County, a diverse land of beaches, rivers, swamps, and lowland forest. Start to look around Horry County, and you'll find more than a vacation destination; people of all ages find it an attractive place to settle down. Let's look at what life is like in Horry County, South Carolina.

The History of Horry County

Pronounced "orr-ee," the county is named in honor of Peter Horry, a revolutionary war hero born in South Carolina around 1743. He served in the South Carolina militia under Brigadier General Francis Marion.

The area's many rivers and swamps isolated the inhabitants from the "outside world," creating a fierce culture and self-reliant population. These residents are proud of what they accomplished without outside help and call the county, "The Independent Republic of Horry." 

It was the same isolating waters and miles of beaches that eventually attracted people into the area. The population began increasing in the 1970s as the miles of beaches and waterfronts were developed into resorts and retirement communities. 

The modern Horry County is a retirement and vacation destination for residents across the South and Midwestern United States. 

Horry County Areas

The most famous area in Horry County is the 60-plus miles of beaches that comprise the "Grand Strand." Along the Atlantic oceanfront lies Myrtle Beach, plus North Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach, Briarcliffe Acres, and Surfside Beach. The other coastal areas famous on the Grand Strand are Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, and down to Georgetown.

While many rivers run through Horry County, the Waccamaw River is perhaps the most important. Historically, it served as a major link in the North-South Intercoastal waterway. Residents here founded Conway, today the county seat. The other vital river is the Little Pee Dee River, which created the feeling of separation from the "outside world" that led to Horry County's fierce independent identity.

The inland Horry County has a slower pace of life compared to the oceanfront. Here, Loris, Aynor, Conway, Longs, Carolina Forest, and Little River residents enjoy small-town living while being close to urban amenities. Aynor, a friendly small town about 35 miles from Myrtle Beach, is known as the “Little Golden Town.” Loris is the birthplace of the chicken bog, a traditional Southern dish with rice, sausage, and spices.

Other regions of Horry County include Garden City, Socastee, and Crescent Beach, Murrells Inlet, and Forestbrook. Garden City is a beachfront small town near Georgetown County known for a family-friendly atmosphere. Socastee sits on the Intracoastal waterway and has a historic swing bridge, one of only ten remaining in the state. Famous pirate Blackbeard once roamed the fishing village of Murrells Inlet.

Getting around Horry County

The Coast RTA bus system operates seven days a week on 15 routes throughout Horry County and the Grand Strand area. It connects Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Garden City, Conway, Loris, and Aynor. 

In the Myrtle Beach area, you can also bicycle or grab a cab. Some of the resorts have transportation or airport shuttles. 

If you need to go further afield, airlines servicing Myrtle Beach International Airport connect to larger airports. We also have the Grand Strand Airport and the Conway Horry County Airport for smaller aircraft. 

Otherwise, as a resident, your best bet for getting around Horry County is by car. 

Horry County Job Market

Myrtle Beach tourism means Horry County's employment sector trends towards more jobs in the hospitality and tourism sector. 

The largest employers in Horry County include, but are not limited to, the City of Myrtle Beach, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, Hilton Grand Vacations Company, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the Southeast Restaurants Corporation, Loris Community Hospital, and the Horry County Department of Education. Other top employers include major retail chains and grocers. 

The top industries for employment during June 2021 were in Accommodation and Food Services, employing 26,418 people in Horry County. The second and third top employing industries were retail services and healthcare, respectively. 

In June 2021, Accommodation and Food Services had the most new hires, followed by retail services and administrative and support. Notably, the area reported a high number of new hires in the Arts, Culture, and Recreation industry and Real Estate and Leasing. 

Historically, the local unemployment rate tends to be slightly higher than South Carolina and the United States averages. In June 2021, Horry County had an 8.6% unemployment rate, compared to 6.2% in South Carolina and 8.1% for the United States. This may relate to the high number of tourism-related jobs.

South Carolina projects local job growth over the next five years will be most prevalent in the healthcare, real estate, accommodation and food services, and the admin support industries. The most needed positions are for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, occupational therapists, and restaurant industry cooks. 

Horry County Real Estate Market

Generally speaking, Horry County has experienced a steady increase in housing units since developments along the coastline took off in the 1970s. From 2000 to 2010, the available housing stock grew by 52.3%. 

Looking a little closer at popular areas in Horry County, the June 2021 real estate market shows:

  • Myrtle Beach single-family new listings are down 35.3%, while the median sales price has increased 15.3%. The year-to-date median sales price is $362,683, a 9.9% increase. The average days on the market are down 24%.
  • Myrtle Beach townhouses and condos have 5.1% fewer listings, while the median sale price has increased 15.9%. The year-to-date median sales price is $155,000. 
  • Surfside Beach has seen single-family new listings increase 2.3% year over year. The median sales price has increased 27.1% to $285,950 in June 2021.
  • Surfside Beach townhomes and condos have experienced an 18.2% increase in new listings and a 39.1% increase in the median sales price. The June 2021 median sale price was $140,500.
  • In the county seat of Cdonway, single-family new listings are up 16.8% year over year. The median sales price is now $244,285, while the days on market are down 15.1%. 
  • Aynor reported 8.3% fewer single-family listings year-over-year in June 2021. Median sales price decreased 20.1% to $177,400. 

Horry County Population Growth

According to the 2019 United States Census estimates, around 354,081 people lived in the county. The Census identified the median age in 2018 as 45.9 years old. A large number of the residents were in the older age brackets, with the 60 to 64-year-old age group having the most representation. 

The average household consisted of 2.37 people. South Carolina profile of Horry County reported around 79.9% of the population identified as white while 13.4% identified as black or African American, and 3.1% came from other races not identified as Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander.

Around 22% of residents had a bachelor's degree or higher, while 32% had at least an associate's degree or some college. The US Census identified the median household income as $50,704 in 2019.

Horry County has seen sustained population growth through the decades. The population increased by about 55,000 people from 2010 to 2020. South Carolina projects Horry County will grow about 52,000 people from 2020 to 2030. 

Things To Do In Horry County

By far, the star of Horry County is Myrtle Beach and the 60 miles of sandy beaches. Residents and visitors come for the sparkling Atlantic Ocean waters and endless possibilities for outdoor recreation. 

Along with spending the day sea side, visitors take advantage of ample fishing opportunities in the ocean and the nearby rivers. Along the oceanfront, Intercoastal waterway, Waccamaw, and Little Pee Dee Rivers are ample boating access for motorized craft and for kayaking or canoeing.

The area is also a golfer's Paradise. Around 90 golf courses are available for play up and down the Grand Strand. By one estimate, there is one golf course for every 4,461 people in Horry County. Numerous courses have earned top-tier designations or rankings in golfing magazines.

Arts & Culture thrives in Horry County. In Myrtle Beach, visit the Carolina Opry or catch shows at the Alabama Theater. The town hosts over 600 fine arts events each year. Away from Myrtle Beach, discover museums that capture the Lowcountry's history.  

The area also has plenty of tourist attractions, such as the Ripley's Aquarium, WonderWorks, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and the Pirates Voyage and Dinner Show. 

The Broadway at the Beach Shopping Center and entertainment complex have over 100 specialty shops and attractions surrounding the 23-acre Lake Broadway. This destination sees around 14 million visitors each year. The most stunning part of the Broadway is the 187-foot SkyWheel which provides some of the best views of Myrtle Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Horry County Education

As South Carolina's third-largest school district, Horry County Schools has 56 Public Schools to serve over 45,000 students. It has 27 primary schools, 13 middle schools, ten high schools, three specialty academies, one alternative school, and four charter schools.  

In 2021, 15 private schools were available for youth of all ages. The most reviewed private schools were Renaissance Preparatory Academy, Christian Academy Of Myrtle Beach, and Calvary Christian School.

For higher education opportunities, Coastal Carolina University in Conway enrolls over 10,000 students a year. It offers baccalaureate degrees in over 95 majors, 27 master's degrees, and two doctoral programs, one in Marine Science and one in education. Its most popular undergraduate majors are marine science, management, exercise and sport science, and communications. 

Further training opportunities are found at the Horry-Georgetown Technical College and the Miller-Motte Technical College. There is also The Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach in the Strand College of Hair Design.

Horry County Healthcare 

Healthcare is one of the largest industries in Horry County. 

Tidelands Health is one of the leading healthcare providers with four hospitals and 60 associated care locations along the Grand Strand. Its 167-bed hospital was rated one of America's Best 100 hospitals for Orthopedic Surgery in 2015 by HealthGrades. It also holds Joint Commission certificates in childbirth and joint replacements. It offers a range of in and outpatient services, 24-hour emergency care, and General Medical Services. 

McLeod Seacoast Hospital is a not-for-profit 50-bed hospital serving Northern Horry County. It specializes in general surgery, joint replacement, emergency care, critical care, and various therapies. Its 120 physicians service over 32 specialties.  

McLeod Loris Hospital is a not-for-profit 150-bed hospital also serving Northern Horry County. It specializes in general and orthopedic surgery, women's services, emergency care, critical care, and various therapies.

The Conway Medical Center is a nonprofit medical center with 200 physicians serving 30 specialties. CMC has specialties in general and vascular surgery, spine surgery, critical care, inpatient dialysis, palliative care, obstetrics, and pediatrics. It employs over 1,400 people, making it one of the county's largest employers.

Grand Strand Health has a 301-bed acute care hospital and other facilities across the Grand Strand. It has the only cardiac surgery program, neurosurgery program, and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Horry County. It has been designated as an advanced primary stroke center and has certification in specific care for sepsis patients. 

Horry County Dining

In your backyard awaits world-class dining. Experience everything from classic Lowcountry fare to globally inspired cuisine. A few highlights of some iconic dining destinations:

  • Peaches Corner is Myrtle Beach's oldest eatery, serving burgers, hot dogs, and people watching.
  • Rivertown Bistro, located in Conway, features local ingredients in creative ways. The menu changes to reflect the seasons.
  • Sea Captain's House, in the heart of Myrtle Beach, is a historic oceanfront cottage serving traditional seafood dishes for over 50 years.
  • The Parson's Table, located in Little River inside a former Methodist Church, is a highly regarded restaurant serving local ingredients.
  • New South Brewing, a popular microbrewery serving ales and lagers in an energizing atmosphere.

Horry County Shopping

Horry County offers ample opportunities for retail experiences. The Grand Strand has everything from artisanal boutiques to outlet shopping. 

Broadway at the Beach has over 100 specialty shops and dining venues. Other choices for shopping include the Market Common, ideal for scoring a local gift, and Barefoot Landing. Further afield are the discount retail shops at Tanger Outlets, where you can always score a deal on name brands.

Horry County Local Favorites

Spend a day at Boardwalk at the Beach, an iconic Myrtle Beach destination. Ride the Skywheel for fantastic oceanfront views. Explore the dozens of shops, entertainment, and dining. Popular dining venues in the area include Banditos, Bummz, and Rip Tydz.

Visit Inlet Point Plantation for a one-of-a-kind Beach experience. Here, you can experience horseback riding along the beach. 

Explore Murrells Inlet Village, a historic town with a MarshWalk. This half-mile wooden Boardwalk has waterfront dining, live music, fishing, tours, and more. One of the locals' favorite events is the MarshWalk Wonderland of Lights during the winter holidays.

Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach is a shopping and dining destination. Many of the restaurants sit along the Intracoastal waterway, providing excellent fare and views. 

Make your own piece of artwork at the Conway Glass. The shop offers glass blowing classes for a memorable experience. 

In season, local residents cheer for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Minor League baseball team, an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The team has won several division titles for the South Division in the past. 

The La Belle Amie Vineyard in North Myrtle Beach is open Wednesdays and Saturdays to the public. They offer events throughout the summer season, including live music. the La Belle Amie Vineyard is home to the Twisted Sisters wines. 

Take a scenic Waccamaw River Tour. Rent a canoe or kayak from local outfitters and get a sense of historic South Carolina and the Lowcountry. 

Making Horry County Your Home 

With ample recreation opportunities for people of all ages, Horry County is an excellent place to call home. Our oceanfront is world-famous, but the area is more than beaches. We offer full family recreation, world-class golfing, excellent dining, and numerous retail opportunities. Let the famous southern hospitality welcome you to your new home in Horry County. Explore the different cities and regions to find the right pace of life for you.                                                                                                                  

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