BY SHELBIE GOULDING email@example.com
The City of Sumter was recognized as one of the best places to live in the state along with major cities along the coast and Upstate.
Forbes Advisor released an article on Oct. 22 on the best places to live in South Carolina as of 2022. With only a list of 10, Sumter made the cut thanks to its affordable living, unemployment rate, geographical footprint and small-town charm.
"Sumter is very affordable and conveniently located near the center of the state. It's not too far from Columbia, Myrtle Beach or Charleston which offer more benefits for residents but can also have higher housing costs," Forbes stated. "The city has several employment avenues ranging from advanced manufacturing, aviation, data centers, food processing and medical devices. Shaw Air Force Base is also an anchor of the community."
Forbes analyzed cities by pulling recent data on key lifestyle factors such as the area's median home price, personal income per capita and the unemployment and crime rates.
Although the city's crime rate was above average, with 3,741 criminal offenses reported this year, it still made No. 10 on the list, under Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Columbia, Summerville, Rock Hill, Bluffton, Spartanburg and Clemson - ranked in that order.
Attributions to making the cut were the city's population of 42,976, having a median home price of $236,950, an average income of $40,760, an unemployment rate of 4% and a community wellness score of 43%. Of all nine other cities, Sumter did have the most affordable cost of living.
"Sumter is kind of a hidden gem," Mayor David Merchant said. "It's what we see from our friends at Shaw."
He often sees airmen who are stationed at Shaw Air Force Base leave for an assignment but then come back to live in Sumter because of the quality of life it has to offer families.
"They may live away, but then they come back," he said.
According to Shelley Kile, communications and tourism director for the City of Sumter, the city has never made a list on a national platform like Forbes before.
"They didn't necessarily base it on the population because we are the eighth-largest city in the state," she said. "I think we did slip to ninth largest in the state, but even those that beat us aren't on this list."
"You have to give credit to those 20 years ago that set the groundwork to get us to this point," Merchant added.
He also attributed the recognition to Sumter's downtown revitalization and economic development team's efforts in recruiting industry and bringing in more job opportunities.
"Tourism is an effective branch of economic development. It all definitely does play well together," Kile said. "You got to have people here working jobs, living daily lives to have tourism."
What helps make Sumter a lovable place is the convenient location, too, Kile said. People don't want to live in the hustle and bustle, but they want to be close to it, and Sumter is nearly inches away from the center of the state. This makes it easy for residents to get to either the beach, mountains or cities within hours.
"We're not far," Merchant said. "We also have a community feel. We're growing, but we're still small. We can go downtown or go out to eat, and you can see a neighbor, see a friend. It's not such a booming metropolis that you don't know anyone, and I think that appeals to people. To have a sense of community."
Credit: The Sumter Item