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Beaufort, South Carolina

On a barrier island along the southern South Carolina coast, beautiful Beaufort is known for its romantic Lowcountry charm and artsy vibe. It is, in fact, often called one of the best small art towns in the country.

Dating from the early-1700s, the community boasts elegant antebellum architecture. It is also a popular setting for Hollywood movies (the Big Chill and Forest Gump were filmed here).

Downtown, particularly Bay Street, brims with art studios, shops, seafood eateries and some of the town's earliest structures. The pretty waterfront park is a soothing place to spend an afternoon. A small University of South Carolina campus adds a bit of academia.

The Beaufort Shrimp Festival, a Taste of Beaufort and the Beaufort International Film Festival are just a few of the many events that draw locals and tourists alike.

Canopied neighborhoods rich in character are a town highlight. For example, Higginsville is built around a cemetery and Old Point is peppered with stately old homes.

Cost of Living

Beaufort is a seductive waterfront town with an overall cost of living 16% below the national average. The median household income is $49,583.

Real Estate

The median home price in Beaufort is $280,000. This is a 12% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $375,000 (Realtor.com).

Estimates are that Beaufort real estate values will increase by 3% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,290 per month.



Beaufort has grown by 7% during the last decade.

The median age is 37. The national median age is 38.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital is the local medical facility.

Nearly two million tourists come to the area every year.

The crime rate is slightly above the national average. This is due to the number of tourists and to the proximity of Parris Island, a U.S. Marine training base, about four miles away.


The combined sales tax rate for Beaufort is 7%.

South Carolina does not tax Social Security, and residents age 65 or better may exclude up to $10,000 of all types of retirement income or up to $15,000 ($30,000 married) of all taxable income. Income above the $15,000 is taxed between 0% and 7%, depending on the amount.

For people who are 65 or better and who have lived in their home for at least one year, the state offers a homestead exemption of $50,000 of the home's fair market value.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Beaufort is .51%. The annual taxes on a $280,000 home are approximatley $1,428, without a homestead exemption.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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