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For those looking to relocate, you can’t go wrong with living in the Lowcountry. Preferences vary, but as one of the most gorgeous coastal regions in the country, there is more than enough beauty and character on the South Carolina coast to make anyone happy to call the Lowcountry home. Before packing up your boxes and scheduling the moving truck, it’s important to determine which town in the Lowcountry best fits your lifestyle. Here are some things to consider when deciding between Bluffton and Hilton Head.

Communities at a Glance
Since the Covid-19 induced city flight of 2020-2021, the number of year-round residents on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton has increased. Hilton Head and Bluffton are now on the same playing field in terms of their number of full-time residents—however, each community maintains a distinct feel.

Perpetually listed among the world’s best travel destinations, Hilton Head experiences a surge of visitors during the summertime that makes the population density feel greater, especially from June to August. While around 38,000 folks call the island home from January through December, an estimated 2.5 million vacationers will pay a visit at some point throughout the year. That’s no surprise given the world-class restaurants, beaches, dolphin cruises, nature walks, concerts, and golf courses available to residents and visitors alike.

Once a hidden gem, Bluffton is now officially an in-demand location for those seeking a just-right sized community exploding with southern charm. As of 2023, Bluffton’s population hovers around 40,000 full-time residents—that’s a 40.61% increase since the last census was taken in 2020! Though growing quickly, Bluffton still exudes that small town feel. Complete with an idyllic downtown nestled on the May River, Bluffton offers boutique shops, local art galleries, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets, and a robust event calendar that makes it easy to find a sense of true community.

Culture, Recreation, and Entertainment

From miles of beautiful beaches to 26 championship golf courses, it’s impossible to get bored in Hilton Head. It’s no wonder that this town is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Catch a Broadway play at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina or take a boat out of the Shelter Cove Marina and enjoy some fishing. Or you may want to try kayaking or paddleboarding, and enjoy some dolphin watching while you’re at it! With a wide variety of restaurants with beautiful views, and plenty of opportunities to get in a little retail therapy, living on Hilton Head is a lot like being on a permanent vacation.

Bluffton lies just over the bridge from Hilton Head with Hilton Head’s miles of public beach access. Fewer tourists choose to stay in Bluffton—but there’s still plenty to do in this riverside refuge. Bluffton is home to many regional painters, sculptors, and artisans, whose work can be found throughout the charming boutique shops in Old Town. Newly-opened hot spots such as Burnt Church Distillery and Nectar Farm Kitchen, along with establishments like Toomers Restaurant, are helping to cement Bluffton’s status as a foodie haven. And with miles of marshy trails and plenty of ways to access the May and Colleton Rivers by boat, paddleboard, or kayak, there is plenty of indoor and outdoor entertainment as well.

Family Life
Do you have school-aged children or is your nest empty? Is your free time with family limited to weekends or are you newly retired and looking for fresh experiences? Are you searching for stability or seeking a bit of adventure? These questions are a good starting point to help you determine which town is best suited to your lifestyle and your life stage.

Bluffton’s tight-knit sense of community presents lots of opportunities for enjoying quality time with one another during the week. The proximity to schools, sports programs, and events makes Bluffton ideally suited for families. Bluffton’s rich history, charming aesthetic, and low-impact outdoor activities make it great for retired couples looking to relax, as well. And don’t worry—there are plenty of nearby day-trip destinations for those looking for more Lowcountry adventure! Beaufort and Savannah are a short ride away and the Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport is only 30 minutes away.

A true golfer’s paradise, Hilton Head used to have a reputation as a retirement mecca. While newly retired couples and empty nesters on the hunt for hobbies and recreational pursuits will certainly still find what they’re looking for on Hilton Head, the island has plenty to offer young families as well. An interactive children’s museum, fantastic 10-acre park with a pirate playground, regular children’s programming, and more await those in the growing years. Plus, if you dream of hosting family holidays down the line, there’s no better lure for out-of-town guests than a getaway on Hilton Head.

Finding Your Home
Bluffton and Hilton Head offer a slightly different take on the best lifestyle in the world: Lowcountry Living. Contact us today to find the perfect residence on the Carolina Coast. We look forward to serving you!

Further Reading:

Overview of Lowcountry Communities

Top Private Golf Communities in Bluffton


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