Retire to Beaufort or Bluffton - Which is the Better B?

Bluffton Seafood And Arts Festival South Carolina

The Sea Islands have always had an alluring appeal. From Charleston to Savannah. Tucked in between are the small seaside cities of Beaufort and Bluffton. The Beaufort waterfront has been the backdrop for a number of famous movies include Forrest Gump, The Big Chill and Gi Jane. A place where hundred year old shrimp boats with flaking paint are still fishing these seafood-filled waters. It was named Happiest Seaside Town in America back in 2013 by Coastal Living Magazine. In 2017, Hilton Head Island made the list at #7.

Waterways weave in and out the Beaufort area exposing massive oyster beds and scenic marshlands. If you’re lucky crossing over one of the many bridges, you’ll catch a glimpse of dolphin strand feeding, a synchronized hunting behavior which only happens in Beaufort South Carolina. H.C. Chambers Waterfront Park is the centerpiece of its historic downtown.The community park and boardwalk is set along the river with swinging benches for lingering longer. Sailboats dot the harbor beyond the marina.

Beaufort is not known for brand label shopping or exciting nightlife. At best, you’ll find a K-Mart and Big Lots. Mom and pop boutiques and trendy restaurants are more common and found in the heart of downtown, along that one mile stretch bordering the river, before you cross over to Lady’s Island where you’ll find some new Beaufort South Carolina real estate popping up here and there. The further you travel east, away from downtown, the closer you get to Fripp Island, a popular private, gated beach community. Fripp Island is 22 miles from downtown Beaufort. A farming area for generations with not much in between. Hunting Island State Park is where Beaufortonians enjoy the beach.

To the south of Beaufort bordering Port Royal is Parris Island, a Marine Corps Recruit Depot aka Boot Camp. On the mainland of Beaufort is the active Marine Corps Air Station, home of six F 18 Hornet Fighter Jets. With 4,600 people serving the air force base plus the staff of Parris Island, Beaufort has a strong military presence.

Getting to Beaufort from Interstate 95 takes about 40 minutes where as Bluffton is about half that distance. Due east of Bluffton is Hilton Head Island, one of America’s favorite beach islands where you’ll find a number of hotels, resorts, lots of restaurants and the island has one of the best bicycle trail system of any island of its size.

In Bluffton, there are two distinct areas, Old Town Bluffton and new Bluffton, neighborhoods along Highway 278 west. People choose Bluffton because it has more shopping and lots of golf. In fact there are over two dozens high quality golf courses in the immediate area. Old Town Bluffton is an attraction too with funky restaurants and oyster shacks and colorful small art galleries canopied by hundred year old oak trees.

The population differences between Beaufort/Fripp Island and Bluffton/Hilton Head Island are 15,000 versus 60,000. Bluffton alone has 19,000 residents yet there are three times more homes for sale in Bluffton than there are in Beaufort. Bluffton real estate prices are about 20% higher than the average home price in Beaufort, we believe because homes are newer. This means more newer schools can be found in Bluffton. Active senior living communities can be found in Bluffton including the upcoming new Margaritaville, a Jimmy Buffet inspired 55+ community breaking ground soon and Del Webb's Sun City. 

Getting to the beach in Bluffton is much faster than in Beaufort. Unlike Fripp Island, the Hilton Head Island beaches have public access. Another plus is how close Bluffton is to Savannah.  Those who own Bluffton real estate, can spend the day in Savannah or reach the Savannah International Airport fairly quickly, in a about 30 minutes. To us, Bluffton is another suburb of Savannah.

Which place is right place for you and your family to live? We suggest you spend a week in each area to properly answer that question, after all, relocating to the Lowcountry may be the last home buying decision you make. Choose the region first and then search for a home. We hope this helps!

Ask for your complimentary relocation information to help you learn more about either one of these areas.

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