Palmetto DunesREAL ESTATE

Not just golf: Hilton Head one of America's most livable small towns

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Hilton Head Island has been nationally recognized as a bastion of upscale golf and a haven for retirement, but its most recent acclamation shows the island has also become a family-oriented place to call home.

Hilton Head Island-Beaufort placed 19th out of 577 U.S. "micropolitan areas" ranked by livability in an August 2006 survey for BizJournals.com, the Web site of the American City Business Journals newspaper chain.

The study, conducted by Policom Corp., an independent economic-research firm, rated areas with a central municipality of 10,000-50,000 residents on income, cost of living, business and economic climate, education and cultural opportunities and other quality-of-life yardsticks.

Jim Crick of Hilton Head Golf Travel, a resident of the area of nearly 20 years, has seen the numbers made manifest in the shift in Hilton Head's demographics.

"It's really become more family-oriented than 15 or 20 years ago," Crick says. "It was more of an older community. There's still an older population, but there's more young people on the island now as well."

Much of the growth came from people relocating to Hilton Head to work in burgeoning tourist industries. The mild Southeastern climate, resort-town cultural and recreational resources and a cost of living that, while higher than much of the surrounding region, compares favorably to the U.S. Northeast and West Coast, have also lured newcomers from across the country.

Hilton Head BeachAs a world-class destination for golf vacations, Hilton Head boasts amenities most similar-sized towns don't have, particularly in entertainment and outdoor activities. Aside from the plethora of golf courses, the island is also a major U.S. tennis center and a popular beach and fishing retreat. The attendant services and amenities are as much a boon to local families as to visitors.

"It's not your typical Southern town," Crick says. "It's a great place for people to live from all over the United States. It's a resort town but has the feel of a small community."

Another golf mecca, Southern Pines-Pinehurst in North Carolina, ranked 29th on the BizJournals list.

Overall, Western cities dominated, with Bozeman, Mont. coming in first and Jackson, Wyo., second. Colorado placed three cities in the top 10: Durango (3rd), Edwards (6th) and Silverthorne (9th).

Kill Devil Hills, N.C., was the top finisher in the South, ranking 7th overall. Newport, Tenn. finished dead last.

If You Go

Hilton Head tee times: 1-800-767-3574
Click here for Hilton Head golf packages.

November 8, 2006

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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