Home » Local Guides » 5 Great Neighborhoods Near Shaw Air Force Base

We’ve highlighted some of the best neighborhoods in the Sumter area for families, including the many military families that call Sumter home:

  • Cherryvale
  • Westhaven
  • City Center
  • South Sumter
  • Carolina Garden

Sumter, SC is an attractive place to raise a family. Home to one of the largest military bases in the country, Shaw Air Force Base, the city of 41,000 has plenty of restaurants, shopping and family-friendly neighborhoods. An hour’s drive from Columbia, Sumter offers a small-town experience with access to a large metropolitan area.

The population is young, with an average median age of 34, and the median home price is an affordable $141,000 compared to $272,000 nationwide. What’s more, the cost of living in Sumter is only 82.9 percent of the national average. The population is multicultural, and the city hosts two major colleges and one tech school, along with an aquatics center and tennis center.

Swan Lake is home to eight species of swans and other diverse wildlife. The surrounding botanical gardens are the location of many city festivals, and there’s a profusion of purple Japanese irises for months each year. The Sumter Little Theater and Sumter Opera House provide culture for the artsy types, and dining options range from southern home cooking to sports bars and fine dining.

Cherryvale

This neighborhood is right next to Shaw AFB and 10 miles from downtown Sumter. Cherryvale Elementary is adjacent to the base, with Ebenezer Middle and Crestwood High Schools nearby. The neighborhood has easy access to downtown Sumter on Graham Freeway/SC 378, and the neighborhood is adjacent to Frierson Pond, a popular fishing spot that flows into Lake Cherryvale. The median income is about 25 percent lower in Cherryvale than the rest of the area, and you can find a home here for under $100K.

Westhaven

Swan Lake is at the edge of Westhaven, and the neighborhood is a short hop from downtown Sumter, just three miles away. Grocery shopping, casual dining and shopping are nearby, and Millwood Elementary School is one of the highest-rated primary schools in the area. Second Mill Pond, a recently restored popular fishing spot, is adjacent, and the neighborhood is just a 15-minute drive from Shaw AFB. Most homes in the area are over 30 years old, and you can find a spacious 3br/2ba home for around $120,000.

City Center

Downtown Sumter is bounded by Washington Street and Lafayette Drive, and Prisma Tuomey Hospital is there, along with grocery stores, banking and fast-food restaurants. The entire downtown area covers about two square miles, and residents can easily walk to pocket parks and a Little League ballpark. An older 3br/2ba home downtown can be purchased for under $120K, but new homes start closer to $200K.

USC Sumter, Morris College and Swan Lake are all a five-minute drive away, and the commute to Shaw AFB is around 15 minutes. Crosswell Drive and Lemira Elementary Schools are on the north and south sides of town, with Bates Middle School nearby and Lincoln High School in the heart of downtown. Saint Anne Catholic school and Trinity Day School are two private schools in the downtown area.

South Sumter

There are several residential areas in South Sumter, and they all have access to the main arteries to downtown, Washington Street and Lafayette Drive. From spring to fall, the South Sumter Farmer’s & Flea Market is held nearby on Washington Street. You won’t get as much square-footage here, but you can find an older 3br/2ba home for $150K or less.

Wilder Elementary School and Bates Middle School are close together, and Sumter High School and Career Center are both minutes away. Berea Junior Academy is a private school in South Sumter serving grades 1-8, and JMBC Christian & Academic School accepts students up to 6 years old.

Carolina Gardens

Northeast of downtown Sumter, the Carolina Gardens neighborhood centers around Morris College. Most of the homes here were built mid-century, and many are occupied by student renters. The best thing about Carolina Gardens is the neighborhood character. A small neighborhood with safe streets and a high walkability index, it’s also a college town where things are happening.

In this working-class, largely African-American neighborhood, you can find a 3-bedroom house for less than $80K. Crosswell Drive Elementary School is two miles south, with Chestnut Oaks Middle School and Crestwood High School each a short drive away. You can walk to downtown from here, and this would be a great neighborhood for a young couple buying their first home.

Sumter and Shaw Air Force Base

No matter where you live in Sumter, you’ll have an easy commute to Shaw AFB. Cherryvale is next to the base, and South Sumter is just a 20-minute commute away. You may choose to live in the heart of the city, or in Carolina Gardens with its college town vibe, or maybe in suburban Westhaven. Some of the most affordable homes in the country can be found in and around Sumter, along with many excellent schools.

The city has plenty of shopping, from the Sumter Mall to the flea markets and antique shops downtown. There’s also an opera house and theater, dining and year-round festivals to enjoy in the mild southern climate. Not to mention some of the best fishing spots around! Sumter has something for every member of the family.

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