Sick of Your Blue State? These Real Estate Agents Have Just the Place for You.

Jen Hubbell ​b​ecame a real estate agent ​in Greenville, S.C., because she ​b​elieved a good life started with a good home, and now her phone​ buzzed regularly w​ith ​calls from out-of-state clients who believed they could find ​b​oth things in ​her city.

​M​any were staunch conservatives ​f​rom deeply blue states like New York, Washington and California, fed up with the​ politics there.​ Could Ms. Hubbell, a conservative herself, help them​ find neighborhoods of like-minded people?

Her response was always emphatic: “You are going to love it here.”

Ms. Hubbell is the lead agent in South Carolina for Conservative Move, a Texas-based company that helps conservatives migrate to solidly red places. (“When your community no longer reflects morals and values, it might be time to move,” its website says.) And ​with South Carolina surpassing Florida last year as the fastest-growing state in the country, she is keeping very busy.

The in-migration has fueled a yearslong real estate boom across South Carolina, where Republicans have controlled the governor’s mansion and legislature for more than two decades. Real estate agents like Ms. Hubbell say many of their clients are religious conservatives whose reasons for moving include opposition to policies like abortion access, support for transgender rights and vaccine mandates during the pandemic.

Paul Chabot, the founder and president of Conservative Move, which works with about 500 agents across the country, said that when he started his company in 2017, there were not a lot of people asking to go to South Carolina.

In the last two years, however, it has joined Texas and Florida among the top three states that the company’s clients are buying homes in, Mr. Chabot said. About 5,000 people in its clientele database have expressed interest in moving to South Carolina soon.

Most of the company’s clients in South Carolina have chosen to buy a house in Greenville County, which is in a deeply conservative and Christian region known as the Upstate. The county had the second-largest population growth in the state from 2020-2022, behind Horry County, which encompasses Myrtle Beach and has more expensive houses.

Ms. Hubbell, along with half a dozen real estate agents who do not work with Conservative Move but whose experience has mirrored hers, described having had an easy time selling the appeal of Greenville. That was especially true with clients moving from large liberal cities and their outskirts who still want a hint of a cosmopolitan life.

Greenville is big enough for Broadway shows and rooftop bars, but people still often see their neighbors downtown, where a pedestrian bridge gives an overhead view of the Reedy River Falls. Agents also often point out the lack of homeless encampments in the city.

Perhaps most important, property taxes are low, and houses are generally less expensive than out West or in New England. The median price of a house is about $360,000. Real estate agents will also note that there are hundreds of churches near Greenville, mostly Christian. And Bob Jones University, a prominent evangelical school, is here.

“When I walked inside banks or stores or schools, there was always Christian music playing in the background,” said Lina Brock, a conservative who recently moved to Greenville from Temecula, Calif., where she was dismayed by the vocal support for access to abortions. “I felt good, I felt welcomed. I felt like I was in the United States.”

Some agents use a Goldilocks-like strategy when selling clients on the state: Texas is too hot, they say; Florida is too expensive; Tennessee has too many blue cities. But South Carolina?

“It’s perfect,” Ms. Hubbell recently told a buyer.

Last year, about 15,500 New Yorkers, 15,000 Californians and 36,000 North Carolinians moved to the state, which has a population of more than 5.3 million. There is no data that breaks down those demographics by political party, but few believe that the growth will do much to shift the state politically. The same cannot be said for Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, which are becoming somewhat more blue as young, liberal-leaning people flock to some of their cities, said Mark Owens, a political science professor at the Citadel in Charleston.

The flow of conservatives into South Carolina is underscoring what even many of those moving concede is an unfortunate reality in a polarized America, as people choose to part ways with neighbors they disagree with. Several newcomers to the Greenville area said it had been a difficult decision, but that they had grown tired of feeling lonely and even ostracized.

Yana Ghannam, a recent client of Ms. Hubbell, said that she had moved to Greenville from Livermore, Calif., because she wanted to make friends who wouldn’t criticize her for voting Republican or for being anti-union. “It was very much, ‘Oh you have to do this to fit in, you have to do that,’” Ms. Ghannam said of her life in Livermore.

Politics, of course, are not the only reason people are moving to South Carolina. The weather counts for something, and jobs have been a big draw, including in a growing electric vehicle industry.

Gov. Henry McMaster has touted the state’s economic growth in recent years and attacked the few unions in the state for posing a threat to it. The South Carolina Department of Commerce said that in 2023, the state had a capital investment of more than $9 billion, the second-largest amount in its history, which represented roughly 14,000 jobs.

Still, Pamela Harrison, another real estate agent in the Upstate, said the equation for most of her clients has been simple: “They like the climate, they like the politics and they’re trying to get out of their blue states.”

Brad Liles, an agent based in Spartanburg, about 30 miles east of Greenville, said that he and his colleagues have referred to the wave of Republican newcomers as “the great migration.”

Several of the agents said that many conservative-leaning buyers in Greenville have sought acres of land slightly off the grid, avoided homeowners associations and purchased homes with plenty of backyard space for vegetable gardens, chickens or other barn animals because they are interested in being independent and self-reliant.

“If you would have told me five years ago I would have chickens, I’d be like, ‘You are lying,’” said Lauren Gomes, a conservative who moved to Greenville County in 2022 with her husband and three children because she was angered by the liberal politics in Minnesota, where her family had lived for seven generations.

Ms. Gomes, who described herself as Christian and anti-abortion, said she felt compelled to leave because she was getting yelled at in grocery stores for not wearing a mask during the pandemic, and because abortion remains legal, with no restrictions, in Minnesota.

She said she was also worried about how, in her view, “transgenderism infiltrates all aspects of education, public life, when you’re out and about” in Minnesota.

Ms. Gomes and other conservatives who moved to South Carolina said that they liked the state’s ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. Other local policies in Greenville County have also appealed to them, such as when the board of trustees for the county’s libraries voted to relocate children’s materials depicting transgender minors from the children’s section to the parenting section.

Stephen Johnson Jr. recently helped Rick and Natalie Samuelson move from Gig Harbor, Wash., to Williamston, S.C., a town of roughly 4,000 about 20 miles outside Greenville, where their budget of $2 million meant they could afford almost anything in the area.

But on Friday, the Samuelsons, who are Republican, met with Mr. Johnson at the BrickTop’s restaurant in downtown and discussed possibly buying a new home in Greenville because they wanted to live closer to a hospital. They also discussed a transgender athlete that Mr. Johnson said he saw play in a girl’s basketball game he refereed.

“It’s clearly a young boy that is bigger than all of his friend’s teammates,” Mr. Johnson said as the waiter removed the leftover deviled eggs and sweetened “Millionaire’s Bacon.” “He identifies as female, so they allowed him to play.”

Ms. Samuelson shook her head.

Then the conversation switched to how wonderful Greenville was for them.

“A conservative bubble melting pot,” Mr. Johnson said.

“It’s Christianity,” Mr. Samuelson said. “No place is more unifying for Christianity to this degree.”

The recent growth and influx of wealthier residents has forced many poorer residents out, a problem hardly unique to Greenville or the South, but hard on its Black community in particular. A 2023 study from Furman University found that Greenville has seen a 22 percent decline in its Black population since 1990, while the city’s overall population has grown by about 21 percent.

“Wealthy white families are moving into historically Black neighborhoods that ring the City of Greenville,” the study found. “Their newfound interest in places they once avoided is increasing property values beyond what the existing Black population can afford.”

Downtown Greenville, one of the biggest selling points for real estate agents, is also driving up the values of nearby homes as it continues to grow and draw crowds. On a recent Saturday night, brassy notes from saxophonists oozed from sidewalks as couples danced below treetops drizzled with dangling lights.

Similar scenes have captivated many newcomers, including Curt and Liz Cutler and their 10-year-old daughter. Mr. Cutler was fired from his sanitation job in New York City in 2021, he said, after refusing to comply with the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for government employees. He served as a deacon in his Baptist church there, he said, but his request for a religious exemption was denied.

They had traveled 700 miles southward, spent $350,000 on a home outside Spartanburg, painted the interior walls a pumpkin-cream shade and built a den for their chickens. They had trusted their real estate agent’s promise of a Christian, conservative America, and on a recent Sunday, the family worshiped at a Baptist church, thanking God for their new home.

“Blessed shall be you by the city,” the pastor said. “And blessed shall be you by the country.”

Audio produced by Patricia Sulbarán.

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