Swainsboro, Georgia is a charming little Southern town in about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. I believe it to be the perfect location for a small town Hallmark movie. Locals know each other well and are kind and respectful.
I enjoyed my time living there, but like all cities, Swainsboro also has its less appealing aspects. To help people learn more about the city, here are some of the reasons that Swainsboro, Georgia may not be the best place to settle down.
17. Rain Shuts Everything Down
This could be a lot more common where you are from, but when it was raining outside or it had recently rained, no one was willing or able to go anywhere. I am originally from the Northwest, so a little rain or even snow never stopped me from driving places.
In Swainsboro, that was definitely not the case. We would have plans for a full day canceled for even a light rain shower because locals were too scared to drive on the roads and were insistent that it was unsafe for us to drive.
16. Few Restaurants
Swainsboro doesn’t have many restaurant options apart from a few basic fast food chains such as Mcdonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Sonic, Burger King, and Popeyes. One of the few outliers in the food options is a restaurant called “Dragon Loco” which combines both Mexican and Chinese food. There are also some good local Southern BBQ places in town, but none of them are ever overflowing with customers and they are often mediocre.
In addition to this, many of the local restaurants that belong to food chains have slow service. There were several occasions in which a long line of customers would be waiting, and only two workers were working in the store.
The majority of Swainsboro residents live a good drive out of town, and down some windy dirt roads through thick woods. Many of these roads have crazy potholes and sharp turns to avoid trees. They often stretch on for miles and would leave you with a long walk back to the main road, and an even longer trip all of the way back into town if your car were to get stuck.
For anyone that is planning on moving here, I would highly recommend owning a vehicle with four-wheel drive that does well with off-roading. This was especially true when I drove a Chevy Malibu, but there were also some scary moments even while driving a Chevy Equinox or pickup on those dirt roads.
These potholes and precarious roads grow even more treacherous during or after large rainstorms. The rainfall water comes in and creates large puddles, moving the dirt and increasing potholes and trenches in both size and number.
Deep mud on these roads is also notorious for entrapping vehicles, leaving drivers to trudge through it and push their car onto a nearby lawn or grassy area until a tow truck was available.
14. “Swains Vegas”
One thing I learned from locals after moving in, was a common nickname for the town of Swainsboro: Swains Vegas. It is a name used by locals in the town, and one that I heard often when speaking to people who lived within a range of the town in both South Carolina and Georgia.
It was explained to me that a large purpose of the nickname was based on the number of local bars in the town and the high population of college students who spend their time drinking at night and on the weekends.
13. The Middle of Nowhere
Swainsboro is a great place to go if you are looking to get off the map for a while and enjoy a nice small-town feel. The nearest cities are about 40 miles away or more and only have populations within a range of 5 to 15 thousand residents. It is a decent road trip to any of the larger towns like Augusta, Georgia (70 miles), Savannah, Georgia (98 miles), Atlanta, Georgia, (169 miles), or Charleston, South Carolina (167 miles).
It provides space and privacy for residents, and due to its out-of-the-way location, is not a common stop for travelers to pass through. However, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of big cities, you won’t enjoy living here.
A lot of people talk about the cockroaches that are found in Swainsboro, Georgia, but another large insect that is commonly found in this city is the cicada. Like many places in the south, our apartment was surrounded by trees and thick forest. Especially as the weather got warmer, swarms of cicadas made a loud clicking sound all night.
It was consistent in volume for the sheer number of insects, and they did not waver. After some time, I was able to grow accustomed to the sound, but it definitely took some time to get used to sleeping to the loud orchestra of bugs right outside of my window.
11. Few Shopping Opportunities
While Swainsboro does have Walmart and Dollar General, there are not many other shopping centers available in town. A few small boutiques that sell clothing are located just across the street from Courthouse State Park, but as most boutiques are, the prices are significantly higher for each item than in other stores.
Luckily, there are several flea markets and antique stores. Residents are able to shop for necessities in town, but if you want a variety of options or need to make larger purchases, you will need to drive to a larger town that is potentially several hours away.
Many people prefer this type of secluded and private lifestyle, and Swainsboro most definitely provides seclusion from large groups of people, busy streets, and crowded stores. It is a wonderful location for those searching for this kind of country lifestyle, but this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
The subject of proximity and transportation in a city depends largely on personal preference. For the large majority of destinations and errands, a car will be necessary when living in Swainsboro. Most stores in the town are located on N Main Street, which is not near many homes or apartments.
There aren’t bike lanes and with the exception of the innermost part of town, many roads do not have sidewalks either. Getting around here most definitely requires a car for anyone who wants to finish errands or other trips in a reasonable amount of time without too much hassle.
9. College Town
One of the town’s largest draws is that it boasts the East Georgia State College in town. In 2019, there were about 2,942 students enrolled. The school has a 100% acceptance rate and provides 98% of its students with financial aid. These young college students coming to “Swains Vegas” make up a large portion of the town’s 7,000 inhabitants.
Some locals dislike the high population of college students because they hang out in groups downtown, can be loud, and stay out late at night. Obviously, not all of the students behave in this way, but those that do set a precedent that many of the older citizens grow to look for and expect.
8. Not Many Newcomers
The large majority of those I met in Swainsboro have lived there their whole lives or moved from other small towns that were located within close proximity. There aren’t many people who move to Swainsboro from places that are farther away.
Apart from the college, there aren’t many largely appealing factors that draw outsiders to the town. Those that do move to Swainsboro for East Georgia State College don’t stay for long periods of time, as the highest degree that can be earned there is an Associates Degree, which only takes about 2 years to complete.
7. Natural Disasters
Swainsboro is susceptible to tornados and floods. I experienced several large storms during my time there, many of which even warranted green clouds in the sky. Large amounts of rain often flooded roads and parks. Rain damage was worst in rural areas that are only accessible by dirt roads.
In April of 2022, Swainsboro was hit by two tornados that severely damaged the town. The town is at high risk for tornados and has had 57 of them pass through since 1950. This is an incredibly high statistic for such a small town.
6. Nothing to do
The city of Swainsboro does hold several seasonal events throughout the year such as: a Christmas Parade, Fall Festival, Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, and a Pine Tree Festival. There are also some seasonal horse and rodeo shows held at the Georgia sports arena.
Unfortunately, the majority of the city events take place annually and leave the city rather bare of entertainment apart from these seasonal occurrences. The majority of entertainment options in the area require a few hours of driving to reach larger cities that have more businesses.
5. Small Population
In 2020, the population of Swainsboro was recorded as 7,414 according to the US Census Bureau. The city is only 12.94 square miles. Many families have lived in this city for generations, and especially due to the small population, many locals are familiar with one another and their lives. As mentioned previously, there aren’t many lures for outsiders to be drawn to such a small town apart from the college.
This town is not accustomed to many newcomers, but the majority of people are welcoming. It is common for locals to know and recognize each other, and also for them to be acquainted with many of each others’ family members as well. There is only one high school in town, so all of the alumni that stay in Swainsboro are often old friends and classmates.
Cockroaches have most definitely earned more than their share of infamy among homeowners anywhere in the southern United States, and Swainsboro, Georgia is no exception. There are plenty of these insects and they find places in all varieties of buildings.
One of the ways to best avoid them is by keeping your house well-vacuumed and swept, cleaning off all surfaces, and disposing of all food crumbs. Despite these efforts, these pests always seem to make their way into homes and were not an uncommon sight during my time there.
3. High Unemployment & Low Job Availability
Around 11.4% of the population in Swainsboro are out of work. For a town with only 7,000 residents, this is extremely concerning. There is not much growth in Swainsboro, it is a small town where locals raise their kids, and many of those kids stay and raise their families as well.
Because of this, there aren’t a lot of businesses competing to open new store locations in town and there aren’t a lot of job opportunities. I met several adults who have worked in nearly every fast food restaurant in town.
2. High Poverty Levels
Of those who are employed in Swainsboro, the median household income is only $27,000 (recorded in 2020). According to the US Census Bureau, 32.6% of the population is currently living beneath the poverty line. This is significantly higher than the poverty rate recorded across the State of Georgia, which currently sits at 21.3%. Swainsboro is considered to be one of the highest poverty rate cities in the state.
1. Crime Rates are High
In comparison to crime rates in both the United States as a whole and within the state of Georgia, Swainsboro ranks alarmingly higher than both. The city’s crime rates were listed to be higher than 91.5% of US cities when recorded in 2018. Swainsboro also ranks higher than crime rates in nearby cities.
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According to crimerate.org, the largest portion of property crime rates consist of theft cases. The site encourages homeowners to purchase home security systems, claiming that your home will be 300% less likely to fall victim to one of these burglaries. This shows that while crime rates are high, there are measures that can increase your security and help protect you from such unfortunate events.
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