The Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

On the search for communities for adults that are over 55? There are many over 55 communities in Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington, and other parts of North Carolina to choose from. Aside from its natural beauty, there are a few smart reasons to choose North Carolina as a retirement spot—including a cost of living that was 5.1% cheaper than the national average in 2020.


Houses are also relatively affordable and taxes are reasonable compared to other areas. These details haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2018, almost 15,000 seniors made the move to North Carolina. But which cities in North Carolina are the more attractive option?


Raleigh is considered one of the best places to retire by a good number of people. It ranked number seven in 2018 for the top places where retirees are moving.


It was also ranked as a great place to make a career move thanks to the number of large technology, biotech, and medical industry businesses that call it home. While that may not mean much to retirees, the benefits of it still make an impact on things like healthcare. Duke University Medical Center and UNC Hospital are both premiere hospitals that draw world-class talent.


Greenway trails and a large number of parks also make for ideal spots within the city to get exercise or take a breather from the hustle and bustle. Home prices in Raleigh’s active adult communities start as low as $277K.


Speaking of beautiful outdoor living, Charlotte also boasts a bounty of beautiful natural scenery. The U.S. National Whitewater Center boasts tons of outdoor activities that will get your heart pumping, but they also have quieter relaxation areas that could be great for a simple evening. That includes their illuminated walking trails that have a series of immersive light installations featuring webs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the forest.


According to U.S. News, Charlotte ranked as the 6th best place to live and 23rd-best place to retire. Housing prices are still slightly below that national median. Active adult communities in Charlotte feature new homes that start as low as $365k. Outside of the Whitewater Center, there are still 37 miles of greenway trails to enjoy walking on, plus several opportunities for yoga classes and running groups. Charlotte also has a line-up of pro sports and culture-wise, access to places like the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Mint Museum, and the Levine Museum of the New South.



Compared to the over 55 communities in Raleigh and Charlotte, Wilmington may be a lesser-known spot, but it’s not without its charms. A port city with a riverfront and scenic Riverwalk that wraps around Cape Fear River, there’s plenty of ways to stay active in Wilmington.


The city boasts a moderate, four-season climate and a historic downtown. Popular annual events include the Azalea Festival and Riverfest. And if you’re a golf fan, you’ll enjoy the many championship golf courses and golf-related events.


In terms of culture, Wilmington is home to a regional visual and performing arts center and Screen Gems Studios—one of the largest motion picture and television studios outside of Hollywood, originally founded in 1965. They’re responsible for more recent films like Iron Man 3, and classic television shows like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill.


Minutes away from the city, you’ll discover a slew of popular beaches that offer opportunities for sailing, sunbathing, and seafood restaurants. Homes in popular Wilmington retirement communities for active adults start as low as $281K. And what’s more, you can also get world-class healthcare at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.


Temperate weather and the opportunity to enjoy all four seasons are just some of the reasons why people consider retiring in North Carolina. Endless coastlines and mountain getaways also help. But moving to North Carolina can be a good decision financially, too. With increasing home values in some areas, there is also no tax on social security income, income taxes have been lowered to a flat rate, and there’s no state tax. And if you’re considering starting a small business after retirement, you could save there too.


Finding the right retirement community to match your active lifestyle can be a challenge. But with their range of metropolitan city areas and tucked away historic downtowns, the over 55 communities in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Wilmington are a good place to start.



Contributed to The 55+ Society by Brittney Villalva

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Published 10.15.21

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