Social Security

10 Best Cities to Retire in North Carolina in 2021

With mild weather and plenty of scenic destinations, North Carolina has become a popular place for relocating retirees.

Stephanie Faris
Published February 26th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • North Carolina has a little bit of everything, from a mild climate to beaches and mountains.
  • There are plenty of options for retiring in North Carolina, whether you’re looking for a scenic coastal town to a large city.
  • When looking for good places to live in North Carolina after retirement, consider healthcare, access to amenities, and the 65-plus population in the area.

With mild weather and plenty of scenic destinations, North Carolina has become a popular place for relocating retirees. From beaches to mountains to big-city living, the state has a little bit of everything.

The state doesn’t tax Social Security income, so you’ll protect a little more of your retirement income. But for those who choose to move to North Carolina, often it’s more for “quality of life” reasons than saving money. Here are 10 top places to look at if you’re considering a post-retirement move to North Carolina.

Asheville

  • CITY POPULATION: 92,870
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 18.1%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 4% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $33,176
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

If you love the great outdoors, Asheville is one of the best places to live in NC mountains. The city is home to Biltmore, America’s largest home, which attracts tourists from all over. For that reason, you’ll have no shortage of dining and shopping options to add to all the outdoor recreation that comes with any mountain town.

New Bern

  • CITY POPULATION: 29,994
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 21.8%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 3% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $29,459
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

New Bern is one of North Carolina’s many coastal communities. For seniors, riverfront living combines with master-planned golf communities and close proximity to beaches for a great living experience. Retail shopping, restaurants, and plenty of cultural attractions will ensure you never run out of things to do.

Raleigh

  • CITY POPULATION: 474,069
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 10.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 5% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $38,494
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

If you prefer a bigger city, Raleigh is one of the best towns in North Carolina. You’ll get access to top-notch healthcare, numerous golf courses, and plenty of restaurants and retail. If you’re an active adult, you’ll love the more than 8,000 acres of parks, tennis courts, and aquatic centers.

Charlotte

  • CITY POPULATION: 1,110,356
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 11.5%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 5% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $38,819
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

When it comes to size, Raleigh has nothing on North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte. Charlotte is one of the best places to live in North Carolina for a few reasons. The thriving healthcare sector will give you access to all the medical resources you might need. You’ll also find some of the best retirement communities in North Carolina.

Beaufort County

  • COUNTY POPULATION: 46,994
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 24.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 2% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $27,504
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

North Carolina’s Beaufort County is another one of the best areas to live in North Carolina. The county is made up of multiple small towns, each making a great NC retirement option for those looking for a quieter way of life. Washington is a coastal small town, while nearby cities like Chocowinity and Aurora bring museums, history, and plenty of culture.

Hendersonville

  • CITY POPULATION: 14,157
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 32.3%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 10% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $29,106
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

Next door to Asheville is this charming town, which has rows of historic homes. The downtown area features plenty of shopping, including antiques, boutiques, and restaurants. A nearby airport helps it top any traveler’s list of best towns to retire in North Carolina.

Eden

  • CITY POPULATION: 14,886
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 20%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 21% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $20,739
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

You’ll get a little bit of everything in this community, from golf courses to an award-winning hospital. An active senior center provides plenty of activities for retirees, and the river is great for outdoor sports like fishing.

Pinehurst Village

  • CITY POPULATION: 16,620
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 40.9%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 12% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $49,768
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

Pinehurst Village is in an area known as the Sandhills, a region beloved for its sandy soil and pine trees. The city is ideal for golfers, with more than 45 courses scattered around the area. You’ll also get plenty of hiking trails, as well as access to multiple health facilities.

Kinston

  • CITY POPULATION: 20,041
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 22.9%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 12% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $26,578
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

If suburban life is more your style, check out this riverside community located in the Atlantic coastal plain region. The historic district takes you back in time, with historical buildings housing restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

Kill Devil Hills

  • CITY POPULATION: 7,333
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 13.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 4% above the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $30,885
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Moderately Tax Friendly

The name may sound ominous, but Kill Devil Hills is actually part of the desirable Outer Banks area of North Carolina, one of the best places to retire in North Carolina. This town is perhaps best known for housing the Wright Brothers National Memorial, but you’ll also find plenty of shopping and dining options. Best of all, the town has an active 55-plus center.

Bottom Line

North Carolina is a great state for those who prefer a warmer climate that also sees all four seasons. Being so close to beaches and mountains means you’ll have plenty of opportunities for weekend getaways no matter where you decide to settle.

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Author
Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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