May 10, 2022

Why North Carolina is a Great Place to Retire

Stuart Mason

Our next stop in detailing all the best places to retire in the country is to go up the coast one state from our previous destination - South Carolina - and to explore its neighbor to the north, North Carolina. Much like South Carolina, North Carolina has become one of the increasingly popular retirement destinations in the country. North Carolina has steadily climbed up the country’s ranking of retirement states, and is considered by some studies to be one of the top ten retirement states in the country. North Carolina is a great place to retire for the same reason that so many other states - like Arizona, Florida, and Georgia as well as North Carolina’s neighbor South Carolina - have featured in the Sunbound Blog’s series on the best states to retire: great weather year round with plenty of outdoor activities, low cost of living and low state taxes, and a variety of amazing cities with amazing housing and healthcare options. 

North Carolina has Great Weather and Plenty to Do

One of the reasons that North Carolina is such a popular destination for retirees and vacationers alike is that the state has a great year round climate with plenty of activities, ranging from hiking the state’s stunning mountains to spending a day along its many miles of beautiful Atlantic ocean beaches. Starting on the coast, North Carolina has over 300 miles of pristine beaches giving you plenty of opportunities to hit the water or just relax in the sand. Also along the coast are North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands just off the coast which offer their own 100+ miles of beaches with plenty of distinctive sand dunes to climb. The Outer Banks are such a popular vacation and retirement destination not only because of their beautiful beaches which offer easy access to amazing activities on the water like boating or fishing, but also because of the amazing towns located there, each featuring historic homes and charming downtown areas.

Spend your retirement relaxing along North Carolina's famous Outer Banks.

Away from the water, North Carolina offers some of the best hiking and most striking mountain ranges along the east coast. Featuring portions of both the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokey Mountains, North Carolina has plenty of amazing mountain getaways highlighted by Asheville, North Carolina. Hike along the Appalachian Trail, relax by a waterfall, or treat yourself to one of the many mountain resorts North Carolina has to offer. If you love spending time in the mountains, you’ll love exploring the western regions of North Carolina. 

Finally, North Carolina features an amazing climate with four distinct seasons. What’s so amazing about North Carolina’s weather is that while it has four seasons, the temperature is still fairly mild meaning that you can still get out and about year round. While some people want to move to a place that’s tropical year round, if you think you’ll miss having your four seasons then North Carolina might be the place for you.

North Carolina’s Low Taxes and Low Cost of Living

While North Carolina might not have quite as favorable retirement taxes as some of its regional neighbors like Florida or South Carolina, it still has a very favorable tax climate that can end up saving money for people who relocate to North Carolina from other parts of the country. First, North Carolina is one of the many states that does not tax Social Security income, meaning that all Social Security income can be deducted from your taxable income in North Carolina. Unfortunately, North Carolina does tax other forms of retirement income, like from an IRA or 401(k), at the state income tax rate of 5.25%. On the plus side, sales taxes in North Carolina are about average while property taxes are incredibly low, with the state’s average effective tax rate being just 0.77%. All in all, this means that North Carolina has a very favorable tax climate for retirees. In addition to low taxes, North Carolina also enjoys a low cost of living for retirees. A 2021 study, for example, found North Carolina to be the country’s 11th most affordable retirement destination. For many people, moving to North Carolina for retirement could produce savings simply from taxes and cost of living alone. 

Amazing North Carolina Cities for Retirement

Along with the great weather and low cost living, North Carolina also has some really amazing cities to relocate to, each offering its own unique benefits and attractions. From a major metropolitan city like Charlotte, North Carolina, to laid-back mountain towns like Asheville, North Carolina, to some of the country’s most iconic college towns like Chapel Hill and Raleigh, there’s a lot to love about North Carolina's retirement destinations. 

Asheville, North Carolina - Located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is one of the country’s most popular vacation and retirement destinations. If you love living in the mountains, then Asheville might be one of the best places to retire in the country, with endless, gorgeous hikes through the mountains just outside your door. But what makes Asheville truly special isn’t just the easy access to nature, but also the downtown area which provides a host of cultural centers as well as amazing dining and nightlife options. 

Asheville, North Carolina provides a unique mixture of a bustling downtown and laid back mountain living.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina - While Raleigh and Durham are formally two different cities (in fact Raleigh is the state capital), they overlap to such a unique degree that it often makes sense to talk about them as one place (for example, the local Raleigh-Durham International Airport). Raleigh and Durham form the heart of what is known as the Research Triangle, an area of North Carolina comprising three major research universities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and Duke University. Not only does this provide access to amazing college towns, it also means being near some of the most cutting edge medical facilities in the country.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina - The third big town in the research triangle is Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home to the University of North Carolina's flagship campus at Chapel Hill. One of the country’s prettiest college towns, Chapel Hill is located in the rolling hills of North Carolina and has an amazing downtown area with great restaurants and nightlife, as well as all the culture and entertainment provided by a major university, from student theater groups to the University of North Carolina's famous sports teams. 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a beautiful retirement destination set among central North Carolina's gentle rolling hills.

Charlotte, North Carolina - The biggest city in North Carolina, and the 16th biggest city in the entire country, Charlotte, North Carolina provides all of the amenities, healthcare, and entertainment that you would expect to find in one of the country’s major metropolitan areas. Charlotte is one of the country’s fastest growing cities, with many people moving there to take advantage of the city’s many jobs and great quality of life. While some people prefer retiring to a small city, there can definitely be benefits to living in a major urban area with access to everything you could ever need or want nearby. 

Greensboro, North Carolina - Located in the north of the state, Greensboro, North Carolina is a great place to retire for those looking for a pleasant mid-sized city to retire to. The third most populous city in the state, with roughly 300,000 residents, Greensboro offers retirees a bustling downtown and tons of affordable housing options. For those seeking slightly cheaper housing options while still being in or around a good-sized city, Greensboro is worth considering. 

There’s a reason so many people have chosen to call North Carolina their retirement home. With the state’s favorable retirement taxes and some amazing cities to relocate to, North Carolina makes for an amazing retirement destination. If you want to learn more about retiring or relocating to North Carolina, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com, we’d love to speak to you and learn more about your relocation goals.

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