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It’s about time we reconsider which states in America are best for retirement. While Florida and Arizona usually top the list, recent statistics and polls suggest North Carolina may, in fact, be the best option. Think about it — in terms of low taxes, incredible geography, climate, cost of living, health care, golf courses, and sandy beaches, North Carolina competes with the best of the bunch. And, not that the older folks are too concerned with the “coolness” factor, but we can all agree that Asheville and Chapel Hill have better reputations than the swamplands of Florida. At any rate, here are the best places to retire in North Carolina.

By Katherine Welles

Greater Wilmington

When it comes to finding the perfect retirement community near excellent beaches of North Carolina, it’s tough to beat out the greater Wilmington area. With low real estate taxes, a small town feel, and tons of communities with amenities like indoor pools, tennis courts, kayaking, golf, and clubhouses, retiring here feels more like a permanent vacation.

Some of the top communities include Leland, which has no less than 10 beaches all within a 40-minute drive, and Compass Point, a 2,000-acre adult golf community. Compass Pointe residents are keen on exercise too, taking part in activities like Zumba, Pilates, yoga, spinning and much more. You won’t be getting old here any time soon.

By Darwin Brandis

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Few places in the country have captured the vintage retirement aesthetic as well as Hendersonville. Here, you’ll find Victorian homes, streets lined with flower boxes and huge lush trees, boutiques, antique shops, and tons of amenities geared towards the 55+ demographic. It’s also located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for outdoor enthusiasts. Plus, if you’re looking to stay indoors, even though there are only 12,000 permanent residents, the booming tourism industry means Hendersonville is home to plenty of shops, museums, restaurants, and more.

By Jill Lang


Hidden in the dense forests just 75 miles east of Charlotte, it’s easy to drive right by the entrance of Pinehurst without ever knowing it exists. If nothing else, Pinehurst is the perfect destination for retirees who plan to spend their remaining years on the sunny, well-groomed fairways of some world-class golf courses. The Pinehurst resort is one of the biggest pulls of the town and the clubhouse is great for socializing after a relaxing game of golf.

By Jayne Chapman

Hot Springs

If you want to be within a stone’s throw of one of North Carolina’s most desirable cities, but also don’t want to deal with the commotion and increased prices, consider Hot Springs. Just 45 minutes away from Asheville, Hot Springs is a small mountain town located on the French Broad River. There are tons of cultural activities here, it’s a friendly town where few people lock their doors, and yes, there are hot springs. Check out the vacation rentals in Hot Springs if collecting your pension from warm mineral baths sounds like something you’d enjoy.

The best vacation rentals for the lowest price

By Jennifer Stanford

Mount Airy

Near the larger cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem, Mount Airy is another ideal retirement destination for those looking to get away from the chaos. Mount Airy is big on the arts with tons of boutique shops, the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Downtown Cinema Theater, and a lively and artistic local community. Mount Airy can get a bit touristy during the summer months, but otherwise, it’s a great mountain retreat. For a short visit to whet your palate on what Mount Airy and the rest of North Carolina have to offer, check out the Best Luxury Resorts in North Carolina.

By Sara Kendall


Located right on the border with Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, the small town of Brevard consistently ranks highly on national polls for top places to retire, and it’s also often dubbed the “Land of the Waterfalls.” For retirees looking to get back to nature, Brevard is an excellent option. It also tops our list here with the highest concentration of recreation centers per 1,000 residents. Not to mention, it offers fairly solid medical access with 3.1 facilities per 1,000 residents, so help is never too far away. If you’re having some trouble deciding the perfect place, Ideal Living is a great resource to help you find the perfect fit.

By Aaron Burden
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