North Carolina checks all the boxes of a desirable retirement destination. Read our top 11 reasons why North Carolina is a great place to retire.

North Carolina checks all the boxes of a desirable retirement destination (with plenty of extra credit, too). Below are our top 11 reasons why North Carolina is a good (no, great) place to retire:

  • North Carolina Is Rolling Out the Welcome Mat and Investing in Retirees
  • Affordability Without Sacrificing Comfort and Experiences
  • The Distinction of Certified Retirement Communities Highlights Localities Catering to 55+
    North Carolinians
  • Multifaceted Natural Beauty Abounds in North Carolina
  • Pleasant Climates — Options for Every Preference
  • International Airports and Well-Maintained Highway Systems Promise You’re Never Far from Your Next Adventure
  • North Carolina Is a Sportsperson’s Dream (Particularly for Golf)
  • Adults Aged 65+ Years Can Audit University Courses for Free
  • Vibrant Arts and Culture — A State That Nurtures Creative Expression
  • A Supportive Environment for Entrepreneurs
  • A Buffet of Diverse Options — A Retirement Community for Every Taste

North Carolina Is Rolling Out the Welcome Mat and Investing in Retirees

November 2021 ushered in increased state spending to further support older adults. AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender says, “During this legislative session, AARP members contacted their lawmakers time and time again to stress what is most important when it comes to their health and economic security. Important advancements were made through policy changes and funding support.”

Why should North Carolina’s retirees care? The targeted investments and policies can benefit your quality of life for the decades to come. What’s more, they’re indicative of North Carolina’s general focus on mature residents’ well-being.

Affordability Without Sacrificing Comfort and Experiences

North Carolina balances exciting opportunities with reasonable prices, allowing retirees to make the most of their hard-earned dollars.

BestPlaces assigns North Carolina a cost of living index of 90.6, compared to the national average of 100. Particularly noteworthy, housing scores an impressive 81. North Carolina renters will find a three-bedroom unit for an average rate of $1,273, compared to the national average of $1,681. Similarly, home buyers will find North Carolina properties for an average value of $174,380. It’s important to recognize that such statewide figures include high-demand markets like Charlotte and Raleigh; there are plenty of retiree-friendly communities in which housing costs even less.

To learn more, read Live Life to the Fullest with These Affordable Retirement Communities in North Carolina.

The Distinction of ‘Certified Retirement Communities’ Highlights Localities Catering to 55+ North Carolinians

North Carolina eliminates the guesswork for 55+ adults searching for a new home guaranteed to meet their evolving needs. Select localities earn the distinction of a Certified Retirement Community by meeting strict criteria, such as:

  • A hospital or emergency medical services within 30 miles
  • Shared commitment from local organizations, media, and businesses to support 55+ residents
  • Comprehensive plans mapping long-term initiatives to enrich retired adults’ quality of life

For more information, refer to our complete view of North Carolina communities that successfully applied for this title. While there are dozens of unmentioned cities and towns that would be great places to move, these are the ones devoted to rolling out the red carpet for retirees. Only a few states designate Certified Retirement Communities, further highlighting North Carolina as friendly toward 55+ adults.

Multifaceted Natural Beauty Abounds in North Carolina

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.
– John Muir

Wondrous sights could be smack dab in (or near) your backyard. North Carolina is a smorgasbord of natural beauty, from the Outer Banks to the Great Smoky Mountains. No matter how you picture paradise, you can find it here.

North Carolina retirees are never far from an outdoor escape with our state’s 10 national park sites and 41 state parks. Follow boardwalks through mysterious wetlands in Goose Creek State Park. Kayak among the bald cypress trees of Merchants Millpond. Wow the grandkids with Looking Glass Falls. Behold the beautiful sights of Stone Mountain State Park.

Simply put, it’s easy to find your happy place when you retire in North Carolina.

Pleasant Climates — Options for Every Preference

North Carolina’s climate is best characterized by its generous warmth balanced by the presence of all four seasons. Revel in springtime wildflowers. Dip your toes in ocean tides and waterways come summer. Behold autumn’s symphony of colors and flavors. Cozy up in winter’s “sweater weather.”

However, North Carolina is a large, diverse area. Coastal and Piedmont regions spend their summers in the 80s and low 90s, spared from the scorching temperatures found in other Southern and Western states. Alternatively, those preferring cooler temperatures will find the mountains in western North Carolina a good place to retire. Summer temperatures tend to hover in the 70s with occasional jumps into the 80s, and most winter days linger in the 30s-50s. And semiregular rainfall keeps the beautiful natural settings all across the state healthy and lush.

International Airports and Well-Maintained Highway Systems Promise You’re Never Far from Your Next Adventure

North Carolina offers no fewer than four international airports supplemented by six regional alternatives. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a main hub for American Airlines, placing 175+ direct flight paths at your doorstep. Airplanes are hardly the only transportation option available. Coastal communities offer ferries between cities, islands, and attractions.

Train lines connect many North Carolina cities to one another and out-of-state destinations; enjoy a nonstop, relaxing ride to destinations like New York, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. Expanding local bus and rail systems make getting around or visiting nearby areas a breeze. Retirees who prefer to drive themselves will appreciate the quality and accessibility of the roads. North Carolina’s highway system is the second largest in the country, and it ranks fifth overall for performance and cost-effectiveness.

Why should the quality of transportation matter to North Carolina retirees? The variety and reliable state of the roads makes life easier overall. Whether you need to pick up milk from the store, visit the doctor, visit friends one town over, or vacation far away, the trip will be relatively quick and easy.

North Carolina Is a Sportsperson’s Dream (Particularly for Golf)

Ask any golf publication or enthusiast, and they’ll agree North Carolina’s greens score among the nation’s upper echelon. Golfweek ranked North Carolina as the fifth best state for both elite public-access courses and inclusion in the country’s top 100 courses.

Arguably the state’s most notable celebrity, Pinehurst earns plenty of national accolades; In Golfweek’s Best 2021: Top 100 public golf courses across the US, the iconic resort ranks third.

Whether retirees consider golf their second-act or an occasional pastime, North Carolina delivers world-class courses set against breathtaking backdrops. Moreover, the state’s overall pleasant climate means every season can be golf season.

Golf is hardly the only athletic indulgence available to North Carolina retirees. Explore beaches, mountains, and forests from atop a horse or bicycle. Kayak the waters of serene rivers or expansive bays. Join outdoor clubs for adults 55+ to embrace new friends and experiences. Our distinct, rich geography makes North Carolina is a good place for retirees who value remaining active.

Adults 65+ Years Can Audit University Courses for Free

SmartAsset and U.S. News ranked North Carolina as the third and seventh best state for higher education, respectively. Renowned institutions like Duke University, Wake Forest University, and UNC help elevate North Carolina as a collegiate leader, but top-rate learning opportunities span the state in abundance. Better yet, many universities and community colleges let 65+ residents audit classes for free (or for minor fees).

Stop by a nearby campus of the University of North Carolina System to take a Dutch language course during one semester, followed by “Supernatural Encounters” the next. NC State University hosts over 100 majors, guaranteeing a class for every passion or curiosity; broaden your horizons with “History of Jazz” or unearth a new hobby with “Importance of Bees and Beekeeping to Society.”

Vibrant Arts and Culture — A State That Nurtures Creative Expression

Dozens of communities, large and small, celebrate their artists with dedicated art districts strewn with eclectic galleries and boutiques ripe for exploring. Get to know the region’s diverse voices and stories through public installations, one-of-a-kind paintings, and handmade crafts.

From our grand concert halls to local pubs, North Carolina brims with live music. Step into Wilmington’s Rusty Nail Saloon to relish the sweet Southern sounds of traveling blues musicians. Venture to Wilkesboro for MerleFest or Union Grove for the Ole Time Fiddler’s & Bluegrass Festival. Sit inside the Gilbert Theater in Fayetteville for classic and modern musicals.

And how could we talk of North Carolina culture without mentioning food and drink? Savor traditional American classics in the morning, followed by international flavors come dinnertime. As a state, we appreciate fresh, local ingredients and support culinary pioneers. Whether you cut into a perfectly seasoned steak, dip your spoon into seafood chowder, or sample wine from a local vineyard, you’ll taste firsthand what makes North Carolina so great.

A Supportive Environment for Entrepreneurs

Retirement is about taking full advantage of the golden years. While this may mean leaving the workforce, some use it as a springboard for their new businesses. Entrepreneurs of all ages will find generous support within their chosen communities. Resources include:

  • The option to audit free business courses at local universities.
  • NC Idea — This is the ultimate North Carolina resource for local educational programs, grants, events, and materials.
  • The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) — This organization grants free access to small business advisors who can help you navigate the ins-and-outs of starting a business.
  • 34 North Carolina branches of SCORE — A nonprofit organization that pairs entrepreneurs with volunteer business mentors to provide invaluable one-on-one guidance.

A Buffet of Diverse Options – A Retirement Community For Every Taste

The more you get to know North Carolina, the more you realize you’re just getting started. Each community serves distinct characters and flavors shaped by local artists, entrepreneurs, and networks of welcoming neighbors. There’s plenty to explore and consider when deciding the best place to call home.

North Carolina encompasses the lively metropolitan Charlotte, midsize cities like High Point or Morehead City, and a broad spectrum of smaller communities. History lovers can spend happy afternoons in New Bern’s many National Historic Districts, while adults who like to “get lost in nature” will appreciate Marion’s proximity to recreation along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wherever you choose to retire in North Carolina, there will always be a unique brew to sip, a trail to venture, and local celebrations to bring together friends old and new. Fifty million travelers journey to the state annually, but only a select few are lucky enough to call North Carolina home.