A Retirement Town So Pretty It Hurts – Edenton, NC

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

August 3, 2016 — Sometimes you visit a possible retirement town that is just so darn pretty you can’t stand it. Edenton, North Carolina is one of those.

Here is where you can find our more detailed review of Edenton. But it proved to be such a charming place to retire on a recent visit that we wanted to give you more of a description and photos too.

Where it is
Edenton is in northeastern North Carolina, about an
hour south of Norfolk (VA) and under three hours to Raleigh (NC). The town is located in northeastern North Carolina at the mouth of the Chowan River where it meets the Albermarle Sound. Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks are to the east across the Sound.

Edenton Lighthouse

Edenton Lighthouse

History
The town is the oldest continually settled place in North Carolina. After Jamestown (VA) failed, people moved here. As such it has a long and distinguished history filled with famous colonials like Joseph Hewes, first Secretary of the Navy and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The first Tea Party protest against the British was held here by women. Harriet Jacobs was an African-American slave and famous abolitionist.


The Town
It is largely laid out on a grid with a broad commercial avenue leading down to the beautiful harbor and the famed Roanoke River Lighthouse. Shops, boutiques, the

Cupola House

Cupola House

famous Cupola House, and restaurants line North Broad Street. Running parallel and away from that avenue are quiet streets with mansions and historic homes of all types. The Chowan County Courthouse is considered the finest example of a brick Georgian courthouse in the U.S. The entire scene is picturesque and charming.

Chowan County Courthouse

Chowan County Courthouse



Granville Queen

Granville Queen

Retirement
We stayed at the lovely Granville Queen Inn, a B & B located in a former mansion. The proprietors informed us that they are seeing a lot of people who use the Inn as a base to explore different retirement living options in the area. Some of those include:
Scotch Hall Preserve – and active adult community with golf course on the waterfront
– Private homes within downtown Edenton Edenton-house-southern

edenton-house-whiteEdenton-mansion-white2

Edenton-mansion

Edenton-waterfronthouse

– Village Creek – a defacto 55+ community with minimal amenities
Beechwood Lakes – A new CCRC and active adult combination community in Edenton
– Other active communities including some being built now
Albermarle Plantation – about a half hour away in Hertford but also on Albermarle Sound. It offers extensive amenities such a fantastic golf course, tennis, paddocks for horses, and a large marina. It has been around since the 1980s and resales are quite inexpensive considering the value. As an older community, it is seeing some aging out – people dying or getting too old to live there creates buying opportunities.

The downtown area
Edenton-cornerstreetscene
edenton-downtown-darkbldgs

Edenton-downtownshops

Edenton-park-water

Pros and Cons of an Edenton retirement
The pros:
– Inexpensive – average home prices around $200,000
– Beautiful and charming
– On the water
– Milder NC climate
– Starting to attract retirees
– Conservative politics, if that is your leaning

Drawbacks are:
– Quite isolated – it is a drive to any town of size
– Rural: its southern feel might be off-putting to many people from the north
– Might be hard to break into society – this town and its people have been here a long time!

Comments? Do you know what it is like to live in Edenton – if you do please share. We plan on doing a new article on the “Prettiest Towns for Retirement”. Do you have some suggestions for contenders? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading
See “Up and Coming Towns to Retire: Are You Willing to Take a Chance“, our article about nearby Elizabeth City, NC, which is also a beautiful (in many parts) town.



Posted by Admin on August 3rd, 2016

43 Comments »

  1. I have on suggestion for “Prettiest Towns for Retirement”. If you love New England charm and want to be on the Atlantic, try Bristol, RI. It is an ideally located college town, surrounded by the bay and has retained its historic charm. Very pretty!

    by MaryNB — August 3, 2016

  2. Pretty is always nice, but one con mentioned is the kiss of death for me. People living there have lived there for generations and it will be difficult to be accepted as part of the town when you are a newcomer. What good is pretty if you are an “outsider”, especially a Yankee outsider.

    by bonnie — August 3, 2016

  3. Shucks, Bonnie, we’re all strangers until we reach out and introduce ourselves. I attended 10 schools in my 12 year education. You don’t get a second chance to make the first impression. Yeah, I’ve experienced the “you’re not from around here” a lot….As for cute places Eureka Springs, Arkansas has charm in and around the town. I wouldn’t live in town per se but the town sits in a beutiful location.

    by Gregory Matthews — August 3, 2016

  4. I love reading this site and all of it’s articles, but through the years I have developed a pet peeve. You list inexpensive housing as $200,000 and to many of the readers this may be true. However, to those of us, or maybe just me, that lost everything (and I mean everything) in 2008 and are now subsisting on a $2005 per month fixed income, $200,000 is mighty expensive.

    by Wayne — August 3, 2016

  5. I agree with MaryNB Bristol is a very nice area, the only draw back is that it is within the state of RI, which in it self has some of the greatest coastlines, and the highest taxation, both income and property.

    by Mel — August 3, 2016

  6. Small college towns are usually beautiful and delightful places for retirement. The upper midwest has several, but the prettiest is Decorah, Iowa. Nestled in the Oneota Valley with the Upper Iowa river running through town, Decorah is known for canoeing, kayaking, biking and hiking. There is even a 180′ waterfall right in town. Trout fishing opportunities are abundent and the state Fish Hatchery is located just south of town. Decorah is also an artsy community with strong local music groups and plenty of opportunities to hear people perform. Several groups like the Luren Singers travel internationally. Home to Luther College, there are first rate auditoriums and many musical events or speakers to hear each week. Drawback — winter, unless you like skating, cross-coutry skiing, and lots of indoor events. Of course, you can always escape for a few weeks and travel in the south during January and February. The other ten months are delightful with lots to do in a very scenic environment!

    by Rich Leake — August 3, 2016

  7. I moved from CT to a very small rural town in eastern NC much like Edenton 22 years ago and have had no problem fitting in to the local way of life here. I think the problem with many retirees moving to quaint small towns is that they feel they can change the way of life that has existed for many many generations or want what they had before retirement and that simply does not work. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”

    by Ben Reed — August 3, 2016

  8. Absolutely, Ben…. I have said the same thing many times. Where in eastern NC are you?

    by Dick — August 4, 2016

  9. Edenton is a lovely town with a vibrant downtown located on the water. We also recently moved from Connecticut living an hour north of Edenton.

    Been commuting to our Virginia Beach offices recently and the traffic and congestion are pretty intense. Starting to appreciate the quiet corner of the inner banks a bit more these day.

    Couldn’t be happier with the move but really missing New York style thin crust pizza.

    by Art — August 4, 2016

  10. Many people have expressed concern about moving to the south and being accepted, especially if they are from the north. Turning the tables, this is our experience (mind — in 1 week’s time!) of our incursion into Delaware to check out retirement communities. 1) Walking on the boardwalk was pushed aside by a power-walking lady with a New York accent while informing me I was walking too slow. 2) touring a retirement community was given an obvious disapproving look by the sales rep after asking if we could eat lunch at the restaurant (guess my JC Penney shorts and tee-shirt weren’t good enough for the likes of her); and 3) was told by a service person at the airport that our tip wasn’t big enough. So, to all who wonder, I offer this advice — although you may never be accepted by the locals (don’t know why, maybe its the way you act) I guarantee you won’t be treated as rudely as this.

    by Alice — August 4, 2016

  11. To expand on my comments about the small rural town in eastern NC that I moved to, the town is Washington, NC. A town of less that 9000. But I would say that I came here to finish out my career at the Medical center in Greenville. I have loved the area from the first day here.

    by Ben Reed — August 4, 2016

  12. So sorry, Alice. Sometimes those who live “Back East” or “Up North” believe they are totally in- charge of the USA and the rest of the Country should just follow in line. It seems they never look at a map and see how much more of the USA lies to their West, northwest, southwest, and South until they tire of snow. Some how, we’ve managed to live, work, raise families, shop, travel, seek medical care, etc. for hundreds of years. Don’t know how we had the brains or fore site to do all that without them. Then they find us and it’s time we all become like them. From someone born and raised in that North, but who became an adult in the West and Southwest; I apologize for the actions of Some. You are right, I was treated better during a long stay in Memphis.

    by SandySW — August 4, 2016

  13. What about smaller communities where homes are avg. $100,000 to $125,000 or where a northerner can enjoy renting a place for 1-2 months in the winter?

    by Jeanne — August 4, 2016

  14. I visited Tuscaloosa Alabama for a wedding recently. My cousin had relocated there when she married after college in the 1980s but this was my first opportunity for a visit. This is a beautiful college town and we found plenty of local color over the weekend. I would love to see an article on small college towns and retirement. Perhaps, you could look at the less traveled states such as Alabama?

    by Joan — August 4, 2016

  15. Alice, I think that sometimes we have preconceived notions or prejudices that have survived for generations. How ever could you detect a “New York” accent from woman that said, “you are walking to slow”???

    by MaryNB — August 4, 2016

  16. SandySW, I have spent time in most parts of this country and I was also born and raised in the NorthEast. I have to disagree with you about the stereotype of northeasterners being anything but warm, accepting, open minded, and diverse. I will tell you that there are parts of this country where you do not want to be Catholic, gay, Jewish, or black. The northeast is a diverse, welcoming melting pot. Not so in many places in the USA! I know this from first hand experience.

    by MaryNB — August 4, 2016

  17. My point was not to complain or belittle. I only wanted show that you will face cultural differences no matter which direction you move. We weren’t upset by our experience, in fact we took it as a sign from above that Delaware was not where we belonged. And hey MaryNB, even a country hick like myself can recognize a New York accent when I hear one. And no, it wasn’t my preconceived notions interpreting these events. 1 maybe, but 3? Own it. Its okay to be demanding and outspoken; but realize others may interpret your behavior as rude.

    by Alice — August 5, 2016

  18. MaryNB we are about to take a two month trip to the NE. I’ll let you know about the acceptance of others when we get back. Right now we can’t decide if we will be more accepted with the car that has the California license plate or the one with the New Mexico license plate. Both cars are older models, but the CA one seems to bring remarks that we are rich and the NM one seems to cause people to ask if we speak English before they complain about Illegals. Either way, it will be interesting.

    by SandySW — August 5, 2016

  19. Mary NB

    You are right on Mary, the Northern tier of states are much more diverse and welcoming. I moved due to my work to South Carolina and find NC and SC both extremely racist and I believe it is due to the lack of diversity once you get outside of the large cities.
    Most rural areas are backwards as they fail to experience the diversity available in the Northern States.
    Unfortunately the weather there makes it easy to leave.

    by Ron — August 5, 2016

  20. The Northern tier of states more welcoming? Please….. Speaking of diversity, once you leave the big cities of the North, you have about the same diversity as you do in those “backward” areas of North or South Carolina. Wait, I think there are more minorities living in the rural areas of the Carolinas than in the North so tell me about diversity.

    by Dick — August 6, 2016

  21. Note from Admin:
    Lets try to keep this discussion to pretty towns please.

    by Admin — August 6, 2016

  22. SandySW, you will find many pretty towns in New England. I hope you have a great time and enjoy the late summer weather, which is usually beautiful in New England. I wouldn’t worry about your license plate in New England. As I said, The NorthEast is the most welcoming part of the country, in my experience. It is truly a melting pot and you won’t find those kinds of judgments in New England. Are you driving along the coast or going further inland?

    by MaryNB — August 6, 2016

  23. New England is just a delight for beautiful small towns. During our trip, we will be visiting family in Little Compton, Rhode Island. This time we are missing the Summer Celebration they have each year with a great Church festival, a fun auction, and a wonderful giant tent book sale. Even though we retired in place, we use this Blog to find places to visit during Spring and Fall travels. It’s better than the Auto Club of America for in-depth travel info. Some times it gets more in-depth than needed for travel, but I can be faulted for contributing to that too. I imagine totally relocating to a new area involves consideration of more than the surface prettiness we look at when traveling. Traveling through an area is much easier and less expensive than relocating!

    by SandySW — August 6, 2016

  24. SandySW, I have to say that at times I very much disagree with you on some issue, but once again, you have hit very squarely on a major truism. (So that leads me to very much respect your perspective and how you view life!) We have also learned that traveling in an area allows you to see and appreciate the beauty. You can go back, spend longer periods if you wish — but you also get to go home!

    Our search for retirement options has led us (as part of our pre- and post-retirement travel) all over the country and various parts of Europe and Latin America. I truly love traveling to those places and, at times, have chosen to go back for a longer visit. The longer visit has never diminished my appreciation, but typically makes me even more appreciate why I chose to remain in place. (Another major advantage to travel is that we can chose the season and the length of the visit. I can appreciate CO or New England for a brief winter visit. I cannot personally tolerate 4 – 6 months of cold, sometimes miserable weather. For both I will consider a longer, warmer season trip — but probably not mud-month.)

    by Rich — August 6, 2016

  25. Rich, maybe it’s all just a matter of what feels like home and allowing others to enjoy what feels like home to them. Now, I live in the desert- most of the time; what, where, and when are mud months?

    by SandySW — August 6, 2016

  26. Rich, I agree visiting an area to search for retirement options is a good idea. However, we go during the ‘bad weather’ part of the year. For instance we are thinking about doing a stay-n-play visit to The Villages… this month. Figure if we can tolerate August in Florida the rest of the year would be a piece of cake.

    by Art Bonds — August 7, 2016

  27. SandySW, Little Compton is so pretty. I just love the little old General Store in the center of town. It is quite rural and exclusive and a ride to anywhere, but beautiful! Tiverton is also a cute town next to Little Compton. Bristol is right over the bridge and much more affordable and more a part of the mainland with public transportation that runs regularly between Providence, and Newport. I do hope that you get to explore a little. Rhode Island is a beautiful state!

    by MaryNB — August 7, 2016

  28. Art, for the same reasons, I have considered doing the same in Florida — a place I would perhaps WANT to live. But I would not particularly want to spend January in any frozen-in-place location. Others can enjoy the sports and activities of winter — I’m glad it works for them.

    SandySW, it’s pretty much the norm in areas that have long, snowy winters that the thaw goes into high gear some time around Apr, May or June. That leaves a lot of water being released into the ground and flow into streams, etc. Hence “mud month”. Not necessarily horrible and, after all, it is Spring which overrides everything, but it can be very messy depending on your situation.

    by Rich — August 7, 2016

  29. Exploring-R-Us. I remember Bristol in July. All the pretty houses decorated with flags. I think they are known for a great 4th of July parade. Correct me if I have the wrong town. It’s been a few years since the last visit. Will check out the real estate this time, just my obsession. Little Compton is out of our budget. I think Tiverton prices have also escalated so Bristol will be interesting. My sister-in-law would love for us to be closer. I prefer open-heart surgery to moving – and I’ve done both. You don’t have to pack as much for surgery !

    by SandySW — August 7, 2016

  30. Sandy, Little Compton is for the top 1%, unless someone inherits the land. You have the right town. Bristol has the oldest 4th of July parade in the USA. Lots of history in New England, but with a constant influx of newcomers. Because RI is “The Ocean State”, and is surrounded by the ocean, the winters are relatively moderate.

    by MaryNB — August 7, 2016

  31. Sandy, about your license plate dilemma, I say go with the New Mexico plates. I totally agree with you regarding the “anyone with California plates is rich” mentality. Not only that, but there’s always that California stigma, that “omg, they’re gonna try to force their liberal/Hollywood ways on us” thing. New Mexico plates, on the other hand, would simply result in an “oh, that’s interesting” reaction.
    Reminds me of the time I spent a year traveling in France 15 years ago. People advised me to say I was from Canada instead of the U.S., ha ha. And I did! You know, sometimes you just want to avoid the assumptions! And by the way, I’m talking about strangers you meet, store clerks and the like, who instantly know you’re a foreigner and feel the need to ask you about it. Not people you’re gonna be spending time with.
    And Rich– I thought Sandy was being tongue-in-cheek about the mud question. I’m a Californian too, and the last time a drop of rain fell on my house (Sacramento) was a couple hundredths of an inch in May.

    by Barbara — August 7, 2016

  32. Wish we were as rich as our license plates seem to indicate ! To me, Sacramento qualifies as a Pretty City and still affordable. If I could bear to move, it would be my next choice, tree- lined streets and red brick buildings downtown, a beautiful park in front of the Capitol, the Sacramento River, and a neat Old Town area that was the end of the original Pony Express route. Do they still have the large antique market in Old Town in September with vendors from all over the U.S.? You have so many historic gold rush, and just “CA’s Gold ” in your area, and you’re close to a lot of other CA historical sites. Lots of small towns in your area. +UC Davis health care is among the best.

    by SandySW — August 8, 2016

  33. Rich, and everyone who has knowledge, is Colorado out of the question to expense because of housing costs, living costs, taxes,etc.? If you find an area along the front range, north or south of Denver, find an affordable house in that area, would it be too expensive to do anything? To us, Colorado offers low humidity, scenic, and a tolerable change of climate. We worry that the cost of living would limit our ability to enjoy going to dinner, movie, etc. The area that we are going to explore is Erie, just north of Denver and just east of Boulder.

    by Michael — August 8, 2016

  34. Michael, I just got back from an exploratory trip to Colorado (though I actually only explored the areas south of Denver). I stayed part of the time with a friend in Parker who moved there a year ago from California – she said that just about everything is less expensive than California (but I guess it depends on what the base point is for your comparison). There are a lot of cost of living comparison calculators out there that you might want to check. I just did a quick comparison between my city and Castle Rock, CO on http://www.bestplaces.net and found that Castle Rock is 52% cheaper than where I live now, with housing 68% cheaper. The realtor I met with said housing prices in the Denver area have been going up about 1% per month for the last year so who knows, they may even catch up with CA. He said I could get a lot more house for my money if I stayed out of Denver. I was given a map of future growth in Castle Rock and the master plan appears to show construction of about 10,000 new houses in the future. Lots of businesses moving into the area, so new housing is needed. Good luck on your search.

    by JoannC — August 8, 2016

  35. I’m interested in responses, but can’t really help. Too long ago for some areas in CO and the most recent stay was in Silverthorne where you expect costs to be high.

    My understanding is that Denver may be less for routine costs (comments?) but getting higher for real estate.

    by Rich — August 9, 2016

  36. Answering SandyW about Sacramento. I really do love this city. I’m a native Californian and I’ve lived here in Sacramento since 1986. It’s definitely still very affordable, with loads of neighborhoods to choose from. Weather’s fantastic, the older parts of town are beautiful with decades-old trees shading them and lovely old neighborhoods from 80-100 years ago. Take a look at the pie chart on city data dotcom to see our amazing cultural diversity; we’re often named the most diverse city in the entire country. So many cultures living together. Every ethnicity is a minority! It’s quite grand!
    They do not still have that antique market you asked about. That must have been a long time ago. What they do have every year in Old Sac is a humongous jazz festival, and that draws from all over the U.S. Then there’s the Gold Rush Days every year on Labor Day weekend, where you feel as if you’re back in the 1840’s, just the time that part of town was built. It’s glorious. Ahh, but enough touting this fine city. It’s served me well, but as I’ve said before, I’m due for a change. Being the only conservative on my block is getting really old, and as much as I do love this town and California, I want to leave behind the politics of this state. Love the people but couldn’t disagree more with their politics. The California I loved has been destroyed, so I’ll be leaving it to those who love what it’s becoming. Like so many others who visit TopRetirements, I’m focusing on the Carolinas and the like. And when I do relocate I’ll try my very best to not bring California with me.

    by Barbara — August 9, 2016

  37. Getting back to Edenton, it sounds like a wonderful place to retire. What is the nearest airport and larger city? Are there hurricanes in the area? The homes on Zillo seem reasonable. Are there any undesirable areas to stay away from? Being Catholic, a church community is very important to me. Any info on that?

    by Carol — August 10, 2016

  38. Carol
    Best check the crime stastistics and demographics befor determining any community/area would be desireable. We checked out a smalltown that was one of the top ten small towns in America. The downtown was as described but two blocks away were streets of squalid public housing.

    by Jeff — August 11, 2016

  39. Jeff thanks for recommending that. Is there a specific website you can recommend?

    by Carol — August 12, 2016

  40. Try Sperlings best places

    by Jeff — August 12, 2016

  41. I also recommend AreaVibes and NeighborhoodScout.

    by Bubbajog — August 12, 2016

  42. I lived in Colorado for 15 years. Circumstances required me to move but when I retire in a few months, dog & I will return. “Heart” tells me to find a very modest house in a wilderness-like location with great views of mountain, forest, river, desert, whatever. “Head” says I should consider distance to doctors, services, airport, etc.

    “Heart” is winning. I’m making a bid on a Unabomber cabin in south-central CO surrounded by amazing mountains and adjacent to public forest. I figure I’ll eventually die anyway, so why not make the most of the remaining time?

    by Graybuck — August 13, 2016

  43. Edenton, NC looks like a very pretty and quaint town. After some research on the net, learning the town has higher than normal crime rates as compared to the US average, as well it lies in hurricane alley having endure, if my memory serves me correctly, some 30 or so hurricanes over a long period of time..I did not need to search any further

    by Ed…..August 14, 2016

    by Ed — August 14, 2016

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Salary Data custom salary reports specific to your state and industry.