Dueling Carolinas: North Carolina vs. South Carolina As the Best Retirement State

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

Updated February 2, 2012. Editors Note: This is the third in our series comparing various states as retirement destinations. Don’t miss the first, Florida vs. Arizona Retirement, or the second, Delaware vs. Maryland vs. Virginia vs. New Jersey. We welcome ideas for future comparisons.

The Carolinas are a red-hot retirement destination among baby boomers. Both states enjoy a favorable image. In recent years they have both become more desirable as a retirement destination than Florida, which suffers from associations with shuffleboard and foreclosures. In this comparison we will evaluate various factors for both states that affect retirement, letting our readers draw their own conclusions from the facts. As always, reader input is extremely important. We encourage you to use the Comments section below to tell your stories and express your preferences with your fellow members.

Population (Data from American Fact Finder-U.S. Census Bureau).
One obvious difference between the two states is the number of people – North Carolina has a much bigger population (9,561,558) than South Carolina’s (4,636,312). The over 65 population in South Carolina is 13.7%. North Carolina’s over 65 population is similar at 13.0% (the national percentage is 13.1%). Both states attract significant numbers of retirees from beyond their own borders, usually from the northeast or Midwest.

Economics and Home Prices
One reason why the Carolinas are popular for so many retirements is a lower cost of living. Both states have significantly lower home prices than the Zillow 2012 Home Value Index of $147,800. South Carolina’s median home value using the Zillow Home Value Index was $114,700 in early 2012. North Carolina’s Index was $130,000 in early 2012. The 2010 median HH income in North Carolina was $46,107, slightly higher than South Carolina’s median household income of $42,018. By comparison the national household income median was $50,046. The cost of living in North Carolina is 21st highest in the nation for North Carolina and 24th for SC. According to the Census Bureau both states in late 2011 had some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation – 9.5% for South Carolina and 9.9% for North Carolina.


Climate
There are no significant climate differences between these 2 states. The most northern parts of North Carolina will have slightly colder winters than the most southerly part of SC, but the difference will only be a few degrees. What differences there are mostly stem from the many different climates present within each as they go from beach to mountain. Here are a few representative temperatures for cities within these states:

City(State) Avg July High Avg Jan Low
Asheville (NC) 84 27 (West)
Charlotte(NC) 90 32 (Central)
Wilmington (NC) 90 36 (East)
Greenville (SC) 89 31 (West)
Columbia (SC) 95 36 (Central)
Charleston (SC) 89 42 (East)

Tax Environment
Overall
SC is a more tax-friendly state for retirees than is NC. According to the Tax Foundation, SC has the 37th highest tax burden in the nation, whereas NC’s is 16th.

Property Tax
SC residents pay a median $689 in property tax, compared to $1209 in North Carolina. Homeowners in SC over 65 can usually deduct $50,000 of valuation on their property taxes. In NC there is a property tax homestead exemption for people over 65 who meet certain income criteria, as well as a circuit breaker program for eligible people over 65 which limits property taxes to 4 or 5% of your income.

Income Taxes
South Carolina has a maximum tax rate of 7%, whereas NC’s is 7.75%.

Social Security and Income Tax Exemptions for Seniors
Neither state taxes Social Security payments. South Carolina, however, is much friendlier to retirees than its namesake to the North. Its residents over 65 are entitled to an exemption of $15,000 in calculating income for state tax purposes, of which up to $10,000 can be retirement income. The SC Guide to New Residents is the most helpful one we have ever seen.

NC offers some income tax exemptions for pensions, particularly for those with careers in the public sector and/or military pensions. Military and other government pensions are exempt if there was 5 years of service by 1989, otherwise the limit is $4000. The somewhat confusing pension exemption rules are located on this NC State Retirement page.

Sales Taxes
In SC the sales tax is 6% and in NC it is 5.75%. Both states permit localities to add on to that tax.

Estate and Inheritance Taxes
There are no estate or inheritance taxes in South Carolina or North Carolina (NC repealed its estate tax in 2013). Note: Taxes are complicated and the laws change quickly. Consult state Department of Revenue Guides and/or your tax professional before making important decisions.

Physical Environment and Diversity
As with population, North Carolina also has a much bigger geographical area – 54,000 square miles as compared to SC’s 32,000 miles. Both have a long coast line with beautiful beaches and/or waterfront on large bays. The Cape Hatteras region of NC is quite remarkable, as is Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head in SC. North Carolina has a larger and more pronounced western mountain area with four seasons and the Blue Ridge, Great Smoky, and Black Mountain ranges. The highest point in NC (and the eastern U.S.) is Mt. Mitchell at 6,684 ft.; Sassafras Mountain is SC’s highest peak (3,560 ft.).

Places to Live and Retirement Popularity
Both states have several important cities and numerous interesting mid-sized cities. Both states have college towns, such as Chapel Hill and Durham in NC and Clemson in South Carolina. North Carolina has slightly more towns on Topretirements’ list of 100 Best Retirement Towns (11) than does SC (8). Asheville (NC) is by far and away the most popular retirement town at Topretirements. In addition to Asheville those include Winston-Salem (#12), and Mt. Airy (#24) and Chapel Hill (#30). South Carolina’s most popular places to retire include Beaufort (#8), Summerville (#31), Myrtle Beach (#25), and Bluffton (#28). Here is the full list of our most popular 100 best retirement towns.

Choice of Active Communities
North Carolina and South Carolina are both loaded with active adult communities. At Topretirements we count over 110 communities in both our North Carolina Directory of Active Communities and in the South Carolina Directory of Active Communities. Whereas the active communities in NC are dispersed throughout the state in areas like Asheville, New Bern, Charlotte, and the Research Triangle area; South Carolina’s are clustered mostly along the coast, from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. In either state the choices are many and varied, with many of them relatively new.

The bottom line
North Carolina and South Carolina share numerous similarities in addition to a similar climate and topography. Indeed, many retirees say they are contemplating moving to the “Carolinas” for retirement, and don’t often specify one of the states.

Looking for differences, we could generalize and say North Carolina is a bit more diverse. It has more large cities to choose from, such as Charlotte or Winston-Salem. NC has taller mountains and more towns in mountainous areas, if that is what you are looking for. South Carolina might have the most interesting city, Charleston. Comparing the negative side of each state, North Carolina is often named as a problem state for retirement, mostly due to its tax structure and fiscal health. South Carolina is probably less of a melting pot than its northern cousin, and more of a “southern” state.

So which state is more popular? Regardless of which state wins the retirement sweepstakes, both are doing very well. A Del Webb study found that the Carolinas are now a more popular retirement destination than Florida. At Topretirements our North Carolina retirement guide (#2 after Florida) is more frequently accessed than is our SC retirement guide (#4). The differences between the Carolinas are subtle. Both contain some wonderful places to retire, if the mid-Atlantic region is the region where you would like to retire. Rather than take sides on the issue, we recommend that you visit cities and towns in both states and see if you can’t find the place of your dreams. Fortunately, the two states are contiguous- in a few trips you should be able to get a good idea of the places that could offer you a happy retirement experience.

For your reference:
South Carolina
North Carolina
Arizona vs. Florida Retirement

The Best of the Best Places to Retire
How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State
Best States for Retirement
State Retirement Guides
California Retirement 101
Florida Retirement 101
Comparison: Retirement in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah

What state do you prefer? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on November 15th, 2010
Comments (155)
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

155 Comments »
Bill S. says

I lived in SC for 35 years, leaving in 2003. Lovely state, lot of nice folks. The political atmosphere is so conservative, however, and I began to feel isolated. Retirees from Northeast or Midwest may feel a bit out of place politically. If you like right-wing Republicans, however, this will be a very pleasing state in which to retire. I don’t mean to start any political arguments, and there’s much to like in SC. In my brief experience there, however, NC is a more “progressive” state, in general. I enjoyed reading the comparison above, which I think for the most part is quite accurate (though Sumter, SC is not really a college town).

November 17th, 2010 | #

Katherine Cairrao says

Just for the record, the sales tax in both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, SC is 9% not 6%. North Myrtle Beach would like to raise their sales tax to 10%. Some alcoholic drinks purchased in restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area can be taxed up to 16.5% so research the areas carefully before packing your bags. Also, be aware that you must establish residency in South Carolina before you can take advantage of the $50,000 property tax deduction on your home at age 65 or older. If you are a non-resident you will be taxed at 6% plus a higher millage rate than a resident’s 4% and lower millage rate. For example, one of our friends in North Myrtle Beach is paying around $780/yr in property tax for a 1B/1B condo because he is a non-resident. The same condo for an under 65 resident would be about $250 and for a resident 65 or older it would be around $45. The reduction in property taxes is beneficial but groceries are on the expensive side so I can’t stress enough to research any area thoroughly and weigh all pros and cons. You can get a sales tax table on every city or town in SC by going to the State of South Carolina’s web site. Oh and car insurance in SC may be quite a bit more than what you are used to paying so factor that in also.

November 17th, 2010 | #

john stevens says

:oops: NC only waives taxes on the first $4,000 of retirement income

November 17th, 2010 | #

john stevens says

:oops:+ Sorry – I meant NC waives taxes on the first $4,000 of MILITARY retirement income

November 17th, 2010 | #

PJDroney says

Right wing conservative state? I’m going to SC…beats this hell of a state (CT) that I’m in now!!

November 17th, 2010 | #

Genie says

:roll: Been a resident of Charlotte, NC since early 80s and we are looking seriously at SC for retirement. Mecklenburg County has one of the highest overall tax bites in the country. Between sales tax (at 8+% depending on what you buy), real estate (which will be going up AGAIN!), property tax, car rental taxes, hotel taxes and, of course, income tax (which cuts no breaks on pension income) it just seems like everyone has a hand in your purse! Add to that the escalating housing costs (even in this economy). We are definitely looking at SC due to overall lower taxes (stay away from the beach) and property values. Plus if you are a beach person but can’t afford to live there year round, SC offers easier beach access highways from places like Summerville and Columbia. We can’t wait until going to Charleston and North Myrtle is not such a long drive.

November 18th, 2010 | #

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November 18th, 2010 | #

Margaret Fallon says

South Carolina hands down!! Specfically Sun City Hilton Head. Low taxes, great weather, proximity to the beach, to Savannah, to Charleston and to Florida for a quick weekend getaway. Moved here close to 3 years ago and can’t believe that I live in such a beautiful place.

November 21st, 2010 | #

» No Go: A Worst Places to Retire List We Don’t Agree With Topretirements says

[...] not too cold. Home prices are well below the national average. (See our recent article comparing NC and SC for retirement). SC is on our list of “best” places to retire. 5. Maryland – Yes, MD is a high tax state and [...]

November 23rd, 2010 | #

Zebhead says

We live in the Winston-Salem area in a golf community. Love W-S…very comfortable town that is easy to get around and has great medical services and an excellent arts community. Climate is more moderate being in the Piedmont of the state…a little snow in the winter, and usually a limited number of really hot days in the summer (although 2010 was an exception). W-S is also a college town with Wake Forest. Less than 2 hours to mountains and about 3-1/2 to the beach. Sure there are places with more upscale restaurants and shops, but if you a looking for a comfortable place to live W-S is pretty good.

Have spend significant time at Hilton Head and the traffic on the Island has become a zoo…278 is ridiculous most times of the day and the summer really stinks with traffic. If you live in a plantation and don’t have to go out on 278, it is OK except for the no-seeum’s that will chew on you. Greenville area of SC is very nice, but Columbia is way too hot and humid.

December 10th, 2010 | #

Joseph DePeri says

I was born in New Jersey and moved to Florida,after Hurricane Francis and seeing the financial opportunity of selling my home in Central Florida for a nice amount I left for the Greenville area of the upstate in S.C.,just under the snow belt,been here 5 years and do not regret it,long springs and long falls, good seasonal changes and great people.Good family area.I also have now a cabin in the Bryson city area of N.C.and love the Smokies and the outdoor life style.only difference I see right now is SC is more right and NC more left,but who cares to each his own.I am quite happy here and content.Try the shrimp and grits and love the barby.

December 19th, 2010 | #

» What’s on Your Retirement Bucket List Topretirements says

[...] several possible article suggestions. We’ve already written the #1 most popular idea, “Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC“, as well as #2, “What is Your Retirement Lifestyle“. In a close race “Your [...]

December 20th, 2010 | #

Lisa says

I totally agree with Bill S. SC, although a lovely state, is quite conservative in its governance, taxing policies, and attitudes towards education. We’ve enjoyed our almost 20 years in the Piedmont of SC, but are retiring in Asheville, NC.

March 27th, 2011 | #

Bill says

Hay john stevens,
You have that tax stuff all wrong about military retirement taxes and etc. Any Federal retirement income such as military, civil service is not taxed by NC. What is taxed is the retirement incomes from another state, and then the first
$4,000 of that retirement income is waved. After the first $4,000 then it becomes taxable. I know I am a military retiree..

April 10th, 2011 | #

Robert K says

thanks for all the great comments..one thing I notice in all ‘summaries’ about where individuals reside is that ..’there is no mention of available health care..doctors/hospitals/day to day visits…etc….We believe this is on top of our list fo where to retire …especially, as we age..
when we visit areas we always visit some medical facilities…and explore how to get traeatments ,,like ‘urgent care’.
a good experience to share would be when on a trip to North Charleston..I visited the VA Hospital (a 35 year veteran ) and was told that once on Medicare I was no longer eligable to be treated at the hospital..
we went to a VA Clinic and it was very depressing…just a crowded room with folding chairs…loaded with patients on long waits?….
while there I met some individuals and asked some questions about another subject thatis rarely discussed by residents in this forum…that being “crime” and was shocked to find that North Charleston was NUMBER ONE in violent crime in the USA…
so just wanted to share our comments and thanks for all who do…Bob and Chris in New York (presently) and still looking…

April 13th, 2011 | #

Johanna Hopkins says

I was looking at homes on James Island in SC. I thought it was a wonderful location right outside of Charleston. If anyone has information that would be helpful to consider when making a final decision, please send it along.

May 12th, 2011 | #

Linda Hyers says

Johanna, I know a couple that has a home on the water–the Stono River (intercostal waterway) golf community. It isn’t listed yet. Would you be interested??

May 13th, 2011 | #

Johanna says

Not at this time, thank you.

May 15th, 2011 | #

Angela says

We’re looking to retire in Henderson, NV. Would greatly appreciate any comments/suggestions pro and con as to the retirement communities there. Thanks.

May 16th, 2011 | #

Anne says

Angela:
I wish I had used my own advice prior to moving so I thought I would share a few suggestions:
Have you thought about renting in the area first? I’m sure you would be able to find a short term unit. This way you could actually live in the area without moving and commiting to a house to later find out this isn’t the area for you.
If you get a long term opportunity to visit, plan it during the hottest months. If you can tolerate the desert heat the rest of the year will be a breeze.
I love a light and bright home, but we have found that in the desert you have to have blinds and curtains pulled because the sun coming in with the AC on is counterproductive. I didn’t like the house so dark all day long in the summer and couldn’t wait until we no longer needed AC and could have the sun flowing in again. Just a thought!
Look at the shopping in the area. Is the supermarket 20 miles away or just a mile. Are your only stores Walmart and Target (which I love) but sometimes you need to window shop at a mall.
If you live in a regular community are your neighbors all younger and always at work. This can be very lonely during the week when no one is around. Especially if you’re used to working and having people around you all the time.
By living in the area as a test you can also take your time to really investigate the communites that you might be interested in. When you look at houses with a realtor you usually don’t walk the street or the community. Look at the houses around the one your viewing. Do they keep them up, is the area well maintained. Do you see any life in the neighborhood or does everyone stay inside. Visit the area several different times of day to see what the traffic is like.
Moving cold turkey to a new state is exciting, new beginnings. But, it can also be very lonely during the curve of acquiring new friends.
I wish you well. I hope I haven’t gone on and on.

May 17th, 2011 | #

Robert says

Anne, your advice is thoughtful and sage. I’ve had friends who bought in a mobile home park without once looking beyond the amenities in the model home. They found out too late that their environment extended beyond their four walls. It happened that the demographics were incompatible with their age and interests, a particularly crucial matter when units are cheek to jowl (mobile estate, apartment house). You haven’t “gone on and on” … you’ve supplied a reality-based checklist that every would-be relocator would be well advised to read.

May 17th, 2011 | #

Ginger says

I am interested in information on Nevada as well. I’m more interested in the Northern part of the State. I want to rent rather than buy. I haven’t found any retirement communities that rent as yet. I will keep looking.

May 17th, 2011 | #

Angela says

Ann, thank you for your comments. Your suggestions will very helpful. Appreciate it And, no you have not gone on and on. People’s experiences are beneficial to those who are looking to retire.

May 18th, 2011 | #

John says

I highly recommend Mt. Pleasant, SC, a suburb of Charleston, which is the garden spot of the Carolinas if you like close proximity to beaches (only a few miles from Isle of Palms). It has great shopping, restaurants, medical, and low crime. Also very convenient to downtown Charleston. Weather is great except for hot and very humid summers. Only other negative is traffic in summer beach season but locals find ways around that.

October 21st, 2011 | #

» Top 10 Retirement Articles for 2011 Topretirements says

[...] and the “worst” lists of various kinds.  One article from late 2010 explored  “Dueling Retirement States – North vs. South Carolina“.  And one was a personal favorite, “What Sandy Learned from 8 Years of Looking at and [...]

December 26th, 2011 | #

Liz Morgan says

Ann,
You are spot on! I have retired and am in the process of relocating. I have chosen a place that refelects my interests: horseback riding, animals, the great outdoors. Still, I wanted to make sure it was right for me. So, I am renting a home for a year. Already, I have discovered all kinds of everyday things about the area. So far, it has been a wonderful experience, and I probably will stay here. Do your homework on any place your looking to retire and absolutely live there for at least 6 mos. before you make that life changing move. it will pay off in the end.

December 28th, 2011 | #

Chuck says

Just one clarification on taxing pensions in NC. All federal pensions are exempt and fall under the Bailey exclusion PROVIDED the retiree had a minimum of 5 years of federal service prior to August 12, 1989.

Editor’s note: You are correct and thanks for the clarification. We have changed the article to reflect that.

February 2nd, 2012 | #

Fred says

If you’re from Michigan, housing is much higher in both Carolinas. I’ve also noticed that food is about 30% higher than in Michigan. Fuel oil prices are similar but gasoline is higher by several cents per gallon. On the plus side you probably won’t use as much to heat your house.

February 2nd, 2012 | #

Sandie Warwick says

Fred,
What is the difference in taxes between the Carolinas and Michigan?
High real estate tax rates increase the ongoing cost of property, not to mention the other costs of a climate of 11 months of winter and four weeks of bad ice fishing.

February 3rd, 2012 | #

Rich Beaudry says

I’ve lived in NC for 50 years now (military brat) and retired near Chapel Hill in the central part of the state. This article is excellent on all counts — I can’t stress enough the diversity available in these two states. But Bill S. makes an excellent point that I was going to state — SC extremely conservative and NC much more progressive (yet also somewhat conservative except less so in the population centers). As a whole, NC has much more variety and offers more cosmopolitan options.

February 3rd, 2012 | #

Soon-ok says

Rich,
My husband and I are thinking about retiring in NC and we are quite interested in Heritage Wake Forest community. If you happen to know anything about that community, we’d appreciate your comments.

February 4th, 2012 | #

Carol D. says

We were pretty settled on returning to Florida for retirement but after reading about the possibilities which the Carolinas offer for retirees, we are definitely going to check it out….your comments re renting are excellent and very smart. Thank you for all the information!

February 5th, 2012 | #

diandto says

Okay, we have decided to rent first. Does anyone know of a good apartment complex…in the Myrtle Beach-Conway area or even Beaufort area?? Please pass along the info. It is my husband and myself, plus our daughter will be coming home for Christmas and summers (she is a college student). Thanks

February 6th, 2012 | #

Peggy says

WE have recently moved to Rock Hill, SC and have the best of both Carolinas. Charlotte is 15 minutes up I-77 so we get the advantage of the bigger city amenities but the taxation of SC. Taxes here are about 1/2 of Charlotte, gas prices are .30/ gal less, sales tax is less and access to great medical centers. I love living here. We first retired east of Knoxville and hated it but this has been a great move for us. There are many communities like Rock Hill that are close to Charlotte but in SC, and Charleston, Savannah, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head are only about 3 1/2 hours, a nice drive for a get a way. There is a Del Webb community outside of this area in Indian Land, a quick developing area. As far as the politics I have not found that to be an issue in this area. One other thing is that I have found certain areas are not as welcoming to outsiders, but I have not found that to be true in this area.

February 6th, 2012 | #

Karen says

I am contemplating buying a home in Sebring, Florida. I have visited there and read a great deal about it but would also like to hear from anyone with comments about the area. Thank you!

February 6th, 2012 | #

Karl Ronn says

Does anyone have personal information about New Hampshire as a retirement state? I understand that NH is one of the best states to retire in regarding taxes.

February 6th, 2012 | #

Linda says

Peggy – what didn’t you like about the Knoxville area? Where are you originally from? We are from New England, I’ve been to Knoxville briefly to visit a friend but didn’t really explore. Our sights were originally set on the Carolina’s – more SC due to it being more tax friendly.

February 7th, 2012 | #

Linda says

Karl – we lived in NH for many years – I for about 16 years. NH has no income tax and no sales tax, but very high property taxes. It depends on what you are looking for. I, personally, don’t like the winter’s and we moved to CT – a VERY expensive state which has clearly gotten worse over the years – #1 worst state to retire to. NH is beautiful, and is steadily growing. Many areas considered the ‘sticks’ without the conveniences, now have the bigger stores. I didn’t like having to spend a full day to go someplace to go shopping, but for other’s they may prefer it. Real estate can be expensive, but like any other state, depends on where in the state you wish to be. The same can be said with services provided – depends on the size of the Town/city. Manchester has grown incredibly since I lived there – but would recommend staying away from Rt. 3 – major route between Mass and NH. Haven’t lived there since 1997, so I’m sure there are other’s who can provide more recent input.

February 7th, 2012 | #

Bill says

Live in NH and looking to retire in the Carolinas. As said no income or sales taxes in NH but very high property taxes. Also utility costs especially electric some of the highest in the country. NH is beautiful but winters are long and cold and can be a lot of snow. Great healthcare and good shopping and restaurants but cost of living in general I think is high.

February 7th, 2012 | #

Beverly Johnson says

We lived in NH during the 80′s, often think of moving back BUT – the real estate taxes were very high. The snow was deeper than any other place we lived
We moved to CT, then WI and now IL, still have very high real estate taxes. Don’t know where we will go next or to stay here.

February 7th, 2012 | #

Karl Ronn says

Hi Linda/Bill/Beverly, thanks so much for your valuable input! Did you folks find that the tax breaks off set the high property tax? I hear you on the weather living here in VT but my wife needs to stay close to relatives. Any town in NH that might be more forgiving regarding property taxes?

February 7th, 2012 | #

Linda says

Karl – If I were to compare it to where I’m living now..absolutely…since we have high property, high income, AND the sales tax!
A good site for research:
http://www.revenue.nh.gov/munc_prop/2011PropertyTaxRatesRelatedData.htm
It will basically depend on the town/cities services provided in relation to the property assessments/mill rate. They tend to go hand in hand.
I personally wouldn’t move back to NH because I don’t care for the long cold winter’s..and as mentioned, several homes heat with electric. I think many of those same houses supplement with wood or pellet stoves now.
Where we are in CT is warmer with shorter winters, and since I’m used to the high cost of living here, and the services are great we may stay. If we were to move, it’d probably be to the Carolina’s. I’ve traveled a lot for work to the Raleigh area and already know several folks in that area which makes it easier. Time will tell, and it’s best to rent and experience the area and do the research on the property taxes and services for yourself before making a the final decision.

February 7th, 2012 | #

Karl Ronn says

I thank you so much Linda for your comments and suggestions, very helpful. So, does anyone out there really know what would be the most tax friendly state to stretch your income dollars, not get killed on property taxes, and a safe place to live? A tall order I know.

February 8th, 2012 | #

cindy says

I can’t wait to move to SC! I live in Minnesota and EVERYTHING costs more here.I have decided on the Easley/Pickens area upstate.This move is the only way I will be able to retire. So as soon as my house here is sold I am on my way.

February 8th, 2012 | #

Kitty says

I am very interested in the Carolina’s for retirement. I cant decide which state I like best. The advice to rent first seems very sound. My problem is we have a lot of pets. I notice every rental community I checked limits pets to two. Does anyone know if the decent quality rental communities will allow three cats? Some of those retirement communities look very nice, but our attachment to our pets just might limit our options, I fear.

February 10th, 2012 | #

cherie morris says

Kitty, I sympathize with your situation (and your name is perfect!)and most doctors would tell you that contact with pets makes for a longer happier life. I might suggest a website called VRBO which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner. Perhaps if you rented a house for a couple months in each location you might get a better feel for the communities. Also longer stays might lower the price since the owners have a committed renter for a longer time. We are in a similar position! Good luck.

February 11th, 2012 | #

Artie says

Note: This comment had so much useful detail in it that we edited it and created a totally new article from it. You can see it at “One Year Later: Artie’s Observations about Moving to the Carolinas“.

I can’t speak specifically to the advantages of disadvantages of having chosen NC over SC. I’m sure my wife and I could have been happy in any number of places in either state. Considereing I thought I was moving to Florida (e.g. Jupiter), but here I am, remarkably in Cary, NC.

A word about renting. My wife and I considered doing this. In theory it sounds great and the most prudent thing to do. However, in reality, it can be a sizable added expense and will usually entail a second physical move. And, as most (if not all) people will tell you moving is NOT fun.

To the person above who was interested in Wake Forest, NC. It is a lovely community. If we didn’t choose to move to Cary, we would have moved to Heritage Wake Forest.

Anyway, here is what I reported to friends back in NY after the one year aniversary of our move. It may be a bit long winded and not always all that interesting in which case, I apologize. Some may find parts of it useful, as an example.

This past August has been our one year anniversary since we moved to our new home at the Carolina Preserve (CP) in Cary (aka Containment Area for Relocated Yankees) NC, The year has gone by quickly. We continue to be very happy with our decision to move here. We are continuing to find it just calmer, in many ways nicer and simply a less stressful and easier way of life compared to Long Island. Of course, no longer choosing to work… or worse,…having to work at a distasteful and unrewarding job, goes a long way in improving one’s mental outlook. However, add to this, the peace of mind that comes with getting away from from all the traffic congestion, higher costs, (especially RE taxes) and additional stresses that have come to characterize living in much of the metro NY area. We both feel very fortunate. That said, Long Island (after over 55 years) will always be considered our home. And, while there are always going to be some things we miss, we honestly don’t miss many of those things all that much. Remarkably, there is life beyond Long Island and NY.

In spite of the continuing bi-polar ups and downs of the stock market and the continuing economic malaise affecting this country, the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill “Triangle” still appears to have a lot of activity going on. It’s not that this area is unaffected by what is happening in the rest of the country, (unemployment is an issue here, too), it just seems where we are in Cary (the middle of the “Triangle”) to be a bit less noticeable. There is still a lot of new road construction and housing development going on. I just read recently that there has been an uptick in home sales as well, which, if true, is a plus. Obviously, this area is continuing to grow and spread out in all directions. There seems to be more new stuff coming into the area all the time, whether it’s a new shopping center or a new restaurant opening up.

The migration to this part of NC, seems to still be coming largely from the Northeast.Personally, I view this as a “plus.” We NY’ers are used to a certain life style and level of amenities. I would say this is attributable to a variety of things including perhaps some good press, the diversity of activities the area has to offer and generally to the milder and overall nicer weather. The area is certainly not only attracting retirees. In this respect, this isn’t like many parts of Florida. We happened to choose to move to an over 55 “active adult” community for a variety of reasons (e.g. amount of amenities, activities, ease of meeting other people in similar circumstances (meaning mostly retired), low home maintenance, etc. Our community at the CP is unique right now in this area but other similare communities are in the works. By and large though, there are more young working families with children living and moving into this area and to nearby towns and communities. For young people with families, this area, has to offer a calmer, easier and more affordable life-style when compared to the NY metro area and Long Island. I actually understand there is a need for school teachers down here because of the increasing number of school aged children. Your housing dollar certainly goes much farther considering what you can buy down here vs. Long Island. And, RE taxes although considered high (in Cary) for NC are still about 25% of what mine were in Westbury, NY, and I have a nicer, newer, and larger house here. This part of NC is actually a very pretty part of the country. I keep telling people that it’s not unlike some of the north shore and east end areas of Long Island only with nicer year round weather, bigger trees, lakes, parks and more open space. The only downside to me is that the nearest ocean beaches are 2 hours away. While somewhat inconvenient, this isn’t terrible. We also have the mountains of Asheville about 4 hours to the West. There is considerably more open green space and rural (farm) areas. The roads and highways are a pleasure to drive compared to Long Island.

Research Triangle Park along with it’s high tech corporations including computer and software companies, medical related businesses, bio-tech companies and Federal agencies is the primary hub and economic driver for many of the larger employers in the region. However, there are also all the colleges and universities, large medical institutions and research facilities, as well. Lastly, with Raleigh being the state capital, you have a lot of state jobs.

We also covered a lot of ground this year traveling and taking advantage of the activities and places to go in our adopted state.

Locally in NC:

Willmington
Outer Banks
Bald Head Island
Asheville

There are many concert and theater venues in the Triangle Area…some of the concerts and shows we attended so far include:

John Mellencamp – Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ ZZ Top (Time Warner’s Walnut Creek Raleigh)
Jimmy Buffet (Time Warner – Walnut Creek)
Huey Lewis & The News – Koka Booth Amphitheater, Cary, NC
Music of Paul McCartney – Members of Beatle Mania along with Raleigh Symphony Orchestra – Koka Booth Amphitheater
Music of Queen – 5 Member professional rock band along with Raleigh Symphony Orchestra – Progress Energy Center, Raleigh
Cirque du Soleil – RBC Sports Center – Raleigh
In the Hood – B’way Show – DPAC
Billy Elliot – B’way Show – DPAC
Yes – DPAC
Rock of Ages – B’way Show – DPAC
Aretha Franklin- DPAC
Paul Simon – DPAC
American Idiot – Prgress Energy Center, Raleigh

My wife and I have our separate and joint activities. Among these include a variety conducted at Bradford Hall which is the Carolina Preserve’s club house and “centerpiece.” This is the 35,000 square foot facility which has a well equipped gym and both indoor and outdoor pools, bocce, pool tables, ping pong, tennis courts, exercise classes, etc. Various classes and clubs meet here all week long. Whatever your interests are, whether its golf, photography, poker (and other card games), the stock market, sporting events, yoga, crafts, wine, writing, photography, bowling biking, tennis, ping pong, swimming, exercise and dance classes you’ll find it here. If I want to hang out and see some younger people for a change and get tired of seeing fat ‘ole Ms. Fogolotz at the CP “senior” pool, we also have the use of the Amberly facilities, including another pool complex and gym (Amberly being a mixed age community), across the street. There are at least 100 activities and clubs. This is why I’ve said to a few of you, who feel compelled to tell me I have too much time on my hands, you can be as busy or not busy as you want to be.

My wife keeps up with her personal training and enjoys hiking at one of the nearby parks quite a bit. She recently got her NC licensing requirements out of the way if she decides to use her LMT license (part-time). We both have become bowlers and enjoy biking from time to time. We have some great bike paths including the 26 mile American Tobacco bike trail. I’m continually trying to get back on track and get to the gym more frequently as I’ve run out of excuses. Over the last several months, I finally found some like-minded musicians to continue my illustrious rock n’ roll career at 61. With the arrival of the cooler weather (summer was HOT), I’m still planning to join all the golfers soon. However, getting this music project going has been my primary focus. And, of course, my two boys Tyler (Bichon) and Benny (Maltese/Shih-tsu) keep us entertained.

We continue to explore and check out new things whether that be a new restaurant, shopping or entertainment venue. More importantly, everyone right now is healthy and doing well. So, all things considered we are most thankful for that. Even though it has always been my nature to be cynical and negative, as I have one of those “glass half-empty” personalities, remarkably, I’ve been complaining a lot less. It’s not that I’ve given up complaining, I just don’t find as many reasons to do so. Most of the more egregious reasons for my complaining have been removed. Also, my wife, thankfully, has continued to be the optimist and has always been more upbeat about most things. At times, I find myself having to tell her to “dial it down” a notch. I will say she is exceptionally happy to be living down here and tends to get overly enthusiastic and carried away at times when telling others about how great her new southern life-style is. Consequently, I’ve started to refer to our NC home as “Polyannaville.” In any event, considering some of the hardship stories and health issues I’ve heard about from friends back “North,” and, in consideration of what has been going on in this country and around the world, I should be dancing doing “jazz hands.”

February 11th, 2012 | #

cherie says

Thanks, Artie, for your entertaining as well as illuminating comments! We are making our first foray into NC in May by attending a workshop at U of NC at Asheville called Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend. We plan to make a trip over to the area around Charlotte and RDU so we’ll check out Cary. Not quite sure how I feel about the over 55 communities but you make a good argument in their favor!

February 11th, 2012 | #

Bill Yoder says

Cherie,
I tried finding the course you are attending at UNC, and could not find it. Can you provide any info on where to find out more about it? We will be in the area in late May and this might be something we would like to attend.

February 12th, 2012 | #

Victoria says

Interesting information. Thanks for the heads up…..and for those that need the link it’s: http://ncccr.unca.edu/creative-retirement-exploration-weekend

February 12th, 2012 | #

cherie says

Maybe we’ll see you all there! We’ll be the extremely good-looking ones! (with the strange senses of humor)

February 13th, 2012 | #

LOU says

HOW MUCH IS TAXED ON OUT OF STATE (MUNICIPAL) PENSIONS IN SC, NC, AND FLORIDA?

February 13th, 2012 | #

Linda L says

Artie,
Thank you for your very interesting information about NC and Cary. We are native North Carolians and really love it. However, after living in Charlotte for forty six years we felt we needed a change for many reasons. It is a lovely city but has changed over the years into a more urban area and with that brings much more traffic and congestion. Colder weather in winter for the past years ( with the exception of this year) has been a factor. Also,senior activities are not that plentiful unless you live in a 55 community. Developers are working on that and it will be better in the years to come. However, we are already in the retirement years and find we need services now rather than waiting for them to come. We were downsizing from a larger home and looked for a smaller home only to find they are so far away from the city. We do not want to be isolated in a surburan neighborhood and after careful research we decided we needed to look elsewhere. We do know both states and have traveled around looking. We have gone to Florida and have a home there but have decided we do not want to live there year round and want to have just one home. We are planning to come to Cary in May to explore. We have looked at CP and know the Del Webb in SC. We liked the layout of SC but not the location. Services are not there yet and again we do not want to wait for them to come. They have been planned but the economic situation has halted the progress. We have children and grands in the Triangle area and feel it may work for us.The medical is great. However, I am wondering if you or anyone else know anything about the Pinehurst area? It is about an hour away from Raleigh and a quieter lifestyle. It seems charming but do not know the negatives. Does anyone know anything about it or has anyone lived there? My husband is older and we really need to get settled. We thought florida was it and we love the weather but it is not a fit. Thank you all for your help.
Linda L.

March 26th, 2012 | #

MKB says

We are close to buying a place around the Sarasota area but is the weather really way too hot to live on the West Coast. I don’t want to be confined inside for 5 months of the year. Any helpful suggestions or a better place to look that is not as humid in hot on the West Coast would be appreciated. Thanks.

March 27th, 2012 | #

Lacy says

MKB, My brother & niece live in the Sarasota area. We go to visit now & then. I think it’s hotter than the east coast of Fl where I live, but I am walking distance from the ocean & my brother is more inland. Sarasota seems to have so much more traffic than we do as well. Yet it is a pretty place & people are friendly enough. Anywhere in FL you will have humidity & heat, but the closer to water you are usually is about 10 degrees cooler. But then you have to be aware of hurricanes if on the coast. At least you know they are coming and can prepare & evacuate where as with tornadoes you usually don’t have much chance to get to safety.

March 27th, 2012 | #

Lane says

Wilmington NC. I lived in Wilmington NC. I was still working and moved there for a job. I did not find the people very friendly. If you find a niche group with like-minded people, it has nice weather and great water access with Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, etc. The city itself has an interesting history and the Cape Fear River area has fun, free events

I think if you move to an active adult community, you might find it more friendly. Retired executive tend to stick together in gated communities (not necessarily active adult) and seem very happy. I do not have experience with any of the active adult communities.

But the retired folks that I met eventually moved with one exception (who had relatives there before they retired).

June 4th, 2012 | #

Skip says

Hey Folks,

Can anyone tell me about retirement in Georgia by the coast? There does not seem to be any resonable priced retirement communities. Looking in the low $100,000 price range for a 2 bed 2 bath.

Skip and Barb

July 31st, 2012 | #

Jan Cullinane says

Have you checked out St. Marys, Georgia? Small town living on the water, about 35 minutes north of Jacksonville, Florida (the Mayo Clinic is in Jacksonville), and 30 minutes south of Brunswick, Georgia. Although not a “retirement community” per se, many retirees relocate there.

Jan Cullinane
The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life
The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

August 1st, 2012 | #

Linda L says

Rich,
We have done considerable research and seem to be leaning toward the Chapel Hill/Pittsboro area of NC. It sounds like you are really happy in the Chapel Hill area. Are you in a 55+community and can you recommend it? Thanks so much.
Linda L

August 1st, 2012 | #

Nancy says

In terms of communities in NC, I have lived in Greenville, NC for over 20 years. It is an active college town with a first rate medical facility… In fact, Im a nurse at Vidant Medical Center. Cost of living is very reasonable and below the average of the NC cities. Greenville is 70 miles from the coast. If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck in NC this would be a community to consider.

August 2nd, 2012 | #

Ilene says

Never written before & have followed you for years. Have favored Cary, NC but have been held in place by family. Now I’m 70, my husband 80 – have very little family left. Son & family live 6 hours away. Feel life is passing us by & don’t know if we have the ability to catch up

August 3rd, 2012 | #

Susan says

Ilene, I was kinda sad when I read your comment today. I live in NC since 93 when I left Florida from 75 to 93. Started out in NY. I am 63 today! and I always figure that by the time I am 70, I can get outta here. I live 15 minutes from Cary, where by the way I lived from 93 to 97 and now I live in unincorporated Wake County (Fuquay Varina address). This is a good area, the Triangle if you are going to raise kids, or your kids or here with your grandchildren. Other than that it is no place for retirees. Don’t get me wrong, house prices are stable, but it’s very hot here in Central NC. Where do you live now?

“Old age is no place for sissies.” Bette Davis

That is what I keep telling everyone!

August 3rd, 2012 | #

Linda Hammond says

Ilene and Susan,
I am writing about your postings of August 2nd and 3rd. Susan, Happy Birthday!
We are orginally from North Carolina and have moved to Florida to a community that we thought would keep us both active and looking forward to the remaining years. However, we miss North Carolina so much and have decided to move back. We know the state very well but is a different situation to determine sctive living for retirees. North Carolina has become the most popular state for retirees but the developers have not built enough communities to keep up with the people moving. They are now doing that but we need the facilities now. We are from Charlotte. We have looked in the Cary,Chapel Hill,Raliegh area and have researched all those small towns and as you say Susan, they are very nice but seem to be family oriented. We have looked and visited many times to Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, seven miles from Chapel Hill. It is a lovely community with many clubs, and other advantages. Also Duke medical on site. It is not a 55+ community but it pretty close to it. It is in chatham county with much lower taxes and Duke has a life long learning program that is excellent. There are many other postives for living in the area. I will say that we am still searching all of North Carolina before we make our decision. Ilene, I am 70 and my husband is 82. We have no family left except our children and grands. They are in NC and are all very busy with thier own families so we look to people in the 55+ age group for our friends and relationships. Sometime I feel that time is passing us by although I do have a postive outlook that we must and will find the right place this time. Therefore, I am still and have researched every possible way to see everything available in NC. Susan, we are coming to your area in early September and I will be happy to meet with you to tell you about all my research or if you like I will send my email and phone number so we can talk. Ilene, just because you and your husband are in the ages you are, do not feel that you have to be stuck where you are. If you would like to talk or email let me know and I will be happy to. Send your email or phone number. We hopefully can all feel that age is just a number and we can still get on out there and live and have great fun with each other. ( sorry this is so long)
Linda

August 4th, 2012 | #

Boy Ben says

Before you consider anything, check the crime stats and those hidden costs.

August 6th, 2012 | #

barbara says

Does anyone have an insite on Hickory nc..We are heading to Asheville to look around and just came across Hickory about an hour away.

August 7th, 2012 | #

Lynda says

Hi…I have recently decided to relocate from Lynchburg Va to to the coast of either NC or SC. I am single and pushing retirement age. Does anyone have any advice on which town or city is best for over 55 and is single friendly??

Thanks!!

August 20th, 2012 | #

Alex says

Can anyone tell me whether Asheville’s Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend in May is worth signing up for? What did you learn? Thanks.

August 21st, 2012 | #

Mike A says

Barbara, please share your impressions of Asheville and hickory for that matter. As I live abroad (in Argentina ) I need to depend on the community for hints to good retirement spots for when I make the move back home.

August 22nd, 2012 | #

barbara says

Mike A…We are going to Asheville in Sept to start looking around. We have already spoken to a realtor to take us around,,If you check out ashevillerealestate.com there is a large variety of housing. I’ll update when i get back.

August 23rd, 2012 | #

Maggie says

Alex, I attended the last CREW weekend. It was very well done and I think you’ll get a good sense of what to look for when relocating for retirement in Asheville or elsewhere. On Sat night they assigned local people who had relocated to Asheville and are involved with the program to have dinner with small groups of CREW attendees in downtown Asheville restaurants. This was a great opportunity to see the night life in the downtown area and to learn about their experiences during the relocation process and how they liked living in Asheville. We joked about them “drinking the Kool-Aid” because everyone raved about Asheville. On Sunday afternoon local realtors were assigned to CREW members to take them to see different local and surrounding Asheville areas. That was a good opportunity to ask the realtors questions about the area.
All in all, I found the CREW weekend to be well worth my time and money.

August 24th, 2012 | #

Alexc says

Thanks, Maggie

August 25th, 2012 | #

Kay says

Maggie – I’m interested in attending this conference in Asheville. Did they provide you w/a list of hotels or how did that work? How about the additional cost of lodging?

August 25th, 2012 | #

Maggie says

Hi Michelle, The costs for lodging was extra but they did provide the names of hotels that would give discounted rates for CREW participants. The website for the weekend is: http://ncccr.unca.edu/creative-retirement-exploration-weekend and the person in charge is Michelle Rogers mrogers@unca.edu . She is very helpful and can provide you with all the details.

August 26th, 2012 | #

Karen M says

Good Morning. I am a widow of 13 years and will be reaching the 70 mark very soon. I seem to be stuck in my decision process and am all over the board. The most difficult part is finding an area friendly to singles. Everything and everyone seems to come in pairs. I sold my house after my husband passed and bought a smaller one in a community of mostly families and felt very out of place. Now renting an apartment and desperately looking to settle in and get on with life. I have narrowed my search down to NC, VA, TN. It was all over the place before, trust me! This is nothing. Not necessarily looking for over 55 per se, however areas 55 & over friendly i.e. medical, artistic, educational, activities, etc. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’m currently living in the “state of confusion”. Actually, I have lived in MD all my life, however with all the taxes etc. I find it impossible to stay. Thanks…..

August 26th, 2012 | #

cherie says

To Alex, Kay & Karen too, I also attended the last CREW conference in Asheville and we agree 100% with Maggie. It was very informational & especially helpful in getting partners to talk with each other and others in similar situations. There were a number of singles who attended also and felt the weekend was very beneficial. We of course fell under the spell of Asheville and we are planning a full month there early next year. One week felt too much like being a tourist and a month will help us feel more a part of the community. Don’t worry too much about that ‘state of confusion.’ We are all there to some degree!

August 26th, 2012 | #

Susan Y says

This is my first time writing on this site but after seeing Karen M’s statement about being a widow and looking for a place that is single friendly I’d like to know if anyone knows about the Pawley Island, SC 55 + communities like Heritage, Pawleys Plantation, River Club or others in that area. Are there singles in these communities?

August 27th, 2012 | #

LFremont says

Cherie’s comment about staying somewhere for a month to get a better feeling for it is a really good one. I have a number of places I’d like to visit but the cost would turn out to be really large. The problem is, I haven’t figured out the most economical way of handling a stay of this length. Can anyone share with me how they might have done it in the past?

August 27th, 2012 | #

Vickie says

To Karen, I understand your situation. I am not a widow but have been looking everywhere for a good retirement location. We currently live in Maryland as well and plan on leaving due to taxes. Our retirement target date is 5 yrs from now and plan to put our house on the market in 3. So far NC seems the right fit but recently we have been thinking of the Villages in FL. My husband wants us to be around lots of people so we can make friends and also lots of activities. We are planning to visit there and check it out next spring as well as a visit to coastal NC. Just wanted you to know your not alone.

August 27th, 2012 | #

cherie says

To LFremont regarding affording a month’s stay to better acquaint yourself with a community. We have always found the web site VRBO, vacation rentals by owner, quite helpful. Traveling in an off season is another cost saver plus it gives you the opportunity to be in a location when it is not the prime weather conditions. If you belong to a church, you might check in with the churches in the area of interest. My church runs an out-of-town B&B type system where you can find a family willing to rent part of their home to you for a reasonable rate and the money, or a portion of it, is donated to the local congregation. Trip Advisor is another useful web site with monthly rates for home rentals.

August 27th, 2012 | #

Locobill says

To LFremont…cherie is right about checking out Vrbo.com. We are using it to stay in Orlando for January (high season) and Myrtle Beach, (low season) for February. We are escaping the cold NW Indiana winter, and exploring two places for relo. You can get all kinds of places to rent, and usually, by the monthh is more reasonable, especially in low season. We are even taking our dog!

August 28th, 2012 | #

Jan Cullinane says

Home exchanges are another way to try out a place; http://www.homeaway.com, for example. If you’re willing to reciprocate and don’t want to pay, you could try wwww.globalfreeloaders.com.

Jan Cullinane
AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons)
The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

August 28th, 2012 | #

doug0613 says

Value Place – http://www.valueplace.com/

August 28th, 2012 | #

doug0613 says

Hotpads is pretty good for rentals too – http://hotpads.com/

August 28th, 2012 | #

SUSAN says

Retirement is highly overated unless you have unlimited funds. We retired to Texas..San Antonio as the weather was everything we had hoped…warm, dry plenty of healthcare, and a large enough city to have lots to offer…so we thought. Many states that have suffered massive influx of yankees are ill prepared for the rapid expansion, the roads and traffic here are absolutely terrible, rush hour lasts ALL DAY! The healthcare is significant-7 hospitals but most of them are centered in the middle of town…not conveinient to where the growth and building boom is centered. We love to golf and thought there would be an abundance of courses, many were listed in the retirement books and travel books, they are very far apart and expensive. We settled for a home 1/3 rd the size and a small development lot as my husband was tired of taking care of an acre of land. We had no problem with the builder and the house was as expected..the development and city are not. Making friends is difficult in a non retirement community as we have no children to do things in common with our neighbors. Our neighbors all have 1-2 hour commutes and kids to run around on the weekends so we almost NEVER SEE anyone casually in the neighborhood. The weather is awesome here, the locals hate it so most do not come out of their airconditioning all day. I have a neighbor I have not seen once this summer out in her yard. We love our yard to look nice and have spent time adding to the landscape to make our house stand out…no one else on the street has planted even a flower extra from what the builder put in the yard to begin with. It is like living with all apartment dwellers, they pile junk in the garage, mult cars and trucks in the driveways, and dogs in the fenced back yards…we are living in a very nice development and would never have thought that the average homeowner would be so classless, we didn’t think we would have to spend a million dollars to live with educated, cultured polite neighbors…I digress. Bottom line, stay close to your children, family and friends, take an extended vacation to get out of the bad weather and keep the home you already have and love. Unless your children have all moved away from you, relocating is expensive it cost us approx S10,000. (mover, new carlicenses, drivers licenses, new funiture and appliances etc) and may well not be what you were really looking for. You know what Dorothy said was true “what I wanted was always right here in my own backyard!” We always loved the east coast and planned to move to the Pawley’s Island area but the hurricanes and rainy seasons they were having for the past several years before we left changed our minds. We have been back for vacation and still have decided we would not choose a VACATION

August 29th, 2012 | #

SUSAN says

Sorry hit enter before I was done ranting. We would not choose a vacation town, they are what they are…vacation towns, We have been in San Antonio for six years this year, our son is 900 miles away in Nashville, and my Daughter and pending granddaughter are in Arizona on the Apache reservation for her husbands job so we are equal distant from both and will have to stay now that the housing market has tanked and we are still having builders putting up houses as if they cost $1000.00. We are in an area north of town that has had a building boom of over 15,000 houses since we moved in. We will be moving East of the Mississippi as soon as we can, we do love Nashville as well even though it will be more expensive to live there we will have family close. And both my husband and I are back at work, I work full time at a job I love, so now I will be here until I don’t want to work at all as changing jobs is not my idea of a good time, and he works part time at a golf course(expense solved) So real bottom line think long and hard about moving away from everything you have held dear….esp your children and grandchildren! FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH…….

August 29th, 2012 | #

Mike hipschen says

Request retirement info, or where info can be attained, on Florida coastal area from Melbourne to Hollywood

August 29th, 2012 | #

cherie says

I think Susan makes a great argument for the idea of spending more than a weekend or a few days researching a location. Or even worse, researching from the computer. Sometimes the ease of technology is tempting but the heart may have different plans for us! Some of these big developments even have a rent before you buy program so you can get a feel for the community before you cough up your hard-earned savings. While it may not be the most fun-filled vacation, going in the “worst” season may yield the best information. For TX, FL and AZ, that would perhaps be August. For the northern climates, maybe Jan-Feb. Better one lousy sweaty/freezing month than a miserable retirement!

August 29th, 2012 | #

Linda says

We moved to south fl. 2 yrs ago while renting our primary home ion long island. We were in a community with lots of tennis,which we love,however,we discovered that for the most part,people were cliquey and reluctant to socialize outside of their sphere of comfort. bottom line, moved back to long island,lucky to have sold our condo..we are renting in a beautiful new community near the water on the south shore. moving,packing,selling etc was a horror but worth it in the end . Grandchildren r here about22miles west. Anyway be careful what you wish for,

August 29th, 2012 | #

Cora says

I lost my job and home a year ago. At age 64+, I am now looking at low income senior rental apartments, some are government housing here in North Georgia. It has been so depressing. This is NOT how I had planned my retirement! So far, I have been approved for food stamps. I took my SS early, it’s not very much – less than $800 a month. Not enough to pay rent, utilities, car payment & insurance, etc. I have applied for so many jobs in my area, but, so far, no replys. I have been having yard sales every weekend to downsize since I inherited my brother’s belongings when he passed away and I had so much stuff of my own after moving from a big house to a small 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. I have thought about taking in a room-mate, but friends and family tell me that it could be risky. I wish TR would have some articles on how low income seniors could get help. I know there are so many seniors in my situation. Not all of us are able to purchase a home. And, at my age, I would prefer rent. Anyone with any help or suggestions?

August 29th, 2012 | #

Cora says

I forgot to mention one of the low income apartments I am considering is in a small town near Waynesville, NC since I have many family members in that area.

August 29th, 2012 | #

Elaine says

Susan,
Very interesting and good advice for many. I like that you were specific about the weather, health care, traffic, what was important to what you liked and disliked about your neighborhood, etc. This is the kind of info that I look to this list for. I have no children. But I think that what many people “wish for” is a friendly community. I have often seen that in posts. This is especially true for single folks. So many are being careful with what we “wish for”, but it is a very vague and personal thing. It is very hard to judge in a short visit. If your interests are not golf or “popular” retirement interests it is even harder to judge. But this at least gives us a starting place to explore. I wish more people were like you and are specific about what is great about an area and what just doesn’t work for them and why.
Thanks for your posts.

August 30th, 2012 | #

Linda L says

Cora,
Waynesville is a wonderful small town with lots going on. It could make like happier for you go to be near family for support and connect with a senior’s group for friendship. Also, finding a small church of your faith with a senior group can be strong support. Waynesville seems to have “feeling” people that care and that is probably a very good thing for you now. It could prove to be a start over that will be very much to your favor and give you lots of uplifts. Asheville, Hendersonville, Black Mountain and so many other small towns are nearby for fun events. 64 is such a young age and you have a lot of living ahead of you to enjoy. Remember when one door closes another one opens, sometimes even wider. The best of luck and much JOY to you.

August 30th, 2012 | #

KimbeeJeanq says

Linda: I was wondering if you could be more specific as to where exactly in “south Florida” you were located. My husband and I have just returned from our second trip to the Sarasota/Venice area, and looked around Ft. Myers extensively. At this point, we really don’t care too much for the 55+ areas that we saw: too restricted, too far from town, etc. We also heard that the cliquishness in some of those places was a problem. However, moving to a “regular” area doesn’t help much in meeting folks around your own age and making friends. Could you advise? MANY THANKS!

August 30th, 2012 | #

toni says

Kimbee-Jeanq….did you look at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers? It is a 55+ community with a good HOA that is not overly restrictive. We moved here in April and are building a home in Pelican. The grounds are just beautiful and the amenities are wonderful. We are finding people very friendly and depending on what activities you involve yourself in, you quickly get to know people and make new friends. We are about 35 minutes from Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel Island and there are all the stores, places to go within 15-20 minutes of the community.

August 31st, 2012 | #

Kimbee Jeanq says

Toni, thank you! We had tried to check out Pelican Preserve when we were there in April and the office was closed…and we did not get there this last trip. I am really sorry that I didn’t check it out again, but we are going back in late fall/early winter so we certainly will do so! It’s nice to know that someone who actually is going to live there recommends it for friendly people and good amenities, and a reasonable HOA. The combination of those three factors is not easy to find. Thanks again; I do appreciate your input!

September 1st, 2012 | #

Elaine says

On another blog someone mentioned Pinehurst NC as a good retirement option. I looked online and it looks very interesting. Does anyone else have experience living there? I would enjoy reading some feedback.

Would also like feedback from those who have experience in SC near the Charlotte NC border.

How about Greenville SC? I like what I have read about Greenville.

October 15th, 2013 | #

Joe G says

We spent last week in Greenville, SC, and found that it moved to the top of our list (more checking to do!) for retirement from the Dallas area. Beautiful area, wonderful downtown, quite affordable home prices. Much outdoor exercise/activity choices; fit, friendly residents; shopping prices comparable to our area. We are impressed!

October 16th, 2013 | #

EJ says

I have been looking at NC also. What about Greenville, SC attracts you Elaine? I was looking at Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Burlington, Raleigh all in NC. Undecided that’s for sure. Need affordable option. Any ideas would be welcomed.
Thanks.

October 16th, 2013 | #

Maureen says

Elaine, My husband & I visited Greenville SC this past July. We really enjoyed it but want to let you know most of our time was spent in the downtown Main Street neighborhood. Greenville’s Main Street is just beautiful, second to none IMO. We walked & walked passing by innumerable shops & all kinds of restaurants, there is something for everyone . We got to see The Peace Ctr for the Performing Arts (the Jersey Boys were playing @ the time), we took a look at Fluor Field which looked really neat then walked through right thru Falls Park. Although it was July & it was hot & humid we thoroughly enjoyed every minute. In my experience, Greenville is a lively, vibrant beautiful walkable city. I would highly recommend it. Also, I have relatives that live 20 minutes south of Charlotte, NC. They live in a lovely town called Tega Cay, SC. It’s on Lake Wylie, another beautiful town. If u have any questions I would be happy to answer them. I hope this helps.

October 16th, 2013 | #

Bill says

Just an addition to what Maureen said about Greenville. If you sign up for alerts on Trulia for Greenville, you will see that real estate prices for much of the surrounding is very reasonable.

October 17th, 2013 | #

Elaine says

Thanks Maureen and Bill for info on Greenville, SC. I did drive through once about a year ago and took a short break to walk and get something to eat on Main Street. I keep thinking that I should go back and spend some time there. It is not the typical southern city.

October 17th, 2013 | #

Mark says

In July of 2013 my wife and I planned a vacation that took us through South Carolina, North Carolina and into Tennessee. While in Tennessee, we traveled from Mountain City to Ducktown, no interstates just the smaller highways and by-ways of Eastern Tennessee looking for a place to retire. While in South Carolina, Greenville was a community that we had no intention of visiting. But once in town it was a pleasant surprise, we found the residents to be very friendly, business’s accommodating and the mountains and countryside beautiful. I had never realized that western South Carolina’s Upcountry was as beautiful as it was. Then while looking into the price of real estate for a home with acreage, it is very comparable to the areas in Tennessee we visited and considered moving to. Even though Eastern Tennessee was our initial focus, that visit to the area surrounding Greenville, has made us consider it as a place to relocate to.

October 18th, 2013 | #

Moving South says

Re: Greenville, S.C.
My notes say “hot and humid” in summer. Is this true? It looks farther
west on the map. Also, is it on a lake?
Thanks for past and future information.

October 18th, 2013 | #

Mark P says

I grew up in New England and have pretty much accepted the fact that the entire east coast and Gulf States are off my list because of the humidity. It is really difficult to escape it in those areas. There are some many nice places in Georgia and Alabama too, but the humidity nixes it for us.

October 19th, 2013 | #

Maureen says

Moving South: Regarding Greenville, SC weather, it was hot & humid for the few days I was there this past July. It was, however, not unbearable. For better information I would google Greenville year round weather. Prior to Greenville SC my husband & I visited Sun City in Bluffton, SC and Savannah, Ga. It was REALLY hot & humid there, although both are beautiful places to visit.

October 20th, 2013 | #

Dan says

Has anyone compared the Savannah, GA area to South Carolina for retirement? We have in particular been looking at The Landings on Skidway Island.

October 21st, 2013 | #

Linda says

Elaine,
We have been doing a lot of reserach on Pinehurst and the area and are impressed with what we have found as well as finding the people friendly. We are North Carolina natives and have been to the area many times over the years and have attended allof the golf opens. We believe we have seen the area in many different situations to get a better view.We have talked with many people to ask how they like it and have had great reviews. I have a lot of information and will be getting more when we visit in the next week or so to look at homes. If I can send you information or anything that will be helpful let me know how to get in touch with you.

October 21st, 2013 | #

Mary Konwinski says

Linda, I would love some information on Pinehurst as well. I am about 2 years away from retirement and have started doing some research. How can we connect?

October 22nd, 2013 | #

Stephen says

My Wife and I are also very interested in ‘The Landings’ on Skid way Island … the amenities seem perfect for an active couple in retirement however we are concerned with the membership fees and cost of living … can anyone comment??

October 22nd, 2013 | #

Richard says

Stephen,

I ruled the “Landings” out after seeing their mandatory membership fees and ongoing costs. Didn’t like the Savannah area as much as Pawleys Island.

October 22nd, 2013 | #

EJ says

Linda,
I would appreciate info on North Carolina.
Email me at InParaFL@aol.com please.
Many thanks.

October 22nd, 2013 | #

LisaJ says

Linda- I would love infor on N Carolina too! Thanks so much!

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Mary says

Linda, my email is mgk48@verizon.net. Thanks so much!

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Steve says

Brunswick Forest—I have been reading the many posts here and wondering about Brunswick Forest in Leland (Wilmington) NC—It seems to be a fast growing community and on paper, it looks quite nice—Anyone have any experiences to share??

October 23rd, 2013 | #

SueC says

I will be retiring in the next two years and love horses. Based on research Aiken, SC is the hub of equestrian activity. Are there folks out there that can share more input about Aiken and the surrounding area? Also, I am looking in the Colorado and Montana area as I love the west -> open spaces, snow. Again, anybody that has some input around those two states regarding horse friendly towns that would be great. My goal is to buy a place where I can saddle up and go for a nice long ride. All feedback welcome…

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Elaine says

Linda, I am the Elaine that exchanged emails with you on another blog about relocating new family. And yes, I am interested in more info. I expect to make a quite trip down that why…not really exploring the area, but just to see a few areas to decide if they are even worth exploring. One thing I would like to know know is if you are just looking at the community or active adult communities and any nice areas either in Pinehurst or any specific active adult or other planned communities. When I am closer to making a quite trip I may have more questions. You can email me directly at easper@umw.edu or I will also keep looking on this blog. I know I do not want Wilmington, NC since I lived there. I did like living in Chapel Hill, but do not think that is on my list for retirement. I will also look at the Charlotte area, but maybe South Carolina side of Charlotte. I think you mentioned that you did not like the traffic and congestion in the Dharlotte area.

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Elaine says

Oops that was a quick trip…lol

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Connie says

Thinking of relocating to South Carolina up around the York area. Last of our kids are leaving Ohio and we won’t have anyone here. I know I’ve read that you shouldn’t follow your kids but it will be hard not to have anyone around. Can anyone give me info on towns around York? I’ve read where it’s cheaper in SC than North so I’d appreciate any input I can get.. Thanks so much.

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Sharon says

Elaine: Can you tell us what you didn’t like about Wilmington, based on living there? Theoretically it’s in a great location on the map, and I know I’ve seen it on “best places to retire” lists over the years.

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Elaine says

Sharon, I did not find the people friendly. I was working and a member of my main interest club so I did have a social life, but made very few “real” friends there. I have moved for work many times and lived in 8 states and usually made friends relatively easily, but not in Wilmington. Since then there is a planned community across the Cape Fear River in Leland (Brunswick Forest?) that may help for those new to the area. It looks nice on paper. I also did not like the long stem drive to go elsewhere for events, etc. If you have much more money than I do, you might enjoy Landfall. I really did like the little airport. To be fair, I am very fair and cannot spend all day on a boat or on the beach.
PS I did like Chapel Hill, NC when I worked there, And I like NC and may consider it for retirement.

October 23rd, 2013 | #

Michael AK says

I am considering transferring to an office in the Ballantyne Area of North Carolina (just south of 485). If I do so, I will be working there until I retire. I was considering moving to Fort Mill or Rock Hill in South Carolina, which would server as home for the next 10 years and then my home to retire. Does anyone have experience living in these areas? or can recommend another area in South Carolina that would be a maximum of 20 minutes from Ballantyne. Thank you.

October 29th, 2013 | #

Sharon says

Michael AK – I’m contemplating a relocation to Charlotte within six months or so, with a potential retirement in a 2-6 year timeframe. I am hoping you get lots of answers! I’ve been told by people in our Charlotte office that I should look at South Carolina to get significant real estate tax savings. Rock Hill is the area that seems to come up the most in my conversations with people in our Charlotte office, and I see there is a Del Web community there. I’ve been to the Ballantyne area several times on business, and it’s very attractive. Good luck – maybe our moving trucks will pass each other on the way to the Carolinas!

October 30th, 2013 | #

Larry says

Steve, I have visited and reviewed Brunswick Forest in Leland, NC. It is about the best organized community I know (and I have been through more than 150 in the southeast). The owners have deep pockets, all the amenities were in from the beginning, the golf course is one of the best on the east coast (reasonable annual dues) and baby boomers are beating a path to their door. My real estate professional in Brunswick County tells me they sold 55 properties in BF last month. As golf communities go, it is as close to a sure thing as you can get, and you can’t beat the proximity to shopping, medical, and downtown Wilmington. The only thing it is missing is a beach nearby; it is about a half hour to Wrightsville Beach. Happy to provide more info or put you in touch with my Realtor in Brunswick County (by the way, other nice options in the area at prices below BF (although it is well priced and loaded with value) and above.

October 30th, 2013 | #

Larry says

I note in some of the posts here an obsession with tax rates. I have worked with some folks to help find them homes in the southern U.S. and they insist on looking in Alabama, Florida and Tennessee because those states have no income taxes. After some back and forth, I come to find out that their retirement incomes are such that they shouldn’t worry at all about income tax rates. The concern for everyone except the millionaires among us should be total cost of living, not just taxes. In the last couple of days, there has been some dialogue here about comparable property taxes in Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, about 20 minutes or so apart. The overall cost of living in Charlotte compared with Rock Hill is 3% higher. (Source: BestPlaces.net) Now if you spend $100,000 a year, that $3,000 difference could be meaningful, but if you put a value on living close to the city — say in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte — then the differences are negligible. I counsel my customers not to get too deep in the heart of taxes. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

October 30th, 2013 | #

Ted says

Larry: I doubt a lot of people are going to be living on $100,000 per year in retirement, especially since only 50% of families in the US earn over $100,000 during their working years. I will pay cash for a retirement home. After that, I’ll be living on my savings, 401K withdrawals and SS. Differences in real estate taxes, income tax, insurance, HOA fees and utilities will mean a lot to me in retirement since these expenses have the potential to significantly reduce the money I have available each month. I bet the majority of people are in the same boat and are also looking for lowest cost of living and highest quality of life to get the biggest bang for their bucks. If the net cost of living in S. Carolina is $1,000 less than No. Carolina for equivalent housing, that could be important information for some of us.

October 31st, 2013 | #

Larry says

Ted, I am using the same sources as you are to live in retirement. I used the exaggerated $100,000 to make the point that even at that large number, the cost of living difference between, say, Rock Hill (SC) and Charlotte (NC) is not that much, and that for folks with specific lifestyle needs or interests (need to be near a hospital with special care, e.g.), the extra cost may be justified. I agree with you that we all look for “lowest cost of living and highest quality of life”; but sometimes the high quality of life side of the equation comes with an extra cost. I’ve visited some very remote areas of South Carolina, for example, where taxes and other costs of living are much lower than elsewhere. That will be okay for those who prefer to live in the “middle of nowhere,” but most of us would like to be near a few restaurants, a university, quality healthcare and a movie theater.

October 31st, 2013 | #

Marilyn says

Good point Larry. We began looking at areas by comparing tax rates and quickly changed our planning when I computed the cost of living with elec, gas, water, insurance, etc.

October 31st, 2013 | #

Ted says

Yup, I absolutely agree that living in the middle of nowhere affects quality of life and probably wouldn’t appeal to many retirees. It gets trickier when you’re talking about somewhere like Charlotte, where you can have access to Charlotte’s amenities from both North Carolina and South Carolina.

October 31st, 2013 | #

Herbert Hodes says

Larry, Does Brunswick Forest have any age restrictions?
Do non-golfers pay the same HOA fees?

November 1st, 2013 | #

Kathy C says

It is really important to look at the total cost of living not just tax rates. We basically looked at taxes but not some other issues before we moved to the Charlerston area. My water bill is about 3 times what it was in Michigan but so far gas and electric have been less even with running the ac nonstop until recently. I feel like the cost of food is more, had sticker shock in the grocery stores. There is also a personal property tax on cars, boats, etc. You pay it every year based on the value with a maximum of $300 in our county. Our property taxes will be much less but most areas have higher sales tax to make up the difference. That all being said, would I still have moved here? Yes!

November 1st, 2013 | #

Skip says

Larry regarding Brunswick Forest the community sounds nice but the prices are quite high for the homes or townhouse. $150,000 is the top of my price range. Looking at the Myrtle Beach area the prices and inventory are more in line with our budget.

November 1st, 2013 | #

Larry says

Skip, you are correct, Myrtle Beach will offer much more in that price range. Across Highway 17 from Brunswick Forest is a somewhat older golf community called Magnolia Greens. I note that they have condos beginning at $149,000 if you prefer the Leland area to Myrtle Beach (parts of the latter are a little more hectic than outside Wilmington). Ted, we agree that the Charlotte suburbs do extend to SC. I was just making a general (perhaps exaggerated) point about there being some “value” in lifestyle consideration that, for some, could be worth paying a little extra in taxes.

November 1st, 2013 | #

EJ says

:roll: I am still in a quandary as to where to go and how to find the affordable housing for the remainder of my days. I prefer the Carolinas, but not in the middle of no where and not in the middle of the urban hubbub!
I enjoy participating in music organizations as a vocalist and instrumentalist. I thrive on spectator sports, esp baseball and motor sports. I am alone, well educated, active, love travel, photography and my 8 “grands”. Needing to come East again from the West. Again, any and all of your suggestions and shared experiences will be most appreciated. I can read them here or at inparafl@aol.com.

November 1st, 2013 | #

Maureen says

Skip, I too am looking in the same general price range as you. Have you looked at Fort Mill, S.C. It’s 20 minutes south of Charlotte & the prices & property taxes are reasonable for condos. You might want to look up the Fieldstone and Waterstone communities there & see if they appeal to you. Baxter Village has some reasonably priced condos. Also, there is a 55 & over community in Fort Mill called Gold Hill. It’s small but nice & sometimes list condos for 159,000. I have relatives that live in the area of Fort Mill so I am somewhat familiar. Best of luck in your search.

November 2nd, 2013 | #

emoejo95 says

Steve, My husband and I moved to Brunswick Forest from CT in May. We spent 5 months looking around NC and SC for a community that met our criteria. We did not want +55 but we did want amenities and a vibrant, growing community. BF was one of the few that met our criteria. As Larry said the amenities are some of the best we saw during our search. The website has a full list of amenities and information about the community. We did find that the prices for homes in BF are above average for the area. Most of the people moving here are from NJ, NY, PA, and New England.
It is a large community. I think at full build out it will have 10,000 homes-right now it’s at 1,100 and building is booming. However, the community is divided into smaller neighborhoods so it still has a smaller feel within the actual neighborhoods. Most of the people you speak with who live here, love it. We have not found it to be too ‘clicky’ for the most part. People are eager to meet each other and are very friendly. However, we have never felt pressured to join in when we don’t want to.
Leland is also growing fast and there are grocery stores, drug stores, a Walmart and other stores in town to meet daily needs but there aren’t a lot of choices for restaurants and activities. However, Wilmington has TONS of restaurants and the cultural scene is pretty good. You can’t compare it to NY but it holds its own compared to small cities. The one thing my husband struggles with is the traffic and red lights. You need to be patient when driving into and around Wilmington. There is a lot going on in the area as far as road improvements and new road construction.
As far as cost of living, we aren’t really sure if we ended up better off than we were in CT. Some things are less (taxes, etc.) but other things are more or the same (food, water bill). Not sure what else you would like to know but if I’d be happy to try and answer any other questions you have concerning BF. Good luck with your search!

November 2nd, 2013 | #

Skip says

Maureen /Larry thank you both for your suggestions I will be checking out the areas you both suggested. For our money and lifestyle SC seems to offer everything we need for a happy retirement.

November 2nd, 2013 | #

Countess says

SueC – my husband and I visited Aiken recently (Woodside Plantation) It is a fantastic town with lots to offer: restaurants, shops, equestrian activities, community involvement, the arts – we loved it. Only downside was that the beach is 2 1/2 hrs. away. Anyone have an opinion on St. James Plantation?

November 8th, 2013 | #

SandyZ says

Countess, we also looked at Aiken and also thought Woodside Plantation to be a wonderful community. But the distance from the ocean ruled it out for us as well, as we have lived on the coast in New England our entire lives. Just could not give up the beach walks! We ended up after a few years of searching and visiting coastal communities in Florida and SC, purchasing property in Beaufort SC on Dataw Island. We found the town of Beaufort to be just as charming – if not more – than Aiken. Many restaurants, activities, festivals and arts events – a campus of USC is located there. We found Dataw Island based on a friend’s recommendation, and it is a perfect fit for us- gated, lots of amenities and clubs to meet people through, an active pub and clubhouse, golf courses, a marina for boating or kayaking, and a national seashore park just down the road. More water in this area of the LowCountry than we could have imagined! So we are super excited to be planning our retirement home there, and you might want to check it out online if the coast is where you want to be!

November 9th, 2013 | #

Dick says

Countess, I have not been to St. James Plantation but live in Wilmington which is a little over 1/2 hour away. I would tell you that if you want to live “out there”, it is OK but you need to travel to Wilmington for most things. Southport is a nice town but is more of a tourist place. You might want to consider Brunswick Forest in Leland, just over the river from Wilmington. You have a sense of community there and it is just a hop, step and a jump from Wilmington.

November 9th, 2013 | #

Jim says

Any opinions on Tennessee for retirement?

November 9th, 2013 | #

LisaJ says

Jim-what are you looking for in TN?

November 10th, 2013 | #

tgb says

Jim, in response to your question about TN. We lived in TN for 15 yrs in Franklin and unless you have “kin” you’re not truly accepted or included. I could give you a litney of situatins that we tried to get social events going and invited a number of people for different ocassions and to our astonishment the rudness of not either coming or rsvping was an eye-opener. We were very glad to leave TN. Don’t know where you’re from but if you’re not from the south it’s very discouraging. Southern hospitality is a myth. There are, of course, in retirment communities groups of residence from other parts of the country and in our opinion it’s well worth checking that out. Sometimes the cost of living somewhere is not worth the area. We would never consider TN for retirement. Just passing on our experiences.

November 10th, 2013 | #

Barbara says

Countess, this spring my husband and I toured St James Plantation, along with many of the large communities in the area in N.C. We crossed St James off our list for a few reasons, even though the houses and landscape is very impressive, I did not get a neighborhood feel. It is a big golfers community and we don’t golf. Also there are different price memberships you must pay for for golfing or pool and fitness they are not included in the hoa fees. The last reason is there really is not much around there as far as stores or restaurants. We are from long Island and did not want to have to drive 30 miles to go to certain stores or restaurants. We bought a house in Brunswick Forest which has many choices as far as housing, all the amenities are included, and we have endless choices of what to do in the area, since Wilmington is just a few miles away. We do have our own village with brand new food store, pharmacy, restaurants too!

November 10th, 2013 | #

hotcguy says

SandyZ, I have been impressed with Dataw Island on my two visits there, but I think it may be a bit misleading to reference a national seashore park “just down the road” if you mean Hunting Island State Park, which is 22 minutes away (I do not believe there is a beach any closer than that but am willing to be corrected). If beach walks are high on folks’ lists, there are more convenient options up and down the Carolinas coasts…Amen to those who liked Aiken and Woodside Plantation. Aiken is what I think of a small, southern town to be, and Woodside is well managed and mature; it seemed to skirt the problems of the recession better than many such communities…Barbara, I am thinking I may have helped you find your home at Brunswick Forest. If so, I am glad things have worked out so well. You had the good sense and taste to buy into the fastest growing golf community on the the east coast the last few years, and whenever I drive by on Highway 17, I am blown away by how much the area outside the community has grown. In terms of convenience to services and shopping, as well as to Wilmington, an interesting town, Brunswick Forest is hard to beat on the coast (except it, too, is a good 20 minutes from a beach).

November 10th, 2013 | #

Jim says

Just wondering overall how it compares to other states for retirement. If anyone has retired in Tennessee, why did they pick Tennessee?

November 10th, 2013 | #

Diane says

Jim -

We have been looking at E. Tennessee for a long time – my husband is a ret. Army officer and in spite of not having any military support, we are going to Tennessee. Yes, there is a 10% sales tax – however there are no state taxes on retirement income, and even though I have from the south, I have lived many places, and the folks in Tennessee are just about as friendly to you as you are to them. Do they accept ‘outsiders’? I am sure that with any one thing in common, there will be friends, and the chances of not having something in common is not likely – be it fishing, bridge, gardening, water sports, church – you will find that if you are accepting, you will be accepted! Conservative political thinking is another plus – since you will find only pockets of liberals in the big cities – and perhaps some college towns, although I just saw that Sewannee, home of the College of the South, is listed a conservative – go figure! I am sure that my husband will seek his own by joining the VFW – although he is pretty much ‘clubbed out’ like I am, however I will join local historical and/or genealogical societies since that is what I am interested in – however I am writing a voluminous family history so will probably not be too involved. For others, the common denominator might be a church, for golfers, they golf… but we just love the clean air of the mountains and are also looking for quality medical care for those with Medicare and that is going to be hard to come by now. I asked my family practice physician what a senior should do, and she suggested settling near a large teaching medical university – and UT is in Knoxville, just a hop, skip and jump from the Smokey Mountains.
Right now I am looking at Sevierville, Maryville, or Townsend where I have found a builder whose work I like… but all I can say is don’t leap without looking! Do your homework, consider what is most important to you, and go for it! My oldest son is appalled that his parents are moving somewhere we don’t know anyone – but for us, it’s ‘our turn’ to live where we want to live since both of us are on the downhill run – ahhh to live in the mountains, and God willing to die there! …
… although I am also looking at the lakes in Georgia and S.C. that form the borders of the states IF I can find something near good medical care and transportation. There is more to do near larger cities and even more in a university or college town… did you know that the UT fans often take their ‘boats’ to the weekend games? Well, UT is on the big, broad Tennessee River, on both sides really with the medical on the south and the academic and vet schools on the north – never even thought about retiring there until we visited one summer on our way back from my 50th high school reunion in Georgia – and even with the tourist crowds we loved it! We went back at Christmas meeting our oldest daughter and two grandsons there, and without the crowds were able to see it more clearly, talk to more locals, and find out that there are many ways to beat the tourist traffic!
Hope I have answered your TN question and will be happy to discuss this with you further at dsanfilippo303@comcast.net

Diane S Sanfilippo
Virginia (charges taxes on military retirement)

November 10th, 2013 | #

SandyZ says

To clarify “Hot Guy” s inquiry about Hunting Island Seashore Park in SC…we clocked it in our car on our last visit as proximity to a beach for walking is a priority to us in our retirement choice. The distance from the gatehouse at Dataw Island is 10.8 miles and 15 minutes. Not a perfectly scientific stat for sure, just our info to share. The island itself is surrounded by tidal waters and Morgan River frontage. So if you are looking for a watery location as we were, we think that you can’t beat the LowCountry! We found it to be a perfect match – and we spent YEARS visiting other locations, even trying inland locations such as Aiken. Just felt like something was missing without seeing water. May not be others’ cup of tea, and that is just fine. Good luck and have fun searching!

November 11th, 2013 | #

Larry says

General comparisons of one state to another are not especially helpful. There are locations in Tennessee that I am sure, for some people, are better than some locations in South Carolina; and there are some locations in SC that, for those same folks, are way better than in Tenn. Asking if NC is a better place to retire than GA, or vice versa, is like asking which is better — a filet mignon or a ribeye. It is all about personal taste, and you won’t learn the answer without tasting for yourself. There is plenty of data available on the web to answer questions about climate, taxes, overall cost of living, and the like; the questions that will yield the most helpful answers are those that ask, for example, if one community is friendlier than another, or if the traffic in one urban area is better or worse than in another, or if a beach 15 minutes away is good enough to get you to drive there frequently. SandyZ, for example, does an excellent job of describing why she loves Dataw; asking about specific communities will always yield more helpful information than asking if State A is a better place to live than State B. (I prefer ribeye, by the way.)

November 11th, 2013 | #

Moving South says

Please just tell me if I am looking for a Utopia that does not exist!
I am looking for an active retirement community so I will have a social life and activities. I would like to be near a lake. And I want a rental. I thought western Carolinas or eastern Tennessee would be cheaper than urban and costal areas, but I have only seen info on large expensive estates. I do not golf or ride horses, but want to swim and watch boating.
Any help appreciated!

November 11th, 2013 | #

Larry says

Moving South, your Utopia seems within reason, but without a price range, it is hard to determine where Utopia might be found. Question: Does your swimming need to be in a lake, or would a nice community pool work? Would you take an attractive river instead of a lake, one beside which you could sit and watch the boats go by (although you might have to drive to the park to do that)? My initial reaction was New Bern, NC, but there certainly are many other places to find your Utopia.

November 11th, 2013 | #

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March 24th, 2014 | #

Elizabeth says

I’m trying to figure out which is the better state as far as benefits. I am a widow and I am receiving benefits for my current state. I’m not sure if SC or NC would be better. Any advice would be appreciated.

March 27th, 2014 | #

Cathy says

Does anyone have any thoughts on Compass Pointe near
Wilmington ?

June 5th, 2014 | #

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[…] article was originally posted as a comment from Artie on our “Dueling Carolinas Comparison” article (where you also find many other helpful comments). He provides so much detail we […]

June 15th, 2014 | #

Sue says

Would love recommendations on reasonably-priced condo living in mountain area near Asheville in which an active single lady would feel welcomed, secure and find plenty to do. Thanks!

June 28th, 2014 | #

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