This 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 thought it would make a great blog article on his own, so with his permission we have done that. We also added some other relevant comments to add even more detail. Thanks Artie!
Originally I thought I was moving to Florida (Jupiter), but here I am in Cary, NC. I can’t speak specifically to the advantages of disadvantages of having chosen NC over SC. But I’m sure my wife and I could have been happy in any number of places in either state.
One Year Later
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, after over 55 years we will always consider Long Island 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.
Triangle Still Tingling
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. 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 in all the time, whether it’s a new shopping center or a new restaurant opening up. We also think Wake Forest, NC is a lovely community. If we didn’t choose to move to Cary, we would have moved to Heritage Wake Forest.
We happened to choose to move to an over 55 “active adult” community (Carolina Preserve) for a variety of reasons (e.g. amount of amenities, activities, low home maintenance, ease of meeting other people in similar circumstances (meaning mostly retired), etc. CP is unique right now in this area but other similar communities are in the works.
The migration to this part of NC, seems to still be coming largely from the Northeast. The area not only attracts retirees, as more young working families with children living and moving into the area. For young people with families this area has to offer a calmer, easier, and more affordable life-style. 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. Cary’s real estate taxes, although considered high 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 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.
Staying Busy at Carolina Preserve
My wife and I have our separate and joint activities. Those include a variety of activities 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 the same people 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, our 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. I also find I have been complaining a lot less – maybe I just don’t find as many reasons to do so. My wife is exceptionally happy to be living down here – she even tends to get overly enthusiastic – 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.”
Where We’ve Been
We covered a lot of ground this year traveling and taking advantage of the activities and places to visit in our adopted state.
Locally in NC:
Bald Head Island
There are many concert and theater venues in the Triangle Are – 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 – Progress Energy Center, Raleigh
Comment from Rob
(This is a reprint of an interesting and relevant comment made by Ralph to the same article)
Hi Ralph, as promised here’s our impressions of a couple of retirement communities we visited in April last year. Best one we saw was Lake Point Landing 828 693-7800 33 Thompson St). It is behind a shopping center that has a large grocery store and many shops. It has independent through assisted living capability. Very new (last 3-5 years?) Several independent homes were for sale by owner. Depending on the home location, many had a view of the mountains (important to us). Very friendly folks at the office. We also looked at Carolina Village (828 233-0602) which is right next door. No mountain views, looked dark with dark brown shingles and siding on all apartments/residences. Looked older. We looked at White oak village (888 821-2934), looks like manufactured homes. Spring harbor is a rehabilitation facility only, no long term residences. We also looked at College Walk (in Brevard 100 N. College Row 800 280-9600 http://www.collegewalkretirement.com) Very nice, much like Lake Point Landing except it is NOT close to shopping like Lake Point. Shopping is in Brevard, but didn’t see any walmart or large shopping center in Brevard. We are going back to look west of Hendersonville in late March. Will also look the other retirement communities we haven’t seen. at Hope this helps.
See also “Which is the Best Carolina for Retirement“, particularly the Comments
Comments: Please share your experiences or questions about living in North Carolina.