Flo’s Carolina Visit Part 2: South Carolina

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States


By Flo Williamson

Part 2 South Carolina (link to Part 1: The Carolinas Revisited – North Carolina)

April 1, 2017 — After an interesting and enlightening visit to coastal North Carolina, we made a bee-line towards Charleston, SC.  As we entered South Carolina, Route 17 took us through the Myrtle Beach area. Myrtle Beach was never on our retirement relocation radar, as it struck us as being too large, sprawling, and “touristy”. The traffic, even in February, bore that out. We passed through the small beach towns of Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, and stopped 35 miles south of Myrtle Beach, in Georgetown.

Georgetown, population 9,000, is a town on the Winyah Bay. It is golf cart friendly. Site of the 2nd largest seaport in SC, Georgetown is also home to an abandoned steel mill and a working paper mill that is located just on the outskirts of the historic district. A massive fire destroyed part of the downtown business and residential district in 2013 and a year later the area was hit with a devastating “thousand year flood”. Undeterred, the community banded together to rebuild, and this year the town was one of 5 finalists for the winner of the “Main Street, Small Business Revolution”, title.

Georgetown harbor courtesy of Wikipedia and Thomson200

Like so many other small towns along the Carolina coasts, water is everywhere, and Georgetown has the riverwalk and open space parks for relaxation and fishing. It is an historic and interesting area, especially for those who like the out of doors. The town has chef-owned restaurants and boutique shopping with larger shopping areas outside of town. Once the playgrounds for wealthy industrialists, nearby former plantations, wildlife refuges, and state forests offer plenty of opportunities for those into camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. The nearest beach on Pawleys Island, with has limited access and amenities, is about 20 minutes away. Huntington Beach State Park, further north near Murrells Inlet, is a favorite with birdwatchers, fishermen, and hikers in addition to beach lovers.

From Georgetown there is scheduled bus service to Myrtle Beach, where the nearest commercial airline service is located. There is a hospital in town. Our concern, as a location for retirement, would be the lack of “big city” amenities, similar to those which could be found in a city the size of Wilmington, NC. Since we’re not big Myrtle Beach fans, I can’t see us going there for anything other than the airport. That means we’re back on the road, RT. 17 south, towards Charleston, 60 miles away.

On to McClellanville
Driving on RT, 17 south of Georgetown, crossing over the forests and swamplands of the Santee River, it’s easy to imagine you’re back in time. The Francis Marion (aka The Swamp Fox) National Forest encompasses 258,864 acres. Most of the forest was destroyed in 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, which inundated this area, and especially our next stop, McClellanville. As Hurricane Hugo approached and then made landfall just off the Charleston coast, McClellanville residents were told to evacuate to the local high school. No one expected a 20 foot storm surge to inundate the building, trapping the evacuees inside. Evacuees scrambled in total darkness to seek higher ground, away from the rising waters, some removing ceiling panels and climbing into the ceiling. Fortunately, the water stopped rising and miraculously no lives were lost. Today, thankfully, other than a commemorative plaque on the now abandoned high school, little remains of the damage done that night.

McClellanville is the quintessential coastal fishing town. Small and sleepy, (pop. 500) in the middle of nowhere, there is one restaurant and a few stores just out of town, but fresh seafood markets are numerous and they are good!! McClellanville is the type of town where you just want to park your car and walk, admiring the beautiful architecture, live oak trees and the ever present water. It is 28 miles north of Mt. Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, where you can find any type of shopping imaginable as well as medical services. McClellanville is not the type of community where you could survive without a car, although, there is scheduled bus service to Mt. Pleasant. We continued our trip down Route 17, which took us through the heart of Charleston, one of our favorite cities. An easy 40 minute trip through Johns Island led us to two resort communities, we had vacationed at several times before, Seabrook and Kiawah Islands.

Faithful traveling companions

The Islands – Seabrook and Kiawah
Being eternal optimists, we often thought of retirement on Seabrook Island. Seabrook is a private residential community and stunningly beautiful. Wide boulevards, draped with Live Oaks and Spanish Moss, waving marsh grasses and meandering tidal creeks, and a beach, pretty much deserted, that embraces the island. There are tons of interesting clubs and organizations, and great amenities. What’s not to love? But, paradise comes with a price. While condos are available on the island for way under $200,000, there is a 7 year mandatory club membership, the least expensive being the community membership with a $12,000 initiation fee (or 5% of the property purchase price, whatever is less) and $334 monthly dues. The club also requires an annual dining minimum. The POA fee is $2021 annually and condos and villas have varying regime fees, some covering flood insurance, some not. If you add on your real estate taxes and additionally needed homeowners insurance, costs can easily exceed $10,000 annually. Some residents look at the low purchase price of the properties as offsetting these costs, while others choose to rent their properties when not in residence.

Next door is Kiawah Island Golf Resort, and that’s Resort with a capital R. This upscale property has two main attractions, Golf and the Beach. Golfers and families flock to this upscale resort year round, staying primarily in the condos and villas that dot the “more public” areas of the island. Condos are pricier here, with some 1 bedrooms begin in the low $200,000s, but there is no mandatory club membership. Club membership is available, but optional. POA fees are similar to Seabrook’s and regime fees can vary. The POA has a pool, community center, beach club, kayak launch and many other amenities. The main difference between the two islands is that Kiawah is a Resort and much more transient. The resort shops, many fine restaurants and some golf courses are open to the public. While this is great for Seabrook residents whose on island dining options are somewhat limited, for those wanting to live in a condo or villa full time, the transient nature of the area may be disconcerting. Those multi million dollar homes you see on TV and in magazines are hidden behind 2nd and 3rd gates!!

Seabrook clubhouse

Between Seabrook and Kiawah lays Fresh Fields Village. This upscale market place offers boutique shopping, banks, a drug store, restaurants and some medical services. Anchoring the village is a Harris Teeter Supermarket, and honestly, one of the best markets I’ve ever been in. A great variety of prepared foods and everyday items, surprisingly, reasonably priced considering it’s toney location. Customer service is super as well. For additional shopping there are small shopping centers about 8-10 miles away with more available on Route 17. For boaters,there is also a marina next door with additional stores and restaurants, but Kiawah and Seabrook are isolated. For several miles you’re on a 2 lane road going to and from the islands, with limited access out of the area. The nearest hospital is 22 miles away. Helicopter air transport is available under contracts with the town of Seabrook Island.

A Great Trip
I can’t wait to return to some of my favorite spots in the Carolinas. It was a great trip that enabled us to definitely investigate some areas further and to rule some locations out. Retirement is a journey, and the hardest part can be deciding, “With so many choices out there, where do I want to be?” For those of you considering the Carolinas, I hope my journey helped.

Thank you Flo! Enjoyed your travelogue.

For further reading:
Part 1: The Carolinas Revisited – North Carolina
SC State Guide
A Short Visit to Kiawah and Seabrook



Posted by Admin on April 1st, 2017

70 Comments »

  1. Has anyone visited John’s Island which is next to Kiawah Island?

    by Vincent — April 2, 2017

  2. Johns Island is the large island you travel through to get to Kiawah and Seabrook. It’s home to farms, shopping areas, and more recently, increasing retail and housing development.

    by Moderator Flo — April 2, 2017

  3. Looking at Kiawah River Estates on Johns Island

    by Vincent — April 3, 2017

  4. Ive heard good things about it. There is an optional membership for Kiawah’s Governs Club that is available at different membership levels. You can also join Seabrook’s more expensive club if you wish.

    by Moderator Flo — April 3, 2017

  5. Hi Flo, wish you had detoured up the road from Myrtle Beach to Conway, SC where we are seriously considering as I would have been interested in your comments. Homes there are affordable, but the traffic in the Myrtle Beach area is a concern. Can anyone else provide comments on the Myrtle Beach/Conway area, especially the 55+ communities called Myrtle Trace?

    by Sue — April 4, 2017

  6. Sue,
    My wife and I drove through the Myrtle Beach area and decided it was not for us ! During the toursist season which runs from May through October the traffic and noise was unending. Motor cyclist, military on leave, regular tourism… Way to crowded for me.

    South of Myrtle was much better. Pawleys Island area was much much better and not to far from Myrtle is you care to visit.
    The closer you get to Charleston the higher the prices

    by Ron — April 4, 2017

  7. Sue,
    I lived in Myrtle trace for 5 years. It is a beautiful, friendly community with lots of activities and opportunities to meet people. I wished I never moved from there. Yes, traffic can be a concern; however, Myrtle Trace is sandwiched between Rts 501 and 544 so you can use either to travel where you need to get. Downtown Conway is a quaint town and has a nice walking area by the river. (The reason we left is to be closer to family and this was a huge mistake – I am selling our home and moving back)!

    by Bonnie S — April 5, 2017

  8. She also missed Summerville, SC. Sweet tea and azalea capital of the South. Formerly the town was a ” cottage ” home community for wealthy Charlestonians who built these cottages for their families for the summer, hence Summerville. The town is on a “rise” and always has a breeze so no mosquitoes because they are breezed away. Exquisite.

    by Jack — April 5, 2017

  9. My friend who is an artist and is in her 50s recently moved with her True Love from Rhode Island to Johns Island. She was introduced to the area through folks in an art gallery in Charleston who show her work. She had several reasons for moving there, even though she had no family or real friends there. First, it’s cheaper than living in RI with high utility bills and property taxes. Second, milder weather! Third, a good community for selling art. I stopped to see them on my back and forth between our condo in Miami Beach and our house in RI, and their new clapboard house in a brand-new mixed-age community was almost done. I can’t remember its name but it centers around a big pond and seems to have about 75-100 houses — not unlike the community we lived in in southern RI! They have already met people and they haven’t even moved in, which is the happy thing about a ‘hood where everyone is new. So far, they seem quite happy, tho it’s only been a little over a year. The only thing I’ve heard her complain about: alligators in that pond! The area seems quite rural and peaceful but is of course really near Charleston. Seems like a place of interest to this group!

    by Pam — April 5, 2017

  10. We moved to Johns Island a year ago from Michigan and do not have any regrets. While housing costs are rising, they are not as high as Kiawah or Seabrook. Johns Island is a very convenient location as its about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston (hospitals, restaurants, art galleries, theaters, etc.) and Beachwalker public beach located on Kiawah Island is also about 20 minutes away. Its not as crowded as James Island (yet) but there are many new housing developments popping up. We stayed on Seabrook Island several times while house hunting and before we moved into our house and loved it there. While not golfers, it was great for walking and watching the wildlife. We really learned to appreciate how beautiful the marshes are. The only downside besides cost is that there is only one road from Kiawah/Seabrook and while the scenery is beautiful, it gets old traveling the same road to go anywhere and it takes about 40 minutes to get to Charleston. The weather is ideal. While very hot and humid in the summer, the rest of the year is mild – even in the winter (in fact my Gerbera Daisies have been blooming since January) and no snow or ice to deal with! There are also many great restaurants on Johns Island so you don’t need to travel more than a few minutes to have great food. To say the least we love it here. We have made many friends quickly, love he weather and the close proximity to everything.

    by Jan G — April 5, 2017

  11. A lot depends on what you want in a retirement community. Myrtle Beach does have some areas that are pure tourist traps but the outskirts offer lovely communities, lots of golf, Myrtle Beach State Park with camping, trails and beach, and more. There Are lots of friendly transplants from the NorthEast. After making multiple road trips to Florida ( east coast and west coast), Georga coast , Lake Lanier, Atlanta area, SC, Greenville, Fort Mill, Mt Pleasant, and NC coast and mountains, we decided on Myrtle Beach. It wasnt the fanciest place, and a big step or two down from the upscale NorthEast community we were moving from, but that was the draw. As retirees we are interested in making new friends, visits from grand kids, golf, good and convient health care, easy access to airport, and fairly central location for trips and MB has all those over any of the other locations we visited over the pasy 4 years. Dont judge the area by a trip down Rt. 17.

    by Jean — April 5, 2017

  12. Hi – thanks for the SC adventures sharing Flo. Jack, do you live in Summervile? Can you recommend ateas that aren’t so large as Del Webb and Four Seasons? Thx!

    by Dian — April 5, 2017

  13. Dan. Yes, we live in North Charleston. Right at the point where Charleston, North Charleston and Summerville come together. Moved here from northern Virginia las year. Our community is about 125 garden homes between 1500-2000 sqft attached at the garages. We are in the heart of everything, yet no one knows we are here. Called the Villas at Charleston Park. You can google us but don’t go to a similar named place in North Port, FL. No golf but we have an exquisite club house with pool. Homes range in price from $200K-$250K. All homes have 2 car enclosed garages.
    We love it here. Wife is extremely happy. As you know when momma is happy everybody is happy. I would check it out. Hated Myrtle Beach for the same reasons listed above. Same with Beaufort, SC. Lovely, but beautiful homes that you get to by traveling thru trailer parks first. Also very heavy military, if you like that thing. Write back here if you want further info.

    by Jack — April 5, 2017

  14. I’m having trouble finding info on the villas at Charleston park. I’d love to see pictures of the neighborhood and pool area, and the residential streets. Is there a website specifically for that community?

    by Dawn — April 5, 2017

  15. FYI, I was researching myrtle trace, and a few years back, much of that development flooded. Might want to google myrtle trace flooding.

    by Vickie — April 6, 2017

  16. Re Myrtle Trace flooding – there were no homes that were flooded a few years back. The development across the street (Lakeside Crossing) did get lots of flooding. Myrtle Trace has many retention ponds throughout the development. I do know that ponds did overflow – but never reached any homes.

    by Bonnie S — April 6, 2017

  17. Re Myrtle Trace. I looked up Conway, SC on area vibes and the crime rate was graded as “F”. Can anyone speak to this? Thanks.

    by Karen — April 6, 2017

  18. I’m unable to find any information on the Villas at Charlestown Park. Jack, can you please provide a web site or contacts?
    Thanks!

    by amy — April 7, 2017

  19. I’m a single female just short of 68. In 2011 a change in job, family dynamics, and an itch to step out of a rut spurred me to begin an unscripted road trip. I sold my home; divided my belongings amongst the children. If it didn’t fit into my vehicle, I no longer owned it. Started out from a high end lovely community along Lake Erie, west of Cleveland, OH, and headed east to Annapolis. This was my one and only planned stop. I had visit there many times in the past while boating the Chesapeake. As they say, returning seldom works out. It had changed greatly, places of memory had disappeared … and now so did I. I always knew I wanted to live near water so my trek included only shoreline roads. I was also seeking a warmer environment. Myrtle beach became the first location I considered lingering for more than a few days. A shared condo situation for 4 months was perfect to explore and read the territory. Loved the endless miles of beaches where I spent time nearly every day. But it can get cold and it can also see light snow on rare occasions. Not unusual to be bundled in winter gear on the beach during winter months. There is no real town center or sense of community. Many developments with typical sprawl personalities for all age groups. No lack of golf courses. Living near the shore has its price — costly residence of any type, seemingly few zoning rules (a high rise, fast food, tourist trap store, or bar for a neighbor). Traffic impossible along main drags during season, so long circuitous routes to get anywhere for locals. But joined a MeetUp group and met many lovely ladies who helped expand my social life — some of whom are still on my speed dial list. Finding the lifestyle not a great fit, I continued on southward. I passed through, visited, and/or stayed in most towns/cities mentioned in the above. My tour took me all the way to Key West, then back up the west coast of FL to Inverness. I loved Dunedin. Great little town with charm, festivals, developing amenities and medical facilities. But access to the beach was via a long causeway with a cost each time. Housing along the shore had minimal choices. Many areas and cities had very appealing offerings amongst all the states I traversed, but I ended up in Sarasota, FL. It is a mid sized city with big city features — orchestra, ballet, art museum, theaters for live venues, many festivals year ’round, lovely down town area, great shopping from quaint little shops, resale, big box, malls, and high end boutiques. I read where there are more eateries per capita in SRQ than in NYC!! I never ran out of places to try — and most all were truly yummy. Did I mention the Jazz following? Can’t forget the Ringling Circus influence with their circus museum, the world famous art museum, and the art college. I also discovered there is a polo field! You can watch live polo matches, tailgating much like a football game! Several hospitals, colleges, and world famous beaches attract a wide variety of interesting people. Housing is available in a wide variety of styles and equally wide breadth of price range. Yes, we are talking FL summers with heat that reaches up into the mid and sometime upper 90’s. Humidity is countered with that constant gulf shore breeze and the sunsets are to die for. But not with out a rainy season, lots of lightening, and that hovering threat of hurricanes. I never felt threatened and the heat didn’t keep me locked inside nearly as often as the snow did when living in OH. But again my life changed and I had to pack up and return north. I visit back to SRQ last summer was a bit disheartening. Apparently there are developers who want to turn SRQ into a mini Miami and have begun building off the charts expensive high rise condos along the shore. Sad. I fear this is the beginning of stripping away of the quaint charm this city had retained in spite of its size. I had hoped to move back …. but now not so sure. I truly like a more small town atmosphere with maybe a touch of the bohemian artsy atmosphere — but especially where some sort of water feature plays into the setting. Oh, I visited the western sides of GA, SC, and NC as I have traveled back and forth. Yes, absolutely lovely. My youth was in the mountains, so they do appeal to me. But I don’t want to deal with winding steep roads in bad weather, much colder temps in winter, and more challenging access to airports, medical facilities, and broad spectrum shopping. I love the challenges of diversity when traveling, but want my conveniences for daily “home” lifestyle. Note: Find it interesting that many, like me, have no interest in the convenient but controlled 55+ settings. Looking forward to comments, comparisons, and input. Oh … and suggestions for that “perfect retirement setting”.

    by EllieB4 — April 7, 2017

  20. EllieB4, I’m with you. No interest in the controlled 55+ setting. Much more interesting being out in the real world. I too value my conveniences when at home and not traveling. Re the high end, high rise condos–we’re getting some here. They’re mostly across the river in Fort Myers. That doesn’t mean I have to live in or near them. There’s room for everything. Haven’t been up to Sarasota yet, but I hear it’s a very interesting place. Keep looking–you’ll find what works for you. Don’t know about “perfect,” but Cape Coral has given me a nice small town feeling while having access to lots of other stuff across the river if I want to go there.

    by Linda — April 8, 2017

  21. Suggestions anyone? Wife and I are searching for a pleasant town to retire in in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, or (northern) Georgia with a four-year college in or very close to it. We’re ruling out coastal areas because of concerns about hurricanes and flooding. Places we are already familiar with include Boone, NC (too cold/snowy); Davidson, NC (too close to nuclear power plant and too much traffic); Asheville, NC (too pricey); Traveler’s Rest, SC (too undeveloped); Greenville, SC (too pricey); Athens, GA (too congested and high crime); Clemson, SC (not much to the town); Chapel Hill, NC (too pricey), Lexington, VA (no nearby sophisticated medical care), Charlottesville, VA (too developed), Staunton, VA (not much of an active downtown), Williamsburg, VA (too pricey and developed), and Radford, VA (ditto). We know that no place will be perfect, and we’re probably being ridiculous, but have we missed a nice place worth visiting? Thanks in advance.

    by David — April 14, 2017

  22. Thanks for the comments on Myrtle Beach area. Can anyone add anything about Conway, Longs, Loris, or adjacent communities? We are pretty set on South Carolina coastal area but are trying to stay around $200,000. Daughter lives in Mt. Pleasant, but prices in Charleston area pretty high, even N. Charleston and Summerville. Any comments on other communities in that area, even Florence up the road? I’ve read the paper mill smell in Georgetown can be overwhelming, cant afford Murrels Inlet. Haven’t investigated much south of Charleston. House going up for sale in two weeks, so any comments appreciated.

    by Sue — April 15, 2017

  23. Try Johns Island south of Charlestown

    by Vincent — April 16, 2017

  24. David, you may have seen it when you visited Staunton, but Harrisonburg, VA, is the home of James Madison University and is close, but not too close, to Charlottesville.

    by Clyde — April 16, 2017

  25. Sue, I lived in Conway (Myrtle Trace) for almost 5 years – and loved it; however, when I move back (as soon as I can sell our home in NC), I am looking at Little River area – you might like that area. There is a development in Longs that I am very interested in – all 2 bedroom villas (some also have a flex room). We were just over that way about a month ago – check out Palmetto Greens (Longs) also. If you don’t care about having a garage (unfortunately we do), there is a very nice community in Little River – can’t remember the name off-hand – I think Lightkeeper’s or Gatekeeper’s. Good luck in your search – prices were quite reasonable!

    by Bonnie S — April 16, 2017

  26. We bought in Little River, SC three years ago. Peaceful community, but Highway 17 is always busy as is Highway 9. Most grocery/shopping can be done in North Myrtle Beach. Costco and Sams are 30 minutes away in Myrtle. Cherry Grove & O. D. beaches are nearby and aren’t as crowded as Myrtle’s. Sunset Beach, NC & Bird Island are just 15 minutes away and are great. No high rise motels, only beach houses.

    Little River suffers from lack of community, above average crime, no planning-just endless convenience stores, pawn shops, chain fast food
    restaurants & a few local restaurants worth a visit.
    New home prices below 200k, insurance west of
    17 not too bad. McCleod Hospital and lots of medical specialist nearby.

    by Bill — April 16, 2017

  27. David:

    Lexington VA is a bit far from Charlottesville in an emergency, but there is a hospital in Clifton Forge, I do not think Charlottesville is that far away from Lexington and you would have to use other options anyway unless you live near the University Hospital in Charlottesville. Staunton is improving. Have you considered Lynchburg?

    Jennifer

    by Jennifer — April 17, 2017

  28. We are looking at the Four Seasons over-55 community which is being built by J/ Hovnanian builders. My wife loved the model but a Google search on this builder found the things of nightmares. Just about every bad thing you could read about builders. See this for example, and it’s only an example: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/housing/k-hovnanian-builders.html

    They are new in South Carolina, I believe, although I think they did some community up north near Charlotte. Does anyone have any knowledge about this new development or the builder? I would really appreciate any feedback anyone can provide. Thank you.

    by Randy — April 17, 2017

  29. Sorry, the development is near Summerville.

    by Randy — April 17, 2017

  30. David, you crossed off Radford due to cost, so perhaps Blacksburg might be viewed the same? Roanoke should not be discounted, either. Going to be hard to find a situation of low cost of living in close proximity to a college and with well-regarded medical facilities.

    by Doc — April 18, 2017

  31. Clyde: Thanks for the suggestion about Harrisonburg, VA. I will definitely check it out.

    Jennifer: I’ve passed through Lynchburg, VA, multiple times and haven’t been impressed, but I’ve never stopped there. Perhaps I should. Thanks!

    Doc: You have sharp eyes! My “ditto” remark on Radford, VA, did follow my “pricey and developed” comment about Williamsburg — indicating that I viewed both places similarly — but I misplaced it; I meant to say that I thought that Radford, like (or even more so than) Staunton, did not seem to have much of an appealing downtown. I may visit Blacksburg, but my memories of Roanoke from many years ago are not positive. In any event, the only college towns I’ve checked out where the real estate is perhaps too expensive are Chapel Hill (NC), Greenville (SC), Asheville (NC), and Williamburg (VA). I should add one more place to the mix of college towns I’ve visited: Brevard, NC. (I found that the small college there did not give the place much of a college town feel.)

    It’s curious that all of the responses to my posting so far have focused on Virginia. Anyone have any thoughts on appealing college towns in North Carolina, South Carolina, or (northern) Georgia that are not included in my original post?

    by David — April 18, 2017

  32. Greenwood, SC, has a lake and Lander College. Not sure how the hospital grades out, but the town is pleasant and seems to check all the boxes for services. I even had a good meal at a French-style restaurant.

    by Larry — April 19, 2017

  33. David, a couple of other places are Aiken, SC (USC-Aiken), which is just across the border from Augusta, GA, and, for a smaller town (pop. 8500), you might consider Clinton, SC, home of 1200-student Presbyterian College.

    by Clyde — April 19, 2017

  34. David, NC actually has about 100 colleges and universities though not all have the hospitals. You may want to look at Cullowhee. Hendersonville has been recently discussed here as having a great downtown, but it is an hour from Asheville. A search on TopRetirements and simply Google will identify many others both public and private. East Tennessee also has several including Johnson City.

    And while many do have higher costs (and frequesntly offer much more), often the outlying towns are much lower in cost. A really good example is Chapel Hill. One of the highest costs in the state, but Pittsboro (20 miles south) is must more reasonable. (Though based on your assessment, it will still be considered “high”.

    by Rich — April 19, 2017

  35. South Carolina is much more reasonable to live in. SC has a much better tax program for seniors and gas prices are $0.20 a gallon lower than NC
    Georgia is also very attractive from a financial viewpoint

    by Ron — April 19, 2017

  36. All: Thanks for the additional suggestions on non-coastal and not-too-pricey college towns. For what it’s worth, if I could find the equivalent of Furman University’s beautiful campus and excellent reputation (outside Greenville, SC, in Traveler’s Rest) coupled with the great downtown of Hendersonville, NC, I’d be in nirvana.

    by David — April 19, 2017

  37. For those seeking a college town check out Greenville, North Carolina with East Carolina University. We lived there years ago and substantial growth since then. Fabulous hospital and medical specialists as it is a teaching hospital. Town lives and breathes ECU football if you are into that. Would be interested in comments about the city as no idea on current affordability.

    by Sue — April 20, 2017

  38. Great Information, thank you. My husband and I just started looking into the Wilmingon NC area to retire to from Cape Cod MA basically for winter weather reasons and cost of living. We are not golfers. I love the beach and my husband loves fishing. I came across The Cottages at Ocean Isle, River lights, Compass Point and Southport. Has anyone visited one of these communities. The quaint cottage architecture is exactly what I am looking for and the price range seems reasonable.

    by Linda — April 20, 2017

  39. I would also like some information on The Cottages at Ocean Isle, River lights, Compass Point and Southport.

    by CarolS — April 21, 2017

  40. Linda and Carol, I visited and posted a review of Compass Pointe last year at my blog site. You can read my thoughts here: https://www.golfcommunityreviews.com/archives/articles-by-category/north-carolina/43-north-carolina/3580-compass-pointe-nc-golf-community-goes-in-good-direction.html In Southport, the sprawling St. James Plantation has a wide range of homes in all price ranges. Consider also Brunswick Forest in Leland, just 10 minutes from Wilmington. It is one of the most successful communities on the east coast over the last decade.

    by Larry — April 21, 2017

  41. Linda I went to Wilmington, NC twice last year to visit my cousin. She lives in Mott’s Landing built by Premier Homes. First we visited River Bluffs in Castle Hayne near Wilmington. I wish I found this area before we came to Tampa and over paid for our beautiful undervalued house. I cannot take the heat and humidity and our house is too big. River Bluffs has a variety of builders and Premier Homes the best value for your money. There is an organic farm on the outside and Porches restaurant that serves food grown on the farm and you can buy. It S on the Cape Fear River. We are going back in June for another look see. Look it up. Went to Brunswick Forest and the Cottages are in there, went to the beach saw Bill Clark houses, similar to the Cottages. We toured Compass Point absolutely beautiful the club house and golfing too big for us and it looked like my Florida community with all the palm trees. I think Wilmington area would be a good fit for us. It is still rustic compared to the fast growing New Tampa area we are in.

    by Ginger — April 21, 2017

  42. We live in Wilmington and my comment on Compass Pointe is that the homes, although nice, are expensive. I suppose that for those coming from the Northeast, that might not be a problem but for the area, they are high. We were there last weekend and saw lots of owner signs from NJ, NY, MD, and more NE states so if you want to live with people from there, it might be for you. It is not aa active adult community so you will be sharing the pool with kiddies and is a bit far out there.

    by Dick — April 21, 2017

  43. EllieB4 – thanks for writing about your experiences. I’m in a similar quest, looking for my spot to grow older in. I’m thinking about the Wilmington area and am appreciating all the information people write about it. Unfortunately for me, although I’ve worked all my life, I am priced out of most areas. Also, the smallest houses I have seen are around 1900 sq ft. I want something much smaller.

    by Judy — April 21, 2017

  44. Thanks everyone for your comments. They have been very helpful and greatly appreciated. There are so many communities to look at. My head is spinning. Ginger, thanks for calling out River Bluffs. This place is beautiful and definitely needs further investigating. I only wish that it was a little closer to the beach. Please write more after your visit in June. Larry, I did not realize that “The Cottages” at Compass Pointe was part of a much larger community. Thanks for your input. I’m also looking at Southport and Ocean Isle Beach. Has anyone investigated that area? Did anyone use a real estate agent that does not represent one community? Some one who wouldn’t mind traveling and showing us 5-6 communities. Judy, don’t give up. The “tiny house”, minimalist concept is very popular now with us Baby Boomers. Hopefully more builders will accept this and build more smaller, cozy cottage style homes. This is why I like “The Cottages”. Many styles under 1700 sq ft. from that builder which is what we are looking for with a screened in porch to enjoy nature.

    by Linda — April 21, 2017

  45. Linda and Judy they are building houses under 1900 sq. ft. in Fl. so many cannot believe it. I just stopped getting the Retirement magazine in the mail and that is where I first saw the Cottages. I did go down to the Ocean Isle Beach area. It was nice but it looks like the houses near the water were rentals even though very nice. I saw the small community of Bill Clark house and would not want to leave there, loved the cottage style. My tour guide was my cousin for three days, lucky me. Near her house in Wilmington check out River Lights they did not have models up when I was there however I get updates from their email list growing and selling really fast it is also on the Cape Fear River. It is near everything and has a Del Webb section. My cousin went to Wilmington after visiting me and then friends in Wilmington and said will like it in Wilmington closer to the north for visiting friends and family. They moved into their Wilmington house in 2012 before building took off. It reminds me of new Tampa where I am growing so fast prices crashed in 2008 and now going gang busters. Prices for most houses I saw in Wilmington start at 400,000 and with the demand Wilmington will grow and then they will need more stores etc.

    by Ginger — April 22, 2017

  46. Sorry I was writing so fast on my iPhone I made some errors. I meant to say River Lights has a section of the Cottages and they are selling fast.

    by Ginger — April 22, 2017

  47. Linda, Doug Terhune at Carolina Plantations in Sunset Beach will show you multiple communities in Brunswick County, from Wilmington down to the SC state line. His web site will give you all listings in many of the communities in the area and he knows all the others. Please tell him Larry from GolfCommunityReviews.com referred you. Every person I have sent his way has provided me with positive comments. If you would like more info, please contact me via my website.

    by Larry — April 23, 2017

  48. Can anyone speak more about Beaufort, SC? I’m considering a rental there for next winter. I’m also considering a rental on (or near) James Island, just south of Charleston.

    I am mostly about nature, much more than city life. I am from the northeast, so although I know neither SC places will be like FL, I’m hoping they will be warm enough to be outside most days….I’m so beyond wanting to see ice and snow for months on end. I think I would like to be in a small town with a decent downtown area. (I have considered Wilmington but worried that it is growing too much and too fast.)

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    by Judy — April 24, 2017

  49. Judy, the marshland around Beaufort is sanctuary for all manner of wildlife. You might want to consider this local photog’s offer of a Photo Safari when you visit (even if you are not a photographer): http://www.horanphoto.com/lowcountry-photo-tours/ The town is charming and with good services. All but a few days in winter will make the outdoors comfortable.

    by Larry — April 25, 2017

  50. Both choices are good for weather, proximity to Charleston is a big plus for James Island (culture, shopping, entertainment etc.), Beaufort is small and somewhat off the beaten path (limited culture, although an abundance of art galleries, shopping and entertainment) but natural beauty abounds everywhere you look! The most magnificent birds, extraordinary salt marsh vistas, a coastal state park with natural beach habitat (due to reopen May 29) and very friendly people. If you rent in town or nearby Port Royal walkabitilty is great. If you are not renting in a gated area, check out the Beaufort Police website – they post a map which pinpoints recent arrest spots and for what crime. There are many rentals in the Beaufort area as there are two military posts here – lots of coming and goings! Good luck!

    by SandyZ — April 25, 2017

  51. Larry and SandyZ – thank you so much! It sounds like Beaufort is the right place for me to check out.

    by Judy — April 25, 2017

  52. Thank you Larry. I will definitely give Doug a call and mention your website. So far we plan to visit this area for a few weeks starting mid October.

    by Linda — April 25, 2017

  53. SandyZ I met a nice couple this past weekend moving from Bar Harbor to Dataw.

    by Debra — April 26, 2017

  54. Debra – they will find lots of folks from that mid-coast area of Maine here. We just attended the “Maine” party on Tuesday evening and there were almost 60 people in attendance who had some sort of connection to Maine! Amazing in such a small community. It is always curious to learn how people discovered this area…still would love to meet you and still need to visit the Penn Center, problem is that I play golf on Friday and I know you volunteer there on that same day. If you email me at sszerb@gmail.com maybe we can plan to finally meet!

    by SandyZ — April 27, 2017

  55. This is not about this thread, but a general complaint. Why must I log in to comment on the. “Retire in Richmond” tab at the bottom of today’s entries? I have no idea what my login info is for this site, even though I often comment. There seem to be few comments on most of the retire to.. entries and this may be why.

    by Sandie — April 27, 2017

  56. For all you Northerners looking to move South! Attention:

    While the winters in the South are for the most part wonderful compared to the cold snowy winters in the North. The summers in the South are depressingly hot and humid. When I lived in Boca Raton Fl I was about 1 miles from t he beach. Boca probably has the best beach in East Florida. Unfortunately from February to October I had my Air conditioning running full blast! As late as 10:30 PM the temperature hovered in the mid 80’s with humidity in the high 80% namely unbearable. The farther you move West into central Florida the hotter and more humid it becomes.

    We moved to Western South Carolina and the heat followed us here. Last summer we had over 90 days in the 90 degree range. We consider Summer in the South the same as Winter in the North. Time for inside activities.

    by Ron — April 27, 2017

  57. Here is another point to consider! As climate change continues to result in rising temperatures and rising water levels be very cautious about the elevation of the land your home will be on and around you.
    Today in Miami they are spending billions trying to built dikes and pumps to prevent daily flooding due to the rising sea levels.

    Flooding means a very expensive insurance policy. If you are near the coast in Hurricane zones you will need both Hurricane and Flood insurance that can easily cost $3000 to $5000 per year

    I just read an article that proposes by 2100 (way past my life) the best place to live will be in the UP of Michigan.

    by Ron — April 27, 2017

  58. Hello Ron, We are also looking at Western SC but an entire summer of 90′ days is not for us. Where did you settle, please? Thank you.

    by John — April 27, 2017

  59. This is a valuable website for Southeast climate information:
    http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/historical/mean90.html
    Hope this is helpful for folks looking at moving south! As for insurance info, we have found wide variation in premiums, and we live on an island, half of which is in the FEMA flood zone! Best to get comparative quotes in areas that you are considering. Ours in SC is about 1200 per year plus the FEMA flood insurance (400 or so), which we choose to have although not required as our house is mid-island, not in a flood zone. Yes that is more than double what we paid in Maine, but our other costs of living, especially property and income tax are drastically less here – look at the WHOLE picture to do a real comparison of where you are leaving from and where you are going to…

    by SandyZ — April 28, 2017

  60. SandyZ thank you for the information.

    by CarolS — April 29, 2017

  61. SandyZ,
    Your link comes up with an error. Is it me only or is there an error on your part?

    by Ron F — April 30, 2017

  62. RonF – It works for me…you might find it by going through the website – enter Southeast Regional Climate Center into your search bar. Hope that helps!

    by SandyZ — May 1, 2017

  63. SandyZ – Got it- did it- Worked – Thank You

    by Ron F — May 2, 2017

  64. Regarding insurance in hurricane or flood zones. Homes built prior to 1987 may not meet the building standards currently required. This will result in insurance premiums very high and may escalate as much as 25% per year. Hurricane insurance does not cover water damage as a result of a hurricane. So Flood insurance is a necessary thing.
    HOA that say they pat for hurricane insurance may not cover the items inside your home just the structure, So be sure to ask questions and get actual insurance quotes prior to signing that dotted line.

    Flood Zones are not exclusive to the coast. As global warming is causing the oceans to rise areas inland but not high above sea level like much of the interior of Florida may flood and your homeowners wont cover it! Many areas around Miami are getting inundated with rising sea levels today and they will become flood zones.
    Check google earth for elevations when looking for a new place.

    by Ron — May 3, 2017

  65. I had a short visit to Beaufort and Sun city, but thought it too big for me. I also am a wildlife freak. any special communities in Beaufort that I should check out? I I am single, 68 Years of age and would love to be in the middle of nature without being too far from civilization. Thanks for all the information both past and in the future.

    by Jeanne — May 7, 2017

  66. Jeanne
    Where do you want to be? Are you set on SC? Do you want a 55+ community?
    Thanks. Maybe we can help.

    by Moderator Flo — May 8, 2017

  67. Jeanne, see my April 25 post above regarding wildlife in Beaufort. Also, I suggest that you and others who ask for advice about suitable communities include a price range. In Beaufort, for example, as elsewhere, price ranges community to community differ greatly. It is hard to make recommendations without some idea of budget.

    by Larry — May 9, 2017

  68. HI, thanks for all advise. I am looking for community in N.C. or S.C. Price range $300,000-350,000, withHOA fees under 300/month. A smaller community than SunCity, Although I have heard great wildlife in Beaufort, any similar area seems appealing. Again thanks for all advise

    by Jeanne — May 10, 2017

  69. I am biting the bullet and renting via Homeaway in the Beaufort, SC, area for at least a few months next winter. I am excited that all my circling around the issue is actually going to result in landing somewhere that I want to explore. It sure seems that people who live there love it. I am very much hoping to find it to be “my place.” (I am paying a small fortune to rent, so only a few months is possible. Renting via Homeaway or VRBO is not cheap!) It seems to be a good area in which to check out numerous locations along the SC coast.

    by Judy — May 11, 2017

  70. Hi Jeanne
    Try looking at Fripp Island SC. It’s a small golf cart resort community about 20 miles south of Beaufort. Wildlife galore, it was the setting location for the jungle scenes for Forest Gump ( though some areas sadly have been developed). There are properties within your monetary parameters. I’m not sure if the hoa fees and there is a club you can join to access amenities. Fripp Island is remote, with no nearby shopping or other amenities but many residents like it that way.

    by Staci — May 11, 2017

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