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North Carolina’s 10 Most Popular Active Adult and 55+ Communities

Category: Active adult communities

April 17, 2018 — The allure of North Carolina for retirement seems to be gaining momentum every day. It is considered fairly tax-friendly for retirees and offers a milder winter climate than states in the Midwest and Northeast (see our Retirement Guide to North Carolina). A big draw is attractive real estate prices and cost of living. When it comes to finding a place to live, it offers an amazing array of towns, cities, and active adult and 55+ communities. North Carolina has also gained attention for attracting “halfbacks”, the so-called retirees who moved from the north to Florida, only to become disillusioned and move “halfway back” home to the Carolinas. This article highlights the 10 most popular active adult and 55+ communities in North Carolina, as measured by visitor interest at In the next few weeks we will produce the list of the 10 most popular active communities in South Carolina.

A geographically diverse state
North Carolina has some very different geographic areas, particularly between east and west. The state goes from beach towns on the Atlantic coastal plain to the Piedmont, and ultimately ends high up in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Thus in Asheville (NC) you can experience all four seasons, while towns on the coast have winters that are fairly mild. We encourage people who are interested in North Carolina to spend some time exploring these different areas. The State has several big and growing cities, the biggest of which is Charlotte, but nine others with greater than 100,000 population (High Point the smallest of those).

Why these communities were so popular
There are many possible reasons why these 10 communities sparked the strongest interest among Topretirements’ members and visitors. Some were new communities and were listed in our Daily Alert or weekly Community newsletters. A few are advertisers. Some others are located in Asheville, which is the most popular town at And others… we are just not sure why. Somehow people heard about them and thus generated interest. We encourage you to use our North Carolina Directory of Active Communities to explore more. There we have reviewed 235 communities in 58 towns in the Tar Heel State. You can also use our Advanced Search to find communities by state, size, expense, type of community, amenities, etc.

Top 10 in North Carolina
A development has to really stand out to make it into the top 10 in such a competitive environment. We were pleased to see the winners represent a wide variety of communities – from giant master planned developments with multiple neighborhoods and every amenity like , to smaller manufactured home communities.

Belties in Fearrington Village

1. Fearrington Village in Pittsboro (near Chapel Hill) is the #1 most popular community in North Carolina (or South Carolina for that matter). This community is open to all ages and offers a range of housing types. It is unusual in that it also has a CCRC attached to it as well as a 5 star restaurant, inn, and bookstore at the heart of the community. Residents enjoy the “Belties”, beautiful cows who live on the farm portion of the development.

2. Creekside Farm in Arden was next most popular. Farms seem to be attractive in this market. It is a new enclave within the gates of The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, where homes will overlook a 60-acre working farm. The community features over 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, along with chickens, livestock and fruit trees. 5 acres are set aside as a Community Supported Agriculture program.

3. The Ramble at Biltmore Forest is another community in the Asheville area. The Ramble’s 1,000-acres was originally owned by George W. Vanderbilt founder of Biltmore Farms and was a favorite walking spot of his. When fully completed, the community will hold 400 homes, with parks, greenways and common areas. There are many amenities and it is near Biltmore Park Town Square, which has restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.

4. Balsam Mountain Preserve in Sylva (near Asheville) s a private club community nestled inside a Nature Preserve. It has a commitment to preserve its natural surroundings, as over 3,400 acres have been placed in a permanent conservation easement.

Balsam Mountain golf

Homesites at Balsam Mountain Preserve offer mountain views, soothing stream sounds and dramatic elevations. Amenities include golf and an equestrian center.

5. Twin Lakes in Cary is a small all-ages development with modest prices. Amenities include a clubhouse, swimming pool, playground, tennis courts and volleyball, and the Greenway Trails.

6. Sisters Cove in Mooresville. The upscale community near Cornelius features the Estates Row Neighborhood which includes homes with their own for private docks on the lake. The community was a 2018 winner in the National Association of Home Builders for Best Detached Homes over 2,400 square feet.

7. Del Webb Carolina Preserve. Located in Cary, this large Del Webb community has an amazing list of amenities. Those include a fitness center, event lawn, amphitheatre, Jr. Olympic pool, kids pool and adult pool. Lifestyle director and Town Center.

8. The Courtyards at Cramerton. Located in in Belmont west of Charlotte, is a new 55+ active adult community featuring all brick architecture and offers single-level home designs featuring open floor plans, gourmet kitchens, cozy front porches, and private courtyard spaces.

9. Fendol Farms in Durham. New in 2018, the community will consist of over 1,000 single-family homes. It will feature a clubhouse with fitness center, kitchen, billiards, bar and lounge, and ballroom. Outside, homeowners will enjoy a swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts.

Albemarle Plantation’s golf course

10. Albemarle Plantation in Hertford is near Elizabeth City on the Albemarle Sound. It is a private, gated, waterfront golf community. Long established, the community offers various living options and a marina.

How we compiled this list
To come up with this list we reviewed our site logs from October, 2017 through the first half of April 2018. The 10 North Carolina communities that were viewed the most times by visitors at made the list. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are the “best” communities, but they did succeed in attracting the most visitor attention on this site.

Comments?. Do you have a favorite Carolina active adult or 55+ community you think should have made this list? Do you see a Carolina retirement in our future? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
Dueling Carolinas: Which Carolina Is the Best for Retirement?
How North Carolina Climbed Over Florida As A Top Retirement State
15 Most Popular Active Communities in Florida
15 Most Popular Active Communities in Arizona
100 Top Active Communities for 2016
Affordable Places to Live on the Waterfront
The Southwest: 10 Great Places to Retire That Won’t Break Your Budget

Posted by Admin on April 17th, 2018


  1. You missed what many call the best. The only one in Western North Carolina on Where to Retire Magazines USA Top 50 Master Planned Communities and have been for 8 years straight! Cummings Cove is not just a place to have a home but is a fantastic place to do life.

    Editor’s note:
    Thanks Andrew. Note that Andrew is a realtor so we did not publish all of his post. But it does sound like a great place.

    by Andrew Brooks — April 18, 2018

  2. How about an article on popular CCRCs in North Carolina?

    by Vincent L DeBiase — April 18, 2018

  3. I second Vincent’s request above. Gets more interesting with age. :<)

    And thanks for this article. The information, as you indicated, is all available within TopRetirements, but this is a nice, convenient summary.

    Any others have recommendations based on personal experience? We live about 10 road miles from Fearrington Village and at times have enjoyed it's charms over the years. Very nice place though somewhat on the high end. While "close" to Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, it does require a car or you can depend on the infrequent bus lines. The nearest supermarket is Harris Teeter about 3 miles north with Lowes Foods a mile farther. On the way to those is an urgent care facility, between them is a UNC Medical Clinic and farther on (10 miles and 23 minutes away) is the excellent main UNC Hospitals complex at the University of North Carolina. All distances confirmed with Google Maps.

    I can vouch for this area as being a wonderful place to live. Except for 10 years in Virginia during the 1980s, we have lived in or near this area for more than 50 years (but we have been fortunate to travel extensively for comparison). The area is somewhat conservative except for the cities and universities, is immediately accessible to multiple rivers, lakes and parks and is a max 5 – 6 hour drive to almost every part of NC we have it all except the "big city" conveniences/inconveniences — and we do have most of the conveniences. There is a huge variation in living cost (homes, groceries, amenities) within a 50 mile base of Fearrington, so you could easily find the lowest and the highest costs in NC. I'm sure some will think that is wonderful and some with think it's terrible! :<)

    by RichPB — April 18, 2018

  4. been in NC for 4+ years now. did a lot of looking up down east and west in and out of the state. very green 4 seasons fresh air & fresh water lakes are plentiful. we are considering putting down our roots here. overall taxes are NOT too bad. in general the people are very friendly, but have been surprised, when we meet a group of HALFBACKS. not sure why they seem so INCHARGE of everything and everyone. very strange. traffic is not TOO bad, but TAILGATING is a very serious problem in NC. not sure why. people also seem to just turn in front of you and expect you to slow down and avoid the hit. not sure why. on a more positive note, there are great places to eat and lots of local beers to make life pleasant. the search continues. life is good.

    by davefh — April 29, 2018

  5. Davefn and others: My kids pointed out something to me, that I’ve found an odd way of checking traffic safety. My kids suggested that when you are sitting at a light, look around for remnants of accidents at the intersection like tiny bits of broken glass. It’s weird, but I’ve actually discovered it’s true. It doesn’t mean that you won’t find bad or unsafe drivers anywhere, but those intersections are giveaways when an area is particularly bad LOL.

    by Kate — April 30, 2018

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