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Which Carolina Is More Tax Friendly for Retirement

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

July 9, 2013 — We had a question from a colleague recently which, while mostly pertinent to the Carolinas, is broadly relevant to many retirees looking for answers to which states are the most tax friendly. Here is the question and our response.

Q: I have a relative who is thinking about retiring to either South or North Carolina. He’ll have a pension from Mass. as his largest source of income. Thoughts about which state might be better from a tax perspective?

A: In 2013 South Carolina situation appears slightly more favorable to your relative, if taxation is the issue. However starting in 2014 the states are much more comparable due to tax reform passed in 2013. Currently on most tax issues the states are relatively comparable, the big difference is that SC has better exemptions. Both states have income taxes with very similar top rates (7% or so) that kick in on very low amounts of income. Finding out state tax information for retirees can be difficult, as some states have better websites than others. SC is very helpful, NC not so much. Complicating this is the NC tax reform signed by the Governor in July, 2013, which lowered many rates. Please realize that state taxes are tricky, much depends on your unique situation. For the ultimate answers you should speak with a tax professional. One of the best pieces of advice we’ve heard is to fill out a sample tax return for a state before you move there, just to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Here is a comparison of SC and NC tax situations:

South Carolina
Here is what we say in our retirement guide to South Carolina about its taxes:
Tax Burden: South Carolina is a very tax-friendly state with the 37th highest tax burden.

Marginal Income Tax Rates. Income tax ranges from 3% – 7%, with the highest bracket kicking in quickly at $13,000.

Retirement Income Exemptions. Residents 65 and over have an exemption for the first $15,000 of income, of which up to $10,000 may be retirement income. People up to age 65 can deduct up to $3000 of qualified pension income. Most disability services are not taxable. Retired military can deduct up to $10,000 of their military benefits.

Social security exemption. Social security is not taxable.

Sales Tax: State sales tax is 6%, local communities can additional sales taxes up to 2.5%.

Property Taxes: SC is the 37th highest state for property taxes.

Homestead Exemption. People over 65 can exclude $50,000 of market value from property taxes.

Estate and/or Inheritance Taxes. The state does not collect inheritance taxes or estate taxes.

This link goes to a tax guide for new residents of South Carolina.

North Carolina
NC doesn’t tax Social Security either. It has some exemptions for government pensions, but it looks like there is a max exempt of $4000 for that – not much of an exemption nor as good as SC’s overall exemption. Here is a link to the NC instructions.

Here is what we say about North Carolina taxes in our NC Retirement Guide.

Tax Burden: The North Carolina state and local tax burden is 16th highest in the country (The Tax Foundation), but sure to improve with recent tax reform.

Marginal Income Tax Rates. North Carolina’s will go to a flat income tax rate in 2014. The rate will be 5.75 starting in 2015. There is a $7500 exemption per person.

Retirement Income Exemptions. There are some income tax exemptions for pensions, particularly for those with careers in the public sector and/or military pensions. The maximum exemption for public sector pensions is at least $4000 (depending on length of service) and $2000 for private pensions. Military 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 North Carolina Department of Revenue”>NC State Retirement page. Tax reform might have affected some of these exemptions.

Social security exemption. Social security benefits are not taxed.

Sales Tax: Sales tax is 5.75%, above the national average.

Property Taxes: Property tax burden is well below average.

Homestead Exemption. There is a property tax homestead exemption for people over 65 who meet certain income criteria. Even better is a circuit breaker program for eligible people over 65 which limits your property taxes to 4 or 5% of your income.

Estate and/or Inheritance Taxes. North Carolina does not have an inheritance taxes; the estate tax was just eliminated.

For further reference:
See our newly updated State Retirement Guides, which feature snapshots of retirement tax issues as well as a lot of other helpful advice.

Comments: Do you have experience with taxes in either of the Carolinas. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below

Posted by Admin on July 9th, 2013


  1. Check out TN (NE my preferrence) better than both NC/SC

    Looked at both and crossed over the Smoky mountains and found EVERYTHING much more affordable.


    by Robert — July 10, 2013

  2. Having lived in NC for almost 30 years now, I can tell anyone looking at the Carolinas for retirement to go over the line into SC if you can. Taxes in every form are on the rise in NC, especially in the Piedmont and Triad areas. We live in Mecklenburg County and it seems our governing bodies are not going to stop until they have recreated an Atlanta-type presence, complete with the traffic and crime that go along with it. The only thing that keeps me in NC as I approach retirement is my children & grandchildren.

    by NCGenie — July 10, 2013

  3. I’m a “Tar Heel born and bred … and I’ll be a Tar Heel ’til I’m dead,” so I’m biased, but I don’t think anyone should make a retirement decision based primarily on tax considerations.

    I’ve written about a dozen books on travel and retirement (mostly on Belize and the Southeastern U.S.), the latest being a 400-page ebook on Asheville, NC, called Amazing Asheville.

    Retire where you love to live, not where you might save a few dollars on taxes.

    In the long haul, tax burdens in U.S. states tend to even out. States with no or low income tax have to get revenue somewhere, from higher sales and use taxes or property taxes, for example. Or the low tax state spends so little on health care, parks and recreation, and education that it drives off the best and the brightest of its citizens.

    I used to live in Florida, a low-tax state in many ways, and watched as roads, services and infrastructure couldn’t begin to handle the population growth, and now both North and South Carolina have “half backs,” people who tired of Florida’s problems and moved from Florida half-way back to the North.

    Or take Belize, a foreign country with which I’m very familiar. In some ways it has a low tax burden — incredibly low property taxes (you might pay US$60 a year on a US$200,000 house), no inheritance or capital gain taxes, and fairly low income taxes. But you pay for it in other ways — poor infrastructure (half million dollar homes built on $5,000 dirt roads), inadequate medical care, and high crime. Plus, the sales tax is 12.5% and everything imported is hit with high import duties — cars for instance can cost 70% more than in the U.S. because of the duty.

    As an aside, for the first time in modern history, the NC house, senate and governorship are controlled by radical right wingers, whose goal seems to be to make the state even more friendly to big business and the wealthy, at the risk of damaging the state’s public education program, wonderful university system and its amazing outdoor recreation opportunities from the Outer Banks to the highest mountains in Eastern America.

    by Lan Sluder — July 10, 2013

  4. Lan Sluder, I could not agree with you more.
    Thanks so much for saying what I’m sure many of us have been thinking.

    by Judith Keefer — July 10, 2013

  5. Comparing tax rates state by state can be fairly confusing, in any case.
    As Lan notes, low taxes in one area can be offset by high taxes in another.
    Sales tax may or may not be levied on what are considered “necessities” — and when you’re paying a relatively high sales tax on food and clothing, for example, it can hit you right in your pocket book on a day-to-day basis.
    Here’s a chart from Wiki that doesn’t explain it all, but might serve as a useful starting point for understanding the differences in taxes among the states.

    by Judith Keefer — July 10, 2013

  6. Well, isn’t that just like me. Forgot to link to the chart!!:oops:

    by Judith Keefer — July 10, 2013

  7. Thanks for the link Judith!

    If you scroll up on that same page, you can find a “Composition of State and Local Tax Revenue” graph that very effectively illustrates the offsets and trade-offs that you and Lan cite.


    by Clark — July 11, 2013

  8. Oops – was going to also say:

    That’s why, to a degree, I’d agree with Lan re:

    “Retire where you love to live, not where you might save a few dollars on taxes.”

    And yet I’m intrigued by NCGenie’s advice to “go over the line into SC if you can”.

    Surely there is continued room for healthy competition. Ultimately, people will locate and relocate where they perceive the highest and best value, all things considered. A huge number of variables go into this equation and the end result is as unique as the individuals and families that make their own decisions as to where they may best pursue happiness.

    by Clark — July 11, 2013

  9. South Carolina has one of the lowest per capita tax rates in the country according to the report of US Bureau of the census,as per the given details both states have a great quality of life, and favorable tax climates.Overall, SC is cheaper than NC.

    by William — July 15, 2013

  10. There is legislation pending in North Carolina that will lower the state income tax rate to 5.75% in 2014 and then lower it further to 5.50 in 2015. It looks like it will pass because of the Republican majority.

    by rselle — July 17, 2013

  11. Interesting. And here we are in Massachusetts with a mere 5.3% State Income Tax — who’da thunk it?
    Here’s a map for comparison purposes:

    by Judith Keefer — July 17, 2013

    South Carolina: 7% on income over $13,700 ?

    by RUBYTUESDAY — July 20, 2013

  13. I was aware of the income tax differences from state to state, and then began looking at property tax. There are some big differences, everyone should look at this before relocating. Just a warning.

    by marilyn — July 21, 2013

  14. I think the moral of the tax “story” is that the powers that be, no matter which state, will get you one way or another! And the powers may shift after an election and everything will change again. So go where your heart leads you and you will be happy. As Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” This seems to be true in our personal lives as well.

    by cherie — July 22, 2013

  15. Have lived in NC for quite a few years and they tax everything. It’s ridiculous. Can’t wait or retire and move. Unfortunately I know many other people who feel the same. What this state used to be is no more. Not sure what it is trying to be……but a good place to live is not one of them.

    by Ashton — September 7, 2013

  16. I downloaded the North and South Carolina tax forms and ran the numbers against our “low” tax state, Indiana for 2012.. Our Indiana tax was $1969. When I did the NC form, I would have owed $1465. When I ran the numbers for SC, they were $1568, even including the over 65 deduction. I will definitely do it again after filing this coming year. While Indiana does not allow itemized deductions, NC allows.most of them except previous year state tax. SC does not allow itemized deductions but does have substantial deductions, including social security income. NC allows SS, but Indiana does not.

    The forms are easily found if you want to try it out on your own.

    by Bill — September 8, 2013

  17. Hi Bill:

    I was born in Indianapolis and have considered moving back as I still have lots of relatives there. I live in DC now, not sure I want to retire here however when the time comes-ten years or so. I was wondering how kind Indiana is to retirees. My Aunt is a Florida resident even though she lived in Indiana in the summer. What is your conclusion?

    by Jennifer — September 8, 2013

  18. Bill, using actual tax form is a great idea. I think you have posted this before (someone did and I added it to my to do list when I have some choices). I will do it when I get to a few choices. Are you considering all taxes? property, sales, etc.

    The other bad thing about state taxes is that it can change. When I lived in NJ there was no income tax. Same when I lived in NH…(property tax in NH was high then and is now although not the worst state).

    So I will definitely do what you did, but it will also be a place that I want to live. Same with CT

    by Elaine — September 9, 2013

  19. State taxes: this link for a booklet has a table that gives a brief comparison by state. It has income, property, sales ranking by state

    by Elaine — September 9, 2013

  20. Jennifer,
    Indiana does not give much in the way of tax breaks for income tax. I think there is a over 65 deduction, but it isn’t much. There is also an over 65 exclusion from property tax. Pensions and social security are taxed as regular income.
    I did not try to compare property taxes, as that solely relies on where you end up buying. Indiana property tax where I am in somewhat low, as we live in the county vs city. There is a substantial county tax included in the state income tax. Of the $1900 we paid in income tax, over $400 went to our county. I suspect that is why the property taxes are lower.

    by Bill — September 9, 2013

  21. Hi Bill:

    Overall, would the overall taxes in Indiana still be okay for retirees? I am sure that they would be an improvement over DC as the cost of living is much lower in Indiana. My aunt of course still has her home in Indiana but raves about the tax situation with her home in Naples, Florida. Not sure I would want my Social Security benefits taxed, expecially if they end up being a major part of ones retirement income.

    by Jennifer — September 10, 2013

  22. About State Income Tax..
    just wanted to make a I often read about Stae Tax fron Blogs..and sometimes individuals say they live and work in a State..and tax is high..but it is important to plan the tax on retirement income,,for example we are both retired and live in New York State..and they do not tax any of our pensions on the cotrary when working income was taxed very high..and another example is they do tax working income but on the cotrary do not tax ANY reirement icome ..and I say ANY even 401,pensions, sec ..
    and thanks for all info on site every day..

    by Robbie — September 11, 2013

  23. Which State has the lowest income tax, property tax and doesn’t tax your pension also?

    by gerard — September 11, 2013

  24. No pension, and will be drawing from SS and 401K. I’m trying to identify the states that don’t tax SS and 401K, like PA. Once I get that list narrowed down, I’ll start trying to compare other taxes, like property taxes and taxes on personal property like cars (learned about that one from my time in Connecticut!).

    I’m working from a map of the Eastern and mid-Atlantic states, trying to get my list of options down.

    by Ted — September 12, 2013

  25. Ted,

    It is even more complicated than that, because depending on what your income level is you might have an exemption from state taxes on part of it after a certain age. I read yesterday at a link on the GA page, that GA is increasing their already generous exemption to no $ limit on unearned income, after IIRC 62.

    And then there is property tax. We considered buying a house in PA that had relatively low property taxes, but realized that even with the 5% state tax it was better to buy a low cost, low property tax house in VA. We are however too young to take SS or take advantage of the age related tax discounts for seniors. Long term, when we start drawing on pensions and SS, N GA is very attractive.

    by Julie — September 12, 2013

  26. In response to Ted’s question as it relates to NC, here is a link to the NC State page about the taxation of retirement income. It is a bit complicated, but in essence NC and Federal retirement benefits are exempted up to $4000 (each person), and private to $2000 (each person). So if you have big IRA, 401k, or pension payments you will probably be taxed on most of them in NC.

    by Admin — September 13, 2013

  27. In the reform passed this summer in NC, the two exemptions you mentioned in your article were taken away. Many websites are not up to date with that information. NC is no longer a retirement friendly state unless you are wealthy and then you got a lower tax rate.

    Editor’s Note: Dianne, could you please elaborate about the 2 exemptions you mention. We cannot find reference to those. Also, NC is moving to a flat tax so we are not sure what you mean by lower tax rate for wealthy. Thanks

    by Dianne — September 24, 2013

  28. Jennifer & Bill
    I’m retired and live in Madison IN. I also draw SS which in the state of Indiana is not taxed. The property taxes are pretty good compared to other states like Illinois. I realized that when I looked at homes in FL, TN and other states. Indiana does not really give a break for retired people but then neither do a lot of states.

    by Edwin Flowers — September 25, 2013

  29. Robert; July 10, 2013,
    I found your comment regarding TN very interesting. I currently live in Ocala, FL and am becoming more and more disenchanted. For approx. 3+ years I have been looking at GA and SC. The comments posted have steered plus the cost housing, etc. have steered me away from SC. NC has never held any appeal. Forget VA! As I recover from surgery, I thought “why not TN”? Your comments were so very timely. I have heard of Chattanooga. You mentioned northeast TN and to cross-over the smokey’s. Any location in particular? No sink-holes, tornado’s, etc.(smile). This is my first ever post so, I trust all is appropriate. Thank you, Rae

    by RAE — September 25, 2013

  30. Robert,
    My apologies for the typo. Do you know of a ‘link’ that might provide info for a retiree wishing to relo to TN? Once again, thank you.

    by RAE — September 25, 2013

  31. Rae-What steered you away from SC? We are so happy to have chosen SC to retire; I must say, Florida was never on our short list. NC has done some things to their tax system that has our heads spinning-so we ruled that state out.TN is landlocked and because of my allergies, we ruled that out. There are many things to consider-good luck!

    by DianaF — September 26, 2013

  32. DianaF,- Thank you for your input. I like SC but, when looking online, all was concentrated along the coastal regions or the low-country; too pricey. Unable to find info about inland and/or mountain regions. I have traveled to the Anderson/Clemson areas and did not like it there.
    Why is TN not healthy for persons with allergies? This relo process is so perplexing!!! I wish to find a warm and cozy small town; where one does not get lost among all the people. A ‘Mayberry’ or ‘Cabot Cove’. Regards, Rae

    by RAE — September 26, 2013

  33. RAE,
    We looked at housing in South Carolina last January in the Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Charleston and found Real Estate quite reasonable. Look in Conway, Mullets Inlet,Surfside,Little River, Longs and the Carolina Forest Areas of Myrtle Beach. We liked the area of Acadia Lakes which is North East of downtown Columbia. I have a friend who lives South West of downtown and he is very happy. We thought Charleston was too expensive, but real estate is more reasonable in Summerville, SC.

    by markg — September 26, 2013

  34. Rae –
    We are looking at E. Tennessee too – and have mostly ruled out Chattanooga for the crime rate and are concentrating now on Sevierville and Maryville, both outside Knoxville with good medical facilities.
    Amazingly, after spending a summer and Christmas in a rented cabin there, I found that I had NO allergies… I am allergic to dust, mildew and oak trees, and the lower humidity just makes me feel better all over! Knoxville is the major city in the area and since there is a Medical College, a Vet School, and a Dental College all under the medical program, plus my PCP told me to get established with a large medical college with the new insurance regulations headed our way! I am already established with the Univ. of Virginia so I should not have problem. I have also checked out condos on the Knoxville waterfront and have found several, however Knoxville is not Mayberry and really neither is Sevierville or Maryville. However the amenities are incredible! especially for visiting grandchildren.

    by Diane S — September 27, 2013

  35. RAE, Try looking around the Greenville area. It has a vibrant downtown, only 1 hour to the mountains. If you look on Trulia, real estate is very reasonable.

    by Bill — September 27, 2013

  36. Rae-Through the years, I have found that living in an area that is landlocked is not good for ME-everyone is different. I have asthma and have been advised by doctors that living in salt air and near an ocean is good for me. Many times my allergies trigger asthma symptoms. After living in Texas four about six years; I was about four hours from the gulf-I thought that would be close enough, but it was not. When we lived in California, we lived in an area surrounded by mountains; it was like a bowl and we lived at the foot of one of the mountains. This was where air was trapped. The doctor said that I needed to get out of that town and get closer to the ocean and explained to me that breathing ocean air is the best for me. Sixteen months after moving to that town, we were out and closing on another house closer to the ocean, not surrounded by mountains, but still not ON the water (it was an affordability factor. We were about an hour away from the beach-closer mile-wise, but with traffic etc., it took us an hour to get to Oceanside. I was better almost immediately. We didn’t want to go back to California for retirement, but wound up in South Carolina. Before making the move; however, I did some research regarding salt air and asthma, etc. I also spoke to doctors. There are about two plants that grow here that I may have a problem with, but should acclimate within a year. In Texas, I had allergies to everything that grew there-all year around and I had problems the entire time I lived there. So, as I wrote before, everyone is different and you may never have a problem in TN; I was not going to take the chance.

    by DianaF — September 27, 2013

  37. Diana F
    We just returned from coastal SC and really like it. Maybe you can help with a question that we have, we find the utilities vary CONSIDERABLY in that area, do you know why? In one area electricity is $100. per month in summer and 1/2 mile down the road their elec. bill in the summer is $236.per month. Same builder, same house. Any ideas? The same scenario applied to the water bills, from $50./mo. to $150. per month.
    thanks for any input

    by Marilyn — September 27, 2013

  38. Bill,
    Greensville, SC is on my radar. What do you think the biggest negative is? I know some good positives.

    by Elaine — September 27, 2013

  39. Re: allergies. Often you may not be allergic when you first move to an area, but it develops after a couple of years…especially if it is a very different ecological environment…no advice…just saying.

    by Elaine — September 27, 2013

  40. Thinking of retiring in Arizona…any advice? Thank you

    by Jaime — September 27, 2013

  41. DianaF,MarkG,DianeS,Bill,Elaine,
    Thank you all so very much for the info you have chosen to share! I am feeling abit calmer now. I retired to FL on a whim;age 52. At that particular time in my life, it was the best thing that could have happened; great lifestyle, four season gardening, custom built home, great weather, etc. Things I would be hard-pressed to replicate up North. I have been in FL a little over 15 yrs. I am happy and enlighten. However, good seafood and fruits/veggies are lacking. But, alas, it is time to move on. Time for new experiences, “without going broke”.
    I have lots of info to peruse and lots of thinking to do, thanks to good people like all of you. I feel I should make a more educated decision, this time, on where to ‘put down roots. FL is still a good state to retire but, I do not particularly embrace the changes that have occurred over the past 15* years. I am aware that ‘things/people change’. I would like to continue to enjoy my changing world outside of FL.
    Any additional info will be graciously received. WOW, the power of the internet. Thanks, again.

    by To All, — September 27, 2013

  42. Thank you for sharing the “sales tax by state’ link. I shall now look for a chart/link that depicts; state by state; the taxes levied on SS,Private Pensions,Investment distributions(IRA/Non IRA),Auto ownership by make/model, number of persons residing in household,etc.

    by Judith Keefer — September 27, 2013

  43. Judith Keefer,
    Oops, I filled in the spaces incorrectly. My Sept. 27. 2013 comments are for you.
    Thank you, again, for the link.

    by RAE — September 27, 2013

  44. Our plans have changed and we will no longer be moving to the Myrtle Beach, SC area. We have a beautiful lot in an exclusive neighborhood in Carolina Forest that we just love but have decided to sell. If anyone is interested just let me know and we can exchanged email privately. Love the neighborhood, convenience of the location and its still so affordable to build there. On top of that, its only seven miles from the beach. But we’ve decided it’s more important to be closer to family. So now it’s between staying in VA or moving to FL — why is this so hard.:sad:

    by OnSecondThought_Barb — September 27, 2013

  45. Barb,
    My mother lives in NJ therefore, I can appreciate your decision. Let me know should you decide on FL and where within FL. I have a semi-custom built, home within a gated community, I could probably be persuaded to sell; marble, tile, built-in water feature, water-wise landscaping (small % of turf, remainder is stone, boulders, etc. My best to you.

    by RAE — September 27, 2013

  46. Love Carolina Forest area-OnSeconthought-Barb; it is beautiful! You should have no trouble selling your lot there! We chose SC and Murrells Inlet because of so many reasons and there are many transplanted people from the Northeast here. Marilyn-Wow, the only thing I can think of for the reason is location of the unit or home, which would then decide which electric company you would go with. We are in our second month here and have received our first power bill. Our condo is ALL electric, so we expected a high bill. We also had work done our first week-we put in Pergo floors-so our air was set much cooler than we would have had it because we wanted the installer to be comfortable while working; he was using power saws on our deck and we were vacuuming often to keep the dust down. We also had visitors, which mean more showers being taken and more loads of wash. This went on for about ten days. We thought our bill would be close to 200, but with tax it was 130.We were elated. Keep in mind that there are areas that have natural gas which is used for cooking and heating and then electric is used for the rest of the power in one’s home-this may account for the difference. Conway has areas that have natural gas in some developments; I think Myrtle Beach may have a development that offers natural gas as well, but I am not positive. Also, when it comes to making the decision, call the power company and ask them! I did that and they were very nice and very helpful. There is Horry Electric Cooperative, but there is also a power company for those living in Georgetown County-ask to see who supplies the electric for the area you’re interested in and call them 🙂

    by DianaF — September 28, 2013

  47. To Jaime: I moved to Arizona almost 3 years ago…love, love love it! If I would be happy to answer you questions…

    by Loralee — September 28, 2013

  48. Rae, thanks for the info on your place. Even though our daughter lives in FL it isn’t our first choice. The only reason we’d move there is because of her/her husband. But, we’ve not removed it from the list. We like the Clermont area due to its hills and space. Reminds us of VA and we’d have the space my hubby wants. VA is our first choice but just more expensive and not as tax friendly as SC & FL. We’re retiring relatively young (late 50’s) and so my DH wish’s to have some land to do some small farming. Thanks for the encouragement DianaF. The realtor we contacted also said we should be able to sell w/o much difficulty due to the fact we bought when the market was still down. Still love the MB area.

    by OnSecondThought_Barb — September 28, 2013

  49. DianaF your electric bill is very cheap. How many sq feet is your living area and what was your thermostat set at? My electric bill is a $130 with no heat or air conditioning on. My living area is 2100 sq ft. We are looking in Murrells Inlet area as well. Are the property taxes low in that area? We will be taking a trip to that area in 2014. Can’t wait.

    by Skip — September 28, 2013

  50. To JAmie, We are thinking of AZ too. The only thing that makes me crazy is their car road use tax or excise tax, based on the value of your car. How is it that a newer car causes more wear and tear on the roads than an older car. I guess the answer to that is to drive a older restored car.

    by MArk P — September 28, 2013

  51. To Loralee also thinking of moving to Arizona but conserned about the heat. Where did you relocate to also saw Mark P concern about the car road use tax or excise tax, is that a lot. Thinking about buying into a 55+ community. Any information would be appreciated

    by inga stenholm — September 29, 2013

  52. OnSecondThought_Barb : ” VA is our first choice but just more expensive and not as tax friendly as SC & FL.”

    Barb, we bought our retirement home in VA, a sweet property with three acres and 300′ of river frontage. It was incredibly cheap, and property taxes are insanely low. There are so many low cost homes out in the Roanoke area, which has the advantage of being on the I-81 corridor. I have also checked out SC and find that a property for our needs is much more expensive than those I see on in our area of VA, and the property taxes were higher. I prefer fresh water to ocean, though, so perhaps it’s just the coast that’s important to you.

    Good luck in your search!

    by Julie — September 29, 2013

  53. Skip-We downsized considerably, our condo is about 1500 Sqft, three bedrooms and two baths. We have a separate laundry room, lots of closets, nice entry (that is not a room, but an entry way)and to be honest with you seems larger. We kept our thermostat low because we wanted it comfortable for our friend who was installing our new flooring. So, about 68-70 degrees and it was about 88 degrees outside (August); my husband was freezing in the condo. Also, we are not an end unit, so we are insulated on both sides. We never hear our neighbors, sometimes above us, but not a lot to really make a difference-we forget they are there. So, this place is insulated very nicely. Our friend took about a week to complete the flooring and a few other things we needed done; they stayed with us, so we had double usage of other appliances. Skip, one of the reasons we moved To SC was to live on the coast, but the cost of living played a big role as well. Our taxes are ridiculously low; we had an estimate about a month ago, but got the bill recently; our yearly property taxes are $375.If you’re a full-time resident one’s taxes are very low, if it is a second home-not so much. We purchased as a second home, so our tax bill at first was almost four times more, but when we actually became SC residents, the amount was reduced drastically. My husband is over 65 and in about a year, we will be able to get a Homestead Tax break, so the taxes will go down again. We also had to find an internist and an eye doctor for him quickly; we have been blessed to find these doctors for him and they are top notch. Now, condo living may not be for everyone, but for us it is right. Our area is beautiful and is kept up nicely; we have a deck that is about 18×10 that overlooks a patch of woods and behind that there is the 13th hole of a golf course-so, no complaints here. I hope this helps.

    by DianaF — September 29, 2013

  54. thank you Diana F

    by Marilyn — September 29, 2013

  55. To Inga Stenholm: I moved to the Scottsdale/Phoenix area from California and bought a brand new home here. Yes the summers can be hot, but you learn how to deal with it, plus we have 7 months of awesome weather, no cold, snow, humidity, hurricanes, earthquakes. Sunny every day! Beutiful red sunsets! It is cheap to live here, my car insurance went way down, my personal taxes are less, You pay a new car tax when you buy a car, but my honda and brand new mini cooper yearly renewal is very reasonable. My real estates taxes are low too. When I moved here I did not know anyone, but I now have a social network, lots of things to do and get involved in, and the people are very friendly. Lots of pretty 55 and over communities..What
    more can I say…come check it out!

    by loralee — September 29, 2013

  56. I read in an old publication that the car tax is $2.80 per hundred of asessed valuation, based on manufacturers base price. (no options) And it is annual!! It drops every year tho cause the car depreciates. A used car is $2 per $100. I hope I got this right. I grew up in Massachusetts where it was $66 per thousand..good gawd that was tough. I hear it is now $25 per thousand. Again that is annual and that is before you turn the key and then there is insurance too. In Mass if you changed cars like we did cause we as kids could only afford clunkers you had to be on the ball and file abatement forms when you changed cars. If you forgot you would get ALL those bills in the Fall and then you would have pay them first then file the abatement forms , then and only then would you get a refund minus any tax due for the part of the year your car was on the road. THEN if you didn’t pay the bill RMV and the State Police would come out to jerk the plates off your car and threaten you with a warrant for your arrest. True story.. may dad went thru alot of that, he couldn’t afford the tax. So as you can see motor vehicle excise tax has left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

    by Mark P — September 29, 2013

  57. Thank you @ Mark P. I fully appreciate it very much.

    by Jaimd — September 29, 2013

  58. Julie, thanks for the info. I did a quick search in the Roanoke area and it does look beautiful. However, staying in VA involves staying close enough
    (< 1.5 hr drive) from most of our family that lives in Maryland. We're focusing our search to the Fauquier Co. area, and going east towards Stafford. I love the water (doesn't matter fresh/saltwater) and DH love the woods, so we shall see. Staying by family is our first priority with the pocketbook close behind.

    by OnSecondThought_Barb — September 30, 2013

  59. Thank you Loralee, I was a little nerveous about move, by myself, to someplace where I don’t know anyone, but your answer gave me comfort. I will be selling my home in Colorado, where it is very resonable to live, not like California, and make the move in spring. And yes, the reason why I want a 55 retirement community is to have a active social network. So maybe I will see you there and thanks again.

    by Inga S — September 30, 2013

  60. DianaF thank you so that for the valuable information! Yes your answers were a big help! It’s so nice to talk to someone who is actually living there. Based on the information it sounds like our monthly expenses should drop. My wife and I plan on visiting your area sometime in 2014. The areas we are interested in our Murrells Inlet, North Myrtle Beach and Little River area. I can only do so much research on line. We can’t wait to actually see the area first hand. We were there in July and really like the Myrtle Beach area including Murrells Inlet. I look forward to your future comments on the winter months and more about he availability bility of medical care etc. Thanks again and enjoy your never ending vacation :’)

    by Skip — September 30, 2013

  61. DianaF please excuse my punctuation I’m typing on a small tablet and I have big hands and a small keyboard.

    by Skip — September 30, 2013

  62. Lorilei, did you move to a 55 plus? If so, which one and are they truly dog friendly, or have ridiculously specific rules on where the dogs must walk like one huge place I know of.

    by Nancy — October 1, 2013

  63. an anyone suggest a community in NC that is truly pet friendly?

    by Judy — October 1, 2013

  64. To Inga S: I meet a lot of people that move here from Colorado, or have a second home here. When you get here, email me at this site and I will send you my contact information. I think you will love enchanting Arizona!

    To Nancy: I did not move to a 55 plus community, but the ones I am familiar with do allow dogs, and where I live they have a dog park, community center with some activities, gym, beautiful pool, hiking trails, etc.

    by loralee — October 1, 2013

  65. Skip-I totally understand; my IPhone drives me crazy…and it thinks it is smarter than I am, at times, and corrects spelling. Sometimes the autocorrect makes me laugh out loud; I try to check autocorrect…ahhh technology. We also looked in Little River and North Myrtle Beach, and loved those areas as well. At the time there was not a whole lot in our price range, but I see that there is some building going on in those areas, so there is “new” up there. Also, some national builders are building in the Market Common area of Myrtle Beach; we absolutely love the Market Common area, but that looks like it may be geared towards families-very lovely though. There is also lots of building going on in Conway, which is about a 15 minute trip to the beach; I don’t know much about the cost of utilities there, but I do know some homes have gas for cooking and hear…nice area, but when we were ready to buy, our wait for a home would have been around four months.

    by DianaF — October 1, 2013

  66. DianeS,
    Have you ever heard of McMinnville, TN? I am currently perusing info I received from the McMinnville, TN Chamber of Commerce. Sounds good, thus far. I plan on a visit to Eastern TN in Spring 2014. I located the towns you mentioned. But, they might be abit too remote for a single person. However, I plan to explore the entire Eastern TN area. MY first trip will be just “a look/see”. If I like what I see, I will return and rent prior to making a final decision. I grew up in a small town and enjoyed the small town feel.
    I retired young in 1992, relocated to FL in 1999 and now wish a change. Any and all input would be most welcomed.

    by Rae — October 2, 2013

  67. Re: NC Income Taxes. Retirement deductions ($4,000 for governmental retirees and $2,000 for private sector retirees) from adjusted gross income are eliminated. I think this might be what Diane was referring to. Social security income and Baily-vested state, local and federal government retirement benefits remain exempt from state income taxes.

    If you want more detail check the tax codes. I do not live in NC (used to).

    PS I have mentioned several times be careful, state tax laws can change!

    Other recent changes: -eliminate 3 tier system (6%, 7%, 7.75%) replaced by flat 5.8% for 2014 and 5.75% 2015 and after -standard deduction increase to 7,500 for individuals and $12,000 (head of household)and $15,000 for joint filers -can itemize, but home mortgage interest and local property taxes will be limited to combined $20,000 -Some other deductions and tax credits have been eliminated like child care and charitable contributions for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions.

    by Elaine — October 2, 2013

  68. Hi Rae –
    Well we are exploring with the option that someday I might be single and since I am unable to drive because of advanced spinal stenosis (I cannot feel my feet) we are looking for places that have either 1. public transportation 2. reasonable cab fare from shopping and hospitals or 3. van service. The reason I am focusing on Sevierville is the new LeConte Medical Center which is a branch of the UT Medical College. We also plan to rent awhile just to make sure our decision was a wise one. I told our realtor that this is the most important move we have ever made, and I am taking my time since I want it to be the right decision for us, together or alone. I do not want to live in any ‘retirement’ facility – we are not ready for that, and as long as my mind is well and I can remember what meds to take and when, I will not be ‘put away’! It’s just not for either of us.
    There are some beautiful condos in downtown Knoxville I am eyeing too – right on the river with wonderful views, but I am not sure that my husband is ready for condo living after living on 12 isolated acres with no neighbors as far as the eye can see! I can just see (or hear) it now if one of our condo neighbors catches him sneaking to the garbage room in his underwear! Now that would not be the way I would want to start my morning or end my evening!
    So, we are being careful but I am really hooked into S.C., TN, and GA and preferably TN.
    I do a lot of searching around on the Zillow maps after putting in my profile and that is the best way I have learned to do it without being there in person.
    Diane S

    by Rae — October 4, 2013

  69. Hello Diane S.
    I love the part about the underwear! Sevierville definitely deserves another look. However, have you ever heard of McMinnville, TN? I, too, am investigating SC, GA and TN. My preference, at this time, is also TN. I have realized that the more research I do, the more confusion and/or doubtful I become. I did not experience these emotions when relocating to FL. Perhaps not, because either I was younger (52) and/or dumber. This entire relo process is not for the faint of heart. Yes, I shall give Zillow a look. I am looking for a small parcel of land on which to build. I enjoy hearing from you and value your input.
    P.S. I welcome input from others.

    by Rae — October 4, 2013

  70. Hi Rae,

    Yes, definitely not for the faint of heart! I, too, am looking at the mountains of NC,SC, TN, and GA; and the more i look, the more confused i get. I want property and am considering a community. But must be a millionaire to have both. Let’s hang in there; we will eventually reach a conclusion and decision!


    by ella — February 4, 2014

  71. My wife and I are in the process of relocating to Bluffton, SC..It is about 20 minutes from HHI and the same to Savannah or Beaufort…We have found a brand new home 2900 square foot for 300K…We have a GREAT realtor Robyn Henke 843-816-5527..Only give out her info because I have never had a realtor as knowledgable about an area from schools, taxes, utilities, everything…She has spent so much time with us and answered all our questions listened to what we were looking for and NEVER tried to talk me in to anything but what we wanted…Steered us away from areas that she thought would not make sense for us…Took every detail we asked for and did a great job…She IS THE BEST I have ever seen..We have come to the concluscion that a knowledgable and honest Realtor is worth thier weight in gold…She loves what she does and it shows…Oh we mentioned that our daughter would probably relocate within a year near us and she just sent all kinds of info and research on the different school systems nothing that we asked her to do but because we happened to mentioned it she thought we could pass it on to our daughter…Give her a call if just to pick her brain…

    by Paul — February 5, 2014

  72. That is a great price Paul! Would you mind sharing the community in which you bought in Bluffton? Or did you steer away from the gated communities? Have you received an insurance quote yet on your new home? Any info would be appreciated as we have chosen that same area for our retirement home. We have purchased a building lot in Beaufort, but not sure if we will build there or keep it as investment. Taxes and insurance expenses are on a steep rise there.

    by SandyZ — February 5, 2014

  73. Sandy Z..the area in Bluffton was Mill Creek..There are several beautiful areas in Bluffton such as Banyard Park and Lawton Station…These are gated but the HOA fees are VERY reasonable from 800-1550 per year..They all have pools fitness centers and many other amendities..There are also many nice areas without gates….Give Robyn a call she can help you find that perfect area you will love her and her husband…Hopefully we can be neighbors and meet as it is always great to make new friends,,,

    by paul — February 6, 2014

  74. Sandy Z…forgot to answer you insurance question…my wife and I are insurance agents by profession and will probably open an independent agency once we are there…I found the price 1200 very reasonable however it depends on several factors type of coverage, your insurance score etc..Taxes are much lower approx 1800 per year again depends on your age for deductions etc…Both are 1/2 what they are here in KY…hope this helps..

    by paul — February 6, 2014

  75. We just returned from Myrtle Beach South Carolina. We looked at 55+ commuinities in North & South Myrtle beach. My investigation has revealed to us he SC is better for Seniors when considering tax and lower cost of living.
    We originally wanted to move to the Smokey Mountain are but discovered we could not affordt it.SC does offer a $50,000 PRIMARY homestead home exclusion on state property tax and does not tax your SS. We focused on 55+ modular home communites with a reasonable lot rent of around $360. Not paying/owning the lans you do save money that you could use elsewhere – at least that is our thoughts, We lived in a mixed community in Lancaster Pa and it was a Terrible mistake. Having experience – WE PREFER A 55+ community – for the most part the people are responsible and take care of thier homes etc.
    well there you have my 99 cents worth – dime isnt the same anymore.


    by Robert — February 6, 2014

  76. Robert, did you look at Myrtle Trace in Conway, SC? It’s a great neighborhood, 55+!

    by Bonnie — February 7, 2014

  77. To Bonnie:

    We did BUT they want $70.00 a month HOA fees = $840.00 a year and then taxes on top of that!!

    Not interested.


    by Robert — February 7, 2014

  78. Great info provided in above blogs..especially. as we plan to look in Corolinas..and the info and names of locations is beneficial to our research..although there are comments aboout locales I did not read any about Dell Webb Communities..we are interested on a visit to one in Southern part of SC..Riverside..and will visit..any info ,especially about home insurance and medical availability would be appreciated..we had visited Del Webb (Charleston) nice community but surrounding area was ‘run down’ to say the least..our visits to medical facilities was not on a high rated scale..but of course that is just our opinion and it’s possible we did not visit the right places..and a final comment…this is a wonderful site and read ‘blogs’ every newsletter..great

    by Robbie — February 8, 2014

  79. Robert, that was interesting info…the only place that I know of personally where you rented land, the amenities were inclued in the rental price. That is a sample of one…anybody have different experiences. That was not in the Carolinas.

    by Elaine — February 8, 2014

  80. Robbie, I have visited two Del Webb Communities in the Carolinas and felt that both were overpriced and the construction quality was not up to my standards and these were the models. Just my thoughts…..

    by Dick — February 8, 2014

  81. Robert, I have lived in several 55+ developments (in FL, NC, SC) – I have to tell you that $70/month is a BARGAIN – we have a clubhouse, pool, Bocce Ball court, “lending” library, community chorus etc. Our taxes (with one home owner being 65) are under $400/year. Is that land rental of $around $360 paid every month? There is a manufactured/modular home nearby – HOA is now over $500 and you rent the land. If anyone is looking for a lovely, reasonably priced neighborhood, I highly recommend Myrtle Trace in Conway, SC.

    by Bonnie — February 9, 2014

  82. To BONNIE and ELAINE: we looked at in SC. They all seemed very nice – house(modular/mobile) prices varied Lot rent was around $360 per month which included many amenities. If you do not wish to lay out money for a house WITH PROPERTY then I suggest you consider those options (the money you do not spend for the land could be used elsewhere.Myrtle Trace in Conway may be nice BUT WE did not want to purchase a home plus land. If one were to purchase for $50,000.00 or less in a modular home community – after one year (65 or older) you would have NO TAX and only lot rent for the year (approx $4500). Yes Myrtle trace would only about $1300 a year but then you spent more on the home and land – I would guess at least $130,000.00 or more(?)I all boils down to how you wish to spend your money, how old you are and how long you plan to stay in the area. For us – IF we choose to move to SC it will be to purchase a modular home and pay the lot rent which includes many amenities EXCEPT (I think) lawn maintenance which is avialble if u want to pay for it. WHEW – bet ur glad I am finished/lol tks/Robert

    by Robert — February 9, 2014

  83. To Dick: Would you please provide some specifics on your statement re: Del Webb construction quality? To what are you referring…the ‘base’ model flooring, cabinetry, appliances, counter tops or actual structural defects, i.e. wavy walls, creaky floors? We’ve looked at several Del Webb communities and would agree with your comment re: price, but it depends on which community. For example, we thought their Nashville community was very expensive but their Atlanta community seemed priced comparable with neighboring adult communities.

    by njtom — February 9, 2014

  84. RE: Del Webb…We are looking at retiring in the Apex/Cary/Holly Springs/Fuquay-Varina area located W/SW of Raleigh from the NoVA area. Last fall,I went through a regular subdivision where the houses are built by the Del Webb parent. Half the subdivision is more family oriented while the Del Webb type houses (including yard maintenance)are in a completely separate section. My problem was not the layout, but the fact that they have NO flexibility for changes outside of their upgrades & the upgrades are costly. Last weekend, I was down visiting my daughter’s family, met with the realtor they used when they moved there last summer, & she drove me through the Del Webb community in Cary. I found it absolutely claustrophobic – streets like rabbit warrens. I’ve also been reading a lot of websites, forums, etc. that discuss the MAJOR problems people have had with Del Webb since the houses are now built by Pulte & Centes. Just do a web search…you’ll find the complaints.

    Our resolution is that we will probably go with a custom or semi-custom builder unless we can find a newer resale with a lower than new price where we’ll be able to do renovations. The builder I’ve been talking to is “Age-in-place” certified as well as being a green builder who specializes in energy-savings. One might think that they would be a lot more expensive than a tract house, but much of what they offer as standard is an upgrade at other builders.

    by arnickels — February 9, 2014

  85. njtom, the trim work and finishing were sloppy. It just didn’t look like I would have expected a model to look so I wondered what an actual home would look like.

    by Dick — February 10, 2014

  86. We visited DW Ponte Vedre in northeast Florida. We support everything said above about the quality of construction – low end materials : cheap windows, bath fixtures, appliances, HVAC units, and my husband stopped by one house being framed and said it was also of poor quality. Absolutely NO substitutions allowed! Although we loved the small town of Nocatee, the DW community was way over priced for the substandard houses there. Be sure to ask about resales – lots of people looking to get out is never a good sign!

    by SandyZ — February 10, 2014

  87. arnickels, I am looking at the area in NC that you mentioned. (Also want to explore a few other areas.) I really wanted a 55+ but although I have not visited the Del Webb in NC, I have visited them in other areas and have been disappointed. Did you find any 55+ in that area that you enjoyed even though you decided to build elsewhere?

    I live just a bit south of you in Fredericksburg VA presently and there are some better built 55+, I moved here for a job 5 years ago so there is no reason to stay. And I 95 is a good reason to leave.

    by elaine — February 10, 2014

  88. I agree with the comments about the DW communities. Not impressed. I really want to live within and hour to 90 minutes of the Raleigh/Durham/Cary areas. I want a 55+ because of the social aspect. And I want to pay no more than $200K, preferably less. We still carry a significant mortgage due to health and other issues (husband) so will not have a free and clear house to use against our new home. Are there any communities I am not aware of that are not listed on the 55+ website? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    by Mary K — February 11, 2014

  89. elaine, although we haven’t looked at it yet, The Village at Aversboro in Garner looks interesting. They say on their website that they will customize the floor plan so it might be that they’ll work with us on other things we want to do to the house (very large shower & deep non-jacuzzi tub). I plan to take a look at the Village when I’m down there in a couple of weeks.

    I agree with you about I-95! And, hubby is very tired of the very long Metro commute after driving from Oak Hill to Vienna.

    by arnickels — February 11, 2014

  90. We live in Del Webb Charleston and we chose it for the lifestyle and are not sorry about our decision. We knew going in that the homes were of average construction, they are not custom. We have great neighbors and many things to keep us busy. At this point in our lives we wanted a small lot without all the upkeep. There is a small 55+ community in Summerville , The Pines of Gahagan, that is custom built and very nice. We loved that aspect but they do not have the amenities that Del Webb. It is all a matter of what is important to each of us.

    by Kathy — February 12, 2014

  91. arnichels, Thanks for the suggestion of The Village at Aversboro in Garner…it looks like it may be close to sold out. But will check it out when I get down that way.

    by elaine — February 12, 2014

  92. I made a huge mistake retiring to NC. Taxes are way higher here then SC. NC is not a tax friendly state for retirees and continue to get worse. The new NC state tax changes that was suppose to be so great has me paying more then 1k then I use to pay. My wife and I are both retired and our income does not change that much from year to year. People should check the state taxes in NC before retiring here. One example to get you started is gasoline prices. You will pay at least 20-30 cents higher for a gallon of gas in NC then in SC.

    by Clyde Bowman — January 7, 2018

  93. Good point Clyde – I live over the border in SC and my Charlotte co-workers who live in NC complain about their substantially higher real estate taxes. They buy their gas in SC. The SC income tax on wages has gone up higher, but I won’t be worrying so much about that in a month or two! There is still a big net saving with my SC address. That explains why additional retirement communities are being built here by Del Webb and others. However, taxes everywhere have a way of creeping up. The SC gas tax, for ex, just went up 2 cents.

    by Kate — January 8, 2018

  94. Clyde…. There used to be a substantial difference in gas prices between NC and SC, in the range you mentioned, but it has changed in the past two years. I live in Wilmington NC and go to Myrtle Beach often. Last week while there, the gas price differential at Sam’s was $.04. I do agree on real estate taxes especially with the “old age” deduction of $50,000 in assessed value.

    by Dick — January 8, 2018

  95. Florida is looking better and better. Maybe the Northern part of the state.

    by LMB — January 11, 2018

  96. Dick,
    I would think that the gas prices in a resort area would be higher than in other parts of the state.

    by Staci — January 12, 2018

  97. Staci, wrong…. Myrtle Beach keeps prices down to attract people not to keep them away.

    by Dick — January 12, 2018

  98. The important thing to remember about taxes is you get what you pay for, I love living in SC most of the time but hate driving on our deplorable roads. We are a part of a large master planned community that will eventually have 10000+ homes. The county approved all this development and more without planning accordingly for infrastructure. We have about a third of the homes built and already the traffic is horrendous. We are served by a rural volunteer fire department that is so far away that many residents pay extremely high property insurance and many have had difficulty finding coverage. We only pay $75/year for fire protection which isn’t enough but County Council is not willing to raise it. Our state income tax is 7% but there are many deductions for seniors. The governor has just proposed making all retired first responders and military pay tax free. This will be great for us but I wonder how they will make up the lost revenue and what services they will have to cut. I guess the point I am making is that you should look at the big picture and not just the $$$.

    by Kathy — January 12, 2018

  99. I’m planning to retire to Aiken, SC in the next year or two. Coming from the Chicago area I was amazed at the quality of the highways and roads in South Carolina. Property taxes for the year were less than I was paying a month in the Chicago suburbs. I guess it’s all relative. Will not miss the Chicago winters.

    by Bill Richert — October 10, 2018

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