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Dueling Carolinas: What Our Members Have to Say

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

February 11, 2019 — Our “Dueling States” comparison articles remain all-time favorites at (see complete list at end of article). Yet none is more popular than the one on “Dueling Carolinas“. At last count there were 631 Member comments going back several years, and right up to several made yesterday. In fact, although the main article laid out the facts about each state when it comes to real estate prices, taxes, climate, geography, and where to retire, the best information about what it is like to retire in either of the Carolinas is contained within all of those comments. This article will reprint two recent comments which were exceptionally interesting. We’ll also give you a tool on how to use these Comments to do customized Carolina research on topics that interest you. We look forward to even more comments too!

Comments on almost every Carolina topic. Obviously it would take a long time to read 631 comments, let alone the original article. By this point the comments have pretty much covered every topic you could imagine, from property taxes to livability, transportation, hurricanes, and specific towns and communities for retirement. Although we recommend skimming through to find the subjects and locations that interest you, we have another approach you might find useful. On your computer you can use “Find” under the Edit menu (PCs might be slightly different). While on the “Dueling Carolinas” article use “Find” and search for a town you are interested in. We did that for “Asheville” and found 87 references. Or search on Property Tax (44 references). By using that tool you can do customized research on the Carolinas, based on user comments.

Comments From Ron (Myrtle Beach): I must say I appreciate the diversity of comments as there is much truth and value to them all. That said as a new retiree, currently renting in North Myrtle Beach, I would like to offer the following:

Do your homework, but realize that until you move you will never truly know. Just think about where you are now, what do you like and not like. How has that changed from when you first started out and now, possibly 30-50 years later. That area changed, you changed.

You are looking for something different; weather, taxes, slower pace, etc. Although we love it here, there will be things you won’t because you bring your personality, experiences, and prejudices with you. Those might be traffic, health care, slow service, poor signage, etc. As an example, we love it here overall, but I personally get annoyed with tourists that drive like they are back home and rushing to work. You are on vacation, slow down, you are supposedly here to destress and enjoy. Why rush/stress getting to that prime beach spot, golf course, show or festival. You should enjoy every minute of your stay. Actually, you should have left that stress and need to rush at home.

We’re renting as we immediately found there are wonderful areas throughout the Grand Strand, so we have to decide which part of the Strand we want to live. We are drawn to North Myrtle, but there so many things in the other areas that we like and thus must drive to, which can be a 45 minute drive that particular store, activity, or dinner. But hey, aren’t we retired, what time you have left is ours to enjoy, not stress.

Having just lived through Hurricanes Florence and Michael, we learned a lot. Evacuate early, don’t rush back, and expect the trip back to take twice as long as the drive out. And especially, flooding, power loss, and unsafe drinking water can extend the ‘back to normal’ period. We have also made adjustments to our home search as a result of the experience.

We have already found in our one year here that there are many, many wonderful locales in both North and South Carolina from beach to mountain and all are only a few hours away; but don’t rush to them, enjoy the journey. Good hunting —————————————————————————

Comments from Rita M (various):

We moved from Monmouth County NJ April 2018 primarily due to taxes and weather. We decided to rent in Leland NC (10 minutes to Wilmington) for one year and look around various parts of both states before determining where we should buy. Having said that, we will continue to rent in our next location because as many people stated in the above comments, you really do not get to know the area until you lived there awhile. I think it’s important to know your criteria before buying.

We are renting in Waterford and it’s a lovely gated community with pool, clubhouse and lots of nice long sidewalks for daily walking. The weather has been wonderful most of the year. Some very hot, humid days, but my understanding is much less humid than inland. My husband stayed in our rental patio home during Hurricane Florence and we were fortunate (or should I state our landlord was!), no damage or flooding. A lot of broken palm fronds but that was it. I can walk to the Harris Teeter, get my haircut, dentist or meet a friend for a slice a pizza or sandwich or a cup of coffee. Having lived here almost a year, although I met many new friends, we decided Leland/Wilmington is not for us. I am not a beach person so I don’t want to move anywhere near a beach nor pay for it due to its proximity. I am very concerned about the GenX situation here in Brunswick and New Hanover county so I put that on top of my list for not buying here. Also there are many articles online about contamination of water from pig farms (Smithfield) that has affected Eastern NC in general. However after doing much research (I mean LOTS ) it appears that other counties are affected as well.

Wilmington although close, is still not a large enough city to our liking. Wilmington has approximately 100k population, Raleigh approximately 400 k, Charlotte around 800k. Having lived 50 miles in a beautiful suburb from NYC, Wilmington has been a disappointed to us, but that vs. OUR criteria. Again, it goes by everyone’s INDIVIDUAL criteria. We are basing our criteria on what is important to us: Proximity to International Airport, proximity to good healthcare facilities, property type (I like property, at least 3/4 acre preferably 1 acre), environmental concerns, small town atmosphere close to larger city. Here is the list of areas we visited so far: Asheville stunning, beautiful, too far west and airport is similar to Wilmington (puddle jumpers/limited flights higher costs in general due to connecting flights, limited nonstop destinations), snow even if it’s shorter season can be significant.

Charlotte area Davidson, Lake Norman, Matthews, Weddington. Beautiful area, expensive but for us, it was the traffic congestion due population. Charlotte and its suburbs are the largest in NC (approximately 1.3 million counting the suburbs). Since we no longer have to deal with work or congestion, we nixed this area. We considered the area also because my son is planning on relocating to Charlotte in 2020 but like everyone tells me, because he’s young and unsettled, its best to choose where we want to live. Raleigh/Wake Forest was beautiful as well. Great proximity to Raleigh International airport and good healthcare.Nice small town atmosphere and 30 minutes to downtown Raleigh. Traffic however is BAD during rush hour so just need to avoid. More property (especially in Granville county where you do not pay Wake Forest city taxes). This is second choice for us. Clover SC is very close to Charlotte and is a better buy because of the $50k tax reduction off the tax assessment for purchasing a home. Myrtle Beach is one hour and 20 minutes, again I’m not a beach person. I forgot to mention, we went with realtors to all these areas. I highly recommend doing this to see what you get for your money.

Having said all this, I hope it helps. Our next rental will be in the Wake Forest area since it has everything we like. After living there and exploring more areas, I will update as I go. Wishing everyone a great adventure, but HIGHLY recommend renting first. Actually, we are getting so use to renting, we may not buy for a few years! And there are lots of rentals but they go fast because more people are doing what I am doing. With all the new construction going on down here, resale values for homes are excellent…you get more for your money. Good luck to all. —Rita M. ————————————————-

One more. Although we don’t have room for them here, the original article had dozens of comments worthy or republication. But here is one from Artie that is exceptional. It was so good and so full of information we turned it into its own article, “One Year Later: Artie’s Observations on Moving from New York to the Carolinas“.

Bottom line

These two comments from Ron and Rita are the tip of the iceberg in what has been added to the “Dueling Retirements” article. But both Members make it clear that there are an abundance of choices in the Carolinas for retirement – many will probably fit your idea of a great place to retire. But as they point out, you won’t know that until you spend some time on the ground. Use the comments in the original article to come up with potential places, refine your search, and then go visit them!

For further reading:

Posted by Admin on February 10th, 2019


  1. I brought this up a while back, any one looking in the Carolinas has to google Coal Ash Ponds.

    by JD — February 13, 2019

  2. JD – how can I read your original post? I just googled it and it just talked about spills and Duke Energy.

    by Dian — February 14, 2019

  3. I basically agree with the comments broad comments reflected above by Ron and Rita, but one in particular sort of blew me away — Rita’s thought about BAD traffic around Raleigh. Before returning to the Triangle area (that’s around RTP), we lived in Northern Virginia for 7 years commuting into Manassas and to inside the beltline. Now THAT is traffic! Nothing in the Triangle area compares. Those who come here and stay mostly in the northern Raleigh area and then make broad statements about traffic or anything else, really should get away and spend more time around the other fringes. Living in North Raleigh is much different than South Raleigh or Apex or Chapel Hill or out east. Traffic at rush hours, sure. But forget any comparisons to DC or Atlanta or LA or even Charlotte. And if you are retired, you mostly get to pick when you want to be on the road.

    by Rich Beaudry — February 14, 2019

  4. I like the suggestions about renting and getting to know the place before committing to purchasing a home. In addition to these suggestions, my wife and I created a pros and cons list on a legal pad and continuously updated it before making a decision. Years ago we lived in Florida and could not stand the heat and humidity. Plus it was so far from family in the north-east. We started vacationing at the Delaware Beach area and fell in love with it. Yes, summer traffic is a headache (on the weekends). And restaurants are jammed in the summer months. The closest airports are over an hour away. But we wanted to be close to the beach, have a temperate climate and be withing driving distance to family. Delaware is more tax friendly than the state I currently reside in. The temperatures in the Delaware shore area is about ten degrees warmer on average than where I currently live. Instead of having another home in say Florida for the cold months, we will probably rent and use those months to explore other parts of the country where the weather is warmer. This avoids being a slave to another house.

    by Ron B — February 14, 2019

  5. Dian google 60 minutes they did a 20 minute segment about coal ash ponds

    by JD — March 1, 2019

  6. Rich Beaudry – As I commuted from NYC to NJ EVERYDAY for 25 years, I think I have a VERY GOOD PERSPECTIVE of traffic and commuting. Given that I found Wake Forest, Raleigh Cary area way too congested, overhyped, too many Northerners “me-too” oriented. I found the perfect ideal place for now. It’s beaucolic. I love it. However, I choose to keep it a best kept secret should I spoil it for myself.

    by Rita Mythen — June 19, 2019

  7. Rita, then why make the post? Don’t others deserve to know where “Heaven” is?

    by Nitneylion — June 20, 2019

  8. Rita,. I certainly won’t dispute YOUR definition of traffic congestion. But when was the last time in the RTP area you were stuck for hours in a line of traffic that wouldn’t move? Regardless, I’m glad you found the right place for you.

    by RichPB — June 20, 2019

  9. We moved Roberta’s comment asking for input from those who have relocated to Fairhope, AL, to a different Blog article for further discussion about this interesting community:
    10 Prettiest Retirement Towns

    by Jane at Topretirements — June 24, 2019

  10. RichPB ,
    I choose to have no traffic congestion in my retirement life after NYC. I found Raleigh, RTP and Charlotte including outlying areas such as Wake Forest, Weddington etc to be undesirable to me. I found my place for now and I’m very happy,.

    by Rita M — June 25, 2019

  11. I commuted a couple hours each day in DC traffic for over twenty years and four years in Chicago traffic. So… lack of traffic, is paramount to a proper retirement town for me. But traffic is getting worse in smaller towns as people buy more cars. We like the idea of North Carolina, but much of North Carolina seems to suffer from sprawl and a lack of public transit. Charlotte, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, and Asheville, all seem to experience a good deal of gridlock. There is also lots of beach gridlock during the summer. Yes, as a retiree, we can adjust some of our activities to avoid rush hour; but rush hour becomes nebulous in areas where there are many retirees. Here in Florida, there is an additional “rush hour” that starts at about 10 in the morning and goes to about 2:00, consisting of seniors on errands. Add in workers on a lunch hour and it’s almost like my old commute.

    by Lynn — June 26, 2019

  12. As more retirees flock to the same locales that are not walkable, of course a car is a
    necessity, but what happens when you can no longer or do not wish to drive? There needs to be a balance. I live in Washington, DC proper and not in the suburbs–I did live in Virginia for my first 18 years and traffic was two hours at times each way and very nerve wracking. That being said, I also realize that what I consider a traffic jam may in reality be a mere inconvenience in some parts of the country and no where near as arduous as it is here.. As a future retiree, I will seek places that are appealing, but not where everyone else is going.

    by Jennifer — June 27, 2019

  13. Jennifer is right, traffic is a concern when selecting a retirement town, but many of the cities discussed in North and South Carolina have good public transportation if you don’t want to drive, and many are bike friendly. North and South Carolina have a lot to offer with college towns, mountains, and beaches so you will have traffic. There are also some small, pretty and walkable towns located in these states.

    by jemmie — June 27, 2019

  14. A New Community? My sister loves the beach and this came up on her radar recently. It looks like a new community: The Seabrook – a CCRC on Hilton Head Island. Just thought I’d share the link, in case anyone is keeping track.

    by Flatearth6 — June 27, 2019

  15. Jemmie, Could you name some examples of towns with good public transit? We will be looking in NC and it seems that beyond living in the central part of town, which is always expensive, there is a lack of transit and a lot of traffic.

    by Lynn — June 28, 2019

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