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How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as Favorite Retirement State

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

May 4, 2010 and updated April 6, 2015 — Florida and Arizona have long been the favorite 2 states for retirement migration. A study from Del Webb, however, finds that the Carolinas, North and South, might have usurped FL and AZ’s traditional positions as the favorite retirement destination states. This article will concentrate on how and why North Carolina overcame Florida to become the number 1 retirement destination in some people’s eyes. In addition to trying to explain how this important shift has come about, we will also review some of the top places to retire in this diverse state. We encourage you to read all of the articles in our Dueling Retirement series (listed at the end of this article), including: Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC
North Carolina’s Secret Sauce

A warm winter climate has traditionally been the most important reason for choosing a retirement state. That preference is a key reason why AZ and FL have always been at the top of the retirement state pyramid. Since winters aren’t all that warm in the Carolinas, North Carolina’s overtaking Florida in retirement popularity represents a profound change. The trend is so pervasive that it has spawned a new term, “half-back”, which describe retirees who retired to Florida from the northeast only to later move “half way back” home to the Carolinas. So what has changed among retirees to bring this phenomenon about, and just what is in North Carolina’s secret retirement sauce?

In a recent Del Webb survey among baby boomers on retirement preferences the top reasons for choosing where to live in retirement were cost of living, health care, climate, and opportunities for culture and recreation. Family and friends were further down the list. Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found the same general reasons for retirement moves, but in a different order: family, financial, better location, leisure/climate, and health. Looking at these and related reasons, is there a logical explanation why boomers now prefer North Carolina over Florida for retirement?

Both NC and FL are fairly low tax states. Florida has one important edge – it has no state income tax. North Carolina, which improved its tax friendliness beginning in 2014, does not tax social security income. It now has a flat rate income tax rate of 5.75%. Each individual gets a $7500 deduction. Neither state has inheritance or estate taxes. In both states, full-time residents can take advantage of homestead laws which protect them from unreasonable property tax increases (there are certain restrictions in North Carolina). Both states have sales taxes (6% in FL vs. 4.75% in NC). Both states have fairly low property taxes, at least compared to the northeast. North Carolina’s property tax as a % of home value is .85%, slightly lower than Florida’s at 1.06%. Although the Tax Foundation ranked North Carolina as having a higher tax burden than Florida’s in 2011, they are probably much closer as of 2014.

Florida certainly has the edge for people who prefer warmer winters. Even in northern Florida the winters are mild – vegetable gardens grow in January and it rarely snows or goes below freezing. In southern Florida shorts and short sleeves are usually comfortable on January and February days, although there can be occasional cool spells. North Carolina has a much more diverse climate than Florida’s. The coast is a bit cooler in summer and a bit warmer in winter than elsewhere in the state. It rarely goes below 40 along the coast, but can go into the teens in the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains in the western part of the state, where there are ski resorts. People who want 4 seasons will find them in North Carolina, and folks who want to go swimming or play golf in January will usually be able to do so in Florida. Both states have climates that permit a wide range of activities year round. Florida has had a number of hurricanes in the last 10 years, and those storms have led to very high insurance rates.

Economy and Cost of Living
Both states had difficulty after the 2007 recession. North Carolina probably has a more diverse economy than Florida’s top-heavy concentration on tourism and construction. Cost of living in both states is middle of the road: Florida’s is #27 lowest and NC is #23. In North Carolina the Zillow Home Value Index statewide was $146,700 in early 2015, quite a bit lower than Florida’s $169,700 Index (data from – the U.S. Value Index was $178,700).

Like Florida, North Carolina has an ample, but not quite as long coastline, where people can enjoy the beach and access to bays and the ocean. NC has pastoral places to live like the sandhills around Pinehurst in the central part of the state, as does Florida in the panhandle and center of the state. North Carolina, however, has towns in its western mountains where people who crave mountains can find their ideal retirement. At a towering 345′ above sea level Britton Hill is the tallest peak in Florida, whereas Mt. Mitchell in NC stands at 6,684′. Overall: NC wins for geographic diversity.

Where to Live
Both states have interesting towns to live in. Both have college towns – like Chapel Hill in NC and Gainesville in FL. Each state has large cities to live in like Charlotte, Tallahassee and Miami. Each also has interesting towns like Mount Airy or Key West. There are plenty of cultural activities to be had in either state, if one chooses a town carefully. Because of cheap land and plenty of willing retirees, both states have hundreds of new and existing active adult communities to choose from. North Carolina has an edge with Asheville, the most popular retirement destination in the country. Florida, however, has dozens of towns that are dominated by and desirable for retirees. Our conclusion: North Carolina offers more diversity in terms of the available living environments and scenery but Florida has many more communities that are dominated by retirees.

Health care
Both states have a wonderful collection of medical facilities and professionals, particularly in the larger cities. Doctors and hospitals tend to go where the patients are, and since both states have a growing population and (at least until recently) booming economies, they are both well-supplied medically.

So Why is North Carolina coming out on top for retirement preference?
After analyzing all of these factors we had hoped that we would find a compelling reason why North Carolina is beating the pants off Florida in attracting retirees. Unfortunately, that is not the case. On most factors the states are about even – each one comes out ahead on a few points and behind on some others. Conclusion: there must be some intangibles at work here.

The Cool Factor
These are strictly our opinions, but here are some reasons why North Carolina’s Secret Sauce is giving Florida a licking in the retirement department:
– Florida has an image problem. Too many movies have parodied retirement life in Florida – from “Cocoon” to “In Her Shoes”. A lot of people don’t want to be associated with the blue haired, shuffleboard playing set that is displayed in popular culture about Florida.
– Florida is tacky and crowded. By no means is the whole state that way, but there are many, many towns where everything is new and every store is a big box or a chain. Some people are rejecting that barrenness, along with the intense traffic and development that comes with unchecked growth.
– On the positive side, North Carolina has a cool factor. Towns like Asheville, New Bern, and Chapel Hill have good reputations as interesting places to live. North Carolina represents something new and undiscovered, with the advantage of being not too far away or too different from the northeast many retirees are moving away from.

Most popular retirement towns in North Carolina
Here are the most popular retirement towns in North Carolina as determined by page visits to their reviews at
Asheville – In the western mountains – the #1 retirement spot in the country
Beaufort – An old seaport (and Blackbeard the Pirate’s retirement town) with considerable charm
Chapel Hill – A lively college town and home to the University of North Carolina
Hendersonville – Small town in the Blue Ridge National Heritage area
Mount Airy – The fictional home of Mayberry in the mountains
New Bern – Smaller and more charming, near the coast
Pinehurst – Charm and understated elegance in a legendary golf community
Southport – An active fishing village in southern North Carolina – where “Dawson’s Creek” was filmed
Winston-Salem – A larger city that is attracting retirees
More North Carolina retirement towns

For further reference:
North Carolina Retirement Guide
Florida Retirement Guide
7 States to Avoid
Sun Setting on the Sunshine State
Where are Baby Boomers Retiring
Tax Friendly States for Retirement
Dueling States: NC vs. SC
Dueling States: AZ vs. FL
Dueling Mid-Atlantic States: DE vs. NJ vs. MD vs. VA
California Retirement 101
Retirement in the Southwest: AZ, NM, and Utah
The Pacific Northwest: Oregon vs. Washington

What do you think?
Be sure to tell us what you think. Which state do you prefer – and is there one you would never, ever, consider? Use the comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on May 4th, 2010


  1. Great reporting. Yes, the cool factor is meaningful. Studying the Carolina In-migration Industry using the 26-question Carolina Lifestyle Survey™ which has been administered to 95,000 families since 1987, we know a ton about the profile of retirees and families of all ages relocating here. #1 attraction is our “scenic beauty” followed by “climate” then, recreation and cultural activities. Our data, for example, using NCOA Audits shows there are a lot more people retiring to larger towns like Charlotte due to sheer size of market than will ever relocate to New Bern and Mt. Airy. Be a pleasure to share our findings with your TopRetirements research team. FYI, another term for the FL exit is called by demographers: “The FL J-Curve”. As you do SC, I think we can assist. Patrick Mason

    by Patrick Mason — May 4, 2010

  2. I have to agree that Asheville is a cool place! We just purchased a condo there – mainly because it was a do-able drive from Chattanooga. We like it as a getaway because there is a noticable LACK of national chain franchises and a wonderful eclectic collection of small and interesting businesses and restaurants. There is a lot of energy there. It is easy to get around town and people of all ages are out and about any given evening – even when it was 28 degrees and icy. Music and art are fresh and new. That said, by the time we actually retire I’d love to have a place in Wilmington too – beautiful city and a favorite choice for the coast! Now I hope that NC doesn’t fill up with just old people – its the young energy that keeps us going!!

    by H. Flaherty — May 4, 2010

  3. We retired 6 years ago to Florida. It is less attractive now than NC because for newcomers Property Taxes are high (top third of USA), and property insurance has become expensive. However it is still possible to find quiet traffic free areas on East Coast north of KSC but within reach of major towns.I must admit we take 2 trips a year to NC for the Mountains! But I would hate the snow-even Asheville had heavy snow this winter-we had none.

    by Graham Webster-Gardiner — May 4, 2010

  4. I am thinking of retiring. From what I read, N.C. seems more attractive and perhaps more rounded as a state. Florida is old and everywhere you go it looks, sounds and smells old, except for South Beach and some areas of Miami.

    I have a question to retirees who moved to SC, if one is single, is it easy to make friends and socialize?


    by mona — May 5, 2010

  5. I am thinking of retiring. From what I read, N.C. seems more attractive and perhaps more rounded as a state. Florida is old and everywhere you go it looks, sounds and smells old, except for South Beach and some areas of Miami plus the hurricanes.

    I have a question to retirees who moved to SC, if one is single, is it easy to make friends and socialize?


    by mona — May 5, 2010

  6. I will be looking for a winter vacation home soon and NC sounds perfect. I can only spend six months of the year out of Canada. Any comments on this? Does anyong know other Canadians who have done this.

    by cathie — May 5, 2010

  7. Five years ago we purchased a cottage in a community in Flat Rock NC. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth! We have lived in NJ and FL and still spend half of our time in FL but I’ll take NC any day. I love it. The weather is beautiful in the mountains and the area is full of wonderful towns to visit and enjoy.

    by Pat Stilwell — May 8, 2010

  8. Several comments:
    1. The yearly threat of tornadoes and hurricanes in Florida, which leads to
    2. The hellish summers: temperature and humidity in the 90’s, which leads to
    3. The further south in Florida, the more retirees heading north in summer.
    4. I wonder: how many half-backs head to Florida in the winter; ditto for snowbirds heading to NC or SC in the summer?
    5. I wonder: the relative safety of purchasing gated-community or condo property in the three states. The greater the foreclosures and walk-aways, the higher the association fees – and builder bankruptcies.

    by oldnassau — May 8, 2010

  9. […] 4 Reasons Why Not to Retire in These 7 States generated the most spirited comments – 27 in all. North Carolina’s Secret Sauce generated 8 thought-provoking […]

    by » The Best of the Best Places to Retire Topretirements — May 18, 2010

  10. That said, by the time we actually retire I’d love to have a place in Wilmington too – beautiful city and a favorite choice for the coast! Now I hope that NC doesn’t fill up with just old people – its the young energy that keeps us going!!

    by polo ralph lauren — May 26, 2010

  11. We found the best kept secret in Tarboro NC. It’s the most beautiful town I’ve ever been to or seen. Climate is good year round and the people are nice and friendly and you really get to know your neighbors. There are 45 blocks of historic homes and you really get a lot of house for your dollar.

    by patricia moss — May 30, 2010

  12. I grew up in FL and my parents retired from there to North Carolina. My dad didn’t like the extreme heat and how crowded Florida was. I eventually followed them to NC where I now live, too. I’m in my 40’s now, but I would never retire back to FL. I concur that it’s very tacky and crowded down there. I most likely won’t live out my retirement years here in NC because as a Florida girl, I can’t handle these colder winters up here. I would like to retire to a warmer place, but Florida will not be on the list. I think NC is a beautiful place to retire if you don’t mind the colder winters. I love it here for now 🙂

    by JJ — June 9, 2010

  13. I am renovating a home in NC to use for retirement. My home is placed in what is called a trust with myself as the beneficiary. I did this to protect my property from being seized by the state for outstanding debts or hospital bills if I pass away. This may be a very important tip for those planning to retire in NC.

    by snowbird chick — July 15, 2010

  14. I was born and raised in Florida and spent my later teen years in NC, but moved back to Florida and now want to move back. But now that NC has gone to the yankees I dunno. They raise the property value and force the locals out. I just wish the yankees would stay in their own states and let us be. They just can’t get enough of forcing their ways upon us.

    by Gregg — July 20, 2010

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  16. […] your reference: Arizona vs. Florida Retirement The Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for […]

    by » Dueling Retirement States: DE vs. VA vs. MD vs. NJ Topretirements — October 5, 2010

  17. […] Best of the Best Places to Retire How North Carolina Climbed over Florida as #1 Retirement State Best States for Retirement State Retirement […]

    by » Dueling Carolinas: North Carolina vs. South Carolina As the Best Retirement State Topretirements — November 15, 2010

  18. […] How North Carolina Surpassed Florida As The Number One Retirement State Posted by John Brady for  […]

    by North Carolina Surpasses Florida for #1 Retirement Spot | My Asheville Property - Mukunda Pacifici — December 1, 2010

  19. Having lived in NY and on Long just about my entire life, I thought my wife and I would wind up retiring somewhere along the southeast coast of Florida. This has been my family tradition as well as the tradition of many New Yorkers. It’s almost a cliche. Instead, to my own surprise I wound up moving to Cary, NC. Cary is located in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill “Triangle.” Cary has probably earned it’s moniker (aka) “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.” However, since I’m a New Yorker, this seemed like a good thing. As the name would imply, there has largely been an influx of North Easterners into this area. That said, North Easterners and especially New Yorkers have certain requirements and expectations to which they have become accustomed. This includes many cultural and leisure activities as well as services including, great shopping, theater, sports, concerts, excellent dining, educational and work opportunities, great health care as well as the availability of many outdoor activities including golf, hiking, biking. There just seemed to be a lot of compelling reasons to select this area because it seems to have all of this. This area also is a very pretty part of the country with lots of big trees, lakes, greenways and parks. The area continues to grow and with this growth there seems to be more good things as far as restaurants and shopping on the way as well as bad things like increased traffic. Right now, though, its a major break from the ridiculous high costs (espeically real estate taxes) and congestion of Long Island and the NY Metro area. As far as climate is concerned, some people including my wife are not thrilled with the heat and humidity associated with South Florida, espeically in the summer.North Carolina weather is more moderate. You do get four distinct season with the nicer seasons like the spring and fall being longer. Be advised, however, that anywhere down south gets hot in the summer. NC is no exception. However, NY in the summer is no bargain either. There does seem to be more interesting and nicer terrain in N. Carolina than compared to Florida, which is largely flat and uninteresting. In NC, you still have your coastal beach areas which are very nice as well as the Blue Ridge mountains to the west. Consequently, I think it provides a bit more variety and diversity in that regard compared to Florida. Also, many parts of Florida, particularly areas along the S.E. coast are very congested with tons of traffic. Add to this things like hurricanes and the impact of the real estate meltdown and you start to have second thoughts about Florida as being the best choice of retirement locations. Personally, while I still enjoy visting Florida, I started thinking, maybe Florida is a better place to visit than to live. And, so the decision was made. So far, having only lived in NC since the end of August 2010, I’m thinking I probably made a good decision.

    by Artie — December 15, 2010

  20. I moved from Florida to Asheville NC – I think the main difference is the people and how friendly they are in Asheville. It can be a shock at first!

    by Rowena — January 31, 2011

  21. Sold our home on Cape Cod for a move to Calabash, NC this past summer (July).
    No regrets whatsoever. No traffic, lower taxes, better weather conditions, great neighbors and the local town reminds us of the small village we came from.

    Unlike Massachusetts, the people here respect you, your property and your thoughts. Should have done this years ago!

    by Joe — February 1, 2012

  22. Just returned from a fact finding mission to NC. Absolutely loved it! Have lived in NJ, Sacramento, Albuquerque, and now WI. By far, this was THE most friendliest place yet. And the coastal cities were beautiful: Wilmington, Oriental and New Bern were wonderful. I look forward to our next visit…for a month at least to see if the charm is still there. But, we had the absolute most wonderful time yet. So much to do and see. A truly amazing state!

    by Jo Anna — June 22, 2012

  23. Jo Anna,
    I am also interested in NC. I lived there in the past (and in NJ). I think a lot of NJ folks settle in NC. When in the Chapel Hill area, I loved it, but did not find the Wilmington area friendly. I was still working. Perhaps one of newer master communities would be great since there are often people from all over. It is a lovely area and great for people looking for the coastal living. I know this will not bother most people, but when you want to travel by auto, it seems to take forever. I used to need to travel regularly to other areas in the state and found the drive tedious. For those staying put and enjoying retirement in the Cape Fear area that would probably not be a consideration. I do think that people across the Cape Fear river (Leland) might find this a great area. I did have a couple of neighbors (not a retirement community) who had retired to the area. One moved to the area without knowing anyone (single woman) and did left after about 2 years. The other was a couple who already had some friends in the area and seemed very happy.

    chapel Hill area is wonderful, probably not where I will retire, but a definite maybe. It may be a bit costly for me. Being near the university is a big plus especially for those who enjoy college sports. Friendly people, good medical care, etc.

    I agree that it is a wonderful state. Lots of variety, beautiful mountains, lovely coast and generally friendly people. The triangle has a wonderful diversity and will be an another area I consider.

    I look forward to your report from your next visit.

    by Lane — June 23, 2012

  24. If by cool you mean cooler summers, that is why I preferred mountains in NC over FL. My husband’s job took us to FL 32 years ago. Not long after I told him I needed to retire further north. I appreciated the lifestyle his job afforded us but I wanted change of seasons. He’s not ready to retire yet but I’ve been doing research of where I’d like to be. NC and VA were front runners. We stopped for a look at Sun City Hilton Head in June of 2013 and he was impressed with the amenities and the price. We built our retirement home and moved in November 2013. We vacationed at Fripp many times over the last 25 years so we’re familiar with the Low Country. The summers are just as hot and humid as FL but don’t last quite as long. Winters are cooler than FL but not as cold as the mountains in NC. While Bluffton is a growing area it’s not as crowded as Central FL. Mostly, this was as far north as my husband would move. Maybe when he fully retires I can get him to sell our FL beach condo and buy a summer mountain retreat.

    by MarjieW — October 31, 2014

  25. Not quite retired, but moved to the Carolinas for work from PA a few months ago. I work in Charlotte, NC but live right over the border in SC. I don’t think I’m going to stay after I actually retire in a year or two, but have to give it a chance. Too early to tell right now. Positives: temperatures. Today is the first day that feels and looks like autumn, and leaves are turning. I didn’t even mind the hot and steamy 90-100+ degree heat in July and August, although I admit to being shocked when I passed one of those bank thermometers that was up to 111 in August (in the sun). Taxes on home prices are good, and if you’re buying there are a lot of options in this area at reasonable prices. I was happy that S.C. didn’t require me to take a driver’s test again or get my car inspected (unlike N.C.), and the personal property taxes on my newer car were less than $600. I’m happy with the $2.79 gas price I paid yesterday in S.C., at the border. Prices in the grocery stores vary, from being higher to lower than PA. Interestingly, the fruits & vegs in my local Publix, Harris Teater and Food Lion grocery stores aren’t as nice as the ones we got up North, although prices are lower and they’re probably fresher. They do have some varieties I haven’t seen before. I see less family-sized or bulk food, perhaps because I’m near a big Sun City. It might also be because the people I’ve met seem to eat out a lot more. My utility prices have been good, but I did insist on gas heat. I’ve heard that people with electric heating have horrible bills for a few months in the winter, same as anywhere else. Negatives so far: Traffic in this part of the state is terrible. There’s no other word for it. Reminds me of the years I lived in New York City. I sure can’t imagine driving on these highways in my 70s, and I sure hope I never need an ambulance. I’ve seen them trying to get through traffic on the highways at 10 mph with sirens blaring. It’s been tough to find good service people. A Home Depot plumber (N.C. store) tried to rip me off (he switched off my disposal, and told me it had just burned out), my landscaper doesn’t show up unless I nag him, another plumber tried to charge me twice for parts, etc. It’s also my first time living in a HOA, and I’m not too happy with it so far – the active members run the place as their own personal kingdom. If you want to join in, great. If you don’t want to join in, expect to be paying for the parties, charities and numerous pet projects of the active members. HOAs are probably the same everywhere. I miss having grocery and some other stores like Wal-Mart being open 24-7. Realtor explained the debate between slab construction (really major cost if a problem, and can’t run new lines or make structural changes) vs. crawl space (bugs and animals; insulation), which I hadn’t encountered in PA. She also told me to get a bug guy, since to spray for termites and other bugs. She warned that they have a big termite problem here. My homeowners and car insurance cost is about the same. Went to the movies, and price was almost double what I used to pay in PA. I don’t know yet if it’s only that theatre, or if all of them are the same. My local library isn’t as well-stocked as my former libraries in PA, but it looks like it’s growing. There are lots of things to do, from sports, to festivals, to concerts. Seems like a nice place to live, except for the traffic and (for me) the conservatism. There are a large number of really gigantic churches of various denominations, including some on-air churches. I am irritated by being bombarded with the President Obama hate-ads for elections, especially the election for Governor of NC (whether you like him or don’t like him, he’s leaving office soon — shouldn’t you be talking about your own agenda instead?). Every time I turn on the radio, I have to surf through far-right conservative and religious radio stations to find a channel. Give me time, and I’ll find the oldies rock station…

    Anyway, just some thoughts about this part of the Carolina’s and Charlotte. In a year, I may love it and plan on staying after retirement.

    by Ted — November 1, 2014

  26. Ted is correct about many of the things he states. South Carolina in general is less expensive for retirees, especially for those on fixed incomes from annuities and social security. Taxes are lower. Ted, you should be able to find better radio stations for rock (you should be able to pick up an Atlanta station for rock) and for classical music. South Carolina’s public TV is very good. But living where you do, you should also pick up a North Carolina public TV station. Charlotte is a growing and vibrant city. However, the South is different from PA. I grew up in PA and ended my career in NC. I have since moved back to PA to care for both parents in their 90’s in their home. I was surprised to find out that PA income tax is less than NC’s. And that PA did not tax my annuities and social security. NC does not take NC State retirement, but that is all. Taxes and gasoline prices in NC are definitely higher than in SC. I, too, found that finding good and honest workers in the South can be a problem. One good way to get those necessary connections and that information is to join a church! I did that and it worked for me. Traffic around Charlotte is horrendous coming from either direction. The movies cost about the same, but in a metropolitan area it might cost more than PA. You will have to search. The conservatism is endemic. But you should find more open-minded and liberal individuals around Charlotte and north of Charlotte around Lake Norman. NC’s state government is in disarray and, in my opinion, poorly run, but then PA does not offer much better. Hope this helps. The comments are cursory, but I would be glad to elaborate on them more, if anyone cares. I definitely prefer the weather in the south and the sunny skies. My favorite area is Asheville…weather, housing, people, etc. However, the taxes!!! Good luck.

    by Jill — November 2, 2014

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  28. Nc used to be a much more pleasant place to live. The influx of northeasterners, particularly those from Long Island and upstate New York, have meant significant changes to the larger cities. Charlotte is joking called New York in the Catawba because if the profound numbers of Long Islanders in the area.

    Not all the changes have been positive. The influx has brought about rapidly increasing costs in housing forcing many natives into the suburbs and beyond.

    Traffic has become much like Atlanta or DC and it is not uncommon for a 20 mile drive across Charlotte to take more than an hour.

    Schools here are not the greatest having the 2nd largest school district in the nation behind la united. This has created a revolving door effect with recent superintendents (we’ve had 4 in the last 8 years)

    There is a growing backlash toward transients who categorize the regions natives as backward and perpetuate the southern hick stereotype. Don’t be surprised if you find charlotteans a little colder than their counterparts in charleston or savannah. Many associate the increase in crime, traffic and general rudeness with the influx and influence of transients. Don’t be surprised to get a backhanded comment or two.

    All in all, be respectful here and people will be in return. Come in criticiIng everything and you’ll find it a difficult place to assimilate. Passive aggressive was practically invented here. And if someone says “how nice” with a too toothy grin, apoligize immediately, even if you don’t know what you did to offend. It’s the North Carolina equivalent of “up yours”

    by Carl — May 1, 2015

  29. Carl, we moved from Westchester County, New York to Willow Spring, NC and love it. We were temporarily in Cary while looking for a house, and that is just too young (we are retired) and busy for us. We are in a small community but we don’t have any association fees. There is a mix of young, middle aged and older and mostly everyone is friendly. I find that the “northeasterners”, are the least friendly. People wave as you drive by, they greet you when you enter or leave a store (customers too). they are very eager to start and have a conversation and we have met couples such as us. I could not ask for more, it is country, quite and perfect for us, we would not move back to NY ever.

    by Monica — May 2, 2015

  30. I’m 65 and have lived in the Los Angeles metro area most of my life. I do know something about drastic change, population explosion, and just simply way too many humans. I look at North Carolina with great interest, because the state seems to be following the same path as California. North Carolina is now the 9th most populous state in the country, with a growth rate double the rest of the country.

    And reading this website, I know there is great interest in North Carolina as a retirement destination. I would agree with Carl that the lifestyle is changing quite fast and in the opinion of many natives not for the better. With the influx of so many outsiders, the southern culture of North Carolina will slowly be eroded. The quality of life for North Carolina natives will take a dive with all the extra people and traffic. And inevitably with more humans comes more crime. Also, with a large influx of outsiders, you get that smug arrogance of “we know how to do things better.” And I agree with Carl wholeheartedly about the delivery of a “backhanded comment” or two. And if that arrogance and rudeness is taken into one of the local watering holes, one would be very lucky to walk away with just a backhanded comment.

    by Bubbajog — May 2, 2015

  31. Carl and Bubajog,
    Where do you get the idea that all northerners are rude? We are not.

    by ella — May 3, 2015

  32. Ella, I agree with you, I am a New York person and I love the people in North Carolina and intend to stay here rather than live with the “attitude” of some of the “Northeasterners”.

    by Monica — May 3, 2015

  33. I grew up in the south and find the whole passive-aggressive thing to be very annoying. I lived several years in upstate NY and I think the issue is not rudeness; it’s honesty. People from the northeast tend to be pretty direct. People from the south tend to be very passive-aggressive; they don’t say what they mean. These are not compatible styles. The Southerners call it ‘rudeness’, but it isn’t. Its just being direct, which I like.

    by Ginger — May 3, 2015

  34. I find all these broad brush comments about people rather disturbing. I have spent a LOT of time in North Carolina over the last 40 years (my parents and brother lived there) and I found the people to be lovely. Yes, the traffic in Raleigh can be bad. Guess what–the traffic in any metropolitan area is bad. We are not investing in our roads and bridges.

    I have purchased a retirement condo in the SE Cape Coral, Florida area. The people there are even more amazing. My mailman knows my name and I know his. If my sister is gone for the day, he will bring her packages to me. Her rental unit is up for sale and he’s actively searching for a place for her. And has another carrier working on it as well. Many RE transactions happen by word of mouth. It’s like a small town with big city amenities. I love it!

    by Linda — May 3, 2015

  35. Ella, I never said Norherner’s were rude. I used the term outsider’s in the most generic sense. I do believe there is a social pattern with the migration of so many new people into the South; attempting to change the Southern Culture. The reality is that the migration is a Midwest, Northeast, and Central Atlantic movement southward. The reversal does happen; but not nearly in the same large number. I personally believe that the Southern Culture is a very important part of the total Americana.

    I am a Southern California boy; looking at this as an outsider, and from an intellectual perspective. And I believe I’m in a position to talk about cultural change. Southern California is one of the area’s of this nation that has seen incredible cultural change over the last 40 years. And that being said; if one travels to any of the Western States; you will hear many natives stating that transplanted Californian’s are arrogant SOB’s and completely ruining their State.

    by Bubbajog — May 3, 2015

  36. Linda
    Would you mind revealing where you relocated in SE Cape Coral? Still doing research and reading everything that I possibly can!

    by Journey15 — May 3, 2015

  37. Journey15,
    We vacationed for the first time in Cape Coral for 7 weeks this year. Looked at many places in the area. While at the dog beach (fantastic place – free – dogs swim in the Gulf and you get to meet lots of nice people) a gal from Canada told us about Citrus Park in Bonita Springs (just south of Cape Coral). 55+ community – we absolutely loved it. It’s off the beaten path and unless someone told you about it, you wouldn’t know where it is. I keep thinking about it – top on our list when we’re ready. Does not have pictures of properties available, but the website is
    And as a lifelong upstate NY’er – with Cary being the place our son will relocate in 3 years – we loved that area too but it lacks in affordable 55+ communities. And yes we will be among the northerners moving south eventually. It’s very depressing here.
    Hope this helps.

    by Rosanne — May 4, 2015

  38. I’m on the Rubicon Canal at the intersecting canal that leads directly to the river and thus to the gulf.

    by Linda — May 4, 2015

  39. To all of you who think northerners are rude then you don’t know them. I totally agree with Ginger. People in the north are direct, not rude. They are honest and just tell it like it is and they don’t beat around the bush. I have read articles in the past stating that New Yorkers rated 1st in friendliness. I lived in NY all my life then wanted a change. I moved to FL. And in the 17 years I lived in Fl. Never could make any real lasting friendships but everyone I meet was nice. I have now moved back to NY and love the people just not the snow. I spent sever vacations in SC and found everyone there to be just as friendly and nice as the people in NY. I think you get what you give. If you go out on a limb to smile say hello and be nice you will get that back. So everyone should stop THE rudeness and smile and say hello and you just might like what you see.

    by kathy — May 5, 2015

  40. Well said, Kathy! And like Linda said, people in any area cannot be painted with one broad brush stroke. We are all individuals, with varying characters and natures. Here’s to making wherever we live a better place!
    As for your comment, Bubbajog; yes, places do change. Nothing stays the same. Just the nature of the beast.

    by ella — May 5, 2015

  41. NC has gone backward the past three years. The State Government has cut taxes for the top earners 30% while only 6% at the bottom range and at the same time eliminated the deductions for Medical care which hurt those that are retired.

    They also cut spending for education, reduced standards for air and water pollution, cut allowances for unemployment, food stamps and most things that help those less fortunate. The new story at the border crossing is ” Welcome to NC and please set your clocks back 50 years”.

    by John Lauer — August 25, 2015

  42. I like that North Carolina still has a coastline, even if it isn’t as long as Florida’s. That way residents can still enjoy the benefits the ocean brings. I do like that North Carolina has mountains as well! Florida is pretty flat and if you don’t like that, than maybe North Carolina is for you!

    by Kendall Ryder — August 2, 2016

  43. Great post. The lure of Florida has waned greatly. NC has so much to offer, beautiful views, small town feel, country and yet still provides access to the waterfront. Beautiful. For these reasons, I look forward to settling there. thanks for the post.

    by Anne — September 15, 2016

  44. I have lived in both NC and Florida, there are a few things that really upset the tax battle between the two. North Carolina vehicle tax and tags you will end up paying a luxury tax on each vehicle my 06 ram 2500 was over $400 a year on taxes, and another $230 for weighted tags annually. Florida same truck $125 a year for tags, no taxes. My car 2011 BMW north Carolina luxury tax $285, tags $165. Florida $46. Now some other things they fail to tell you, some city’s and county’s will tax your pets. Dogs by size and breed from $15 to $120 a year, cats spayed $15, intact $45. And just between those two taxes it would up the Ballance of taxes Florida is much cheaper tax wise than north or south Carolina.

    by Dennis Davenport — January 10, 2018

  45. Dennis, I think your numbers are a bit high. The registration for a vehicle is $36 not $165. The Vehicle Property Tax (not a luxury tax) is based upon the assessed value of the vehicle and based upon what I pay, your numbers are high. For a vehicle valued at $10000, the tax is approximately $120. Regarding a pet tax, my city/county does not have one. In fact, the only one I could find is in Durham county where they charge $10 for spayed or neutered animals and $75 for unaltered.

    by Dick — January 11, 2018

  46. If you’re looking for a nice home in Florida, especially if on the water (even just a narrow canal) and/or a golf course, be sure you understand how property taxes and CDD fees are computed on the house you’re interested in. I live in a 4200 sq ft 2 story home on a narrow canal and across from a golf course, my r/e taxes plus CDD total nearly $15,000 a year, even with homestead. My house is valued at around $800k. New income tax legislation’s cap of $10k on local taxes leaves $5k of taxes
    that I cannot deduct. Crazy high taxes plus non-deductibility is a double whammy.

    by Marc Wheeler — January 11, 2018

  47. Real Estate taxes apparently vary quite a bit in Florida. Our 1000 square foot condo, on a golf course, near, but not on Tampa Bay, has taxes of less than a $1000 per year.

    by Lynn Bosco — January 12, 2018

  48. Lynn you are correct. My Aunt lives in a home in a gated golf community in North Naples, near Bonita Springs and they pay much more than that. They were very concerned about the new tax bill which in their case would cost much more in taxes. They live in a new (2 Years) house in Lee County.

    by Jennifer — January 13, 2018

  49. I currently moved back to Putnam County NY and it is beautiful but I will never be able to afford to buy a home here. The taxes are unbelievable and as I write this the nights are still dipping into the 50’s. I lived in CT for many years and that is one pricey boring place to live for me. I still have kids that live in Fairfield County and they will probably be there for a while. I also have kids that moved to southeast Florida and although it is very beautiful, them damn mosquitos bit me to no end. Last years mega statewide storm has convinced me that although I do not want to hibernate for 9 months out of the year, I also do not want to have to worry about losing everything to flooding. I tend to be on the cold side but do love to see the snow fall in the winter. So I calculated that NC is about 10 hours from each of my children give or take where I may land and I may get some snow but not for 6 months straight. For those of you that posted in the Cary, Charlotte, Chapel Hill areas, are you still there and can you give me some input on these areas. I’d prefer family friendly type of place where the grandkids can come visit or live when I convince them to move closer to me. Thank you for the articles information and all the input it helps to narrow down where to start.

    by mislinda — May 15, 2018

  50. Want to get suggestions for living on a lake in NC, SC or GA that would be close to a beach as well. Need fresh clean air and water!

    by Dian — May 16, 2018

  51. mislinda, I live in CT and I was talking to my Hub and I told him I thought CT was a boring state too! However, when I see the pitfalls of living in other states, volcano’s, floods, forest fires, hurricanes, sink holes, tornado’s, heat and humidity, snakes, alligators, mosquitoes, fire ants. Not sure where I would move. CT did just have some violent weather and in some parts tornado’s were reported but it is pretty unusual.

    by Louise — May 17, 2018

  52. Hi all I visited Wilmington, NC area twice my cousin retired there. Absolutely loved the area close to the Cape Fear River and the Beach. We wish we had discovered it before Florida and now I do not have the energy to move again, but still go back to the Jersey shore for 3 months in the summer.

    by Ginger — May 18, 2018

  53. Any updates on the Fl vs NC comments? This article was written a while ago and although the comments aren’t as old, I was wondering if there is any major changes to the main article that could help any of us that are trying to decide where to go? (I currently live in FL and I am not loving the summers and I’m missing other seasons, especially the fall)

    Editor Comment: Great question. We updated the companion article to this (NC vs. SC) in 2018. It has a record breaking number of comments -655 !!! Not too much has changed since it was updated. But most of the comments are great.

    by JS — September 22, 2020

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