Showcase Listing

Wendell Falls is a new, all-ages community located just minutes from downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, and features an eclectic, walkable...

Showcase Listing

Brookfield Residential at Two Rivers is a brand new community designed for those 55+, and offers an abundance of opportunities for a vibr...

Showcase Listing

Twin Oaks is a 55+ active adult community located in sunny Bradenton, Florida, and brimming with serenity and charm. Our private, pet-fri...

Showcase Listing

Welcome to Cresswind Charlotte!  This nature-rich refuge of inviting streetscapes, manicured landscaping and miles of walking trails...

Showcase Listing

Birchwood at Brambleton is an exciting new community for active adults 55+ located in the heart of Loudoun County, and is intentionally d...


The Carolinas Revisited – Flo’s North Carolina Road Trip

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

By Flo Williamson (Moderator at!). This is the first of a 2 part article – here is the link to Part 2: South Carolina.
March 8, 2017 — There’s nothing so exciting as the thought of a road trip. My husband and I had been discussing revisiting and exploring the coasts of North and South Carolina, and as the grey winter started to settle in, we began to plan our trip in earnest. Our thought was to revisit some towns we had previously seen on a former visit several years ago, dubbed the “Inner Banks Tour”, and to explore some new areas that have always piqued our retirement relocation interest. We’re definitely the type who believe that getting there is half the fun, so rather than speed down Interstate 95, our trip really began as we picked up Rt.17, outside of Norfolk, VA.

Our first stop, Edenton, NC is a town we had visited before. Edenton, the county seat of Chowan County, is a small town with approximately 5,000 residents, located on the Albemarle Sound. If you like being around the water, this is the place to be. At the end of the main street bustling with shops and restaurants is a waterfront park. Edenton has a historic district with beautiful buildings, amazing architecture, and well tended homes. It seems to be a fairly vibrant community, with loads of fairs and festivals.The two nearest airports are Norfolk International about 80 miles away and the smaller Pitt/Greenville Airport, 70 miles away. There is a Greyhound Bus terminal in town.

Following Route 17, through farmland and woods, we arrived in Washington, NC, locally known as “Little Washington”, to differentiate it from Washington, DC. Washington is the county seat of Beaufort County, with a population of 9,000. Situated on the Pamlico and Tar Rivers, it too is a water oriented community that prides itself on fishing, boating, and paddling opportunities. There is a lovely downtown area with riverfront access. Washington has a lively arts and music scene. Washington is closer to Greenville, 20 miles to the west. The Raleigh Durham Airport is about 100 miles. On our last visit to Edenton and Washington, we were somewhat dismayed to see empty storefronts lining the busiest streets. It was great to see that the downtown areas are more alive and active.

To to me, at least, Edenton and Washington seem a bit too “remote”. I’m not a big fan of driving in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area, so I can’t see myself going there for Anything, and we’re at the airport at least 3 or 4 times a year. I’m not sure how much Greenville has to offer, but I know their airline schedules are limited. Both Edenton and Washington are historic and quaint. Recreational, social, and cultural opportunities abound. They both have hospitals, public transportation, and active senior centers. If you’re in the market for small town living, either one of these southern beauties may be for you.

Heading further south
Our trip south continued on Rt. 17. We bypassed New Bern as we were anxious to start exploring Morehead City and Beaufort. Eventually the strip malls gave way to the Croatan National Forest and more upscale shopping as we approached Morehead City. Both towns are situated on the water. Morehead City, the larger of the two has a population of about 8600 and has the primary shopping, medical, and cultural venues for the area. There is a historic district and riverwalk in the downtown fronting the Sound. Morehead City is home to the connector bridge going to Atlantic Beach and others beaches along the Crystal Coast. Several 55+ communities are located in the area.

Crossing the bridge from Morehead City we eventually arrived in Beaufort, the county seat of Carteret County, population 4,000. There are, as in Morehead City, beautiful homes and historic buildings, waterfront parks, great boutique shopping and restaurants, and loads of fairs and festivals. And, Beaufort is golf cart friendly. When my husband and I went out to a great dinner in Beaufort, we found it interesting that the bar was packed with seniors having a VERY good time!! Both cities have hospitals, senior centers, scheduled bus route transportation (which also goes to New Bern, Wilmington, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill) and a bus that connects Morehead City to the Amtrak Palmetto Rail line in Winston, NC. It’s a great place to explore if you’re into fishing and boating, the beach, and watersports of all kinds.

There are nearby ferries to the barrier islands and Outer Banks, as well. The New Bern Airport, 36 miles away, has two carriers going to Atlanta and Charlotte so can get you just about anywhere. Wilmington is a non-stressful 100 mile drive down Rt 17. This is an area that we would definitely like to explore further. For us, at least, it checks a lot of boxes.

Southport, NC

Last stop
Our last stop in North Carolina was the Southport area and the St. James Plantation community. Located about 35 minutes south of Wilmington, Southport is small (population 2800), walkable, and very charming with lots of parks and waterfront access. It’s almost like taking a step back in time. Numerous benches along the river walk invite you to enjoy the view of the Cape Fear Coast. Southport has many fine restaurants and boutique shopping along the main streets in town. There seems to be a large interest in music and the arts, and it’s golf cart friendly!! Southport has a hospital; box store shopping is located on the outskirts of town.

A Clubhouse at St. James Plantation

St. James Plantation
While in the area, we stayed at St. James Plantation, a sprawling community about 4 miles from Southport with over 3,000 residents. St James Plantation is not technically a 55+ community, though most residence are retirees. It’s an incorporated town with its own Security Force, Fire, EMS Department, and mayor. We did the “Discover Package”. Our real estate guide was great, showing us all of the amenities, and there are a lot. Private Beach Club, Pools, Fitness Center, Marina and Restaurant are all included and owned by the POA. There’s open space and parks, along with ponds and manicured grounds. There are 5 country clubs, each with its own golf course; you can join all for an additional cost. St. James Plantation seems to have something for everybody, but not for us. Although the amenities are great, it seems like we would be moving into a big suburban development, almost too perfect, and at this stage of our lives, we just want to be a little more adventuresome. We’re coming back though, to further investigate that little town of Southport!!

Thanks Flo, we almost feel like we were on the road trip! We appreciate this informative recap on your travels, and also your diligence in keeping the Blog and Forum sorted out, free of stuff that doesn’t belong there!

Comments? Tell us about your travels or living experiences in North Carolina. The next best thing to being there is to hear from someone who has walked the walk!

For further reading:
Part 2: Flo’s Visit to South Carolina
Flo’s Take on a Lake Tahoe Retirement
NC State Guide
A Town So Pretty It Hurts – Edenton, NC
Hop on the Jay Michaels Tour Bus – Part 2

Posted by Admin on March 8th, 2017


  1. Just one correction: New Bern airport is served by Delta from Atlanta and American via Charlotte (not Raleigh). The drive to Raleigh airport is 2 to 2-1/2 hours from New Bern.
    We just bought a little place in on the water there (we’re 71 & 75) and agree that this area which has so much to offer does, indeed, deserve it’s own article.

    Editor’s comment: Now corrected, thanks for noticing Susan!

    by Susan Dailey — March 9, 2017

  2. Would love to hear what you think about the island of Manteo, should you get around to it (it’s one of the gateways to the Outerbanks). We’ve lived in Chapel Hill the last 34 years and being close to the water sounds better with each passing year!

    by Jim Widgren — March 9, 2017

  3. Good information to have for retirement thanks

    by Naj sumar — March 9, 2017

  4. Flo,
    Driving around and staying a day or two does not give you the feel of an area. Southport for example houses ahuge Nuke Plant which no one wants to be around. Crime rates and population mix rich poor old age young definitely affect your comfort while living in an area.
    North Carolina is beautiful. However taxes are very high, in the Northern mountains the winters are rather severe compared to the Southern areas away from the mountains. Finding good medical facilities and good shopping options are another consideration. Asheville is a lovely place to spend a weekend but you sure would not want to live there.
    The area around Greenville SC and the area around Hilton Head SC seem to be the safest and politically diverse areas.
    I suggest people research using available demographic websites. Use Google Earth. Use Zillow. Then take a month or two and rent in the few areas you think might be nice
    Just my thought all.

    by Ron — March 9, 2017

  5. Thanks for your input Ron. Our trip was a quick one and only exploratory. We found some areas that we thought we might like and will definitely look further into things like taxes, health care, etc. We plan on narrowing down our choices and staying longer than a day or two (possibly renting for a while).

    by Moderator Flo — March 9, 2017

  6. Although Moorhead City and Beaufort are wonderful areas, I would not recommend that senior citizens retire there. We have been going to the beach in Emerald Isle for over 40 years. LOVE the beach.

    During that time, we had several medical emergencies with my mother. The Cape Cartaret Hospital in Moorhead City is substandard. The cardiologist neglected to note on her chart that she had a heart attack. We picked her up, took her back to the beach, where she promptly had another heart attack. When we took her to a real cardiologist, he was appalled at the treatment she received at that hospital. So I would never consider living there permanently.

    by Linda — March 9, 2017

  7. What’s wrong with Asheville?

    by Debra — March 10, 2017

  8. Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences regarding Fort Mill, South Carolina?

    by jmr2gbr — March 10, 2017

  9. I just spent 4 days in the Raleigh Triangle area. While I found much to like, the traffic was MUCH heavier than I anticipated. My guess is if you live a bit outside the Triangle, you’d figure out back roads, etc.

    More than a few locals cautioned me about the humidity of the summers, something my husband would HATE.

    This was my 1st foray into scoping out retirement locales as we live in PA. Looking forward to exploring more.

    by Pat — March 10, 2017

  10. Linda, would you include Swansboro in your assessment? Although it is supposed to be very pretty, I have read that it isn’t exactly retirement friendly, with lack of adequate health care cited as one of the reasons.

    by Alice — March 10, 2017

  11. jmr2gbr – I live in Fort Mill. Any questions? I’ve written some lengthy descriptions on the Carolinas board. Highlights: Lots of development, convenient to airport and all of the amenities of Charlotte with lots of stores, movies, etc. Nearest shopping mall appears to be struggling, and is in the process of losing its Macy’s (but it does have a Barnes & Noble). Most chaiins are stores here. Libraries are good, but tend to be a little conservative in their tastes. Daily newspaper isn’t great but you can always get a NY Times at grocery stores. SC gas taxes and RE taxes lower than NC, but income taxes slightly higher than NC if you’re still working. Lots of people come from somewhere else, including medical care providers – no shortage of health care providers. There is a personal property tax on vehicles, boats and RVs, which sets off the low real estate taxes a little. I’ve been told my local people that Sun City’s nickname is Sin City, but I have no idea why. More & more 55+ construction! Negatives: Traffic is horrendous, with lots of accidents — and getting worse! I’ve needed to replace my brakes annually, although I’m still commuting. It takes me 1-1/2 hour to go 20 miles into Charlotte in the am/pm. Politics are very conservative, if that will raise your blood pressure. I do find it difficult to get contractors or home repair services – probably because there is so much new construction, that people just get jobs instead of working for themselves in those industries. The cost for those services seems to be a little higher than I used to pay back North too. I’ve gone through 4 landscapers to cut my grass in 3 years, since they just disappear. Other misc. info: Annual termite and bug inspections are recommended. Grass turns straw-brown in the winter. That’s not a big deal, but it drives my kids crazy when they visit in the winter LOL. Yes, weather can break 100 in the summer, and people panic when there’s an inch of snow – the response to snow is actually pretty funny for us relocated Northeners. Lots and lots of churches in denominations that were unfamiliar to me including some of those gigantic TV ministries. After all, this is Billy Graham’s home turf. Bottom line: all the benefits of a big city suburb and I’ve adjusted to the hot summers just fine. I’m still struggling to adjust to the traffic, which reminds me of my days living in NYC.

    by Kate . — March 11, 2017

  12. Alice, Swansboro is also a very small community. You would have to go to Cartaret County Hospital in Moorhead City for medical care. All areas are wonderful for vacation, but I wouldn’t recommend living there long term because to get decent medical care you really need to go to Raleigh.

    by Linda — March 11, 2017

  13. Asheville , NC is DEAD in the fall and winter months and crowded with tourists in the summer. The hilly streets are difficult for older citizens to walk on and t he shops are redundant
    Every few weeks they do have some sort of attraction to bring in more tourists. So for seniors not much to see or do on a daily weekly or monthly basis.
    Traffic and parking is terrible during tourist season.
    Nice place to visit passing through to other attractions. I would not live there.

    by Ron — March 11, 2017

  14. Linda, thank you for responding. Your information is very useful and saves us a trip because easy access to good medical care is no longer optional.

    by Alice — March 11, 2017

  15. I live in Asheville – relocated here for retirement about a year ago. I disagree that it is dead – I think it depends on what you are looking for in retirement. It is a very progressive, growing city. It does have a vibrant tourist industry but having relocated from NYC, seems quiet to me. You learn during the high season when to do what and avoid the influx of tourists. It has one of the best OLLI programs in the country at UNC-Asheville. People come here from everywhere – lots from the Midwest – so, it is easy to meet people and build a new community. The restaurants are good, medical care is good, if anything, it tends to be more expensive than some small communities but I didn’t want a remote location. So, to respond to any eariler post, I don’t believe anything is “wrong” with Asheville. There has to be some reason it was the #3 trending small city in a recent real estate poll and from my current experience, I think Asheveile is great.

    by John — March 12, 2017

  16. We are planning on moving from NY to the Wilmington NC area this fall. Would appreciate comments about the areas good for retirees.

    by Carol Seifert — March 12, 2017


    by GARY — March 12, 2017

  18. If diversity is attractive, Durham is a nice oasis in a state not known for inclusivity. Mild weather, lots for seniors to do in the City of Medicine.

    by Ginger — March 12, 2017

  19. Carol, we relocated from Northern VA (near DC) to retire in Wilmington NC in July 2015. There are several 55+ active communities but we wanted a traditional neighborhood so can’t provide much info on those. There are a LOT of retirees here from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. I think many have located around Porter’s Neck (north of Wilmington) and Leland (across the Cape Fear River – a newer area with fewer amenities, but growing). Overall we’re happy with Wilmington. It’s growing quickly which you can see as either a positive or negative. There’s a visible effort to add/improve on walking/biking trails and access. I can provide some general pros and cons from the perspective of a recent transplant.

    – Cost of housing and real estate taxes are much lower than they were in Northern VA. Sales tax (7%) is slightly higher and personal property tax (vehicles) is the same. A wide variety of housing options are available from condos to townhomes/garden homes and all sizes/types of single family homes, both newly built and older.
    – NC does not tax SS income. There is also the Bailey Exclusion that provides income tax relief for qualifying (vested before Aug 1989) federal and military pensions.
    – Weather is better if you don’t like cold winters, although we did have a bit of snow yesterday – very unusual! The temperature will usually drop below 32 for short durations a couple of times per winter.
    – Traffic isn’t bad from my perspective, but many here complain that it’s getting worse. You get a sense for the areas/times that things are busy – it’s not everywhere.
    – Good medical care seems widely available and the hospital system is large and modern.
    – Practically every store, grocery and otherwise is available here, including Trader Joe’s, Publix and Whole Foods, and no matter where you are, nothing is more than about a 15 minute drive away, usually less.
    – Beaches are nice and seldom super-crowded, even during the summer, though parking can be an issue.
    – There’s an active senior center and OLLI associated with the UNCW.
    – The Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College features a wide variety of musical and stage events and there are other local theater/musical venues if that’s your interest.
    – Downtown is cute and historical, but also quite limited. For me, it’s enjoyable mostly during the various festivals. Rowdy nightlife there with the college and nearby military in the many pubs and bars.
    – We really don’t notice much crime – outside of specific areas I think it’s pretty safe here.

    – Threat of hurricanes.
    – June-August can be oppressively hot/humid – but it’s not 100% of the time, and evenings are usually pleasant.
    – Public transportation (bus) is limited. The airport is small – most flights require a connection in Charlotte or Atlanta though there’s at least one direct to LGA per day. Only Delta and American serve Wilmington. If you like to travel a lot, this can be an annoyance, but it’s not impossible. A few more airlines and direct destinations can be accessed by driving to the Raleigh airport, about 2 hours away. There is no rail connection (Amtrak) – the nearest is in Wilson, about 1.5 hours away.
    – When you want to go somewhere else by car, there’s that 2 hour drive on I40 to get over to the 95.
    – Wilmington is less diverse than what we’re used to but there’s still a good mix of people and attitudes here. We dearly miss access to excellent Afghan, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and other ethnic restaurants – but we haven’t tried every restaurant in Wilmington either. There is still a lot to choose from, especially seafood, Italian, and Mexican, as well as all the popular chains you can think of.
    – Bug control – monthly pest control services are necessary (in my opinion) to keep the house critter free.
    – As Gary mentioned above, liquor must be purchased in the state ABC store, but beer and wine are available in all the groceries. Speaking of groceries, there’s no Wegman’s (since you’re in NY you are probably familiar) – but I think they’ve recently expanded to Raleigh so there’s hope. 🙂
    – There seems to be a lot of construction and growth going on so traffic will probably get worse.

    I’ll be happy to try and answer any specific questions about Wilmington – but again, I don’t have any direct knowledge of the 55+ communities.

    by JudyM — March 13, 2017

  20. John, I’ve heard that Asheville is cold and hot and humid. Is that true? Thanks.

    by Martin — March 13, 2017

  21. Martin,

    Based on normal temperatures (new normals will be out in 4 years), the coldest normal high temperature for Asheville is 47 degrees. The coldest normal low temperature is 26.

    The warmest normal high is 84, and the warmest normal low is 64.

    The highest temperature ever recorded was 100 in 1983, while the coldest was -16 in 1985.

    Because the elevation of the Asheville area is a bit over 2000 feet, it rarely gets hot and humid for too many days, like what occurs further east in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

    Whether those temps feel hot, or cold depends on where you’d be coming from. Summers might seem cool if you’ve been living in Phoenix. If you’ve lived up in New England, or the northern Plains, winters will feel nice and mild.

    by Chuck — March 14, 2017

  22. Can’t say much about Asheville, as i’ve only been there twice. But for this 60-something senior and my husband who is on the upper side of 75, it is entirely walkable. Definitely not too, or even very, hilly. Please don’t let that concern you if you are in fairly good condition.

    by ella — March 14, 2017

  23. Martin,

    Agree with Chuck’s commentary on the Asheville weather. I am originally from IL and lived in NYC the past 16 years. I find the weather in Asheville delightful. It is a mild, four season climate with longer springs and falls – which are my favorite seasons. On a warm summer day, it cools off at night, but can be humid but not like IL. This past winter has been very mild – only one measurable snowfall – about four inches and it was gone in two days. I get out and walk every day and have had many days this winter when you didn’t even need to wear a jacket – just I a long sleeved shirt.

    Hope this helps.

    by John — March 14, 2017

  24. JuneM,
    Thank you for that information. We are not interested in residing in a 55+ community. We are looking at Leland and Porters Neck. There doesn’t seem to be much available in Porters Neck. Mid 200’s would be our limit for a ranch, in a safe neighborhood, preferably with at least a 1/2 acre and a max of 30 minutes to conveniences. Do you know much about Bolivia? Also, is the homeowners insurance more in the Wilmington area? I am a retired real estate agent and find it is always best to get first hand information from residents. Thank you again.

    by CarolS — March 14, 2017

  25. Thank you for the weather info on Asheville. I was wondering if you can walk to Biltmore Estate or if you can get there by a shuttle or by public transportation?

    by Martin — March 15, 2017

  26. Just a brief comment on John’s post on Asheville weather. I am in Jonesborough TN, about an hour from Asheville. I’ve been out of NYS for about 6 months, so i know cold weather. And although i have seen people wearing no jacket through out the winter while stopping in to the post office or doing other errands, i HAVE worn a fleece or winter jacket most days. There have been a few days when no jacket was needed, but for me, just a few. John – you are a hardier soul than i!

    by ella — March 15, 2017

  27. Martin,

    I have gone to the Biltmore Estate numerous times and have always driven. It is easy to get to and ample parking with helpful guidance as to where to park and get tickets, etc. They have shuttle service from the parking areas to the estate or you can walk, the grounds are beautiful.

    by John — March 15, 2017

  28. Carol, all I can say about Bolivia is that it is isolated. I know no one who lives there. No stores, shopping, things to do. Leland, i.e. Brunswick Forest is much better. You need to shop around for homeowners insurance as I switched companies this year and saved almost $1700. I was obviously being ripped off by my previous provider. Good luck…..

    by Dick — March 15, 2017

  29. Thank you John. We currently live in South Florida and the summers are becoming increasing unbearable even for our older pets. I miss the 4 seasons as I grew up in the North. People love the idea of sunshine and the thought of Florida but the truth is, unless you live within 2 miles of the beach you are fighting traffic. If you do not need to be by a good hospital and can handle and hour and half to an airport then a small beach town is ideal in Florida. As you can mostly tell I am also fed up with the horrific traffic on 95 and 595. I take the back roads and travel on the off hours Mon- Fri. Weekends on for church or have to. For us I need to be within easy driving distance to hospitals and specialist for my husband.

    by LMB — March 15, 2017

  30. Carol,
    Yes, insurance is higher here since “wind and hail” policies are separate from the regular homeowner’s policy. We found the best deal at an independent insurance agency which got us out of the “wind pool”. We don’t live in a flood prone area (most of Wilmington is not unless you’re very near the water) and our home insurance (for a house valued in the mid $400K range) is around $1500 a year. In Virginia, for comparison on a similar valued home, it was $800. Our auto insurance is a little less than it was in VA.

    Bolivia has some nice areas. Standard needs are easily within 15 minutes (WalMart, Food Lion, Lowe’s, etc.), and still only about 30 minutes into Wilmington. I believe they have sufficient doctors and a small hospital. We have only driven through on visits to Southport and Myrtle Beach, but one of my past co-workers retired there and loves it.

    I wouldn’t limit a search to Porter’s Neck and Leland – there are lots of nice, safe neighborhoods here. It’s important to visit in person to get a feel for the areas. Especially for properties in Brunswick County, you need to travel the bridge a few times and take a good look at the nearby amenities to know if you’d be happy. We probably looked at 100 houses before we purchased, and didn’t end up in the neighborhood we originally thought we wanted. 🙂

    by JudyM — March 15, 2017

  31. Dick,
    We are shopping for homeowners insurance this week. Our builder wants us to obtain coverage now for the construction they are currently doing. Seems like the insurance companies only want to charge us for a complete home, fully furnished, ………which won’t happen until next fall. Can you tell us which companies are better than others?
    Thanks for your help.

    by Caps — March 15, 2017

  32. Dick,
    I have never heard of insurance billed to the potential homeowner on construction! What would you insure? You don’t take ownership until the house is complete. Sounds like a scam to me.

    by Ron — March 16, 2017

  33. I lived in Boca Raton about 1 mile from the beach not in a flood prone area. My homeowners insurance which many people refer to was reasonable however it did NOT cover Hurricane damage or Flood insurance which is needed to cover water damage caused by hurricanes. Hurricane and Flood insurance was 3000 on top of the 1400 annual for homeowners insurance
    Don’t be fooled by the insurance name game. Also if your home is built prior to 1987 your hurricane and flood insurance goes up drastically each year.
    Be sure to ask the right questions if you consider moving near ther coast or into flood prone areas which extend quite a away inland.

    by Ron — March 16, 2017

  34. Asheville,
    I am not 70 yet but going to Asheville (the popular parts) we encountered a lot of hills and a lot of difficulty finding parking. The hilly streets made walking difficult especially in the heat of the summer. With the exception of specifc events there is not much to see in Asheville.. Been there once and you pretty much have seen it all.
    The Biltmore is a yawner….. I would not go there unless you have never seen a castle

    by Ron — March 16, 2017

  35. Re Asheville,
    I have visited there several times, different seasons. I agree with Ron re hills and parking, pretty crowded during the warmer months, lots of arts/crafts, etc. However, the Biltmore Estate is gorgeous, especially at Christmas time, both children and grandchildren (teenagers) enjoyed it. Adults also enjoyed the wine tasting and gift shop! We would go back again…during the Fall, as the scenic highway was closed in many areas due to ice and snow.

    by Diane — March 16, 2017

  36. Hi Phil
    This topic is on the Carolinas (even if we do have a tendency to veer off course, lol) so it may be more helpful to look elsewhere. Try checking out the state guide for Florida to locate the community you want. You can also use the search bar to find topics and info about Florida and different communities. The forum also had areas of discussion and a place to pose additional questions. Hope this helps !!

    We moved several Florida insurance questions to a more appropriate Blog post, Florida vs. Arizona retirement

    by Moderator Flo — March 17, 2017

  37. JudyM we will be spending a week in the Wilmington area soon. What side of the bridge would the nicest areas be?

    by CarolS — March 18, 2017

  38. CarolS,
    If you’re staying in a hotel, for Wilmington I’d recommend staying in the Mayfaire area (around Eastwood & Military Cutoff Rd). There are several nice chain hotels and all the main roads make it easy to explore Wilmington. Avoid the hotels on Market St.

    There are a couple of decent hotels in Leland, and also Southport if you really want to explore the areas around Bolivia. If you’re more serious about those areas then it would be smart to stay over there and see how it fits. Splitting time between the two sides of the river would probably help you decide where to focus. But no matter where you stay you can cross to the other side in a reasonable amount of time and explore.

    I think I’ve seen others commenting on this site who live in Leland – hopefully one of them will comment more about that side.

    I’m happy to answer any questions about Wilmington. Good luck! 🙂

    by JudyM — March 18, 2017

  39. I am in my early 50’s & moved from Western NY in mid December. I’m an RN, not looking to retire just yet, but wanted warmer temps and the ocean closer than a 7.5hr drive. After many scouting trips down the coast, we settled on VA beach. (just in time for a huge snowstorm!)
    We are currently renting but not sold on staying in the area. Although there’s lots to do and see (Norfolk is nice and only 30min away) there’s SO MUCH traffic and the sheer numbers of people can be overwhelming. (We didn’t get the full grasp of this until moving) The housing market seems to accommodate 3k square feet homes with little to no acreage (not unless you want to spend 700,000)
    I would appreciate detailed feedback on Wilmington NC. (housing, weather, culture etc.) We looked at it several times, loved the feel of it but worried that there’s not enough to do with regard to sports venues, entertainment etc. I am wanting to stay within 1 hour of the beach; my guy (mid 50’s and semi retired) wants to fresh water fish. We both desire a 1-2 acre property which doesn’t have a massive house (not too rural but not among sprawl either) and need employment as we’re not ready for full retirement. So, kind of a “pie in the sky” wishlist but hoping there’s some location that will accommodate!

    by Jodi H — March 20, 2017

  40. Carol S., I live in Leland we bought a house 4 years ago in Brunswick Forest. We absolutely love it here. There are several other communities also in Leland with Brunswick Forest being the largest one. It is not a 55 plus community there are young families with children, but most of the residents are over 55. When we bought our resale in 2013, there were 900 houses built in this 4500 acre community with full amenities. There are now over 4500 houses built, Leland is growing fast with more stores and restaurants planned. Wilmington is a 15 minute ride and offers everything you could want. Good luck with your trip!

    by Barbara — March 20, 2017

  41. I am interested in any information you can share about Shallotte.

    by CarolS — March 30, 2017

  42. I am also interested in information about Shallotte and Calabash.

    by Diane — March 31, 2017

  43. We just returned from Hendersonville, NC, where we spent a month there. We usually spend 3 months in Florida, but decided to stay in NC for March. We had stayed a weekend in Hville about 4 years ago and wanted to stay more.

    We rented a house just under a mile from downtown, which is a bustling 7 blocks of shops, restaurants, bars and 3 microbreweries. It was an easy walk to downtown when te weather was nice. The town fathers have done a good job of promoting the downtown area. They have rebuilt the Main St to make it pedestrian friendly and also have two parallel streets as one way to move traffic. There were plenty of grocery stores in the area, with both big stores and smaller organic shopping stores.

    We did a lot of exploring around the area. The Biltmore mansion is a must see. Backroad trips to Lake Lure, Brevard, Saluda and Landstrum were great ways to see the area. We checked out several local wineries, a cidery, and some breweries. Sierra Nevada is not to be missed!

    From looking at local magazines, real estate runs the gament from mid $100s to $500k. There are a lot of townhouse neighborhoods, as well as single family homes. A good size hospital
    Is right downtown.

    by LocoBill — March 31, 2017

  44. Anybody who has actually retired to the St. Mary’s GA area?

    by Roberta — March 31, 2017

  45. LocoBill, I have a separate question about your post.
    Did you find a short-term rental? Was it in an area for active seniors? My parents are 83 and 84. They had been living winters in FL and summers in MI. Last year, they decided to sell in MI and live in FL full-time. July and August were very hot. They are thinking of finding a place to go during those months this year. I have been telling them about Hendersonville/Ashville, NC. Now I am trying to find a place for them to rent where they have lots to do – my dad still plays competitive softball, although he wouldn’t could live without it for a couple of months.
    Any information would be appreciated.


    by Cindy — March 31, 2017

  46. Cindy,
    There are quite a few homes and condos in the Hendersonville area, including some condos right downtown. We usually use to find places.

    by LocoBill — April 1, 2017

  47. Cindy,
    You may want to check out areas north of Asheville for an even cooler summer. Blowing Rock and nearby towns are listed as having summer temps. in the 70’s!

    by ella — April 1, 2017

  48. Generally, the higher you go in altitude in western NC, the cooler the temperatures in summer. Highlands, NC, though expensive, is a delightful place during that season. And though it can occasionally be snowy or icy in winter, it’s much milder than places in the northern US.

    by Clyde — April 2, 2017

  49. CarolS and Diane,
    Regarding Shalotte, I travel through there quite often various times a year and will say, during “tourist season” Memorial Day thru Labor Day), especially on the days weekly beach house renters come and go (both weekend days), traffic can be horrendous. Off-season, it is no problem. Rather humble as far as restaurants etc.

    by Regina — April 3, 2017

  50. I am also interested in St Mary’s/Kingsley area of Georgia. We spent 30 days in St Simon’s Island, which we loved but was very expensive. Visited St Mary’s one day and liked it so far. Any comments?

    by Debra georgianna — April 4, 2017

  51. As far as I can tell, both towns are on the small side with not much going on.

    by Staci — April 4, 2017

  52. Debra….I live in Atlanta…but also looking at St. Mary’s.
    There are a couple of gated communities…the one I particularly would like to visit is Osprey Cove. There are currently homes for sale in the low to mid 200’s…..also very expensive homes in Osprey Cove. Not sure if the “resort” style gated community is for me. I know there always seems to be a lot of political unheaval. They are now having some problems with very high water bills…….not sure what the complete situation is on that.

    There is a navy base ( submarine) in St. Mary’s / Kingsley. There is a proposed military expansion of some kind planned in this area. Some residents feel it will not happen.

    Could be considered a negative: There seems to be a large number of rented homes everywhere..due to the fact that there is a Navy base. There are even rentals in Osprey Cove.

    Like, you, I would love to hear from someone who has actually retired there.

    by Roberta — April 5, 2017

  53. For those of you interested in St. Mary’s GA, it may be helpful to do a search on the search bar and use the Retirement Guide to check out 55+ communities. You can also check out the forum and post questions there.

    by Moderator Flo — April 5, 2017

  54. Thanks Rebecca, glad to know some of the possible negatives. I heard that Osprey Cove had a lot of negatives, expensive housing and a lot of rentals.

    by Debra georgianna — April 6, 2017

  55. Whoops, meant Roberta

    by Debra georgianna — April 6, 2017

  56. Debra…yes I have heard that as well…..there are some really nice homes there for sale in the 200’s. Saw some real negatives on St. Mary’s Topix…but then there was also a comment from an Osprey Cove resident that said much of the negative comments were not true….so not sure what the situation is. I think the club membership could prove to be prohibitive. As far as rentals: there seems to be lots of rentals everywhere : Navy Base.

    by Roberta — April 6, 2017

  57. I visited Fernandina Beach FL, across the river from St. Mary’s and remember hearing about the odor from the paper mills which some found to be offensive.

    by Staci — April 7, 2017

  58. Hi Flo thanks for your input. We made a decision to buy in Tampa 12 years ago when prices were sky high. My husband did not fully retire until the beginning of 2013 so we were in NJ more than Tampa. We spend summers at our vacation place in NJ however as we age we will sell it next year. Due to illness my husband no longer drives and I hate the humidity in Fl. We did not go into a retirement village big mistake nothing to do here no club house activities for seniors. We are thinking of Wilmington, NC where my cousin lives absolutely loved the area and they are building like crazy especially on the Cape Fear River with boardwalks, restaurants with many seniors moving to the area. We wanted to explore the towns near the beaches of S. Carolina but research said forget it. After reading comments perhaps we should rent a house I do not want to make the mistake again in my beautiful devalued house in Fl.

    by Ginger — April 12, 2017

  59. Hi Ginger
    Did you see my article on SC beach towns? Just wondering, what research did you find to make you ” forget it. Interesting that you regret not buying in a 55+ community. I can’t see us it one now, but perhaps down the road it would be beneficial when we’re less likely to travel and drive.

    by Moderator Flo — April 13, 2017

  60. Ginger, one caution about places where they are “building like crazy” – the additional traffic, even in smaller cities, can get pretty bad before local road expansion/improvement catches up, if ever. Another reason to rent for a while, even for a couple of weeks (hotel, VRBO, etc.), to check out things.

    by Clyde — April 13, 2017

  61. Yes Flo when you cannot travel and drive as much a senior retirement would be good. My NJ family has shrunk no parents or Aunts and Uncles, cousins in different states and friends moving. I did see what has happened to the area of New Tampa in the last 12 years widening the roads again a great place to live with a growing family. We will be stopping in the Carolinas again in June on our way up to NJ.
    Thanks for all info.

    by Ginger — April 14, 2017

  62. Ginger,
    North Carolina is nice but watch out for increased taxes compared to SC. Gasoline for example is 20 cents a gallon higher in NC and most communities have a state tx as well as a city tax. If money is not an issue have at it!

    by Ron — April 14, 2017

  63. Ron is correct about gas taxes being higher in NC but the gap has shrunk. It used to be .20 but the last few times I was in the Myrtle Beach area, it was less than .10. Don’t really know why.

    I have no idea what he is talking about regarding state tax and city tax in most communities. There is a state sales tax and state income tax but, at least in Wilmington, there is no other tax.

    It is cheaper to live in SC though, especially regarding real estate taxes.

    by Dick — April 15, 2017

  64. From tax–
    “The North Carolina (NC) state sales tax rate is currently 4.75%. Depending on local municipalities, the total tax rate can be as high as 7.5%. County and local taxes in most areas bring the sales tax rate to 6.75% – 7% in most counties but some can be as high as 7.5%.”

    by Staci — April 16, 2017

  65. Does anyone have information on Trent Woods, NC.

    by Carol S — June 5, 2017

  66. I’ve read many posts about the coastal areas of NC/SC.
    We are looking for an area away from the coast. Our daughter lives in Hunrersville, NC. We would like to explore areas in 360 degree radius of her up to 60-90 miles away.
    Would like walkable area, community activities/concerts, fun downtown area, hospital, shopping, etc. as I am already retired.
    My husband is still working- industrial electronics- he travels a lot so looking for area with industral manufacturing within a reasonable drive.
    Do want to have people our age near. Huntersville is beautiful but for the young is what I’ve seen
    Not much to ask?! I’m sure we won’t find it all in one place. We don’t want to break the bank.
    Any suggestions? Willing to look at 55+ Communities. Land with a house ok.
    Where should I explore.
    Thanks so much
    Cindy F

    by Cindy F — June 6, 2017

  67. I am asking for a friend, if anyone has first hand information on Wilson, NC?

    by William DeyErmand — June 6, 2017

  68. Cindy F, google Pinehurst and the surrounding towns. Not sure about your husband’s work, but it checks many of your other boxes including walkable, cute downtown with things going on, a nearby hospital, and a retirement age population. I believe the ‘Sandhills’ to be about 100 miles from your mentioned location. As far as breaking the bank, that can mean a lot of things. However, when we looked at the area we found more affordable than we ever imaged. However, as a word of warning, if at least one of you isn’t a golfer or a horse lover, you will probably feel out of place.

    by Alice — June 7, 2017

  69. Cindy F, A quick caution re Huntersville and Pinehurst NC. At best, that is a two hour drive partly on very busy I-485 and mostly on 2 lane highways. The 2 lane part can be a pleasant drive which passes through the Uwharrie Natl Forest, but it is definitely not an easy, quick visit.

    I have nothing against either location and have enjoyed visiting both areas, but in and around Charlotte, you can certainly find places more suitable to your needs. That is, unless you prefer to stay at arm’s length. And even then the region around Charlotte has more prospects for jobs unless you add more travel time.

    by Rich — June 7, 2017

  70. We have lived in Charlote for over 20 years and have loved it. We have had second homes over the years both at the beach and in the mountains. We are 2 years from retirement and are getting ready to buy in Pinehurst. It is a great village with a lot to do. And the Pinehurst Club is a great deal for all you get and everyone is very welcoming.

    by Jim — June 7, 2017

  71. Hi Jim and Alice,
    My husband and I are also planning on retiring to Pinehurst. He is more the golfer than I. We have visited multiple times over the years. interested in contacting you both and see where we all end up! We are from NY, and hope to be down next in July and/ or Aug. My email

    by Donna — June 8, 2017

  72. Thank you Alice, Rich, and Jim,
    I completely understand about the traffic issues concerning 485 and 77 areas of Huntersville. Pineville is on my list to explore.
    Any experiences good or bad with any of these areas?
    Really looking for that home town feeling, community free concerts, craft shows, a downtown area, etc.

    In NC: Belmont, Dallas, Gastonia, Mooresville, York, Lexington, Hickory, Mt. Holly, Elkin, Forest City, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Weaverville, Hendersonville, Brevard, Cashiers
    In SC: Chester, Rock Hill, Gaffney, York, Lancaster, Fort Mill
    Anderson near Lake Hartwell?
    Lake High Rock or Lake Wateree in NC?

    How about farther out… areas with more land rather than subdivisions?
    I plan to narrow my list and visit areas in the next month. Any and all suggestion is appreciated. Please feel free to suggest any areas I haven’t considered.
    Thank you so much—
    Cindy F

    by Cindy F — June 11, 2017

  73. Cindy F,

    Hendersonville seems to check all the boxes you’re looking for. My wife and I are planning on moving there after I retire in 6 years. The downtown is awesome. It totally blew me away. Most of what you’d need for big box stores and services are on the outskirts of town, with mainly local shops downtown. Pretty much anything you can’t get in Hendersonville you should be able to get in Asheville. I think about moving down there every day.

    by Chuck — June 12, 2017

  74. We spent this past March in Hendersonville, renting a house 9/10 of a mile from downtown. We loved it! We walked downtown about 5 days a week. There are great places to dine and relax. I swear my dog knew his way to the three microbreweries! Btw, he was welcomed in two of them. An old fashioned bakery supplied our sweet tooth with goodies. There are two great wineries just outside of town, again dog friendly.
    If we ever decide to move, Hendersonville would probably at the top of the list.

    by Bill — June 13, 2017

  75. Staci: Are the paper mills located in St. Mary’s? This is one of the areas I am interested in. Seems to be a low crime,pretty little seaside town.

    If you have been in that area lately…tell me what you think.


    by Roberta Bengtson — June 13, 2017

  76. Thank you Chuck and Bill. As we just got a lab puppy, the pup information got my attention 🙂

    Any other thoughts anyone?
    Thank you.

    by Cindy F — June 13, 2017

  77. I’m going to spend 2 months near Asheville this summer and plan to check out Hendersonville. I’m concerned it’s too cold in the winter, though. Plus, I may be priced out of that area at this point.

    Regarding St. Mary’s – I’d like to hear more about it, too. The paper mills make me nervous. I camped at a state park near Fernandina Beach, which is quite close by (also has paper mills) and could hear trucks all night long. I also worry about the smell.

    by Judith Reese — June 13, 2017

  78. Cindy,
    You’re worrying about the weather in Asheville is a correct concern. Asheville often gets snow and ice in the winter months and the further into the mountains you go the worse it gets.

    It is not like Northern States but it is very much NOT like Southern communities further South that don’t need to worry about winter weather. Asheville is a pricey area to relocate as it is a popular spot for Snowbirds that like to come for the Fall or to get away from Hot Southern areas.

    by Ron — June 13, 2017

  79. Great comments and suggestions. I was wondering about how far from Asheville would you have to go to lose the pricey costs. We are thinking of relocating to western North Carolina. My husband is a disabled veteran and we need to be within a decent distance of a VA hospital.
    Thanks for any feedback.

    by Virginia — June 13, 2017

  80. Concerning snow in Asheville in the winter, it’s a trade off, isn’t it? We’ll be moving from northern Vermont, so it will be nice to have mild winters with little snow, and obviously we’re used to dealing with snow. But as I moved through my 40’s, my tolerance for snow and cold lessened each year to the point now where I really dislike winter. I picked WNC because the summer temps are just a bit warmer than where we are here in Vermont, but the winters are much milder. I’ll be able to deal with a little bit of snow down there because it will be gone within a couple days. So, for putting up with a little bit of snow (Asheville averages about 1 foot total for the winter, and Hendersonville averages about 9.5 inches), we won’t have to melt in the summer. For me, that’s a fair trade. And we’ll still have the four seasons.

    by Chuck — June 14, 2017

  81. Cindi…I have lived in Atlanta for forty years…..visited Asheville many times……I would say try to spend some time there if you are thinking about it. I do think Asheville is a pricey place to relocate. You really need to love that mountain community vibe. Asheville is one of the places we go for the snow experience….though very pretty…..I know I would not choose it as a place to live in retirement…not for me…bu that perfect place is the place YOU fall in love with.

    Good luck!


    by Roberta Bengtson — June 14, 2017

  82. Judith…….one of the things I DO know about the town of St. Mary’s is the politics there are pretty bad (from my point of view)
    There is a gated community there called Osprey Cove….have not visited as yet…..looks lovely…but there always seems to be a lot of discord concerning Osprey Cove…..some love it….some hate it.Looks like some of the homes in Osprey are re-selling for quite a bit less than the original selling price. Also some are now rentals. The original selling prices STARTED in the 300’s. There are about 700 homes in OC …I am told. I am also told that about 90 are currently for sale or are being rented. There is a naval base close by…and some of the navy people are now renting in OC. That’s about all I know………would like to know more.

    Hope this helps

    by Roberta Bengtson — June 14, 2017

  83. Martin: Best to drive to Biltmore…….lots of parking…lovely..I think you would enjoy it….during the summer months they have outdoor concerts etc…gardens are beautiful.

    Many also like to visit the Basilica in down town Asheville. I think you need to check with the rectory to find out times you can tour.

    Also Grove Park Inn used to have a fabulous brunch…a bit pricey, but worth it..especially around Christmas time…although the staff there was often a bit snotty.

    by Roberta Bengtson — June 14, 2017

  84. Virginia……have you thought about Murphy, NC? Not sure if the real estate prices are still fairly reasonable. Two hours from Atlanta and I know a lot of people that have retired to Murphy drive to Atlanta for top notch medical.

    As far as a good VA…not sure if that exists anywhere…the VA hospital here ( Atlanta) has many problems…and should be avoided if possible.

    by Roberta Bengtson — June 14, 2017

  85. Roberta,

    Can you comment on Kennesaw, GA? I read it is a good place to live. I want to live near a Costco and I think there is one nearby.

    by louise — June 14, 2017

  86. I never noticed anything in Fernandina Beach FL which is across the river, but remembering hearing at one time, that it was an issue. In St Mary’s I know that there is debate over a pending large commercial industrial development near the historic district which may impact the direction the town is headed and is very concerning for many residents.

    by Staci — June 14, 2017

  87. Thanks Roberta… I just need to find that place I fall in love with 🙂

    I’m looking for the low 200’s and below.
    Don’t want to be in the country but doesn’t have to be a subdivision. Would like a downtown square area, community activities, some shopping, maybe I’m thinking small to medium size city?
    I’m in a suburb of Atlanta now- we have Walmart, mall( not a great thing has changed our town not for the good), target, 4-5 restaurants, lots of fast food, Lowes, Home Depot, hospital, etc and I can still drive 40 min to Atl. Other towns around me offer similar stores etc.

    I have in my head what I’m looking for but don’t know the areas to look and find it.

    I’m not really interested in Asheville itself. I was looking at towns outside of the area such as Hendersonville but sounds to expensive for me. (I was drawn by the ability to walk town area).

    Still looking Cindy F

    How about York or Gastonia near SC side?

    by Cindy F — June 15, 2017

  88. Louise, Kennesaw is in Cobb county so lower taxes than other areas around ATL. It is about 40-45 minutes to downtown ATL but the traffic during rush hour is horrible on I-75. Also the traffic on Barrett Pkwy is horrible all the time. It has ALL the shopping and chain restaurants you could want along with the Costco. I never go up there as I can’t stand the traffic. Have you thought of Woodstock? It has a cute town square and there is an outlet mall off of I-575. Acworth also has a cute little shopping area.

    by Liana — June 15, 2017

  89. Thanks Liana, I really know nothing about Georgia. I love Costco and where there is a Costco, there are other major stores around it. My ideal situation would be to live in a neighborhood about 3-5 miles away from Costco and not have to drive any highways to get there. Just back roads. Close enough to a major hospital and also no highway driving. I have gotten to the point in my life where highway driving terrifies me. I am 64 years old and never really drove much on the highways and recently I had to do so and it was just too much with tractor trailer trucks barreling down on me and cars going 90 mph and following so close you could never stop quickly without crashing. For me these are the things nightmares are made of!

    by louise — June 15, 2017

  90. Roberta thanks for your input. I do appreciate it. We already knew about staying away from the VA in Atlanta. I know what you mean about there is no where to find a good one. My husband though did visit the one in Asheville. We would not want to locate though to Asheville. Probably would look even up to a 50 mile radius from there.

    by Virginia — June 15, 2017

  91. Louise…I do not know too much about Kennesaw…….about an hour from me…as I live in Gwinnett. Metro Atlanta has become terribly congested…the traffic is horrible…as is the crime. You can not get away from this if you live anywhere in Metro Atlanta.

    Wish I could be of greater help on this.

    by Roberta Bengtson — June 15, 2017

  92. Cindy F – it sounds like we are looking for the same things. Let me know if you find it and I will do the same.

    by Judith R — June 16, 2017

  93. Judith R- I will. Good luck.

    by Cindy F — June 17, 2017

  94. jmr2gbr We live in Fort Mill area, actually Indian Land on the Panhandle. In Sun City Carolina Lakes. Tons to do, plenty of shopping and great Restaurants. Easy going people and a big plus, our family is all from here! Don’t listen to the complainers about traffic ect. you can get anywhere within minutes..maybe not up to Charlotte but we don’t live in Charlotte! LOL..we love it here in ‘our’ area and the weather is great. 2 1/2 hrs to North Myrtle 2 hrs. to Ashville and our beautiful Mountains. As we here in SC like to say…”Welcome to South Carolina, Smiling faces, Beautiful Places” Oh and if by chance you want to go up to Charlotte for the Theater, Festivals, Museums, Fine Dining and all that wonderful city has to offer..plan your trip around rush hours or go on weekends like we do! After all we are RETIRED and know when to travel. 🙂

    by DixieLady — November 2, 2017

  95. Bravo Dixie Lady! I love your post. When one is retired it is easy to get around crowds and traffic since there is more free time.

    by Jennifer — November 3, 2017

  96. DixieLady and Jennifer — I just could not resist!

    DL: plan your trip around rush hours or go on weekends like we do! After all we are RETIRED and know when to travel. ?

    J: Bravo Dixie Lady! I love your post. When one is retired it is easy to get around crowds and traffic since there is more free time.

    IMO, that is exactly what makes retirement so great — the ability to do what you want when you want. Even with limited means, your time is your own and you don’t have to bend to the demands of traffic, schedules or even day/night. Sure, there are the constraints of schedules of the non-retired, but we are pretty much free to spend time at our whim.

    And since this is a post about the Carolinas, one of the great things about living in this region is the generally good weather and the availbility of so many things to do and places to go all within mere hours. Day-to-day does not have to be routine, it can be as diverse and fascinating as we are able to afford and affordability is typical.

    by Rich — November 3, 2017

  97. Rich: Yes, We are really Blessed to live here. Could not imagine living anywhere else. Love our Carolina Home.

    by DixieLady — November 6, 2017

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment