7 Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

April 30th, 2024

7 Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

7 Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

Are you considering moving to North Carolina and want to learn more about the best places to retire? Here are the seven best places to retire in North Carolina.

As one of the top states people are moving to for retirement, North Carolina has a plethora of places to move to when you retire. Similar to buying a new home, retirement is the start of a new journey, and it is crucial to pick the perfect location. 

North Carolina has something to offer everyone, from the stunning small towns in the Great Smoky Mountains to the beautiful East Coast beaches and everywhere in between. Whether you are looking for a bustling city to retire or an adorable small town, you'll have plenty of options, each with its own natural beauty, southern hospitality, and peaceful atmosphere. 

In addition to the great places to live, North Carolina is known as a great place for retirees because of its low cost of living, excellent healthcare, affordable taxes, and ideal climate. 

You cannot go wrong with moving to North Carolina, but there is much more to learn before you do. First, here are the best places to retire in N.C. 

Keep reading to learn all about the seven best places to retire in North Carolina. 


Ranked as #35 in "Best Places to Retire" by the U.S. News, Winston-Salem is an amazing place to move to. Known for its mild weather and prime location, it is not surprising that this city was named the 5th best city in North Carolina.

The sense of community is what compels many people to live in Winston-Salem. A city with a small-town feel is hard to find, but Winston-Salem does it best. With its dense suburban quality, lots of parks, and high safety, many residents own their own homes and participate in community events. 

You'll never grow bored in Winston-Salem with fun adventures like Black Mountain Chocolate Factory, Old Salem Museum and Gardens, and many other museums, parks, restaurants, and bars. No matter how you like to enjoy your time, you'll undoubtedly find something you like here in Winston-Salem.

The prime location also makes this one of the best places to retire. You won't have to drive far to the mountains to the west and beaches to the east. Both of which are only about a 2-and-a-half-hour drive. 

Home to the Forsyth Medical Center, you'll have more than enough healthcare options if you retire here. However, compared to the national average, healthcare is 6% higher, housing is 32% lower, groceries are 1% lower, and transportation is 2% higher, according to Payscale. This means you may spend more than average on healthcare, but you will be saving a great deal of money on housing, which is typically the highest expense. 

Winston-Salem, NC


Raleigh ranks No. 7 on the list of U.S. cities for retirees, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. As a result of the abundant access to healthcare, activities, low cost of living, and pleasant weather, Raleigh is an amazing place for retirees. 

Similar to the rest of NC, Raleigh is known for its Southern charm that you can't find anywhere else. Not only is Raleigh the state capital of N.C., but it is also the largest city in the Research Triangle Region, which is comprised of Raleigh and its neighboring cities, Durham and Chapel Hill. 

Raleigh is also home to state-of-the-art hospitals, making it an exceptional place for retirees who need to live close to good healthcare. While healthcare expenses are 3% higher than the national average, the overall cost of living in Raleigh is 4% lower than the national average. Meaning you will save tons of money living in Raleigh as a retiree. 

Raleigh, NC skyline


Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has long been known as the "Paris of the South." Thanks to its vibrant creative community, stunning historic architecture, dog-friendly atmosphere, and rich history, Asheville is a wonderful place to retire in N.C.

Asheville has plenty of neighborhoods to pick from, whether you are looking for a cozy home, a downtown condo, or a large cabin. Living in Asheville means you'll have access to all the amazing culinary scenes, museums, quirky shops, galleries, and unparalleled cultural scenes. 

If you decide to move to Asheville, you can expect a small-town feeling while still enjoying all the amenities of a big-city life, from fun things to good healthcare resources. 

The cost of living in Asheville is the same as the national average, with housing, utilities, and healthcare being the most expensive living expenses. 


Pinehurst is a fantastic place to retire, not just because of the golf courses. The people are extremely warm and welcoming, making it a great place to live.

Homes in Pinehurst are moderately priced along with the rest of the most common living expenses. The homes available are some of the most affordable in the country since the real estate in Pinehurst is of great value. You can also expect to find relatively low property tax rates in the area. In addition to property tax rates, the Social Security retirement benefits are not taxed in North Carolina. 

The weather in Pinehurst makes it perfect for any outdoor activities, which is good, considering Pinehurst is full of things to do. With short and mild winters, the town only experiences about three inches of snow per year. The summers, on the other hand, are typically hot and humid. 

As a growing town, the healthcare is first-class. Pinehurst takes healthcare and the well-being of its residents extremely seriously. Healthcare is the largest industry sector in the area; Firsthealth of the Carolina's is the first comprehensive healthcare network in the region and operates Moore Regional Hospital, which was named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation. 

Golfing in Pinehurst for retirees

Pine Knoll Shores

Situated on the ocean side and Bogue Sound side, Pine Knoll Shores is not only beautiful but also a great place for retirees. With a median age of 66 years old, residents in this small beach town are primarily retired. 

Retirees are mostly drawn towards this town for its friendly community and various community groups to join in on. Pine Knoll Shores has 12 miles of pristine shoreline and many easy beach accesses. There are also many opportunities for outdoor activities like golf, tennis, fishing, walking, and much more. 

If you are looking for a quiet lifestyle but an active community, then this place is perfect for you. 

The cost of living is slightly less than the national average, meaning you may spend about the same here as you would in any other city in the U.S. Housing will most likely be the biggest expense as the homes and land in the town are some of the most sought-after in the state. 

There are many affordable healthcare options in the area as well. This means you can guarantee you will feel safe at an affordable price here in Pine Knoll Shores. 

Nags Head

Nestled on the Outer Banks, Nags Head is one of the best beach towns in North Carolina. Many retirees move to the area for its exceptional beaches, beautiful dunes, rich history, and friendly communities. 

Located in the middle region of the Outer Banks, you'll have convenient access to the surrounding towns and islands. There are many planned communities, friendly retirement communities, and homes to pick from in Nags Head.

If you are looking for a small and peaceful town, this one is perfect. Although Nags Head sees much tourism during the summer, it is not as much as the majority of other beaches in N.C. This means you won't be bombarded with tourists during the summer months as you would somewhere else in N.C. 

You will have plenty of opportunities to explore the town, history, shops, restaurants, and, of course, the beautiful outdoors.

Nags Head, NC lighthouse


Ranked as one of the Happiest Seaside towns in the United States, Southport is an excellent destination to move to as a retiree. From the beaches to the golf to the community, Southport has nearly zero cons. 

As a small town, the community is extremely friendly and welcoming. The happiness of residents is a product of the fantastic weather, affordability, and fun things to do. The cuisine is top-notch as well, with many amazing seafood options as a seaside town. In addition, there are many other types of cuisine, such as cafes, breweries, and bars, to keep you busy.

Overall, the cost of living is only 1% lower than the national average, which may not seem like much, but it will allow you to save a lot of money in the long run. Compared to the national average, housing is 15% lower, utilities are 4% higher, groceries are 1% lower, transportation is 10% higher, and healthcare is 8% higher. 

If you are looking to retire in a happy and beautiful town, then Southport is your best option. 

View of Southport, NC


We used information and data from several different sources, as well as our own data, to determine the best places to retire in North Carolina. Most of the data was sourced from the following sources:

FAQ: Best Places to Retire in North Carolina

Here are some commonly asked questions about the best places to retire in North Carolina.

Where is the best place to retire near the beach in North Carolina?

The North Carolina coast is full of many peaceful and beautiful towns where you can retire. However, Nags Head is known as the best place to retire in N.C. near the beach. Nags Head has a rich history, a friendly community, and stunning beaches. 

Is North Carolina a retirement-friendly state?

N.C. is known as a moderately tax-friendly state for retirees. The state does not tax Social Security retirement benefits and has low property taxes. However, sales taxes are close to the national average, and seniors with significant income other than from Social Security may have a larger tax bill in N.C.

At what age do you stop paying property taxes in North Carolina?

According to the State of North Carolina, property taxes are excluded as a portion of the appraised value of permanent residents owned and occupied by North Carolina residents ages 65 or older. 

Where do most seniors live in N.C.?

Most seniors in N.C. live in the central region, including Raleigh. The cool summers and mild winters make it an amazing place to live, along with the friendly community and things to do. In addition, Asheville is one of the more popular places for seniors to live for the recreation and excellent health care access//

What are the biggest risks of living in North Carolina?

North Carolina is at risk for many natural disasters, especially on the coast, where hurricanes are quite common. N.C. has been hit by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, lightning strikes, snow, and ice storms. These can cause power outages, property damage, physical harm, and disruption of food and water supplies. 

Best Places to Retire in North Carolina - The Bottom Line

As a retiree, you have plenty of places to move to in North Carolina. From quiet beach towns to friendly communities, no matter what you are looking for, North Carolina has many places to choose from. 

As you decide where to move to in North Carolina, consider the Triangle, which is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country with many beautiful homes for sale. You'll have to act fast if you want to buy your next home in one of Raleigh's best neighborhoods

Before you buy your next home in the Triangle, feel free to contact one of our helpful real estate specialists, as they are eager to help you find the perfect home. We know that buying a home can be overwhelming, so make sure you are prepared beforehand.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.

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