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North Carolina is a charming state and can be a very advantageous place to retire. The state of North Carolina does not tax social security retirement benefits and also has low property and sales taxes that can give retirees additional purchasing power. Our list goes through the 15 best cities to retire in North Carolina along with important information about each city and how your retirement might look there.

How We Compiled Our List Of Best Cities to Retire In North Carolina

Our research of the best cities to retire in North Carolina was carefully selected by screening other top studies performed about retirement in North Carolina. We also used an extensive search to determine important factors that may retirement enjoyable for people. Some of the factors included in our research are:

  • The population of the city Helps to determine the overall size of the city
  • Median home value – Gives us an idea of the affordability and cost of living of the area
  • The number of hospitals within a 25-mile radius – Provides us with information about the level of available health care for that area.
  • Annual property and violent crimes – This gives us information about the safety of the city
  • Quality of life and value factor – These factors provides us with an idea of the overall value and quality of life associated with retiring in each city based on local attractions available for retirees, retirement community, and more.

All of these factors help to provide us with a fair assessment of how retirement might look in these cities. It’s important to note that not all of these cities are considered affordable to retire in. Our study includes both cities that are considered affordable and ones that are more expensive.

1. Hendersonville

hendersonville
Hendersonville
  • Population – 13,908 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $375k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 6+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 638
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 57
  • Affordability Retirement – 7.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 8/10

Conclusion: Hendersonville is a great historical city to retire to that is full of many local communities and businesses. The city offers a high quality of life for retirees and is tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city has great access to health care for people along with a roughly 20% of the population being retirees. It also features great retirement facilities, local restaurants and shops, and recreation centers to help retirees stay active.

Local Attractions: Hendersonville is full of many local attractions that can keep retirees and their families entertained year round. Some of their most popular local attractions include:

Best Known For: The city is well known for it’s apple orchards and has a North Carolina Apple Festival every Labor day weekend. Hendersonville is also known for it’s lineup of wineries, local breweries, and ciders.



2. Roxboro

roxboro - north carolina
Roxboro – North Carolina
  • Population – 8,298 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $199k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 2
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 287
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 79
  • Affordability Retirement – 9/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 9/10

Conclusion: Roxboro is a smaller city just 30 miles north of Durham that a small town feel full of historic homes, building, local shops and restaurants and plenty of cultural activities. The city is quite and has a country style vibe that is perfect for retirees that are looking for a slow relaxing environment. There’s plenty of outdoors activities available for retirees to stay active. The cost of living in Roxboro is below the national average and has plenty of retirement communities available.

Local Attractions: The city is very quite and has some local attractions that emulate the small town feel. Some of their most popular attractions include:

Best Known For: The city of Roxboro is best known as a “Mocassin Gap”. Although it’s a small city it has plenty of manufacturing business that contribute to its local economy.

Recommended Reading: 15 Best Cities To Retire in Michigan



3. Pinehurst

pinehurst
Pinehurst
  • Population – 16,050 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $450k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 10
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 133
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 19
  • Affordability Retirement – 7.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 9/10

Conclusion: Pinehurst is a great city for retirees if you’re an avid golfer. It is home to the infamous Pinehurst No.2 golf course where the American story of golf begins. Pinehurst is considered an expensive city to retire to with the cost of living being higher than the national average. Although median home values are a bit on the higher end, the city has relatively low property tax rates compared to other local cities.

The city also has a great humid subtropical climate ideal for people who love to golf in the summer with very mild winters. On top of that, they have a health care system that is top-notch along with a vibrant retiree culture.

Local Attractions: Some of the local attractions in Pinehurst revolve mainly around golf but there are still plenty of ways to stay busy as a retiree if you’re not a golfer. Below are some of Pinehurst’s popular attractions:

Best Known For: Pinehurst is most known for it’s golfing attractions along with it’s modern golfing histories about popular golf stars.

Recommended Reading: 15 Best Places to Retire in South Carolina



4. Marion

marion - north carolina
Marion – North Carolina
  • Population – 7,834 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $260k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 2
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 439
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 15
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 8/10

Conclusion: Marion is a smaller city in North Carolina named after General Francis Marion, an American Revolutionary War hero. This small mountain town is lined with historic buildings, churches, and courthouses and sits at the bottom of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Marion has a beautiful downtown area along with plenty of local restaurants and breweries that can make retirement very enjoyable. It has a small city feel and has affordable housing as well as plenty of retirement facilities. The city has plenty of outdoor activities for retirees to enjoy along with a friendly community.

Local Attractions: Marion is a diverse city offering unique attractions for retirees to get involved in. Some of these include:

Best Known For: The city is best known for a being a history mountain town which is close to attractions like Mt. Mitchell and Linville Falls.



5. Hickory

Downtown Hickory NC
Downtown Hickory NC
  • Population – 40,634 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $240k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 4
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 1,717
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 223
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8.0/10
  • Value – 9/10

Conclusion: Hickory is considered a great place to retire for sports fans and people who love to be close to the mountains. It is considered on the of the best places to retire in the mountains of North Carolina. The city offers access to breathtaking views and great hiking trails for people who like to stay active. Its housing market is very stable and affordable for retirees that are on a fixed income.

The cost of living in Hickory is 13% below the national average. There are plenty of festivals and community events year-round to help retirees stay busy and have fun. In terms of overall value, Hickory is one of the best places to retire in North Carolina.

Local Attractions: Hickory has many different local attractions that can keep retirement fun. Some their most popular local attractions include:

Best Known For: Hickory is know for it’s rich history in stock car racing. It is home to Hickory Motor Speedway, one of the most famous short track, commonly referred to as the “Birthplace of NASCAR stars”. The city is also well known for furniture manufacturing.



6. Williamston

Williamston, North Carolina
Williamston, North Carolina
  • Population – 5,312 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $114k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 1
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 297
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 66
  • Affordability Retirement – 9.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 7.5/10
  • Value – 8.5/10

Conclusion: If you’re in search of an affordable city to retire to, Williamston is it. Williamston is a small rural town east of Durham with plenty of farmland and big open spaces. It’s considered not only a great place to raise a family but a great place to retire to. It has a small-town feel that is ideal for retirees who want peace and quiet.

The only caveat to retiring here is that there aren’t many restaurant options. However, the city is positioned close to Albermarle Sound and the Pamlico River which is great for people who enjoy hunting and fishing. Living in Williamston is very affordable with the median home value at $114k, bringing the cost of living to 30% below the national average.

Local Attractions: Although Williamston doesn’t have a massive downtown area, there are still plenty of ways for retirees to stay active. Some of their most popular local attractions include:

Best Known For: Williamston is known for being one of the best cities for outdoor lovers with a history of being known as a sustainable community.



7. Forest City

forest city
forest city
  • Population – 7,155 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $190k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 3
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 297
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 66
  • Affordability Retirement – 9.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 8.5/10

Conclusion: West of Charlotte, another affordable and small town to retire to is Forest City. The town has an immaculate downtown center is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. Two major senior citizen clubs offer plenty of activities for seniors to get involved in.

The cost of living in Forest City is much lower than the national average and features plenty of retirement communities. Crime is low and residents have good access to affordable health care. If you want to retire to a place with a small-town feel and a tight-knit community, Forest City is the place.

Local Attractions: Forest City has many local museums and attractions for retirees to get involved with. Some of them include:

Best Known For: Forest City is well known for its holiday celebration lights every winter, with over a million lights being spread through their downtown center. This is a popular annual tradition since 1930 that lights up the city during the holidays.



8. Reidsville

reidsville, north carolina
Reidsville
  • Population – 13,915 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $169k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 4
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 689
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 138
  • Affordability Retirement – 9.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 8/10

Conclusion: Just north of Greensboro, Reidsville is another great city to consider retirement in North Carolina. With median home values of $169k, Reidsville is considered very affordable to retire to. The city has great access to health care and low crime rates which make it a very safe and stable place to retire to.

Local Attractions: Below are some of Reidsville’s most popular local attractions.

Best Known For: Reidsville is best known for being a hot spot for people who love spending time outdoors. Back in the day, the city used to be a key location of the American Tobacco Company which employed plenty of residents of the city.



9. Raleigh

Raleigh
Raleigh
  • Population – 464,485 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $379k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 20+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 9,981
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 1,940
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 9/10
  • Value – 8/10

Conclusion: Raleigh is perhaps one of North Carolina’s most popular cities to live in. The city has a great climate, a large health care system, friendly people, and a very high quality of life. The city is full of many unique restaurants, public and private golf courses, wellness centers, and museums.

The city’s diversity enables people to stay busy and enjoy retirement in many different ways. Although the cost of living in Raleigh is considered higher than in other cities, the city is full of affordable options for retirees with plenty of retirement facilities in the area.

Local Attractions: Below are some of Raleigh’s most popular local attractions and places to help you stay busy during your retirement.

Best Known For: The city of Raleigh is commonly referred to as the “Smithsonian of the South” and is well known for it’s quality and quantity of free museums for people to enjoy. It is also well known for it’s it’s universities like North Carolina State.



10. Durham

Durham - best places to retire in north carolina
Durham
  • Population – 269,702 – (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $360k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 11+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 11,040
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 2,455
  • Affordability Retirement – 7.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 8.5/10
  • Value – 7.5/10

Conclusion: Durham is considered by many as one of the best places to retire in North Carolina if you can afford the higher cost of living. The housing market in Durham is considered more competitive than other cities but offers incredible attractions and a robust health care system. The city has a vibrant culture and residents can enjoy all four seasons without extremes in the weather. The area has plenty of golf courses and parks for retirees to stay active.

Local Attractions: Some of Durham’s most popular local attractions include:

Best Known For: Durham is most known for being the “City of Medicine”. It is also home to Duke University and the Research Triangle Park.



11. Greensboro

Greensboro
Greensboro
  • Population291,303 (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $245k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 10+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 11,040
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 2,455
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8.0/10
  • Value – 8.0/10

Conclusion: Another city that is similar in size to Durham but with a lower cost of living is Greensboro. The city is in close proximity to the mountains and the beach. It’s approximately 3 hours away from the Blue Ridge Mountains and 3 hours away from the Atlantic beaches. Greensboro has a great downtown area that is full of restaurants, breweries, pubs, coffee shops, and theaters. If you enjoy being active they have fitness and rec centers all around the city. On top of all this, the city has a strong health care system along with a low crime rate.

Local Attractions: Below are some of Greensboro’s most popular local attractions.

Best Known For: The city of Greensboro was known as a textile town, full of mills, plenty of factories, and hard-working blue-collar people. Today, the city is known for being a popular sports tournament town, offering a plethora of diverse sports venues, fields, stadiums, and swimming pools.



12. Lexington

Lexington- best places to retire in north carolina
Lexington
  • Population18,861 (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $276k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 2
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) – 596
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 105
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 7.5/10

Conclusion: Just north of Charlotte, Lexington is a great mid-sized city in North Carolina to consider your retirement. It has roughly 20 senior living facilities and the cost of living is on par with the national average. If you enjoy staying active there are plenty of activities for retirees to get involved in. The city ranks amongst the 50 safest cities in North Carolina and is considered by man as the “Barbeque Capital of the World”. 

Local Attractions: Some of Lexington’s most popular attractions include:

Best Known For: Lexington is famous for its barbeque, wines, rich NASCAR history, art and historic uptown.



13. Charlotte

Charlotte-  best places to retire in north carolina
Charlotte
  • Population – 925,290 (2022)
  • Median Home Value – $367k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 20+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) –29,438
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 7,521
  • Affordability Retirement – 7.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 8/10
  • Value – 8.5/10

Conclusion: Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and has a rich modern city center that is full of rich southern history. If you like the feel of a large busy city with something always going on, Charlotte is the spot to retire in. It has a strong hospital system with over 20 hospitals located within the city limits and has plenty of retirement facilities available for seniors. The city is full of life and offers residents a great social scene, incredible parks and outdoor venues as well as a great school system. The cost of living is a bit higher than other metropolitan cities in North Carolina, but you also get much more value.

Local Attractions:

Best Known For: The city is well known for it’s NASCAR Hall of Fame along with it’s amazing museums and parks. We also can’t forget about the cities southern hospitality.



14. Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem
  • Population244,115 (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $235k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 10+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) –1,623
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 325
  • Affordability Retirement – 8.0/10
  • Quality of Life – 8.5/10
  • Value – 8.5/10

Conclusion: Winston-Salem is a city bordering Greensboro that is another great option for retirees to consider. The city is central in the state of North Carolina, positioned between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic ocean. It’s very much known for being a town built on tobacco with a great downtown area for people to stay busy. The city offers great tax benefits for retirees such as a flat income tax rate of 5.25% along with low property taxes. Retirement communities in Winston-Same offer residents the option of paying zero property taxes. Winston-Salem also has a strong health care system for retirees along with plenty of facilities to help them stay active.

Local Attractions: Below are some of the city’s most popular local attractions.

Best Known For: The city is well known for being a tobacco town and commonly referred to as a “Twin City” and “Camel City”. The city is also home to six colleges, most notably Wake Forest University.



15. Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
  • Population60,998 (2019)
  • Median Home Value – $513k (2022)
  • Number of Hospitals within 25 Miles of City – 11+
  • Annual Property Crimes (2022) –1,254
  • Annual Violent Crimes (2022) – 100
  • Affordability Retirement – 6.5/10
  • Quality of Life – 9/10
  • Value – 8.0/10

Conclusion: This is considered by many people as one best places to retire in North Carolina if money isn’t an issue. The cost of living in Chapel Hill is much higher than places on our list with the majority of the population owning their homes. The city has a balance urban/suburban mix with a great downtown area full of tasty restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and parks. The city has a great health care system along with a very low crime rate.

Local Attractions: Some of Chapel Hills most famous local attractions below include:

Best Known For: The city has a rich history and is famous for having the first public university in the United States, UNC Chapel Hill.


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