Senior Resources » Best Cities For Retiring In North Carolina

Best Cities For Retiring In North Carolina

retired couple walking dog on the beach

With a temperate climate in the east and a mountainous climate in the west, North Carolina is a varied state with lots of natural beauty and a little something for everyone! Retirees looking to relocate may find that North Carolina is the place to be.


What’s So Great About North Carolina?

North Carolina is a great state for retirees! Low taxes and comfortable weather make this southern state ideal for 55-plus adults to stretch their savings and get some fun, sun, and rest! North Carolina is home to the Great Smoky Mountains and Outer Banks, among many other popular landmark destinations. The state has numerous historical sites, including many from the Civil War. History buffs will enjoy North Carolina’s colonial heritage as well as sites of some pretty famous inventions like Pepsi-Cola!

Compared to the rest of the US, North Carolina’s cost of living is around 9.5% lower than the national average (according to Best Places). It has a population of over 10.6 million. And, of that number, close to 2 million are aged 65 and older.


Best Cities For Retiring In North Carolina

North Carolina has some of the very best cities for retirees!

North Carolina Map

Chapel Hill, NC

If you are seeking the perfect small town retirement location, and are drawn to southern charm, then Chapel Hill may be the place for you. Chapel Hill, located in North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” (home to three renowned universities, teaching hospitals, and one of the largest research parks in the nation), offers everything a retiree desires. There are so many cultural activities, medical facilities, and other senior-friendly amenities.

As a popular retirement destination, the Chapel Hill area boasts a number of 55+ communities that offer resort retirement living. The cost of housing here is a bit higher than in many retirement locations. But, there are golf communities, mixed-generation neighborhoods with a senior-friendly focus, and assisted living facilities. Closer to downtown, retirement condos and apartments are also available. Active retirees can enjoy the vibrant cultural scene in and around the city, or pursue recreational activities among the nearby mountains and beaches!

Apex, NC

Apex is located just outside of the Lake Jordan Recreation area, which has beautiful campgrounds, abundant fishing, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The city is included on the national register of historic places due to its history as a turn-of-the-century railroad town. With the big-city benefits of Raleigh only 20 minutes away, Apex can be one of the best places to retire in North Carolina.


Asheville, NC

With a great climate and lots to do for everyone, Asheville is one of the best towns in North Carolina for retiring. Known for whitewater rafting, Asheville is full of natural beauty. During the fall, the forests that surround this city brighten up with color. In town, there are ample opportunities for sidewalk dining in cafes, and in the summertime, there are multiple farmers’ markets to enjoy fresh produce and food goods.

Kannapolis, NC

With a storybook downtown area and lots of natural greens preserved to prevent urban sprawl, Kannapolis is a rapidly evolving small town that has amenities for every need. Located only a half hour away from Charlotte, this city has become a biotechnology hub while retaining its historic charm. In the last decade, millions have been spent to increase the livability and economic sustainability of this town. Kannapolis is also known for being the home of NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family.

North Carolina Mountain Towns For Retirees

Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the distinct mountain communities of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville, and Sapphire in Jackson County, NC are among the country’s premier outdoor destinations.

From the resort village of Cashiers to the authentic Smoky Mountain towns of Cherokee, Cullowhee, Dillsboro, and Sylva as you head north along the Tuckasegee River, each corner of Jackson County has its own personality and charm.

Cashiers, NC

Multimillion-dollar homes and quintessential log cabins co-exist happily here alongside a plethora of antique and interiors shops and restaurants. A thriving arts community produces a number of festivals throughout the year in Cashiers.


Cherokee, NC

Serving as the gateway to both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee offers a variety of activity options to visitors. History buffs will enjoy learning about the Cherokee culture while golfers can hit the links at Sequoyah National Golf Club.

Cullowhee, NC

Originally settled as a Cherokee village, Cullowhee is best known as the home of Western Carolina University, the fifth-oldest and one of the fastest growing campuses of the University of North Carolina system.

Dillsboro, NC

Dillsboro is settled alongside the Tuckasegee River and is popular for its walkable main street and as a stopover on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains. Home of the NC Pottery Festival, Dillsboro has a strong arts community including numerous pottery shops and crafters.

Glenville, NC

Once the largest town in Jackson County when it was incorporated in 1891, Glenville is now a popular lakeside community with many gorgeous homes dotting its shores.

Sylva, NC

The most photographed courthouse in the US, a quaint downtown, and a booming brew scene give a distinct groove to this historic mountain town located just one mile away from its sister city Dillsboro.

Looking For a Retirement Community In North Carolina?

Find a retirement community near me!

Riverbend at Lake Lure provides homesite, vacation, and retirement properties as well as log home construction services to buyers in North Carolina. There are Lake lots, River lots, Creekside lots, View lots, and Acreage Tracts.

Need Something Else?

Click here to find senior housing near you!

Want to read more great senior living articles? Then check out our Retirement Lifestyle Blog!

Need help with retirement planning? Then check out Bob Carlson’s Retirement Watch!

Originally published July 14, 2022

Free Senior Resources

20 Retirement Secrets

20 Retirement Secrets That Will Change All Your Plans in 2023

Get The Guide
Blessings for Baby Boomers

Blessings for Baby Boomers

Get The Guide
Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist and Guide, 2023

Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist & Guide

Get The Guide
Medicare Guide for Veterans cover

Medicare Guide for Veterans

Get The Guide
Show this content while the ad loads.