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Where Are the Best Places to Retire in North Carolina?

Posted by on Thursday, May 6th, 2021 at 3:46pm

 where are the best places to retire in north carolina

Deciding to retire is one of the most exciting and lucrative choices you’ll make in your lifetime. It means you have more freedom and you can do things you may not have been able to do before, like move to a different state and look for your dream retirement home. If a place with mountains and rustic charm is calling your name, this guide will tell you all you need to know about some of the best places to retire in North Carolina

North Carolina is a popular destination for retirees, but which part is for you? Some of the best places to retire in North Carolina are in Western North Carolina on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. The Cashiers, Highlands, Lake Glenville, Sapphire Valley and Lake Toxaway areas are known for natural beauty, hiking, waterfalls, charming downtowns, local shops and restaurants, a family-centric community and more.

Is North Carolina a Good State to Retire To?

You may still be undecided about which state to retire to, and that’s ok. It’s a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. When you start retirement planning, you’ll love knowing that North Carolina is ideal for active adults. There are countless things to do if you want to stay busy.

Here are some more reasons why North Carolina is the best state to retire to:

  •         It’s home to the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains and more
  •         There is a temperate rainforest climate in Western North Carolina
  •         There are four distinct seasons to experience and enjoy
  •         Depending on where you are, the Outer Banks and North Carolina barrier coastline could be a bit of a drive—but it’s worth it
  •         You’ll be able to easily explore the famous Blue Ridge Parkway
  •         If you love history, there is no shortage of it in this state
  •         And if you’re a sports fan, North Carolina has 21 minor league and professional teams

Is North Carolina a Tax-friendly State to Retire To?

According to, North Carolina does not tax Social Security retirement benefits, making it a fairly tax-friendly state to retire to. When compared to the national average, North Carolina also tends to have lower sales taxes and property taxes. If you are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security, this is something that may intrigue you.

However, if you have significant sources of income from other places, keep in mind that your tax bill will be higher. This is because North Carolina taxes other forms of retirement as non-deductible, regular income.

Why Do Retirees Move to North Carolina?

why do retirees move to north carolina

Retirees move to North Carolina because of how diverse the state is and because they want to be closer to nature. Some of the best places to retire in North Carolina are on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina.

Western North Carolina Highlands-Cashiers Plateau:

  •         Highlands
  •         Cashiers
  •         Sapphire Valley
  •         Lake Glenville
  •         Lake Toxaway

These locations are hidden gems. They aren’t college towns and they aren’t in heavily congested areas. The five locations we listed are also some of the best places to retire in North Carolina because the people are friendly, the scenery is abundant, and there is local charm and style everywhere you go.

Western North Carolina Hiking and Waterfalls

When you want to get out and enjoy Mother Nature, there are countless chances to do so. Or you can unwind at home and admire the views from the comfort of your own home.

You can’t beat driving down the road to get to some of these trails. Others are more of a drive, but they are definitely worth it!

Here are the best hiking trails in Western North Carolina:

  •         Secret Falls Trail in Highlands
  •         Pinky Falls Trail in Highlands
  •         Sapphire Valley Trail in Sapphire
  •         Hike to the Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park
  •         Whiteside Mountain hiking trails in Cashiers
  •         Short hike to Dry Falls in Highlands
  •         Chattooga and Whiteside Cove Trail Loop at the Nantahala National Forest
  •         Devils Courthouse/Whiteside Mountain on the Jackson/Macon County Line

What is the Best Place to Retire in North Carolina?

Some of the best places to retire in North Carolina are the hidden gems and smaller areas away from the larger cities like Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville. This is especially true if you’re moving to North Carolina because you want to be surrounded by mountains, forests and stunning scenery.

Highlands-Cashiers Plateau Lifestyle

The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is one of the best places to retire in North Carolina because it’s a secluded rustic paradise with charming locations, unique shops and restaurants and a down-to-Earth, family-centric community.

There are events throughout the year designed to show off the area and the state. For example, Cashiers is home to the annual Leaf Festival, and music concerts, farmer’s markets and more at the Village Green, a 13-acre park at the crossroads of Highway 64 and Highway 107, near Landmark Vacation Rentals’ Cashiers office. There is also the prestigious and luxurious Highlands Food and Wine Festival in downtown Highlands.

Highlands is known for its downtown Main Street. You’ll love exploring the art galleries, antique shops, watching a play at the professional summer stock theater, The Highlands Playhouse, the dog-friendly restaurants and more.

We recommend Rosenthal’s, Wit’s End and The Dry Smile for shopping. When you’re ready for a bite to ear, try Madison’s Restaurant, Midpoint, The Blue Bicycle for lunch, and The Ugly Dog Pub.

What Do I Need to Know Before Moving to North Carolina?

what do i need to know before moving to north carolina

You’ll need to pack, get organized, make a plan and execute it. Here are some general tips for moving to another state:

  •         After you’ve worked with a professional real estate agent to find your next retirement home, you’ll want to make a budget for your move
  •         Research moving companies or make a plan to move everything yourself
  •         Decide on a moving date
  •         Pack things you don’t use regularly or won’t need to access on a regular basis first
  •         Pack in stages so it doesn’t creep up on you
  •         Cancel or transfer memberships
  •         If you’re going to ship your car, boat or motorcycle make arrangements
  •         Transfer or schedule your utilities
  •         Forward your mail
  •         Make a plan to deep clean your current home or hire a reputable cleaning service

Find a North Carolina Home to Retire In

Now that you’ve decided North Carolina is the best place to retire and you’ve learned more about the best places to retire in North Carolina, we hope this guide has helped you make your decision. Retiring is about relaxing and living out our Golden Years in peace and happiness, and you can certainly find that on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

If you can’t decide between Highlands and Cashiers and the other cities on the Plateau, you can rent a home in a few different locations with Landmark Vacation Rentals and see which area you love the most. Maybe it’s a lake house on Lake Glenville, or the more private Lake Toxaway? Sapphire Valley is home to a variety of amenities, if you’re looking for a luxury country club home. Highlands is a luxury mountain location with a popular downtown. Cashiers is more spread-out, but just as charming and unique.

Our team of professional real estate agents at Landmark Realty Group were either born here or fell in love with the Plateau after they visited on vacation. The area is near and dear to us, and we’re passionate about sharing it with others, whether you’re looking for a home to buy or one to rent so you can learn more about the area and see if it’s the right fit for you. Contact us today to get started finding your dream retirement home in the Western North Carolina mountains.

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