Best counties to retire to in North Carolina

Written by:
May 11, 2022
iofoto // Shutterstock

Best counties to retire to in North Carolina

Buyers and sellers of real estate alike—when asked what are the three most essential considerations about a property—will nearly always reply "location, location, location." While this answer is sometimes tongue-in-cheek, it is often quite accurate, and this reply perhaps applies to retirees more than any other demographic. Settling down after a lifetime of working and perhaps raising a family calls for the perfect location: a spot where you can enjoy life with as few concerns as possible.

When seniors aged 65 years or older decide on where they want to live out their golden years, they consider very specific factors, such as the cost of living, government services, health care facilities, weather and overall climate, crime rate, outdoor recreational activities, eating establishments, cultural and entertainment opportunities, and more.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to retire in North Carolina using data from Niche. Niche ranks counties based on a variety of factors including cost of living, healthcare, recreation and weather. Read more about Niche's methodology here.

Location is critical as retirees determine where to spend their senior years enjoying favorite activities; however, it’s a very unique decision based on a multitude of preferences and needs. Whether it be bustling downtowns or access to parks, affordable home prices or cultural amenities like museums, retirees seeking to settle in a permanent spot are sure to find a private paradise in any of these counties recommended by Niche because, in the end, there is no place like home—no matter the location.

Read on to discover the best counties to retire to in North Carolina.

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AbeEzekowitz // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Jackson County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Sylva (A-), Forest Hills (A), Webster Township (A)
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G Keith Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Surry County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Elkin (A-), Mount Airy (B+), White Plains (B)
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Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Stanly County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Stanfield (B+), Locust (B), Albemarle (B)
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#22. Caldwell County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Northlakes (A-), Granite Falls (A-), Lenoir (B)
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#21. Clay County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B-), outdoor activities (B-)
- Top places to live: Brasstown Township (B-), Hayesville (C+), Hayesville Township (C+)

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#20. Dare County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (C), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Southern Shores (B+), Kill Devil Hills (B+), Kitty Hawk (B+)
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#19. Rutherford County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Rutherfordton (A-), Spindale (B), Forest City (B-)
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Shapard Wolf // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Yancey County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: South Toe Township (B), Green Mountain Township (B), Burnsville (B)
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Theresaperry44 // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Bertie County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B)
- Top places to live: Windsor (B-), Woodville Township (B-), Colerain (B-)
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#16. Alleghany County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Piney Creek Township (B+), Cherry Lane Township (B), Prathers Creek Township (B)

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#15. Craven County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Trent Woods (A), Brices Creek (A-), River Bend (A-)
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#14. Cherokee County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Murphy Township (B), Valleytown Township (B), Andrews (B-)
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Bethbrownebooks // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Chowan County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Edenton (C+), Yeopim Township (B), Edenton Township (B)
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David Byron Keener // Shutterstock

#12. Beaufort County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B+), weather (A-), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: River Road (B), Washington (B-), Chocowinity (C+)
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#11. Haywood County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Waynesville (B), Lake Junaluska (B), Clyde (B)

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#10. New Hanover County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (C+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Sea Breeze (A), Wrightsville Beach (A), Ogden (A)
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Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Transylvania County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Brevard (B+), Dunns Rock Township (A), Boyd Township (B+)
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KAD Photo // Shutterstock

#8. Chatham County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Fearrington Village (A), Pittsboro (B+), Siler City (B-)
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Bud Davis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Pamlico County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B)
- Top places to live: Grantsboro Township (B), Alliance Township (B), Grantsboro (B)
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#6. Macon County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Franklin (B), Highlands (B+), Smithbridge Township (B+)

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#5. Henderson County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (A)
- Top places to live: Laurel Park (A), Mills River (A-), Flat Rock (A-)
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Limozine // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Polk County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
- Top places to live: Tryon (A), Green Creek Township (A-), Tryon Township (B+)
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KAD Photo // Shutterstock

#3. Moore County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Pinehurst (A), Southern Pines (A), Foxfire (A-)
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#2. Brunswick County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A)
- Top places to live: St. James (A-), Leland (B+), Oak Island (B)
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#1. Carteret County

- Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
- Top places to live: Cedar Point (A), Emerald Isle (A-), Pine Knoll Shores (A-)

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