From the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains to picturesque harbor towns, North Carolina retirement communities have a lot to offer. A 2010 Del Webb poll cites North and South Carolina as the two most popular places to retire among the baby boomer generation—winning out over Florida and Arizona. North Carolina has almost 9 million residents and a wealth of communities that are great places to look for North Carolina assisted living facilities—including mountain towns, seaside villages, and larger cities.

North Carolina has four distinct seasons, with hot, humid summers and cold winters. Inhabitants find plenty to do outdoors year-round, including hiking, biking, camping, boating, and fishing. The coast tends to be cooler in summer and warmer in winter than non-coastal regions of the state; while it rarely gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit near the coast, it does get below freezing in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains.

Taxes in North Carolina are fairly low; the state doesn’t tax social security income, and most military pensions are tax-exempt. There are no estate or inheritance taxes in North Carolina, and homestead laws protect senior citizens from high property tax rates. Property taxes in North Carolina are fairly low to begin with. Overall, North Carolina ranks 20th out of 50 states for overall tax burden.

There are several communities worth a second look if you’re interested in a North Carolina retirement. These include:

Asheville

A charming Blue Ridge Mountain town with just over 75,000 residents, Asheville offers mild weather year-round as well as stunning natural surroundings. The Vanderbilts built the largest private residence in America—Biltmore Estate—in Asheville, with gorgeous gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. You can find plenty to do in Asheville, including shopping, fine dining, and hiking or camping in the mountains nearby.

Beaufort

A small, relaxed coastal town, Beaufort is a major attraction for retirees. The downtown area is full of historic homes and buildings, with more modern condominiums and senior housing outside of town. Boating and golf are big in Beaufort. The downtown is very walkable and offers boutique shopping, art galleries, antique stores, and restaurants. In addition, Beaufort has a thriving artistic community including musicians, writers, and artists.

Brevard

Brevard has gotten a lot of press lately as one of the top towns on a wide range of lists of top places to live and retire. Situated on the border with Georgia and nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Brevard is a small town at heart—despite its recent notoriety. Nicknamed “The Land of Waterfalls,” Brevard is surrounded by gorgeous waterways and falls as well as the Pisgah National Forest. Brevard College runs numerous musical, cultural, and artistic events throughout the year.

Mt. Airy

With just 9,000 people in the city, Mt. Airy nevertheless has a bustling downtown and plenty of cultural attractions—including the Andy Griffith Playhouse and the Downtown Cinema Theatre, which broadcasts a bluegrass radio concert every week. There’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in Mt. Airy, with hiking, camping, fishing, and other activities available in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

Retirement communities in North Carolina are lucky to have access to beautiful mountains, miles of white sand beaches, bustling historic downtowns, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy cultural, artistic, and musical events as well as the great outdoors. It’s no wonder North Carolina retirement communities have surged ahead of Florida’s in popularity—North Carolina has the beautiful weather, relatively low cost of living, and stunning beaches of Florida, without the crowds. Check out our NC retirement directory, peruse our free listings of North Carolina assisted living and retirement homes—and find your dream retirement town today.