The state of North Carolina is in the southeastern region of the United States, and it is bordered by the South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Atlantic Ocean. The capital is Raleigh, but Charlotte is the most populous municipality as well as the second largest banking center after New York City. With a population of over 10 million people, North Carolina ranks 9th in terms of population. At 53,819 square miles, North Carolina is the 28th largest state in the nation. The state density is 15th in the nation with 212.2 people per square mile. North Carolina has the 27th highest percentage of senior citizens in the country, with over 14.5% of residents age 65 or older. However, is the Tar Heel State a wise choice for seniors who are looking to make a move during their senior years?
Costs of Assisted Living in North Carolina
The U.S. average cost for Assisted Living is $3,628 per month, and North Carolina's assisted living is lower than the national average at $3,000 monthly. The costs may vary depending on the location of the facility as well as the needs of the residents in the facility. For example, facilities with a high percentage of dementia residents will often be more expensive due to the need for higher and better trained staff. Within the state of North Carolina alone, the costs of assisted living facilities vary from less than $2,000 per month in Fayetteville to $4,350 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
In contrast, nursing homes in North Carolina are much more expensive than assisted living facilities - with semi-private rooms costing over $78,840 per year, and a private room will cost close to $89,500 annually. Adult Day Health Care is another option that people use to care for seniors in America. North Carolina averages $1,350 per month or close to $13,000 per year for adult day care. A Home Health Aide in North Carolina costs, on average, $3,432 a month - over $41,000 annually.
Although the cost of an Assisted Living facility is cheaper than a Home Health Aide in the state of North Carolina, you must consider that a Home Health Aide is based on a 44-hour-week and does not offer 24-hour care like Assisted Living facilities do. Additionally, while Home Health Aides are important and helpful, they are not licensed nurses which are available in most Assisted Living Facilities. Home Health Aides usually do not do housekeeping that are part of the monthly payment at Assisted Living Facilities.
It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in North Carolina will cost around $54,453 per year – an increase of around $18,500. The cost of Nursing Home Care will increase to approximately $119,000 for a semi-private room and $135,250 for a private room by 2030.
Within North Carolina itself, the costs of Assisted Living Care vary as well, for example, these are the latest approximate costs of a monthly stay in an Assisted Living Facility in North Carolina:
- Fayetteville, North Carolina - $1,950;
- Burlington, North Carolina - $2,650;
- Durham Area, North Carolina - $2,750;
- Greenville, North Carolina - $2,750;
- Asheville, North Carolina - $2,800;
- Greensboro, North Carolina - $2,880;
- Hickory, North Carolina - $3,000;
- Goldsboro, North Carolina - $3,000;
- New Bern, North Carolina - $3,200;
- Rocky Mount, North Carolina - $3,595;
- Jacksonville, North Carolina - $3,600;
- Charlotte, North Carolina - $3,800;
- Raleigh, North Carolina - $3,841;
- Winston, North Carolina - $4,108;
- Wilmington, North Carolina - $4,350;
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in North Carolina
Here are some things to consider for seniors when choosing whether to retire to North Carolina:
- Housing affordability – North Carolina is a state with affordable housing, especially for seniors. The median cost of a house was $146,700 last year;
- Low Taxes – North Carolina has a flat-rate tax and has eliminated the state tax altogether. Moreover, Social Security income is not taxed in North Carolina;
- Varied Climate – with the different landscapes, from the mountains to the coastal beaches, there is always something to explore in North Carolina;
- A Sense of Community – this is a state that has a small town feel even in the larger cities. Retirees will not feel isolated and while social involvement is important at any age, this is especially true with senior citizens;
- Easy Travel – North Carolina has an extensive coastal system, as well as an Amtrak service and the towns and cities are compact and relatively close together.
Financial Information for Seniors
North Carolina has a flat income tax since 2013 of 5.75% and doubled the standard deduction for taxpayers in North Carolina. Deductions can be taken for these three expenses: charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and property taxes. But the deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes cannot exceed $20,000. Deductions that were previously available, such as the Net Business Income deduction and the College Savings Program deduction are no longer available.
The state sales tax in North Carolina is 4.75%, but every county collects an additional sales tax ranging from 2% to 2.25%. Realistically this means that the sales tax in North Carolina is between 6.75% to 7.5% depending on where you live.
Property tax in North Carolina is quite low – less than 1%, with the stage average being 0.84%. However, in larger cities the property taxes are higher. For example, in Charlotte the property tax rate is 1.13%. North Carolina also has a long-term and short-term capital gains tax that are taxed like regular income at the 5.75% rate.
North Carolina has no estate tax and no inheritance tax.
North Carolina is a moderately tax-friendly state for seniors, due to the following:
- Income from Social Security is not taxed;
- Withdrawals from retirement accounts are fully taxed;
- Wages are taxed at normal rates, in North Carolina the marginal state tax rate is 5.8%;
- Public pension income is fully taxed; and
- Private pensions are fully taxed.
North Carolina is a low-price state. For example, what you could purchase for $100 in North Carolina is what you would expect to spend $109.05 on in another state. The cost of living is lower in North Carolina than it is in other states in every category with housing being the biggest difference. Out of 100 points, North Carolina came in with a cost of living of 94.70. North Carolina rated lower overall (95), and in the category of housing (83), miscellaneous (97), transportation (98), and utilities (97); however, it rated higher in the categories of grocery (103.3); health (102); and miscellaneous (101).
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in North Carolina
There are many things that might be of interest for senior citizens in North Carolina State. Some of the more interesting things that seniors, and those who visit them, may enjoy in North Carolina include:
- Blue Ridge Parkway – located between Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina. This is a 469-mile beautiful drive which allows you to see the beauty of the state as you travel and protects the cultural and natural features of the Blue Ridge;
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – located in Buxton, on Hatteras Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina. This is the tallest lighthouse in America at 210 feet, and was originally built in 1802 and first lit in 1803. In 1870, the lighthouse had to be moved due to the Army Engineers taking over the overseeing of all lighthouses. The lighthouse was struck by lightning in 1879. In 1919, the water line had advanced high enough that the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was in danger and had to be relocated to safer ground that was 2,900 feet inland and 1,500 from the shoreline. At the time of the move the lighthouse was only 15 feet from the edge of the ocean. It is made from approximately 1,250,000 bricks, is 210 feet above sea level, 198.5 feet tall, takes 257 steps to reach the top and can be seen from 20 nautical miles in clear conditions. It is truly something that seniors need to take time to visit - although the 250+ steps may be a problem for some people;
- Biltmore Estate – located in Asheville, North Carolina. Originally built by George Vanderbilt for a country estate, Biltmore now includes the Biltmore House, Gardens, winery, Antler Hill Village, farm 4-star Inn on Biltmore Estate, shops, restaurants, souvenirs, and outdoor adventures. It is a National Historical Landmark;
- Wright Brothers National Memorial – located in Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina. In this memorial, senior citizens can see where the Wright Brothers took their historic first flight and also receive a history lesson on their flight;
- Tumblestone Tours and Transportation – located in Asheville, North Carolina. This is a tour of the Blue Ridge Waterfall where NC elderly residents can visit three of the impressive waterfalls, two state parks, and see the native flora of the area. Snacks and Drinks are included;
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center – located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This planetarium provides educational and entertaining programs for all ages to learn about science and the universe, but it’s not a typical planetarium thanks to the size, history and kids programs that are available here;
- Pisgah National Forest – located in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. Within driving distance from Hendersonville, this park offers hiking, camping, and fishing for all ages;
- Lexington Glassworks – located in Asheville, North Carolina. This company in downtown Asheville is dedicated to producing timeless and innovative hand-blown glass. Pieces are crafted here using local material. It is a masters studio and the public is welcome to view the work and the process involved. They do not blow glass on Tuesdays;
- Foggy Mountain Gem Mine founded by Dana Morace – located in Boone, North Carolina. This is a place where seniors can purchase a “bucket” ranging in price from $30 to $325. It is rated highly by those who have been there and most people are impressed by both the quality of and number of gems that they get while mining;
- Battleship NORTH CAROLINA – located in Wilmington, North Carolina. Tour the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA which was in the Pacific during WWII. The NORTH CAROLINA is one of the most decorated Battleships of World War II. You can explore nine decks, the crew’s quarters, and gun turrets. Open daily.
Some cities to consider for North Carolina Senior Living
Here are some cities or towns in North Carolina that have made the Senior Guidance list of some of the best places for NC senior living:
- Southern Pines, North Carolina – located in Moore County, North Carolina. The population is approximately 13,600 with around 27.5% age 65 or older. Last year, Southern Pines ranked #2 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #62 of 179 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #52 of 179 of the “Best Places to Live in North Carolina;
- Pinehurst, North Carolina – located in Moore County, North Carolina. Pinehurst is the home of the historic golf course, Pinehurst Resort. Many parts of the village have been declared a National Historic Landmark District, as it was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and due to the significance in the history of golf in the United States. The population of Pinehurst is approximately 16,000 of whom around 42% are seniors aged 65 or older. Last year, Pinehurst ranked #1 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #1 out of 130 of the “Safest Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #11 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in North Carolina;”
- Black Mountain, North Carolina – a city in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Black Mountain is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population is around 8,300 with almost 22% of the population who are age 65 or older. Last year, Black Mountain ranked #3 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #25 out of 130 of the “Safest Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #44 of 179 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in North Carolina;”
- Archdale, North Carolina – located in both Guilford and Randolph Counties, North Carolina. Archdale has a population of approximately 11,600 around 15.5% of whom are at least 65 years old. Last year, Archdale ranked #11 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #24 out of 130 of the “Safest Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #47 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in North Carolina;”
- Morehead City, North Carolina – a port town in Carteret County, North Carolina. The population of Morehead City is estimated to be 9,400 of which around 21% elderly residents age 65 or older. Last year, Morehead City ranked #4 of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” and #88 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Live in North Carolina;”
- Southport, North Carolina – located in Brunswick County, North Carolina. It is near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and it is part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area. The population of Southport is estimated to be around 4,000 of whom around 24% were elders aged 65 or older. This coastal town is perfect for retirees who want a beach lifestyle but not total isolation. The area is growing and there are quite a few private communities and golf courses available;
- Mills River, North Carolina – located in Henderson County, North Carolina. It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Mills River is approximately 7,250 of which around 23% are 65 years of age or older. Last year, Mills River ranked #15 out of 179 of “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #33 of 179 of the “Best Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #33 out of 179 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in North Carolina;”
- Oak Island, North Carolina – a seaside town that is mostly on the barrier island of Oak Island in Brunswick County, North Carolina. It is part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area. The population of Oak Island, North Carolina is approximately 7,500 year-round, although that number increases to between 30,000-50,000 during the summertime. 21% of residents of Oak Island, NC are age 65 or older. Last year, Oak Island ranked #14 of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #21 out of 130 of the “Safest Places to Live in North Carolina,” and #66 out of 179 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in North Carolina;”
- Brevard, North Carolina – located in, and the County Seat of, Transylvania County, North Carolina. It is located at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest and is a cultural, tourist, and retirement center in western North Carolina. The town is also known for its white squirrels, although the origins of them are unknown. The population of Brevard is approximately 7,750 with close to 28% seniors age 65 or older. Last year, Brevard ranked #7 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina,” #22 out of 130 of the “Safest Places v to Live in North Carolina; and #41 out of 179 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in North Carolina;”
- Smithfield, North Carolina – located in, and the county seat of, Johnston County, North Carolina. Smithfield is the place where the Ava Gardener Museum is located as well as the yearly Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival. The population is approximately 12,100 with over 18% older residents age 65 or more. Last year, Smithfield ranked #20 out of 179 of the “Best Places to Retire in North Carolina, #16 of 73 of the “Most Diverse Suburbs in North Carolina, and #9 out of 22 of the “Most Diverse Suburbs in Raleigh Metro.”