8 Things You Must Know About Retiring to the Carolinas

From the picturesque beach towns to cozy mountain communities, North Carolina and South Carolina offer retirees plenty of incentives.

North Carolina, Linville, Linn Cove Viaduct that goes around Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway, autumn.
(Image credit: Getty Images )

I left New York state in early 2013 and landed in northern Virginia to continue my career. Now, with thoughts of retiring within the next few years, I considered the Carolinas as a possible taxes-light retirement destination before recently settling in a new home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It's our future retirement pad. However, increasingly more friends are opting for the Carolinas as they edge near to or into retirement.

Indeed, North Carolina and South Carolina rank high on the list of potential new retirement homes for boomers like me. Both states are in the top five for net migration of people 60 and older, according to the Census Bureau. In 2018, North Carolina was No. 3, behind Florida (No. 1) and Arizona (No. 2). South Carolina was No. 5, behind Texas (No. 4).

For this feature, we interviewed retirees who have recently relocated to the Carolinas, as well as real-estate and insurance agents who welcome new retirees to the region every year. Andrew and Lynn Lazar, for instance, sold their longtime home in Hillsborough, N.J., and landed in Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, in Hardeeville, S.C., last year. It’s an active adult community catering to Parrotheads, the devoted fans of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett (new homeowners are gifted a “Margaritaville” margarita blender).

“As Parrotheads, Margaritaville was a no-brainer,” Andrew Lazar tells us. “When our granddaughter was born ... we pulled the trigger and moved forward with our plans to retire and move to our permanent vacation! The houses have that beachy feel. The amenities are beautiful. The pool is a tropical paradise. My daughter said that it’s like living in a resort.”

There were adjustments. They missed their New Jersey family and friends -- and good pizza. They don’t miss the crushing property taxes New Jersey is known for (more on that in a moment).

Are either of these states high on your list of possible retirement locales? Here are eight things you need to know about retiring in North Carolina or South Carolina.

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.