To imagine all the most idyllic parts of the Old South is to imagine Charleston. Its warm, friendly folks and easy southern charm have given Charleston the enviable title of being the best-mannered city in the United States. At the same time, its mild winters and exceptional senior tax breaks regularly bring Charleston near the top of Money Magazines list of best places to retire.Charlestons retirement communities offer all the modern amenities, nestled amid beautiful neighborhoods lined with stately oaks. From premier golf courses to lazy beaches, this gracious city has it all. With so many active retirement options to choose from, you are certain to find one that is right for you.Retirement Real Estate & Charleston Active Adult CommunitiesWhether you seek to expand your cultural horizons, improve your golf handicap, or sample some of the best cuisine the Old South has to offer, one of Charlestons active adult communities will fit the bill perfectly. Plus, there are a myriad of choices in non age-restricted neighborhoods that range from elegant riverfront townhomes, ranch-style villas, or even gracious lakeside estates with all the amenities.Del Webb has brought its active retirement lifestyle to Summerville, just 25 miles northwest of Charleston. Del Webb Charleston is a 55+ community of 1,000 single family homes (upon completion) that is located in the heart of the Charleston region, with fine dining and shopping, entertainment, renowned festivals, and cultural venues all nearby. The community has drawn retirees from all areas of the country who want the renowned lifestyle of Del Webb mixed with the charm of Charleston.The Elms of Charleston is another active adult community in Charleston. This intimate 319 home community offers resale homes and an amenity center. For older adults who want to live closer to Charleston’s historic downtown district, there are plenty of intimate neighborhoods showcasing cobblestone streets and ancient oaks.Climate & GeographyWith its humid subtropical climate, Charleston has short, gentle winters and long, lingering springs and autumns. Summers are warm and humid, with thunderstorms commonly bringing over 5 inches of rain each month. A tropical storm can easily double this amount.The tall pines and ancient oaks lining the streets of Charlestons historic neighborhoods keep average yearly temperatures in the 70s. It is common for summer daytime temperatures to reach the high 80s, perfect weather for strolling through one of Charlestons many historic neighborhoods or enjoying a relaxing game of golf. Although winter temperatures can drop below freezing, snow is rare.Recreation, Social & CultureThe AARP has listed Charleston among its best fifteen places in the United States to reinvent your life. With all the recreational, cultural, and social amenities available, its easy to understand why.South Carolina has long been famous for its golf courses. There are so many world-class golf courses between Charleston and Myrtle Beach that you could play on a different golf course everyday for an entire year. There are more golf courses per square mile in Myrtle Beach than anywhere else in the world.Outlying areas of north and south Charleston feature their own beaches, with popular tourist destinations such as Hilton Head just a short drive south from Charlestons active adult communities. Other popular outdoor activities include tennis, hiking, and some of the best fishing around.A delightful variety of shopping abounds throughout Charleston. Afterward, enjoy a relaxing evening at one of the many award-winning restaurants of the region.History buffs will find Charleston a veritable paradise, with dozens of museums and cultural institutions exploring South Carolinas pivotal role in much of American history, including Charlestons close connection with many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.The annual Spoleto Festival USA, Cooper River Bridge Run, and MOJA Arts Festival will appeal to art and music lovers. Charleston has been named a top 25 Arts Destination by AmericanStyle Magazine.Cost of Living & TaxesAt a Sperlings Cost of Living of 106.8, the cost of living in Charleston is 6.8% above average for the United States as a whole, although this does not take into account recent price reductions. With the recent correction in the housing market, purchasing real estate in active adult communities in Charleston has become even more affordable.South Carolina levies some of the lowest overall tax burdens of any state in the country, making Charleston among the best tax havens in the United States for retirees. State income tax brackets range from 2.5% to 7%. However, South Carolina allows a retirement income deduction of $10,000 per resident as well as an age deduction of up to $15,000 for residents over 65 years of age, creating an effective 0% tax bracket for low income seniors. Social security benefits are entirely exempt, as is income earned out of state.Charleston County real estate property is taxed at 4% of appraised value on a primary residence. Taxes are based on an appraised value approximately 75% of the propertys actual value, further discounted by a $20,000 homestead exemption for residents 65 and older. South Carolina has no inheritance tax. Its estate taxes are tied to federal estate tax legislation, which is currently due to be reinstated in 2011. Complete up to date information can be obtained at the South Carolina Department of Revenue website. Healthcare & EducationThe laid-back Charleston lifestyle is just part of why the quality of life in the area’s active retirement communities is among the best in the United States. As the primary medical center for coastal South Carolina, Charleston has six major research hospitals, affiliated with the largest medical university in South Carolina.Continuing credit and non-credit education is available at several colleges and universities throughout the city, including several Webster University campuses and the College of Charleston, which is the 13th oldest university in the United States. Tuition is waived for seniors 65 years of age and older.