If you seek the soft whisper of tree leaves in gentle Atlantic breezes, white sandy beaches, legendary golf greens, and small-town Southern charm, look no further than Hilton Head, South Carolina. From miles of private wooded walks to an active cultural scene, Hilton Head has all the amenities of a city ten times its size, without losing its stress-free laidback lifestyle. The low South Carolina taxes and exceptional senior tax breaks are just the icing on the cake.
Long known as a beautiful vacation spot, Hilton Head is beginning to be discovered by active adults as a desirable retirement destination. Great weather, proximity to the ocean and a welcome escape from more crowded areas along the east coast have made this region particularly appealing for retirement-aged individuals. There are numerous desirable lifestyle communities in Hilton Head and the surrounding area that include active adult communities, golf course communities, gated communities and waterfront communities. With so many active retirement options to choose from, you are certain to find one that is absolutely perfect for you.
Retirement Real Estate & Hilton Head Active Adult Communities
The gentle climate, sun-washed sands, and many sports and cultural activities provide an ideal setting for active retirement communities in Hilton Head. Single family homes, condominiums, and villas can be either purchased or rented. Since Hilton Head is also a popular tourist destination which brings in over 300,000 visitors a year, a few active adult communities also permit weekly rentals. These Hilton Head retirement communities are more crowded during the high tourist season and tend to be more tourist-oriented overall.
On the South Carolina coastal mainland, just 13 miles from the bridge, lies the age-restricted community of Del Webb Sun City Hilton Head, which is by far the largest and most popular active adult community in Hilton Head. It includes 8,200 homes for active adults 55 years of age and older, located on over 4,000 acres of beautiful South Carolina countryside. Residence choices range from intimate villas to 4,000 square foot custom-built homes, many with natural vistas or looking out on one of the two championship on-site golf courses. Other amenities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, 16 clay tennis courts, a 20 acre fishing lake, performing arts center, fitness facilities and miles of private walking and biking trails.
The Town Square at Sun City Hilton Head features 45 acres of social and cultural amenities, including a 17,000 square foot social hall which is home to lectures, workshops, dances, concerts, and a 540-seat performing arts center. State-of-the-art fitness equipment can be found at the Purrysburg Fitness Center, while at the Yemasee Crafts Center, studio space is available for woodworking, ceramics, and other arts and crafts.
Many of the Hilton Head active adult communities are gated complexes. There are also many communities that are very popular among retirees that have no age-restriction at all. Most offer amenities ranging from on-site golf courses to private beaches. Before deciding on a Hilton Head retirement community, it is advisable to identify personal needs and wishes such as type of dwelling and desired on-site amenities.
Climate & Geography
Atlantic breezes give the Hilton Head region of South Carolina its gentle winters and warm, humid summers. Most months see at least 3 inches of rain, more during the summer. It is common for summer daytime temperatures to reach 90 degrees, perfect weather for enjoying one of Hilton Heads many beaches. Although winter temperatures can drop below freezing, the last time it snowed in Hilton Head was in 1990.
On the coastal mainland, unspoiled sea marshes give way to the tall pines and ancient oaks of South Carolinas renowned forests. As a result, the mild marine climate in this part of South Carolina becomes a bit more tropical, with average yearly temperatures in the 70s.
Recreation, Social & Culture
The Old South has long been famous for its golf courses, and some of the best are in the Hilton Head region. Over 40 premier golf courses, many designed by PGA professionals, can be found within a few short miles of Hilton Head’s active adult communities. Other popular outdoor activities include tennis, hiking, and some of the best fishing around.
Sun worshippers will appreciate the soft sun-drenched beaches of Hilton Head. On a different day, enjoy shopping and dining at the Okatie Center, just a short trip by golf cart from Hilton Heads active adult communities, or let the soothing waters of the Atlantic Ocean calm your soul as you watch the dolphins feed and frolic in the waters around Hilton Head Island.
Hilton Head Island is home to dozens of cultural events, resources, and organizations, including its own seniors club, SHARE, which organizes social activities from bicycle clubs to computer classes. Whether you wish to attend the concerts of the Hilton Head Symphonic Orchestra, become part of a 120 choral society, or take in the history of the Old South at the Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head is sure to have something to fit your taste exactly.
Cost of Living & Taxes
The cost of living on Hilton Head Island is much higher than the national average, with a Sperlings Cost Of Living of 165, which is 65% above the national average. Further inland, prices are more reasonable. As a whole, Beaufort Countys cost of living is roughly 20% above the average. This is mostly due to the higher costs of rental housing in this popular snowbird region. With the recent correction in the housing market, purchasing real estate in Hilton Head age-restricted communities has become much more affordable.
South Carolina levies some of the lowest overall tax burdens of any state in the country, making Hilton Head 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.
Beaufort County real estate property is taxed at 4% of appraised value on a primary residence, the second lowest tax rate among South Carolina retirement destinations. 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 & Education
The laid-back lifestyle of the region is just part of why the quality of life in these Hilton Head active retirement communities is among the best in the United States. This small island of 33,000 permanent residents boasts its own hospital, Hilton Head Regional Medical Center, one of the top 100 hospitals in the country for treatment and management of strokes. In case of life-threatening emergency, Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah is just minutes away by air.
Sun City Hilton Head is home to over 200 chartered clubs and other organizations. The nearby New River Campus of the University of South Carolina offers both credit and non-credit continuing education courses for active adults, with tuition waived for seniors 65 years of age and older.