Moving to North Carolina? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

If you\'re looking to retire in the Tar Heel State, there are a few things to know before making the move.

North Carolina is made up of a mixture of small Southern towns and major metro areas. It has hundreds of miles of scenic coastline to the east, just as many miles of mountain ranges to the west, and a number of busy cities in between.

Considering a move to the Tar Heel State? Here’s everything you need to know, from taxes and climate to places to live and popular active adult communities to consider.

Retiring in North Carolina Pros and Cons

Cows on a farm near Boone, North Carolina
Most of the state has relatively mild winters compared to the rest of the country.

Pros

Affordability. North Carolina’s property taxes and cost of living are lower than the national average. Plus, Social Security benefits are not taxed.

Location. Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina offers plenty of coastline and sandy beaches to soak up the sun and enjoy cool ocean breezes. The state also has plenty of fresh mountain breezes with both the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains located in the western part of the state.

Outdoor recreation. From golfing and fishing to whitewater rafting and hiking along steep mountain trails, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to choose from.

Healthcare. North Carolina is home to several hospitals and healthcare facilities that have been nationally ranked as the best in the country.

Winter. While the higher altitudes of Western North Carolina can get quite cold, most of the state has relatively mild winters compared to the rest of the country.

Cons

Not as tax-friendly as other states. IRAs, pensions, and 401(k)s are taxed at a flat rate, and there are very few tax exemptions for seniors.

The heat and humidity. Summer temperatures can start as early as May, and late July and August frequently have temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees with intense humidity.

Hurricane season. Because of its location along the eastern seaboard, North Carolina is typically impacted by at least one hurricane a year. Coastal towns are often hit the hardest, but other areas like Central North Carolina can often feel the effects as well.

North Carolina Climate

The Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Temperatures can vary by 20 degrees on the same day, depending on the location.

With the highest peak east of the Mississippi River on one side of the state and hundreds of miles of flat coastline on the other, North Carolina can see a wide range of climates. Temperatures can vary by 20 degrees on the same day, depending on the location.

For most of the state, winters are fairly mild without much precipitation. There are typically less than a handful of snow or ice storms each year along the shore or in the center of the state. And, even when there is a storm with precipitation, it doesn’t stick around long. However, the higher peaks in Western North Carolina can see up to 50 inches of snow per year.

Summers tend to be hot and muggy along the Coastal Plain and Piedmont area with temps that often stay in the mid 90s. On the other hand, the towns along the mountains typically offer a welcome respite from the stifling heat and humidity with temperatures closer to 70 degrees. 

Because of North Carolina’s location along the eastern seaboard, hurricane season is a yearly problem. Storms often cause major damage along the coast with lots of flooding and dangerous winds—and the effects from major storms can often be felt statewide.

North Carolina Taxes

The North Carolina State Capitol at dusk
Social Security benefits are completely exempt from income taxes in North Carolina.

According to Sperling’s Best Places, The Tar Heel State’s cost of living is 9.4 percent below the national average. Although the state doesn’t tax Social Security benefits, it does tax other forms of retirement income, including IRAs, 401(k)s, private pensions, and public pensions.

North Carolina Property Taxes

According to SmartAsset, North Carolina’s 0.77 percent property tax is below the national average of 1.07 percent.

North Carolina Retirement Income Taxes

Social Security benefits are completely exempt from income taxes in North Carolina; however, IRAs, 401(k)s, private pensions, and public pensions are taxed at a flat rate of 5.25 percent.

North Carolina Tax Exemptions for Seniors

There are no estate or inheritance taxes, which can often impact seniors who are widows/widowers. Homeowners 65+ can qualify for property tax relief as long as their previous year’s income does not exceed $31,500 annually. According to the Homestead Property Exclusion/Exemption, “The amount of the appraised value of the residence that may be excluded from taxation is the greater of twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000) or fifty percent (50%) of the appraised value of the residence.”

North Carolina Health Care

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