pier along ocean and marsh leading to lighthouse

The North Carolina Outer Banks hold a lot of appeal for retirees.

The sky is pink and golden, a warm ocean breeze ripples over the dunes, and a pair of wild horses gently step along the shore, enjoying dusk near the water’s edge. While taking in such a beautiful sight, it’s not surprising that many vacationers’ thoughts turn toward investment properties and retirement in the Outer Banks (OBX).

Retirement in North Carolina is on the rise and the picturesque shores of the Outer Banks are becoming a baby boomer hot spot. The mild weather, leisure activities and low property taxes draw new residents to this unique stretch of islands.

The OBX Community

Though some families have lived in the Outer Banks for many generations, many of the residents originated in other parts of the country. These transplanted residents are often former OBX vacationers whose love of the area finally led to relocation. Though millions of visitors pass through the Outer Banks each year, the combined population for Dare and Currituck Counties is around 60,000.

The OBX vacation season lasts from early March through late October, and peaks through the summer months. In the cold winter off-season, the close-knit residents enjoy the quiet that descends when the tourists no longer crowd the streets and stores. Yet tourists are key for a thriving economy in the Outer Banks. Retail shops, restaurants, and recreational activities earn the bulk of their income during the vacation season. This often leads to a more relaxed daily lifestyle in the off-season.

Medical Services

Located in Nags Head, The Outer Banks Hospital offers a range of both inpatient and outpatient services, including a state of the art, all digital Radiology department for rapid, accurate diagnosis. The OBH Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has additional staff during the summer to cover the increase of patients. Fully equipped EMS stations are located throughout the Outer Banks, including a helicopter for emergency transportation. Other nearby hospitals include Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, NC; Chesapeake General in Chesapeake, VA; and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. For older adults, health screenings are available at the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center in Kill Devil Hills, and at the Currituck County Senior Center in Currituck.

Continuing Education

The College of Albemarle (COA) provides educational opportunities for all OBX residents. COA offers two-year college degrees, continuing education for personal growth, as well as cultural enrichment programs. In 2004, the COA’s Dare County branch launched its Center for Learning in Retirement. Classes taught through this program are designed for adults aged 50 or older and are based on the desire to learn instead of on tests and graded papers.

Shopping and Recreation

Being surrounded by water, the Outer Banks offers many water activities, such as boating, fishing, swimming and sailing. Bike trails allow ample space to jog, walk or bike. There are also golf courses, movie theaters, community performing arts centers, arts and craft studios, and many other forms of recreation.

Hundreds of unique retail shops and restaurants are scattered throughout the Outer Banks. The Tanger Outlet Center in Nags Head offers prime outlet shopping, Timbuck II is a large shopping center in the northern OBX area, and there is a Belk Department Store located in Kill Devil Hills. Families who vacation in the Outer Banks often return year after year. Those who enjoy visits in both the height of summer and during the serenity of the off-season, may be on their way toward becoming future Outer Banks residents.