The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina For 2022


We analyzed over 57 places in North Carolina to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the best places to retire in North Carolina.

Are you reading this article on a slow Monday morning, wondering how you will make it through yet another long work week? Even if we love our jobs, there are always moments where you wonder what will life be like after work? Well, you should take a look at these cities in North Carolina for retirement.

Retirement is a time in life when you can pursue your hobbies in greater depth. For example, you open a small bike shop in Boone as a hobby or you can bike on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or how about taking out that old DSLR camera you've always wanted to master and use it to create breathtaking landscape shots in Asheville? If those scenarios seem appealing to you, then perhaps moving to North Carolina for retirement would be a great option for you.

North Carolina has the best of everything: great weather, access to beaches and mountains, affordability, and great community involvement. But where in North Carolina is the best to retire? We crunched the numbers to determine the places that offer retirees safety, affordability, and things to do. It's the kind of criteria you can count on -- this is the ninth time we've ranked the best places to retire in the Tarheel State. And many of these places appear on our other lists of best places for families and safest cities in North Carolina -- they are just overall good places to call home.

So if you're looking for a place to settle down for good, grab a biscuit, a good cup of coffee, and read on.

The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina For 2022

  1. Smithfield
  2. Newton
  3. Lenoir
  4. Eden
  5. Kings Mountain
  6. Cary
  7. Wilmington
  8. Mint Hill
  9. Kinston
  10. Winterville

Why did Smithfield take the top spot? And where are Raleigh and Greensboro?

We analyzed 65 cities to determine the top ten best cities using retirement factors like safety, affordability, and access to fun stuff. The best place to retire in North Carolina? Congratulations Smithfield!

Smithfield is a small town sandwiched between Charlotte, Statesville, and Black Mountain in North Carolina that is perfect for any retiree. You can spend weekends swimming Lake Norman or camping in the mountains.

North Carolina is a state that constantly comes up on lists about great places to live in the U.S., so why not move here for retirement? Keep reading to learn more about our methodology and to see why each city is perfect for retirement.

For more North Carolina state reading:

The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina For 2022

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,697
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Rent: $635
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
More on Smithfield: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Smithfield, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 13,106
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Rent: $800
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
More on Newton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Newton, NC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 17,909
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $622
Distance to Closest Airport: 57 miles
More on Lenoir: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lenoir, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 14,986
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Rent: $649
Distance to Closest Airport: 68 miles
More on Eden: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Eden, NC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,885
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $737
Distance to Closest Airport: 23 miles
More on Kings Mountain: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Kings Mountain, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 169,177
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $1,312
Distance to Closest Airport: 6 miles
More on Cary: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cary, NC

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 122,162
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $1,008
Distance to Closest Airport: 4 miles
More on Wilmington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Wilmington, NC

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 27,258
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Median Rent: $1,025
Distance to Closest Airport: 16 miles
More on Mint Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mint Hill, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 20,173
Rank Last Year: -
Median Rent: $699
Distance to Closest Airport: 71 miles
More on Kinston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Kinston, NC

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 10,062
Rank Last Year: -
Median Rent: $730
Distance to Closest Airport: 81 miles
More on Winterville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Winterville, NC

Methodology: How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Tar Heel State for 2022

To create our list of the best places in North Carolina to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Tar Heel State -- 736 cities and towns.

We then narrowed it down to places with at least 10,000 people that weren't townships. This left us with 65 places from across the state.

For these 65, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI's Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living as measured by rent
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport
  • Other retirees (High median age)

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 65, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Smithfield, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers. You can download the data here.

Summary: Maybe You're Not Ready To Retire In North Carolina Yet...

So there you have it, the best place to retire in North Carolina goes to Smithfield.

If you're not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  1. Havelock
  2. Monroe
  3. Fayetteville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In North Carolina?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Smithfield 12,697 $635
2 Newton 13,106 $800
3 Lenoir 17,909 $622
4 Eden 14,986 $649
5 Kings Mountain 10,885 $737
6 Cary 169,177 $1,312
7 Wilmington 122,162 $1,008
8 Mint Hill 27,258 $1,025
9 Kinston 20,173 $699
10 Winterville 10,062 $730

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.