As retirement approaches, it is time to start thinking about where to retire. North Carolina has numerous retirement communities to choose from, but which one is the best?
Every retiree is different. You may want easy access to off-site activities or stay entertained within the community. From budgets to preferences to medical needs, everyone will have a different choice for a retirement community. Top options include Carolina Gardens by Del Webb and Cresswind Charlotte.
Take a closer look at the best retirement communities in North Carolina and how to choose the right one to spend your retirement years.
The Best Retirement Communities In North Carolina
Choosing a retirement community is a crucial decision. You will hopefully spend decades in your chosen community, so you want it to have the resources and atmosphere you prefer. While everyone has different preferences, we've gathered the best 55+ communities in North Carolina. At least one of these should appeal to you.
How To Choose The Best 55+ Communities In North Carolina
As you look through the various North Carolina retirement communities, you will notice that there is something for everyone. As you try to decide which ones to take a closer look at, consider the following factors:
- Amenities in the city
- Amenities in the community
- Social clubs
- On-site transportation
- Medical support (on-site and locally)
- Size of homes
- Style of homes (condos versus single-family houses)
- Ability to scale up the level of care
- The ability for your family to visit and stay with you
With those factors in mind, explore some of the most popular retirement communities in North Carolina. Remember that you can also use these considerations to decide if a community that didn't make our list is right for you. Due to limited space, we couldn't include all the options throughout the state, so we had to limit the list to the top options.
Bailey's Glen (Cornelius, NC)
Bailey's Glen is a 55+ community with just under 700 homes, ranging in price from the low $400,000 to the high $700,000. Choose from single-family units or condos and 18 different floor plans with the ability to customize your carpets, paint colors, and more. The Meetinghouse is the community's 12,000-square-foot clubhouse. This is where you will find hobby and game rooms, the library, billiards, a ballroom, the aerobics studio, and computers. Or head outdoors to use the tennis courts, bocce ball courts, pickleball courts, putting green, horseshoe courts, grilling area, or three swimming pools. Plant in the gardening area, visit the dog park, or enjoy the other small parks.
Brunswick Forest (Leland, NC)
Brunswick Forest has about 8,000 homes priced between the high $300,000 and low $1 million. The Fitness and Wellness Center spans 18,000 square feet and features state-of-the-art equipment for both cardio and strength training. It also has locker rooms with showers, an indoor pool featuring lap lanes, a steam room, a massage room, a lounge, and an aerobics studio. The outdoor pool has a wade-in entry, a sundeck, and refreshments at the Splash Café. There is also a multi-purpose sports court and five hard-surface tennis courts, plus numerous biking and walking trails. Overall, there are over 40 miles of unpaved and paved paths connecting the community and offering exercise.
Camden Villas At Mid South Club (Southern Pines, NC)
This is one of the smaller retirement communities in North Carolina, with just 58 homes. They are all priced at the low-to-mid $300,000 level. Properties have 1,750 to 2,240 square feet of living space in attached or single-family homes. The location is close to numerous golf courses, and residents get a membership to those at the Talamore Golf Resort. Within the community, you can enjoy the multi-purpose room with its billiards table and catering kitchen or the fireside lounge in the clubhouse. Enjoy the exercise room or walk along gorgeous, landscaped trails.
Carolina Gardens By Del Webb (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
Del Webb is one of the major retirement community developers across the country, so Carolina Gardens gives you the advantage of their vast experience. This community is in the Triangle region of the state. It covers 400 acres and has nearly 900 single-family homes, giving you plenty of privacy. Enjoy the 20,500-square-foot clubhouse with a range of activities and amenities. Spend time in the craft studio, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, bocce courts, pickleball courts, or tennis courts.
Carolina Preserve (Cary, NC)
Carolina Preserve is a 55+ community ideal for retirees. The over 1,300 homes cost between the low $400,000 and the mid $700,000. Participate in over 100 interest groups and clubs or spend time in the 34,000-square-foot clubhouse. This is where you will find most activities, social events, and fitness classes. It is next to the indoor lap pool and features a demo kitchen, craft, and hobby studio, library, sundeck, and ballroom. Outside, enjoy the resort-style pool, complete with a spa and beach entry. Or admire the 15-acre lake or use the putting green or courts for bocce ball and tennis. The community's trails even connect to the city's bike trail system.
Connestee Falls (Brevard, NC)
Connestee Falls has around 1,300 homes with a vast price range from the high $200,000 to the high $1 million level. Choose from single-family homes, attached homes, or condos. The clubhouse is 26,000 square feet and features meeting rooms, a dining room, and a banquet hall. Residents have access to a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment. Or you can attend a show at the community's performance theater. There is also a library, card room, pro shop, heated outdoor pool, and outdoor patio. Enjoy the courts for tennis, pickleball, and bocce. Or stay active by participating in the community garden.
Cresswind Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
Those who prefer the bustle of Charlotte to be easily accessible will want to consider this retirement community. This 55+ community has miles and miles of walking trails, great for staying in shape and relaxing. If you want something more intense, use the tennis, bocce, or pickleball courts or visit the fitness center in the 18,000-square-foot clubhouse. Relax or exercise in the outdoor and indoor pools. There are also enough social clubs and activities to appeal to any hobby you may have.
Flowers Plantation (Clayton, NC)
This is an award-winning retirement community with multiple neighborhoods to choose from. It covers 3,000 acres in total and is gated. The spa alone is 20,000 square feet and has massage services. This is also where you will find the state-of-the-art fitness center, hot tub, and indoor/outdoor pool. Elsewhere on the grounds, you can explore miles of trails for biking or walking. Or spend time on the tennis courts or sports field. When your grandkids visit, take them to the playground. Golfers will also appreciate being within a short drive of three different courses.
Riverlights (Wilmington, NC)
Riverlights comprises luxury single-family townhomes and is set on the Cape Fear River. You can enjoy the 38-acre freshwater lake by kayaking on it. Or run or bike along the miles of trails. There are also numerous parks. Closer to the river, you will find a dock and boardwalk.
St. James Plantation (Southport, NC)
This retirement community has around 5,000 homes priced from as low as under $100,000 to as high as the mid $1 million level. There are multiple clubhouse restaurants and four main clubs: The Reserve Club, Members Club, Players Club, and Founders Club. Among the amenities, you will find 18-hole golf courses, outdoor pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, and more. There is even a full-service marina complete with 100 dry stacks and 151 boat slips.
Trilogy Lake Norman (Denver, NC)
Located in Denver, Trilogy Lake Norman is very close to Charlotte. The community's 30,000-square-foot club has a signature restaurant. That building is also where you will find shuffleboard, billboards, TVs, an event center, and an amphitheater regularly hosting performances. There is even an interaction demo kitchen and studio.
Other North Carolina Retirement Communities Worth Considering
While any of the above North Carolina retirement communities are great options, they are not the only ones worth considering. The following are some other incredibly popular and highly-rated communities for retirees to consider.
- Ocean Ridge Plantation (Ocean Isle Beach, NC)
- Compass Pointe (Leland, NC)
- Friedberg Village (Winston-Salem, NC)
- Creekside at Bethpage (Durham, NC)
- Chapelwood (Chapel Hill, NC)
- Del Webb Wilmington (Wilmington, NC)
- Del Webb at Traditions (Wake Forest, NC)
- The Vineyards on Lake Wylie (Charlotte, NC)
- Evergreen at Flowers Plantation (Clayton, NC)
- Heritage (Indian Trail, NC)
- The Walk at East Village (Clayton, NC)
- The Courtyards at Andrews Chapel (Durham, NC)
- The Villas at Culp Arbor (Chapel Hills, NC)
- Regency at White Oak Creek (Apex, NC)
- Carolina Arbors (Durham, NC)
- Pinebrook Farms (Asheville, NC)
- Riverwind (Etowah, NC)
From Connestee Falls to Trilogy Lake Norman, North Carolina has dozens of excellent retirement communities to choose from. Whether you select one on our list or decide to research another one, you should have no issues finding a community that fits your retirement goals and budget.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.