The day before Easter in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Image credit MILA PARH via Shutterstock

7 Most Affordable Towns to Retire in North Carolina

As factors like the growth of work-from-home jobs, a slowing economy, and the rising cost of housing grow more severe, many people are seeking to move away from more populous states and cities to smaller and more affordable places. With a cost of living that is 14% lower and a cost of housing that is 5% lower than the national average in the United States, (according to a RentCafe report based on the Council for Community and Economic Research Cost of Living) mixed with other aspects like mild weather and great access to parks that feature both beaches on the Atlantic coast and forested mountains in the Appalachians, North Carolina is growing in popularity for those looking for a place to retire.

Learn more about seven of the most affordable towns to retire to in the Tar Heel State.


Sunset Avenue in downtown, Asheboro, North Carolina.
Sunset Avenue in downtown, Asheboro, North Carolina. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock

Asheboro is a town in central North Carolina that offers retirees a peaceful environment close to nature without sacrificing the conveniences of city life. The median home price is considerably lower than in many other American towns, sitting at around $277,00 (according to versus $412,000 in the rest of the country. This clearly makes it an attractive choice for those on a fixed income.

Asheboro is also home to top-notch healthcare facilities, including the Randolph Hospital, ensuring residents have easy access to medical care. Asheboro is known for its vibrant cultural scene and plenty of natural beauty nearby. The North Carolina Zoo, one of the largest in the world, attracts visitors from across the state.

For history enthusiasts, the American Classic Motorcycle Museum and the Randolph County Historic Courthouse offer a glimpse into the town's past. Residents can also enjoy walks at the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness or take part in community events at the Sunset Theater.

Elizabeth City

The waterfront at Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The waterfront at Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Image credit Paul Bickford via

Elizabeth City, situated in the northeastern part of the state, combines affordability with a waterfront setting near the mouth of the Pasquotank River. With the cost of living below the national average and reasonable home prices, averaging out at around $324,000, it's a good spot for retirees who are looking for a laidback environment while on a budget.

The town has a low crime rate and is known for its friendly community atmosphere. Healthcare needs are well-served by the Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. Elizabeth City also has an abundance of historical and cultural landmarks to check out. The Museum of the Albemarle showcases the area's maritime heritage, while the Arts of the Albemarle is a hub for local artists and performers. The Pasquotank River offers scenic views and boating opportunities. Also, the annual North Carolina Potato Festival is held locally, which draws visitors from across the region for its parades and live entertainment.


Main Street in Hendersonville on an early spring day
Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina on an early spring day. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock

Hendersonville is a picturesque town of around 15,500 residents that is located in western North Carolina. As with many cities and towns in this region, it is known for its mountains, and better yet, affordable cost of living. The housing market here is less expensive and more accessible than in nearby Asheville, a much larger and busier city, with median home prices around $482,000 compared with $594,000 in Asheville.

Hendersonville is also famous for its exciting downtown core, where you can go see the local selection of shops, art galleries, and restaurants serving up local foods like Carolina-style BBQ. In town, the Henderson County Heritage Museum offers insights into the local history, while the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site celebrates the legacy of the famed poet. Nature lovers can find plenty of outdoor activities at the nearby DuPont State Recreational Forest, renowned for its waterfalls and hiking trails.

Hendersonville's healthcare system is fairly robust considering its size, with AdventHealth Hendersonville providing comprehensive medical services.

New Bern

A popular café in the New Bern, North Carolina.
A popular café in the New Bern, North Carolina. Image credit Wileydoc via Shutterstock

At the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers, New Bern offers you a picturesque town with many historic buildings and tons of nearby parks and natural landmarks. In affordability, median home listing prices sit around $346,000, and high-quality healthcare makes it a compelling choice for retirees. The CarolinaEast Medical Center provides a full range of medical services

New Bern's historical roots run deep, with attractions like the Tryon Palace, the state's first capital, and the New Bern Firemen's Museum, which tells the story of America's oldest fire company. The main downtown area is an attraction of its own, with a huge selection of shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Those who love getting outside and on the water regularly can boat and fish on the Neuse and Trent Rivers or explore the Croatan National Forest for hiking and birdwatching.

Mount Airy

Main Street Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Main Street Mount Airy, North Carolina. Image credit LisaCarter via Shutterstock.

Mount Airy, often known as "Mayberry" due to its association with "The Andy Griffith Show," is not only charming but also very reasonably priced and a known retirement spot for North Carolinians. The cost of things like food, housing, and energy bills is generally lower here than the national average, with the median home listing price around $278,000.

Mount Airy celebrates its connection to Andy Griffith with the Andy Griffith Museum, and residents can take a tour of the town's iconic sites from the show. The downtown area features classic storefronts, and the Earle Theatre houses live music and classic films. For outdoor activities, retirees and all other residents can visit the nearby Pilot Mountain State Park, offering hiking and breathtaking views of the region.

Its small-town atmosphere is complemented by a strong sense of community, with a nicely sized population of just around 10,617. Residents have access to several healthcare services too, namely at Northern Regional Hospital.


The St. John's Lutheran Church building, located in downtown Salisbury, North Carolina.
The St. John's Lutheran Church building, located in downtown Salisbury, North Carolina. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via

Salisbury, located a short drive north of Charlotte, is a great place to retire to if you don't want to be too far from the city but don't want to pay big city prices to live. Median home listing prices are $299,000, significantly less than the current national average of $412,000. Excellent healthcare services are readily available here too, with Novant Health Rowan Medical Center serving the community's medical needs.

Salisbury has a fairly well-known and historic downtown, where you are free to explore the abundant and beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture. This area is also home to the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra and the Piedmont Players Theatre. The North Carolina Transportation Museum, located in nearby Spencer, offers a fascinating look at the state's transportation history. Also nearby, be sure to see the Lake Corriher Wilderness Area for great fishing and hiking.


Downtown Business District in Sanford North Carolina.
Downtown Sanford, North Carolina. Image credit Wileydoc via Shutterstock

Sanford, located in central North Carolina, is also the place for avid golf enthusiasts, as several of the world's best courses are conveniently located nearby. Gold is not the only reason to move here. Still, the region's favorable conditions for nearly all-year golf opportunities, means you have access to courses like Sanford Golf Course and Carolina Trace Country Club.

Those who like to get outside but not necessarily for golf should visit San-Lee Park, which has hiking trails and a beautiful lake for kayaking and fishing. The town's downtown features a mix of local shops, restaurants, and art galleries, making it a great place for retirees to explore. Sanford is also home to the Temple Theatre, a historic venue that hosts performances and events year-round. Fans of locomotives and history will appreciate the Railroad House Historical Association, which exhibits the town's railway heritage.

Sanford has a range of healthcare services, with Central Carolina Hospital offering comprehensive medical care for all.

Find Peace in North Carolina

North Carolina has a range of affordable towns that cater to retirees seeking a peaceful and fulfilling lifestyle. Each town has its own unique charm, from Asheboro's wildlife attractions to New Bern's historical landmarks.

Whether you are drawn to waterfront views, mountain landscapes, or vibrant culture, there is a perfect spot for every preference in this state. These towns provide not only affordable living but also quality healthcare, safety, and community engagement. With such a variety of options, retiring in North Carolina is a decision that promises both comfort and adventure.

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