The Early Years

With a mild climate, beautiful beaches, an active arts community and abundant recreational opportunities, the southern coast of North Carolina is attracting younger retirees to its sunny shores in ever-increasing numbers.

Naturally, the temperate climate of the area entices transplants from the North who are tired of frigid winters, snow, ice, potholes and gray skies. Winter, such as it is here, is moderated considerably by the warming effect of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Temperatures range from a low of 36 to 56 in January to a high of 73 to 90 in July.

Active retirees will find no shortage of outdoor pursuits to enjoy in the southern coast region. With the Intracoastal Waterway, rivers, sounds and Atlantic Ocean beaches, water figures prominently into the lifestyle of the southern coast. Golf is huge here, especially in Brunswick County, and there are literally hundreds of courses from Topsail Island in the north to Brunswick County in the south; see our Golf section for listings. For those who enjoy being in, on or around the water, the southern coast offers water-oriented activities such as boating, sailing, fishing, paddling and surfing. Details can be found in our Fishing and Watersports sections. Our Sports, Fitness and Parks section features the many other activities people enjoy in the area, including softball, cycling, racquetball, martial arts, yoga and much more.

For those interested in gardening, the southern coastal area is in USDA growing zone 8, averages 248 or more growing days per year and has an annual rainfall of 54 inches. The heaviest rainfall months are June, July and August, and more often than not, it rains at night and is sunny during the day. Several varieties of flowers bloom all winter, and numerous shrubs and trees retain their foliage all year.

For cultural pursuits, Wilmington is the arts epicenter of the region. Wilmington has a thriving film industry, a theatrical community much bigger than one would expect of an area this size and performing arts series in a host of fabulous venues. See our Arts and Annual Events sections for more information.

Downtown Wilmington offers many activities for seniors including horse-drawn carriage, trolley or walking tours of the Historic District, riverboat tours, unusual stores and boutiques, the Riverwalk and a number of antebellum homes open for visiting, to mention just a few (see our Attractions section). Any given evening will find both seniors and young people strolling about, shopping and dining outside. When the grandkids come to visit, there are abundant activities to entertain them (see our Kidstuff section), and those who want to volunteer will find a wealth of opportunities (see our Volunteer Opportunities section).

For those ready to enjoy the good life, the region offers a broad range of dining options and the shopping possibilities are seemingly endless, from national chains of every sort to unique boutiques to antiques shops to souvenir shops.

Healthcare on the southern coast includes a major hospital offering state-of-the-art care, private physicians practicing the full range of specialties, urgent care centers, complementary care practitioners and alternative healthcare practitioners. See our Healthcare section.

The housing options for retirees on the southern coast are wide and varied. There is a strong upswing in the development of retirement communities, many of them with golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools and offering a wide variety of housing choices. Other choices include golf course communities, waterfront estates, beach-community condominiums, low-maintenance town homes, downtown Wilmington loft-style apartments, acreage in the country and more. See our Real Estate and Neighborhoods section for a glimpse of what the region offers.

Although progressive and growth-oriented, this area still possesses elements of charm, graciousness and gentility of the South which, coupled with the cosmopolitan influence of new residents from across the nation, results in a delightfully relaxed but upbeat ambiance.

Brightmore of Wilmington
UNCW Lifelong Learning

The Later Years

When it comes time to slow down, seniors do not have to leave the southern coast. The region has numerous facilities to support seniors as they age and are in need of more care. As people age, their living and care needs sometimes change. Accredited independent and assisted living communities and home-care services are found throughout the area, and we feature some of them in this section.

The Wilmington area offers outstanding medical facilities and services that are increasingly geared toward the aging population (see our Medical Services section).

Deciding Where to Live

For those wishing to retire to this four-county coastal haven, there is a wide variety of home styles and home sites, as well as a range of prices. Oceanfront property in exclusive communities commands the highest price, of course, partially because there is so little of it remaining. Generally speaking, the closer to the water, the more expensive the property; however, the southern coastal region is surrounded by ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, rivers, creeks and lakes, so the dream of living on or near the water is still within the means of those other than the very wealthy. More reasonably priced housing, especially condominiums, is available on or near these waters. Often a group of homes or a condominium complex is built in conjunction with boat slips or a marina. (See our section on Real Estate and Neighborhoods for more in-depth information about locations and developments.)

Thank you to our site sponsors for supporting the local business community