Best Small Towns to Live in North Carolina

North Carolina has a lot of natural beauty that makes it a great place to consider for people wanting to live in a small town

Best Small Towns to Live in North Carolina

With a temperate climate in the east due to the Atlantic Ocean and a mountainous climate in the western areas with temperatures rarely rising above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, North Carolina has a lot of natural beauty that makes it a great place to consider for people wanting to live in a small town.  With technology, banking, health care, and agriculture making up a good portion of the economy, North Carolina has gone through rapid changes in demographics and living arrangements.  Most people now live in the major urban areas like Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro.  However, there are still many small towns that are attractive to live in that don’t give up bigger city amenities just to have peace and quiet.  Ten of the best small towns to live in are listed below. Continue reading “Best Small Towns to Live in North Carolina”

Getaway To Highlands NC

The wife booked us a three night  get-a-way in Highlands NC,  so we headed up I-985 from Atlanta for the 2.5 hour plus trip. It took 4 hours. So much for Google Maps prediction when it is foggy and light rain in the mountains.

Highlands NC is in Western North Carolina about 25 miles north of Georgia. In this section of Western North Carolina there are other desirable small towns like Cashiers, Sapphire Valley, Sylva, Glenville, Lake To a way and Brevard, a quaint college town.    Both Highlands and Cashiers are resort mountain small towns with lots of charm. Both are favorites of Atlanta people escaping the heat and humidity during the Summer months and Florida halfbacks moving up from the Sunshine state.

Highlands has a walkable town filled with antique shops, interesting stores for shopping, restaurants, some gourmet,  and places to stay like 200 Main where we are staying.

Many people come here on a vacation and end up buying a seasonal home and for some that turns into their retirement home. There are no 55 Active Adult Communities. These are mountain homes and cabins with natural yards. There are many mountain lifestyle communities with activities and amenities that are similar to what Active Adult Communities offer.  Lonesome Valley, Sapphire Valley, and  Bear Lake Reserve are some of the larger communities but there are many more. Many full time residents now call this area home.

Western NC is known for being an appealing retirement area with award winning golf courses, gourmet restaurants, and renowned trout fishing waters. Most get an introduction to the area by renting a home first from rental companies like SPM Resorts and Sapphire Real Estate and Rentals.

I would image with the influx of tourists in the Summer that might get irratating to locals, but this helps supports the gourmet restaurants and attractions. During Winter I bet it gets a little quiet around here but locals love it.

Most of the time weather is great break from city heat and people enjoy hiking the nature trails, golfing, fishing on the mountain lakes and visiting the many waterfalls in the area.

In the meantime back to my trip,  since it is foggy and raining today, we will curl up around the cozy fireplace with a glass of wine and a good book and research where to make dinner reservations.

Fireplace at 200 Main Highlands N C


old Edwards inn
Old Edwards Inn Highlands

Best North Carolina Small Towns

North Carolina has some very best small towns to relocate to. Such a varied state is NC. You have the Western Mountains which are beautiful, the Beaches, the large metro areas and more.

We just visited Asheville NC and noticed many new retirement communities around the area. We took the Asheville Food Tour and enjoyed the eclectic downtown area as well.

Hendersonville NC is another area we visited and walked down their wonderful Main Street and visited the Visitors Center where they were very help. Lots of retirees moving to Hendersonville. But here is another town you may want to consider for NC.

Best Small Town for Retirement in North Carolina

If you are seeking the perfect small town retirement location, and are drawn to the moderate climate and Southern charm of North Carolina, the small city of Chapel Hill may be the place for you. Chapel Hill, located in North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” (home to three renowned universities, teaching hospitals, and one of the largest research parks in the nation), offers everything a retiree desires. Not only are there cultural activities, medical facilities, and other senior-friendly amenities galore, but the area’s four distinct seasons draw retirees from across the country.

Chapel Hill, situated in the hills of central North Carolina, enjoys close proximity to three thriving institutions of higher learning – the University of NC at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, and Duke University. College towns in general are enriching and invigorating places to retire – with art, music, education, a wide variety of dining options, and a “young” atmosphere – and Chapel Hill offers these benefits threefold.

The proximity of the universities also means that stellar medical care is available only minutes away from downtown Chapel Hill. Both the University of North Carolina and Duke University have large, modern teaching hospitals, and the large number of seniors moving to the area have drawn even more world-class health facilities into the region.

As a popular retirement destination, the Chapel Hill area boasts a number of 55+ communities that offer resort retirement living, although the cost of housing here is higher than in many small town retirement locations. There are golf communities, mixed-generation neighborhoods with a senior-friendly focus, and assisted living facilities. Closer to downtown, retirement condominiums and apartments are also available. Active retirees can enjoy the vibrant cultural scene in and around the city, or pursue recreational activities among the nearby mountains and beaches, both just a couple of hours’ drive away. With many social activities and dining establishments in town, meeting other retirees and making new friends can be easier than in smaller or more rural settings.

If you are considering North Carolina as a retirement destination, this charming small city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere may appeal to you. You may want to look into the city of Chapel Hill proper, or one of the many 55+ communities nestled among surrounding towns such as Carrboro and Durham.

NC Small Towns 
Great Small Town Main Streets NC

Asheville NC
Asheville NC

Lake Lure, NC

Lake Lure NC

A month ago I had never heard of Lake Lure NC.  Then researching Western NC retirement towns, I stumbled upon it, at least on the web.  It sounded like a great place to check out with it’s mountains and a beautiful lake.  We decided to check it out.

One of our friends recommended The Lodge on Lake Lure, a bed and breakfast right on the lake, as a place to stay during our scout trip.  We booked a 3 night stay, actually getting a special of 3 nights for the price of 2 nights.   Breakfast included and wine each day at 5pm. Not too bad.  We went Monday – Wednesday, returning Thursday.

The town of Lake Lure is a quite charming small town right on  Lake Lure, a clear 700+ acres lake right in the mountains of Western NC.  Next door is the Chimney Rock park, which is now at NC state park and at the park entrance is the village of Chimney Rock.  You can get anywhere in Lake Lure or Chimney Rock in 10 minutes.  The lake and beach are actually owned by the town of Lake Lure.  Parts of the movie Dirty Dancing were filmed in Lake Lure.  The 2006 HGTV Dream House is in Lake Lure.

We toured two communities and spoke with more folks.  It seems everyone wanted to move to Lake Lure in 2007, a lot on new developments were started, and then the financial crises hit.  There are plenty of lots in failed subdivisions around the area.  Also plenty of seconds homes, some may be in trouble.  Some of the communities say there are about 50% permanent residents and 50% seasonal residents.  People have come from all over, many from Florida to escape the hurricanes, and high costs.  You can see the communities and other info about Lake Lure on the page we did at Lake Lure NC

The area was certainly appealing and gorgeous.  From the Lake Lure marina we took an hour boat ride tour and enjoyed it very much.  Some really large homes and some regular older homes lived in by the locals, make a good mix.   Living in a town this small may get take some getting used to by city folks used to Whole Foods, Publics, Targets, and such. I spotted on Ingles grocery store.  When my air pressure light came on in my wife’s care, the only place I found was a general store with a gas pump (and a air pressure pump).  I ask the guy at the counter if there was a full service gas station or repair shop around and he replied “nope, this is it”.  Luckily for us adding some air did the trick and made the warning light go off.  But it did bring home the point that living here would be very different from living in a metro area.

Those who have a seasonal home in Lake Lure may have the answer and the best of both worlds.  At least they would transition to full time if they wanted or just enjoy the season. I have the feeling it is a buyers market, like it is throughout the country. Maybe more so because of all of the second homes and failed subdivisions.

Lake Lure is worth a trip to check out.  A 3 or 4 day trip would make a nice vacation. Vactions sometimes turn in to a “nice to live here” decision.