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.  Three of the best small towns to live in are listed below.

Apex NC

Apex- located just outside of the Lake Jordan Recreation Area, which has beautiful campgrounds, abundant fishing, hiking trails, and picnic areas, Apex is on the national register of historic places due to its history as a turn-of-the-century railroad town.

With Raleigh and big city benefits only 20 minutes away, Apex can be one of the best places to retire in North Carolina providing all the benefits of a small town (around 25,000 residents) with the cute streets and shops, with the proximity of a big city with shows, universities, and high quality medical care.

With a government focused on keeping the small town feel alive in the rapidly-growing Research Park Triangle area, Apex is a good choice for people wanting to live in a small town without feeling isolated.

Asheville- as the biggest “small town” in this article with a population of approximately 68,000 people, Asheville has recently been given lots of press as both a retirement and relocation destination.  With a great climate and lots to do for everyone, Asheville is one of the best small towns to live in.

Asheville NC

Known for whitewater rafting, Asheville is full of natural beauty. During the fall, the forests that surround Asheville brighten up with color as the leaves change. In town, there are ample opportunities for sidewalk dining in cafes and in the summertime, there are multiple farmers markets to enjoy fresh produce and food goods.

Historically, Asheville has been home to the rich and famous as a health resort in the late 19th century.  Home to the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, Asheville also has many historic museums that showcase this area’s large history as a resort to the rich, politicians (6 presidents have stayed at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa), and famous.

Asheville is a great area for people who want history, natural beauty, along with modern amenities that only a world class “small town” can provide.

Kannapolis North Carolina

Kannapolis- with a storybook downtown area and lots of natural green areas preserved to prevent urban sprawl, Kannapolis is a rapidly evolving small town that has amenities that anyone wants and needs.

Located a half hour away from Charlotte, this area has become a biotechnology hub while retaining its historic charm.  In the last decade, millions have been spent to increase the livability and economic sustainability of this town.

This town has obviously charmed some powerful people since the Chicago White Sox have located a minor league team here with a brand new stadium to boot.

Kannapolis is known as a racing hub since the famous NASCAR Earnhardt family is from there.  Steeped in racing history, there’s a NASCAR museum and a tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr located in town.

Economically speaking, in 2005, the North Carolina Research Campus, a brand new technology park cosponsored by the owner of Dole Food, Duke University, and The University of North Carolina system, was announced.  This will surely bring technology companies flocking to Kannapolis for its high quality of life and proximity to Charlotte. With high tech companies in town, this area will surely attract more cultural exhibits and classes making it one of the best small towns for retirement.

Overall, North Carolina has changed tremendously in the 20th century with most people now living in urban/suburban areas as opposed to rural areas.  With this change, many small towns have been pushed to the side with population and job losses.  Apex, Asheville, and Kannapolis have bucked this trend with new economic opportunities while still keeping their cozy feel.  For anyone considering a North Carolina small town to retire in Apex, Asheville, and Kannapolis are all solid choices.

See more at 55+ communities in NC and at Small Towns in North Carolina (NC)

Assisted Living Facilities

Retirement communities are there but are assisted living facilities and nursing homes available in small towns?


Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes in Small Towns

So if you are retiring to a small town what kind of retirement related housing will you find.  Retirement communities are not that plentiful in small towns, except small towns on the edge of large metro areas or in resort areas at lakes, in the mountains or the sea shore.  Small 55 plus communities are gaining ground just about everywhere.  Of coarse, retirement homes like ranch style with universal design offering ease of living to retirees and anyone else are found everywhere also.

But what in later life when assisted living facilities or a skilled nursing facility is needed, will you be able to find one in a small town?

To start, Assisted Living is the term used to describe a type of long-term care facility for people who are elderly or who have disabilities. As opposed to a nursing home, assisted living centers are designed for people who can move around on their own but may require extra help with some daily living activities, such as bathing, getting dressed or preparing a meal. These facilities can be small, with fewer than a half-dozen residents, on up to large, full-service apartment complexes.

Assisted living facilities are to be found in just about all small towns.  Many of these assisted living homes are small to mid size facilities, which to me is a more desirable size anyway.

Nursing homes – A state-licensed facility providing 24-hour nursing care, room and board for older and convalescing adults who have chronic and/or long-term illnesses, such as dementia. Regular, round-the-clock medical supervision is in place at these homes, along with rehabilitation therapy, a central cafeteria and social activities. Most are eligible for the federal government’s Medicaid program, which pays fees for residents who do not have the financial means to pay for their own care. These establishments are sometimes referred to as a Skilled Nursing Facility or a Convalescent Home.

There are many more nursing homes then there are assisted living facilities.  Many people can’ afford assisted living, but a nursing homes are eligible for Medicaid assistance.  Plus you can live at home even though you may need assisted living, but when you need skilled nursing, there is no alternative.

Therefore I have found nursing homes are found everywhere and are the most common among all of the above senior housing arrangements.  Since nursing homes are state licensed, the government provides a great sites that lists all nursing homes and even rating them for you.’s Nursing Home Compare tool has detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country and is a wonderful resource in locating and comparing nursing homes in small towns.

Glossary of Assisted Living Terms

Retirement Status: Is it Not Politically Correct to Say You are Retired?

It seems these days proclaiming that you are retired especially if you are still in your 60’s, may bring out resentment or at least envy from others who often then longingly reply “One day maybe I can retire.”

Explaining to someone who inquires that you are retired and free for the day prompts an observer to later say “Quit saying that!  People are tired of hearing you say that.”

Say what?  That I am retired.  Did I put a little too much happiness into revealing my retirement status?

It seems these days proclaiming that you are retired especially if you are still in your 60’s, may bring out resentment or at least envy from others who often then longingly reply “One day maybe I can retire.”

It may not be that they are sad you are retired, but they immediately think of their current situation and prospects for their own retirement, which may have been dimmed in this prolonged Great Recession.

Saying you are retired is like saying I just bought a new BMW!  People will smile and act like they are happy for you, but secretly they feel bad because they want one too.  Has retirement become a status symbol?

So what are you supposed to say or is it the way you say it that is just as important?  If you plainly report your status as retired without any smile or indication that you may in fact be actually enjoying retirement, would that be better?  Probably.

It is hard enough for you to start saying you are retired in the first place.  You start off with saying you are trying to retire, or transitioning to retirement, then semi retired, then finally simply retired.  Now you discover you better be sensitive to others in reporting your “retired” status or at least do not show too much happiness in doing so.  Makes sense to me.   Has anyone experienced this?