North Carolina has long attracted residents-to-be with its top-notch universities, thriving economy and gorgeous natural scenery. In 2022, it was named America’s Top State for Business by CNBC.
Yet it may be those who are calling it a day on business who have the most to gain in North Carolina.
Retirees may relocate to the Tar Heel State because it touts a relatively low cost of living and has awesome tax breaks for seniors. It is also, as mentioned, a beautiful place, so if walks in nature are a priority for your golden years, North Carolina will definitely deliver.
But North Carolina is a big place, and there are so many cities and towns to choose from when relocating there. Which ones make the best setting for retirees living on Social Security — or really for anyone on a strict budget?
- Monthly expenditures: $2,167
- Livability: 75
A one-bedroom home in Raleigh costs $1,295 on average. Monthly groceries cost $441 and healthcare per month runs $431. Raleigh is known for its rich history, including the fact that it is home to the first all-Black college, Shaw University. In Raleigh, just 12% of the population is 65 and over — the lowest percentage on this list.
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- Monthly expenditures: $2,140
- Livability: 73
Over in Garner in Wake County, rents for a one-bedroom average of $1,280. Monthly groceries cost $429 and healthcare costs $431 per month — the same as it costs in Raleigh. Garner is reputed for its down-to-Earth charm and its close proximity to the famous Research Triangle Park. Fifteen percent of the population is 65 and older.
Pictured: Neighboring Raleigh, North Carolina
- Monthly expenditures: $2,109
- Livability: 65
Wilmington is famous for its antebellum and Civil War history, along with its pop culture relevance (it’s the setting for the TV show “Dawson’s Creek” and the movie “Cape Fear”). A one-bedroom apartment here costs $1,132, while monthly healthcare will set you back $539 — the highest on this list. Groceries are also pricey, at $438 per month. Wilmington has the highest percentage (18%) of people 65 and older on this list.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,060
- Livability: 70
A one-bedroom place in Durham goes for $1,181 a month, while groceries for the month cost $435, and monthly healthcare costs $445. Fifteen percent of the city’s population is 65 years or older. Durham is known as the City of Medicine, as healthcare is its most prominent industry.
- Monthly expenditures: $1,919
- Livability: 83
Concord is the second most affordable city to live on for $2,500 a month, but it actually has the highest livability score of all of those featured. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that it’s a cultural epicenter, with tons of art galleries and museums. A one-bedroom home in these parts costs $1,057 a month, groceries cost $429 and healthcare goes for $433.
- Monthly expenditures: $1,911
- Livability: 66
If you have a budget of $2,500 a month, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by living in Greensboro, where a one-bedroom place costs $1,069, groceries cost $420 and health costs hover at $423. Greensboro is also known as Tournament Town, in light of its abundance of athletic venues.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined where in North Carolina to live on less than $2,500 per month based on the (1) average monthly benefit for retired workers, sourced from the Social Security Administration; and ApartmentList data to find (2) average 2022 one-bedroom rent in North Carolina cities. GOBankingRates then researched Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each listed city, looking at (3) grocery and (4) healthcare index scores. GOBankingRates additionally used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older in order to find how much a person 65 and over would spend on groceries and healthcare in each city on a monthly basis. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery and healthcare costs together. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, its (5) population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; and (6) have a livability score of 65 or above, sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of Oct. 11, 2022.
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