6 Best Places To Retire in North Carolina on Less Than $2,500 a Month

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

William James

I help consumers answer their nagging queries about products, services, and companies. We aim to provide in-depth, well-researched, and accurate information in easy-to-follow guides and articles. Learn more here.

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