55+ lifestyle doesn’t have to end at the guard gate.
Charlotte, the “Queen City”
Each day more and more retirees and active adults are discovering the charm of the Carolinas. Anchoring the Piedmont region is the world-class city of Charlotte, situated on North Carolina’s southern state line. Famed as one of the nation’s leading banking centers, the city’s metropolitan area serves up one of the richest arrays of attractions in the Southeast. In the countryside around Charlotte, some of the nation’s leading builders have created new retirement communities that cater to active adults. Among the region’s many advantages are lower living costs, scenic surroundings, and places to go and things to do. Come see for yourself. (If you own a snow shovel, you might leave it at home.)
Kiplinger magazine recognized South Carolina as one of the nation’s four best states offering low taxes to retirees.
Most people say the vibrant and diverse city has it all. Known as the Queen City, Charlotte takes its name from Britain’s Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose reign began in the mid-18th century. Steeped in Southern hospitality, the city offers culinary pleasures ranging from its famed barbeque to the gourmet delights of countries around the world. It is said that you can eat at a different restaurant every day for a year and still not dine at all of the city’s restaurants. Theaters, churches, stadiums, and museums abound. It is easy to see why the Charlotte region boasts a cluster of communities built exclusively for enriching the lives and lifestyles of retirees and active over-55 adults.
Charlotte is a nationally recognized health care center. Both Carolinas Medical Center and Novant Presbyterian Medical Center were recently named among the 100 Great Hospitals in America.
Climate and geography
The Charlotte region sits atop the Piedmont Plateau, which encompasses a large part of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. Close by is the Catawba River. The region’s humid subtropical climate produces hot summers and mild winters that seldom see snow. Rich in minerals, the Piedmont boasts one of the largest gold mines in the country, the historic Haile Gold mine. To the northeast and southeast, the Atlantic playground, including the mainland, islands, and inlets, comprises nearly 500 miles of coastline. The picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains rise gracefully in the northwest. (Snow skiing, anyone?)
It is said that you can eat at a different restaurant every day for a year and still not dine at all of the city’s restaurants.
Several professional teams cater to sports fans. “Panther fever” gripped the entire region recently after the Charlotte team boasted an exciting 17-1 season in the NFL. The Charlotte Hornets of the NBA and the Charlotte Checkers of the NHL also call the city home. The first hint of spring brings out the Charlotte Knights, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. In addition, the U.S. National Whitewater Center features kayaking and other water sports, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway draws racing fans of all ages.
Easy-to-navigate grids in Charlotte Center City make navigating an easy task. Lynx, the light rail line, stretches from near the South Carolina border to the city center and on to northeast Charlotte. Additional routes are proposed or under construction. I-85 and I-77 intersect in Charlotte for easy access by motorists. A busy international airport annually carries more than 50 million travelers in and out of the region—visiting grandparents and grandchildren among them.
Day trips and weekend trips
Living in the Charlotte region places you near major attractions in both North and South Carolina. Tour America’s largest house, the magnificent Biltmore mansion, two and a half hours away in Ashville. The zoo in Columbia is always fun. Enjoy Myrtle Beach, three and one-half hours away, for a day in the ocean or a little shag dancing. Take in the sights in the truly southern city of Charleston, only a three-hour ride down the road. The kids especially will enjoy panning for gold at the nearby Reed Gold Mine. A little over four hours away, you can raise a toast at Atlanta’s Coca-Cola Museum.
Take in the Charlotte Symphony at the Belk; see a Broadway play at the Blumenthal. The Charlotte Ballet performs from October to April. You can also browse one of the city’s museums. Discovery Place is a family-friendly science museum with educational events sprinkled with a dose of fun. Grandchildren are welcomed. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Carolinas Aviation Museum are two other museums of note. The Mint Museum on Randolph Road dates back to 1837; its building served as a U.S. mint, which coined $5 million in gold before it ceased operations in the late 1800s.
Things to do
Stroll down Glory Road at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and view a historic collection of racing cars. On an adventurous day, drive a racecar at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Celebrate Christmas at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, or wander through the 18th-century Brattonsville Plantation. Visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center and explore its many tributes to African-Americans and their achievements. Take your brave grandchildren to Carowinds for a tummy-tumbling ride on the Fury 325 roller coaster, if they dare. On a lazy day, simply sit and talk with your friendly neighbors.
Low cost of living and favorable tax rates
U.S. News & World Report ranked the Charlotte metro area number 15th in the nation. “The large number of people relocating to Charlotte and a relatively low cost of living compared to the area’s median annual salary put the Queen City in the top 20.”
Kiplinger Magazine recognized South Carolina as one of the nation’s four best states offering low taxes to retirees. A Clemson University study shows top reasons for relocating to the state include a lower overall cost of living, low housing costs, and a modest tax rate. South Carolina also enjoys some of the cheapest gas prices in the nation.
Like South Carolina, North Carolina also has a favorable cost of living, and home prices fall well below the national average.
Charlotte is a nationally recognized health care center. Both Carolinas Medical Center and Novant Presbyterian Medical Center were recently named among the 100 Great Hospitals in America. Each provides a convenient network of offices and services for patients throughout the Charlotte region. To upgrade the care of veterans, a new VA Outpatient Clinic has opened in Charlotte. In addition, many physicians throughout the region have established respected private practices.
The Charlotte region offers countless learning opportunities for active adults. Learn to cook like a pro in recreational cooking classes at Johnson & Wales University. Understand all about your new motorcycle at York Technical College. The region offers unlimited learning opportunities at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Queens University, Central Piedmont Community College, University of South Carolina Lancaster, Winthrop University, and numerous other colleges throughout the Charlotte region.
Indian tribes inhabited the Carolinas long before wealthy English aristocrats arrived to govern the Carolinas. During the Revolutionary War, British General Charles Cornwallis allegedly referred to Charlotte as a “hornet’s nest” of resistance, and the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA have proudly adopted the name as their own. Many Revolutionary and Civil War buildings and battlefields dot the region and are open to visitors. An untold number of historians have written an untold number of books on different aspects of the Carolinas’ long and rich history. So many attractions!
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