Retiring Solo to North Carolina with Tips

When Carolina Plantations opened its doors in early 2007, our niche was helping people determine if Coastal North Carolina was the right place to retire. For over a decade, we have been the #1 experts in our area, helping people do just that.

While most of our clients are married, some happily, some not, we have assisted way more solo retirees than we would have ever thought. And it is not that we focused our efforts or marketing on (married) couples – it just turned out that way. Did you know that approximately 10% of our clients are single? Some were smart and never married, some were widows, some were divorced, and some were widowers. They got to be solo is irrelevant, though, for we assist everyone and anyone just the same.

man sitting at table , lady laying on beach, lady stretching on beach with sand and waves of ocean

In looking back, part of our business philosophy lends itself to solo retirees, so it is no wonder that we attract such many single people. As most of you know, there are three main steps to a successful search for a place to retire to (our Martini Theory)

  1. Area – Stuff like weather, beaches, shopping, medical services, dining, and so much more are the first steps to finding a place you will be happy at.
  2. Community – Finding a neighborhood with people of similar socio-economic backgrounds, similar activity levels, similar ages, and things such as architecture, amenities, and location.
  3. Home – If you find #1 & #2, you only look for a house – which will often seem like the easiest part of the search. That is until recently!

We know that moving can seem overwhelming to anyone; being single can seem like you’re being defeated. We have come up with a few tips to help our solo retirees consider your move to the North Carolina Coast below.

Live Near a City

While you may not have any intention of ever marrying again, most of us probably do not desire to spend the rest of our lives watching “Love Boat” reruns by ourselves till the end of time. Regarding living near a city, it doesn’t have to be a big city, but it should provide stimulus and opportunities for active adults.  A town or large metropolitan area can provide Live Theaters, good churches, nightclubs, fundraisers, society events, festivals, and more.

Couples eating dinner together, musical and couples dancing

Set a Budget for Real Estate and Stick to It

Imagine purchasing the most beautiful home ever built but not having the funds to easily visit your family or travel with new friends to fun destinations? Try your best to set a realistic budget for your home, and don’t allow yourself to get caught up in finding that fantastic home that all your friends will say “Wow, Wow, wow” when they see it. Shoot, one Wow is more than enough, mainly if you are now referred to as “house poor” by our industry standards and your friends after you move in.

Get Active

Couch potatoes have a hard time attracting other Couch Potatoes because who aspires to sit around and do nothing with your life? On the other hand, active people naturally attract other busy people for we all like doing things that are healthy and where you are very possibly meeting other healthy minded, fun adults.

Walking is the #1 activity for retirees, for you need nothing other than some good walking shoes and the appropriate walking garb. New to many states is Pickleball, which is like Adult Outdoors Ping Pong, and we have the old favorites of golf, tennis, boating, bike riding, swimming, fitness classes, and much more.

couples playing pickleball, golfing buddies and couple riding bikes outdoors


Of course, there is always the issue with watching our weight; however, there is a lot more to one’s appearance than how many cookies we eat weekly. For starters, many folks moving to Coastal NC are moving from cold climate weather, which naturally implies that your wardrobe might need a makeover to something a bit more tropical. So, away with the corduroy pants, thick blue jeans, rubber boots, parkas, ugly sweaters and sweatshirts, wool pants, etc., and say hello to shorts, flip flops, linen shirts, colorful clothes, comfy shoes, and more.

Since summer is much longer in the south, you may also want to consider a new hairstyle. Shorter is often more manageable and comfortable in the middle of our summer months. And guys, contrary to what you may have heard, mullets are not in style in North Carolina. (Nor are leisure suits, platform shoes, and wide collars)

Be Bold – The Rest of Your Life is Waiting for You

Many years ago, Doug was operating a booth for Winding River Plantation at the LiveSouth show in Parsippany, NJ, when a huge man (about 6’5” and 300 lbs) commented on southerners being fake friendly. Doug spoke to about eight people at the time, and he quietly walked out of the booth and stood toe to toe to this behemoth and said, “Sir, even grumpy people like you learn to be friendly when they move to North Carolina.” His wife sheepishly thanked Doug, and they went on their way.

Becoming friendly takes some northerners a bit of time, and that is understandable considering the density of people in a small space up north. However, time and time again, northerners that make it a point to be friendly are amazed at the reaction of others. The result is a new outlook on life and the addition of some beautiful new friends! So, be brave in all you do, for almost everyone around you is literally in the same boat – and that is looking to make new friends, try new types of food, travel more, and stop being so uptight all the time.

If you’re ready to make the change in scenery, temperatures and prepared to venture out to new adventures in the south, give us a call today. We look forward to helping you find your next dream home here on the Coast of North Carolina!

Acclimating to The South!


Back in 1999, I was in a downtown bar in Boston and a young woman, who had just heard that I was moving back to the Southeast, made the claim that all southerners are full of (&^%#) bologna, because why would anyone ever say hello to strangers? Well, if you have ever lived in Boston, you know that there is an unwritten law that precludes you from welcoming strangers, so while this woman’s comment seemed a bit ignorant, this was the culture she was raised in. And heck, if she ever watched Dukes of Hazards, you may not blame her for her research on Southerners!

So, why do Southerners smile at you and say hello? My 28 years of experience living in the north (NJ, WI & MA) coupled with my 27 years of living in the south (TN, SC, GA & NC) should make me qualified to tackle this question.

Culture & History

We are all by-products of our environments that we are exposed to, and tradition in the south is simple – be friendly to others. Or in lawyer terminology – innocent till proven guilty. Conversely, a portion of the north is opposed to such thinking as it might give the impression that Northerners really care about people they don’t know. Of course they are nice to their family and friends but strangers? Ha – one has to live in certain areas to fully appreciate its heritage and culture.

This might help explain that it is perfectly normal for a New Englander (or other areas north of the Mason Dixon line) to doubt the sincerity of southern hospitality. New Englanders are not wrong for believing what they believe but, it can take a while for a northerner to accept southerners for who they really are. Here is a real life example of North Meets South that happened in the Fall of 1979. I grew up in Ridgewood, NJ and had just graduated from The University of Tennessee and my first job was with Duracell Batteries. I was a sales rep based in Greenville, SC.

Approximately 2-3 miles outside of Abbeville, SC, two separate cars waived at me driving into town. I asked the Drug Store owner if I looked familiar and or if anyone in town also drove a 1979 beige Impala. He thought and said no, not to his knowledge. Then he asked why, and I replied “well sir, as I was getting close to town early this morning and two different people waived at me”. The gentlemen said “Son, where are you from?”. When I told him, he just smiled and grinned and said that those were just residents of Abbeville extending you a welcome to their town. I was so overcome with embarrassment that on the way out of town I waived at every car and have been waiving at cars ever since.


If you have ever driven the DC beltway, I-285 in Atlanta, the L.I.E., Route 4 in Jersey, Hwy 128 in Boston, I-294 in Chicago or I-95 in Baltimore at rush hour, the only waiving you are doing is generally not with a full complement of fingers. Traffic and busy foot traffic can make the nicest person in the world a raving lunatic, and if you’ve ever been there, well, isn’t kind of amazing that road rage doesn’t happen more often?

Part of the reason Southerners are friendly is that life historically is slower paced down here. Yes, that means your waitress may take an extra few minutes fetching your peach pie but hey, she ran into her preacher and my heavens, she just can’t walk by him and not chat for a spell! Plus, he needed a (free) refill on his (iced) tea!

Life is too short to rush through it and ironically, by doing so, you’ll probably shorten your life. There really is a lot to be learned from waiving, smiling and saying hello to folks you don’t know! And I have seen some strong Jersey folks come down here and take 3-4 years before they realize that Southerners aren’t acting this way, they really are this way!

Back in the winter of 2002 I was working for a large developer here in Brunswick County (Winding River Plantation) and was attending the Winter LiveSouth Real Estate show in Parsippany/Whippany, NJ. One afternoon I had folks about 3-4 deep listening to my schpiel on life in the Carolinas and a really large and imposing guy from Joysie started poking fun at Southerners in general. He was annoying and rude so I walked around our table/booth and stood nose to chest with him and said “Do you know what is nice about people like you”? In a deep voice he looked down on me and said “no, what?”. I replied that even people like you turn out to be nice if they move to the south. His petite embarrassed wife gave me accolades as did the rest of the crowd and well, I have a feeling he’s now single, still miserable and still living in Jersey!

So if you move south, learn to take a deep breath. Repeat and repeat again till your pulse acclimates to the climate. If you insist on having everything delivered to you in a nano-second, please take your home off the market because you will give Northerners a bad name. Life here is laid back if you allow it to be. Southeastern NC has a huge bull’s-eye on it for retirees and if Southerners were crabby, snobby and nosey, well, there’d be no reason to pull up your tent and head south on I-95 or I-75, would there be?

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