Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of essays written by a recent retiree to North Carolina. If you would like to share your story, please send it us at: Essay. Please limit to 500 words. Your full name will be kept confidential.

Why I Retired to North Carolina

Paul K., Bat Cave, NC

As a boy, growing up in Midwest, I always found adventure and solace in the great outdoors and open spaces. My dad taught us to hunt, fish and camp, and I was very active in the Boy Scouts throughout my childhood. But over the years, as we followed our career path's trajectories, my wife and I often found ourselves living in more urban areas that had precious little elbow room – at least for me. So, as my wife and I began planning our retirement move several years ago, I was constantly casting my vote for a location with a lot of open space.

After researching and visiting many locations in North Carolina and across the southeast, we ultimately settled on an area about twenty miles southeast of Asheville. And we couldn't be happier. From our porch we can see no other homes – not even rooftops - only the gorgeous and serene Blue Ridge Mountains stretching out for miles. My childhood memories of the great outdoors are now constantly reinforced each morning when I wake up and view the mountains of North Carolina.

However, one of my wife’s key considerations about selecting our retirement destination was not to be too isolated. She likes being involved with our church and other social groups. So we intentionally picked our retirement location so that we can easily access Asheville when we need to “get into the city.” Asheville offers all the basics we need: shopping, culture, arts, dining and social activities. But while Asheville is technically a city, to me it is still essentially a small town – creative, artistic, rooted, friendly, and dare I say it - quaint. No beltways, no traffic jams and no urban tension.

My wife and I both come from academic backgrounds and careers, so another key feature we found in the Asheville area is access to a good state-supported university system. We both intend to take advantage of classes available to us through UNC Asheville. And there is no shortage of opportunities to learn new hobbies – pottery, painting, etc.

Another bonus benefit to living near Asheville is that my children and grandchildren actually like to come to visit us. There are dozens of things for them to do in the Asheville area. Frankly, we hadn’t given that feature much consideration as we planned our retirement, but it’s turned out well for us.

For us then, “why North Carolina?” really came down to a few essential “must haves”: open space, a reasonable cost of living, access to all of the “city benefits” we had grown used to before retirement, and to settle in an area that just, well, felt right. Retiring to near Asheville fit the bill. Each morning when we get up and look out at the sleepy mountains, we know we chose the best retirement destination for us.