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table of contents
Deciding Where To Live
Retirement Communities
Senior Centers
Employment Services
Volunteer Opportunities Just for Seniors
Keep on Going
In-home and Adult Day Care
Government Agencies





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Retiree-friendly pretty well characterizes the four-county area known as the Cape Fear Coast. With Historic Wilmington and New Hanover County as its focal points, the southern coast of North Carolina has been attracting retirees to its sunny, warm shores in ever-increasing numbers for years.

Naturally, the mild, temperate climate of our area is a major attraction for retirees from the North, who are tired of frigid winters, snow, ice, potholes and gray skies. Winter, such as it is here, is moderated considerably by the warming effect of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream.

The area is also experiencing an increasing popularity with retirees moving here from Florida. Known as "Halfbacks," these new residents are usually retirees from the North who moved to Florida, became disenchanted and decided to move halfway back up, where they can enjoy moderate seasonal changes without extremes.

For those interested in gardening, the southern coastal area is in USDA growing zone 8, averages 248 or more growing days per year and has an annual rainfall of 54 inches. The heaviest rainfall months are June, July and August, and more often than not, it rains at night and is sunny during the day -- Camelot right here in Dixie. Several varieties of flowers bloom all winter, and numerous shrubs and trees retain their foliage all year. The average summer high temperature is 88 degrees, the average winter low is 36 degrees and the overall average for the year is 64 degrees.

Another aspect of the southern coast area attracting retirees is a considerably expanded health-care system that is increasingly focused on the needs of seniors. In addition, quite a few new retirement homes are opening, and there is a strong upswing in the development of retirement communities, many of them with golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools and offering a wide variety of housing choices.

Although progressive and growth-oriented, this area still possesses elements of charm, graciousness and gentility from the old South, which, coupled with the cosmopolitan influence of retirees and new residents from all across the nation, results in a delightfully relaxed but upbeat ambiance. Also, partly due to the enormous number of activities available to them, retirees tend to feel more included living in the the southern coast communities than they would living in a large urban area.

Downtown Wilmington offers many activities for seniors, including horse-drawn carriage, trolley or walking tours of the Historical District, riverboat tours, unusual stores and boutiques, the Riverwalk and a number of antebellum homes open for visiting, to mention just a few (see our Attractions chapter). Any given evening will find both seniors and younger folk strolling about, shopping and dining outside, enjoying the good life.