Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, Waynesville (population 10,000) is a leisurely place that is starting to attract more and more retirees. It is just outside the Pisgah National Forest and has a pretty cityscape, with five church spires. Streets are tree-lined, and the downtown is healthy and lively with more than 100 merchants and retailers of all shapes and sizes located within an eight block area. Anchoring the downtown is the regal Haywood County courthouse, a 1932 structure that lends an air of authority. In the early part of the 1800s, Waynesville was known as a health resort thanks to the local spring water. The health craze faded, though, and today the city is a hidden gem. It is safe, with a crime rate below the national average, and 48% of residents are age 45 or better.
The cost of living in Waynesville roughly meets the national average, and the median home price is roughly $150,000. The median household income is below the national average, and residents are generally conservative and religious. The city has several upscale, gated communities.
Waynesville sits at an elevation of 2658 feet, which helps keep it cool in the summer (or at least cooler than other parts of North Carolina). The average summer temperature is 84°. At the other end elevation also makes winters a little cooler than might be expected, with temperatures in the 20s and 30s. The city even receives an average of 15 inches of snow per year. The sun shines 210 days of the year, and on the comfort index, a combination of humidity and temperature, Waynesville meets the national average.
Waynesville has a reputation as a friendly place, and retirees here find plenty to keep themselves busy. The Haywood Arts Repertory Theater is an amateur community theater with several productions each year, and the Haywood County Arts Council overseas cultural activities for the city, including free Sunday afternoon concerts and performances by the Atlanta Ballet.
Outdoor recreation is a staple of the Waynesville lifestyle. The oldest ski resort in the state, Cataloochee Ski Area, is just a few minutes away, and nearby rivers provide venues for fishing, rafting, and other water activities. Also close at hand are acres of national forest and parks including more than 200 miles of hiking trails, which include parts of the Appalachian Trail. Camping, hiking, fishing, and of course, golf are all within easy reach. Shopping, however, is limited to boutique style retailers. There is, however, a Walmart.
Haywood Regional Medical Center is located in nearby Clyde and is award-winning for clinical excellence. It has 121 beds and is the largest hospital west of Asheville. Further medical facilities are in Asheville itself, which is 30 miles away.
Haywood Community College offers continuing education classes for seniors in a variety of topics.
Having a car in Waynesville is a necessity because there is no local bus transportation.
When it comes to taxes, Social Security income is exempt. Other retirement income received a partial exemption. There is no estate tax in North Carolina, and the state offers a homestead exemption when it comes to property tax.
Based on its reasonable cost of living, excellent outdoor recreation, low crime rate and reputation as a welcoming town, Waynesville should be on the list of places to look at when it comes to retirement time.