(Stacker) —When asked what the three most essential considerations about a property are, buyers and sellers of real estate will nearly always reply “location, location, location.”

While this answer is sometimes tongue-in-cheek, it is often quite accurate, and this reply perhaps applies to retirees more than any other demographic. Settling down after a lifetime of working and perhaps raising a family calls for the perfect location: a spot where you can enjoy life with as few concerns as possible.

When seniors aged 65 years or older decide on where they want to live out their golden years, they consider very specific factors, such as the cost of living, government services, health care facilities, weather and overall climate, crime rate, outdoor recreational activities, eating establishments, cultural and entertainment opportunities, and more.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to retire in North Carolina using data from Niche. Niche ranks counties based on a variety of factors, including the cost of living, healthcare, recreation, and weather. Read more about Niche’s methodology here.

Location is critical as retirees determine where to spend their senior years enjoying favorite activities; however, it’s a unique decision based on many preferences and needs. Whether it be bustling downtowns or access to parks, affordable home prices, or cultural amenities like museums, retirees seeking to settle in a permanent spot are sure to find a private paradise in any of these counties recommended by Niche because, in the end, there is no place like home—no matter the location.

Read on to discover the best counties to retire to in North Carolina.

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#25. Jackson County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Sylva (A-), Forest Hills (A), Webster Township (A)

#24. Surry County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Elkin (A-), Mount Airy (B+), White Plains (B)

#23. Stanly County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Stanfield (B+), Locust (B), Albemarle (B)

#22. Caldwell County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Northlakes (A-), Granite Falls (A-), Lenoir (B)

#21. Clay County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B-), outdoor activities (B-)
– Top places to live: Brasstown Township (B-), Hayesville (C+), Hayesville Township (C+)

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#20. Dare County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (C), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Southern Shores (B+), Kill Devil Hills (B+), Kitty Hawk (B+)

#19. Rutherford County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Rutherfordton (A-), Spindale (B), Forest City (B-)

#18. Yancey County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: South Toe Township (B), Green Mountain Township (B), Burnsville (B)

#17. Bertie County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (A-), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B)
– Top places to live: Windsor (B-), Woodville Township (B-), Colerain (B-)

#16. Alleghany County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Piney Creek Township (B+), Cherry Lane Township (B), Prathers Creek Township (B)

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#15. Craven County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Trent Woods (A), Brices Creek (A-), River Bend (A-)

#14. Cherokee County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Murphy Township (B), Valleytown Township (B), Andrews (B-)

#13. Chowan County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A-), cost of living (B+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Edenton (C+), Yeopim Township (B), Edenton Township (B)

#12. Beaufort County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B+), weather (A-), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: River Road (B), Washington (B-), Chocowinity (C+)

#11. Haywood County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Waynesville (B), Lake Junaluska (B), Clyde (B)

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#10. New Hanover County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (C+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Sea Breeze (A), Wrightsville Beach (A), Ogden (A)

#9. Transylvania County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Brevard (B+), Dunns Rock Township (A), Boyd Township (B+)

#8. Chatham County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Fearrington Village (A), Pittsboro (B+), Siler City (B-)

#7. Pamlico County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A), cost of living (B+), weather (B+), outdoor activities (B)
– Top places to live: Grantsboro Township (B), Alliance Township (B), Grantsboro (B)

#6. Macon County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B+), weather (B-), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Franklin (B), Highlands (B+), Smithbridge Township (B+)

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#5. Henderson County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B), outdoor activities (A)
– Top places to live: Laurel Park (A), Mills River (A-), Flat Rock (A-)

#4. Polk County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B-), weather (B), outdoor activities (B+)
– Top places to live: Tryon (A), Green Creek Township (A-), Tryon Township (B+)

#3. Moore County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Pinehurst (A), Southern Pines (A), Foxfire (A-)

#2. Brunswick County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A)
– Top places to live: St. James (A-), Leland (B+), Oak Island (B)

#1. Carteret County

– Niche grades: good for retirees (A+), cost of living (B), weather (B+), outdoor activities (A-)
– Top places to live: Cedar Point (A), Emerald Isle (A-), Pine Knoll Shores (A-)

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