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Motivations & Options

Retire? Unretire?


On Top of the World
At Mountain Air, near Burnsville, NC, you can see for miles and miles, to the far-distant peaks that gave the Blue Ridge its name. Sit a spell. Drink it in. After all, you’re retired.
Photo Credit: Mountain Air | Burnsville, NC


Got a five-year plan?  No matter where we are in life’s journey, something’s going to change, hopefully, for the better.  Now’s the time to create strategies and visualize our destiny.

Launching the Center for Carolina Living back at age 40, coaching people in the process of relocating for retirement was a challenge.  Fortunately, we were asked to become involved in a big university studies on retirees. Those findings, lots of books, and surveying 130,000 pre-retirees over 31 years, keeps us current on motivation trends that drive relocation decisions.

As “Leading Boomers,” Leyla and I are now creating our own life plans for the next 30 years.

Your parents and ours moved across state lines at the rate of four percent. That’s all changed. Harris Polls report that 26 percent of us plan to relocate at retirement. Boomers are movers!




Paradise Found
Nestled along the coast on Hilton Head Island, Sonesta Resort offers extravagant amenities in a tropical playground. Reserve your getaway today. You've earned it!
Photo Credit: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

Two years in a row, the Carolinas are the top-ranked destination for families using United Van Lines. For sure, Carolina born retirees are not re-settling elsewhere.

From many dozens of interviews with Boomers in the process of staging their environment in a new location, the conversation launches with talk about the long-term financial assessments, like value propositions associated with cost-of-living and tax implications. The dialogue expands quickly to expert healthcare resources, safety, fitting-in, altruism and easy living, with a good dose of odyssey travel adventure. In a nut-shell: being well, being happy.


The Time of your Life
Who says retirement slows you down? Don your hard hat and go for a ride in this Kubota workhorse. Near Chetola Resort, at Blowing Rock, NC, you’ll find lots of ways to get your speed on.
Photo Credit: Chetola Resort

New definitions of retiring have amplified the options to include unretire, that not-so-rare Boomer motivation to start/move a business, an entrepreneurial passion that’s evident across the Carolinas. Support organizations and business incubators are sprouting to serve those seeking comprehensive assistance.

For a deep dive into resources, visit:


Put this one on your bucket list. Congaree National Park, near Columbia, SC, offers walking trails, a lovely boardwalk, and ribbons of water that take you by world champion trees.
Photo Credit: SCPRT

We Boomers demand even more varied recreational and educational activities than our “GI generation” predecessors.  As the number of centurions increases at the rate of seven percent a year, we can expect a whole new horizon to many decades of active living ahead.

In all cases, the retirement process calls for thorough planning. Write down your lifestyle priorities and goals – his, hers and yours. Be realistic. Run the numbers. Plan to live longer. Engage your professional financial advisor. (Leyla and I title our file: Strategic Life Vision.)

Check out our “Insights” below – gleaned from many wanting to make “safe bets.”

Below, couples share their Carolina retire-unretire journeys.


Close Your Eyes and Listen
In Myrtle Beach, a day on the sand offers the sounds of children laughing, seagulls squawking and waves lapping the shore. It’s also the sound of no meetings or worries and it feels delicious. Just another day in paradise.
Photo Credit: SCPRT

SUMMERVILLE, SC near Charleston

From Ohio to Charleston
Active-Adult Lifestyle • No Stipulations

Dennis and Vickie Kraus are from Mason, OH, and lived in a variety of Northeast cities during their careers, but vacationed at Wild Dunes, near Charleston, and fell in love with the lifestyle.

“Vickie is on the verge of retirement from her healthcare job. But I’ve been retired for about two years, following a career in law enforcement and computers,” Mr. Krause explained. “We looked from Delaware to Georgia, but know the Charleston area and could find nothing that suited us as well.”

The couple drove into the Cresswind community, past live oaks and beautiful scenery. Originally an old rice plantation, they were attracted to the lakes, walking paths and woods, which had been carved into the community.

“The thing about a 55+ community is this: Almost everyone is from somewhere else, from Oregon, to California, to the East Coast, and we’re all here because we want to be here,” he went on. “I teach cooking classes, and we’ve got every kind of amenity, from tennis, bocce ball and pickleball, to a great fitness, arts and crafts center.” He likes the easy life – no stipulations – and enjoys being able to work out at the fitness center at 6am, 10pm or any time in between.

They’ve made good friends and are regulars at Saturday evening gatherings at the clubhouse. And Mr. Kraus has a theory about making friends here. “We walk to get the mail and stop to talk with friends along the way,” he shared. “It’s not unusual to join an impromptu gathering of a dozen folks chatting.  We look after one another and really enjoy the company of everyone here.”

The couple was surprised at the level of social activity they’ve found. “In Ohio, people drive into their garages, the door rolls down and we’d never see them,” he said. “Here, it’s not like that at all.  We’re outside all the time.”

What advice would he give folks considering retirement? “Anybody who’s not here should be here,” he said. “Kolter teams did great work on our home and, we can easily be in Historic Charleston for lunch in about 30 minutes.”


No Ties, Please
Retire to Woodside Plantation in Aiken and you’ll have so many ways to fill those retirement days. Fabulous golf, fantastic amenities, clubs and events, and strolling to dinner with friends.
Photo Credit: Woodside Plantation


From Chicago to Aiken
Vibrant Town • Friendly People

Wally and Carol Fraser moved into their new Aiken home in The Reserve at Woodside Plantation and couldn’t be happier with their new life.  He plays golf, and she’s an artist, with a new home studio.

“We have close friends who moved down here years ago, and every time we’d visit, we were amazed at how happy they were,” explains Mrs. Fraser. ”After 32 years in Chicago, we had a lot of strong roots there, but we also knew that we liked Aiken so much. We’re people who need a bit of a town element, and Aiken has that, along with good city management and lots of people who want to give back to the community,” explains Mr. Fraser.

“Whenever we get together with neighbors, there’s no trying to keep up with anyone. Everyone wants to know your history and what brought you here.  We’ve met a great cross section of people over dinner at the Reserve Club, where food and service is consistently great.”

What about their son, back in Chicago? “We miss him. He loves seeing us so happy and calls frequently, just to ask what we’re doing,” Mrs. Fraser says.


Time, Sweet Time
That’s the gift retirement brings. Leave the multi-tasking, busy commutes and impossible schedules behind. In the mountains near Blowing Rock, friends enjoy 50-mile views, superb trails and so many natural amenities – to be savored at your leisure.
Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Mountain Club


Feels Like a Resort.

Kathy and Nick Sorvillo were born and raised in Connecticut. During the course of their careers, they lived all over New England and the Midwest. Their last two homes were in Chicago and Boston. “I ran global marketing research for Campbell Foods and Kraft, so I spent a career working to understand consumer needs and wants,” said Nick Sorvillo. “When it came time to retire, we knew we wanted a more temperate climate, with defined seasons.”

“I minored in history in college and taught for a number of years,” Kathy Sorvillo explained. “I loved an urban setting, and wanted to live close to historical sites, restaurants, theater, museums and all sorts of cultural events.”

The couple searched a number of retirement locations and found The Landings. Not only is it in a beautiful setting, but Savannah’s rich cultural amenities are very close, and Hilton Head Island, Jacksonville and Atlanta are easy drives away. And there was more.

“We like the melting pot feel of a big city,” said Mr. Sorvillo. They also wanted a multi-generational atmosphere. “I didn’t want to feel as if we were moving into a retirement home,” he laughed. “More than 1,000 youngsters live in this community.” Although many residents are retired, a substantial number are working professionals from all walks and stages of life.

“We visited four times before finding the right home,” he explained. “Our kids participated in the hunt and both have been very enthusiastic. They visit often.”

The couple play golf, and Mr. Sorvillo noted that it was charming to see a 70-year-old practicing his swing next to a ten-year-old doing the same thing. “And, we knew we wanted great health care and superb fitness facilities. Savannah has the care and The Landings has a state-of-the-art 45,000 square-foot fitness center where we can stay in shape.”

With six championship golf courses, 34 tennis courts, two deep-water marinas, 40 miles of walking and biking trails and 151 fishing-friendly lagoons, plus frequent gatherings with friends, residents say they’re busier than ever. “We made the best possible decision for this phase of our lives.”

Retirement Choices -Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Ah, the ocean breeze, plus sand and sea, makes for one delightful biking excursion with your significant other. And they call this exercise? Looks like a great date, to us.
Photo Credit: Kiawah Island Golf Resort


From Pittsburg to Southport
Coastal Living • Abundant Amenities

Bill and Kathy DeLeo are originally from Pittsburgh.  When he retired, the couple began to look toward the next chapter in their lives. “We decided we'd like to head south, but ruled out Florida as too hot and over-settled,” he explains.  They focused visits on the Carolinas, which was in the middle of the East Coast geographically, with a nice, four-season climate.  They wanted to be near the beach, in an active community with great amenities and friendly people with whom they could develop long lasting relationships.

So began the research, talking with friends, and visiting properties. “We found a number of communities that were very nice.  When we toured St. James Plantation, it was more appealing to us than all the rest.”

They like the variety of builders, and the attractive neighborhoods and homes.  Mrs. DeLeo has become involved with a service club, fund raising for charities, a book club, and she's taken Mahjong lessons.  

She's started a St. James bunko club, as well.  They both love golf, the beach and the nearby town of Southport.  “It reminds us of a New England beach town,” he says.  

Overall, it's the great social atmosphere that helps keep them elated. “One of our friends said that St. James Plantation is a sports camp by day and a fraternity party by night,” Mr. DeLeo confided with a chuckle. There are lots of impromptu get-togethers, including casual dinners (no ties required), martini parties and full-moon gatherings on the beach. “Everyone has come from somewhere else and is looking to meet new people and do new things. It's a great way to celebrate this new chapter in our lives.”


NC Certified Retirement Community.

Eddie and Elaine Lindsay moved to Asheboro from High Point several years ago after retiring and deciding that this centrally located small town was a perfect fit for them.

“I had lived in Asheboro years ago, and already knew that it had lots of amenities for its size,” Mr. Lindsay explained. “It’s in a good geographical location for us in terms of children and grandchildren, and there are so many ways to enjoyably spend our time.”

A former district sales manager for the North Carolina Farm Bureau, his retirement activities include coordinating Meals on Wheels for their church and volunteering for mission projects. He referees basketball for a children’s league on Saturdays, and plays golf several times a week.

Mrs. Lindsay is a retired psychiatric nurse and volunteers at Randolph Hospital. She’s also recently rescued a dog and is fostering Lucy, who may be well on her way to becoming a member of the family alongside their rescue greyhound, Roxie.

“There are so many volunteer activities available here,” Mrs. Lindsay said. “The community is relatively small, but there’s so much going on, with community theatre, the Randolph Concert Series, and neighborhood activities.”

The downtown area has been revitalized with antique malls, restaurants, an art gallery, and a wine bar with a lovely deck for sipping and socializing. The old Sunset Theatre has performances and occasional movies and is currently undergoing a major renovation.

The Lindsays live on the golf course at Asheboro Country Club, and are in a neighborhood dinner club. Their pontoon boat, moored on nearby Lake Badin, is perfect for afternoon cruises.

They both agree that the NC Certified Retirement Friendly designation for Asheboro is appropriate for their new hometown. “It’s got great health care,” Mrs. Lindsay shared. “Being in the center of the state, we have the mountains in one direction and beaches in the other. Greensboro has fabulous shopping and it’s about 30 minutes away.

Anything you want is close, and yet, the warmth and friendliness of small-town living is right here.”


Bob Good is from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and his wife, Bernie, is a native of Long Beach, California. “I was in management with Sears. We traveled quite a bit in the Southeast and fell in love with the region,” Mr. Good says. When retirement time arrived, the couple began to look from Virginia to the Florida border. They received an invitation to spend three days and play some golf at Savannah Lakes Village and decided to check out the community.

“We visited and loved it,” he says. They returned several times and looked at properties. “Our real estate agent convinced us that we wanted to be on the big water of Lake Thurmond, and we’re so glad he did.” Their home is positioned near the end of a peninsula, with water on both sides. Their 24-ft. pontoon boat takes them on frequent excursions, where they enjoy the trees, the water, and the camaraderie with others.

Mrs. Good is a decorator, with lots of hobbies. To put things into perspective, she recently informed her husband that if he ever wants to leave Savannah Lakes, she’ll be happy to visit him, but she’s not leaving. Two golf courses and many community activities keep him busy, and they enjoy getting together with great friends and neighbors, who have become like extended family. A new healthcare facility will bring more doctors to the area.

“You have to experience Savannah Lakes to understand how great it is,” he says. “I am sure there must be other places like this somewhere, but nobody has convinced us.”


Bob and Mercy Pastor left Cuba 45 years ago, when she was 26 and expecting their first child. He was 28 and wanted to resume his studies at the University of Miami. After graduation, he got a job with Celanese Corporation, and later, the InterAmerican Development Bank. The couple raised two daughters and lived in Charlotte, Manhattan and Virginia. Now they’ve retired, downsized, and chosen Cary’s Carolina Preserve, the Pulte Del Webb community.

They’re close enough to their five grandchildren to take an active part in their lives, and they are enjoying a surprising array of cultural events that rival the larger cities they’ve lived in before.

“My husband loves opera, and we support the growth of opera in Raleigh,” she explained. They are members of the NC Museum of Arts and the North Carolina Ballet, and attend performances by the North Carolina Symphony.

Bob Pastor was instrumental in organizing a Cuban-style Dominoes Club in the Preserve. “We’re living in a lovely home that accommodates the grandchildren,” she explained, adding, “they will have to carry me out of this home and community.”


When Sharon and Mel Sokol of Tom’s River, New Jersey, first decided to retire, they had Florida first on their minds. That lasted about 18 months, and today, several years later, the Sokols are happily nested in Sun City Hilton Head, the 4,300-acre Pulte Del Webb “active adult community” located just off Interstate 95 near South Carolina’s most southern coastal islands.

“We got fed up with the bumper-to-bumper trips to the supermarket and the constant humidity of central Florida,” says Mrs. Sokol, who today is an active member of Sun City’s U.S.T.A. tennis squad when she’s not taking classes at the community’s fitness center.

“The Carolinas suit us fine,” she added. “Sure, it can get warm in the summer, but it’s great weather the rest of the year.”


Retirees appreciate the weather - mild, but with four distinct seasons - the lack of congestion, and the easy transportation to visit friends and relatives. They also fall in love with the geographic diversity and topography: the coastal plains, serene fresh water lakes, lazy rivers, rolling hills and the endless waterfalls flowing from ancient Blue Ridge Mountains. And now retirees get super-value travel, thanks to Southwest Air serving Charleston, Greenville/Spartanburg and Raleigh/Durham Carolina markets. Indeed, learning is a lifelong process.

Boomers will demand even more varied recreational and educational activities than their “GI generation” predecessors.

As the number of centurions increases at the rate of seven percent a year, you can expect a whole new vision to many decades of active living ahead

    • All retirees find significant advantages in our low cost-of-living and tax rates.  It’s like a payday, every time you purchase goods. Click to: for cost of living and tax information.

    • Some work part-time for their former companies, freelance, or transition into a new field for an encore career.  You may find yourself among the 38 percent, aged 62-74, back on a payroll.

    • Beware of the career intermission. That time after retirement, but before jumping into something new can be revitalizing – and relaxing – but, wait too long and you will find it more difficult to return to any form of work.

    • Others are taking their wisdom, energy and volunteerism to charitable causes – raising money for cancer research or Alzheimer’s, perhaps assisting in the local schools.

    • Conscious of living long, most are devoting hours to staying in shape on walking trails, joining fitness classes, embracing the rewards of yoga, and learning new sports.  Be reassured, the Carolina climate beckons you outside year-round.

    • Some are applying their net worth and life skills as angel investors for new businesses, joining investment clubs, volunteering for Senior Corps ( or SCORE (

    • Carolina retirees appreciate the four-seasons weather, lack of congestion, and the easy transportation to visit friends and relatives. They also fall in love with the geographic diversity and topography: the coastal plains, wide, un-crowded beaches, serene freshwater lakes, lazy rivers, rolling hills and the endless waterfalls flowing from ancient Blue Ridge Mountains.

    • Good idea.  Seventy percent of 65+ Americans are living within an hour of a child – just close enough for a mutual support network.

    • Thinking North Carolina? We strongly suggest exploring where the leadership in 16 beautiful towns have achieved “certification” status that’s awarded by the State.  They’re organized with information centers and informed ambassadors to get you introduced and settled-in. Watch for more smart towns coming aboard.

    • Today, retirees get super-value travel, thanks to Southwest Air serving Charleston, Greenville/Spartanburg and Raleigh/Durham Carolina markets.

    • Indeed, they find learning to be a lifelong process.  (Click to:

Written by G. Patrick Mason

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