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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Retire in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina?

Overview:   Started in the mid-1600s and on a barrier island of the same name, wooded Hilton Head Island, or Hilton Head, is largely a confederation of 15 gated communities, most of them tucked in large stands of trees. One of these is Hilton Head Plantation, a beautiful development with a marina, golf courses, a beach and more.

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With an understated vibe, the community has long been a resort destination but really saw development begin to boom in the 1950s. Although much of the island is in private hands and one beach is for town residents only, several public beaches and large resorts, such as Sea Pines and Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, attract huge numbers of tourists each summer. The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and its Choral Society have built strong regional reputations. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is a showcase for professionals and a venue for festivals. It also offers workshops in theater and visual arts. The Coastal Discovery Museum sits on 68 acres of marshland.

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Festivals are many, varied and include the WineFest, which is one of the largest such festivales on the East coast, and the annual Gullah Celebration, which remembers a part of the island's rich culture and long history. Boutiques, fun restaurants and national retailers, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Belk, are all here. The town is bicycle friendly and has 20 world-class golf courses, seven marinas and twenty parks. Many of these parks have observation decks, boardwalks, and trails. The bordering Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge is a bird watchers' Paradise.

Population:  41,000 (city proper)

Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better:  51% 

Cost of Living:   33% above the national average

Median Home Price: $375,000

Climate:  Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s and 50s.  On average, the area receives 52 inches of rain per year.

At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients?   Yes

At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission?  Yes 

Public Transit:   Palmetto Breeze provides bus transportation to neighboring towns.

Crime Rate:    Meets the national average

Public Library:  Yes

Political Leanings:   Conservative

Is South Carolina Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement?   Yes

Cons:   Hurricanes can happen.  HHI has grown by 70% in the last decade or two, and now many residents say that too many tourists and too many cars are ruining what was once a laid back island oasis.

Notes:   There is only one road leading on and off of the island, and it becomes very congested during the summer season (as do most of the roads on the island).  HHI is racially diverse.   Tourist industry wages are low, and some housing reflects this fact (small, simple condos can be found for $50,000).   

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot?   Yes, although residents of HHI have to be tourist-tolerant since nearly all retailers, merchants and eateries cater to them.

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