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Reader Requested Short Review of Sunset Beach, North Carolina
Sunset Beach (population 3,900) is the southern most coastal town in North Carolina and is located on the mainland and along a three-mile long barrier island. It is about half way between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina and is a laid back, unassuming vacation destination with a mature population.
In fact, nearly 80% of residents are age 45 or better, and 42% of locals hold at least a four year college degree. The town has grown by a 13% in the last decade, and the crime rate is below the national average. Politics lean to the right, and racial diversity has not yet arrived. The cost of living is 8% above the national average.
Island housing consists of 1,200 beach cottages that are generally only occupied during summer months (about 100 people live on the island year round). Housing on the mainland, where the majority of year-round residents live, includes manufactured homes, condominiums and planned golf developments such as Sea Trail, Ocean Ridge and Sandpiper Bay. The median home price is $255,000.
The island portion of town is accessible via one bridge over a salt marsh and the Intracoastal Waterway (the old wooden pontoon bridge was recently replaced by a more modern structure). Commercial development on the island is limited and includes a few restaurants, a grocery, a beach accessories store and a clothing store.
Five golf courses, nearly all open to the public, have a Sunset Beach address. The beach is white and flat. It is often crowded in the summer but nearly empty other times of the year (it also does not have a lot of amenities). Turtle Talks are held Sunday nights during the summer to educate people about the turtles that nest on the island.
Nearby Bird Island, accessible by foot during low tide, is an uninhabited state preserve that is home to a variety of coastal birds and other wildlife.
There is no local public library, but Brunswick County Library system has branches in Calabash (five miles) and Shallotte (12 miles). A Lowes Foods is three miles away on the mainland. The nearest Walmart is in Shallotte.
A couple of restaurants are located just past the bridge off island, but many residents dine out in Little River, Ocean Isle, Calabash, Myrtle Beach or Wilmington. Some of the golf clubs on the mainland have public dining, and the area is known for its delicious seafood.
Brunswick Transportation System has a Dial a Ride service Monday through Friday (advance notice required). The nearest large airport is in Wilmington, 40 miles to the north.
Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc. provides services within the County, but there is no senior center in Sunset Beach. The closest centers, which are open to Sunset Beach seniors (age 60+), are in Shallotte or Calabash. Services include nutritionally balanced congregate meals, socialization events, health and wellness classes, medical transportation, prescription assistance and referrals.
McLeod Seacoast Hospital is the closest hospital and is nine miles away in Little River, South Carolina. It is accredited by the Joint Commission.
This area has a humid subtropical climate. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s and 50s. On average, the area receives 54 inches of rain per year, and the sun shines 215 days per year.
Retirement in Sunset Beach has some downsides. It attracts summer tourists, but winters are very, very quiet. The bridge is the only way off the island, which could be a problem in the event of an emergency (although the new bridge has reduced a lot of the summer traffic congestion). Hurricane Florence in 2018 brought 65 m.p.h. winds, downed trees and shingle and siding damage.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is North Carolina Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Somewhat
The lack of immediate amenities and hurricane threat are concerns, but Sunset Beach has what many retirees are seeking: a seaside location, pretty beaches and a laid back lifestyle. It is worth consideration at retirement time.
The Tar Heel State was one of the first to instruct its Continental Congress delegates to vote for independence from British rule. After the Revolutionary War, it entered the Union on November 21, 1789 and started developing an extensive slave plantation system. It became a major exporter of cotton and tobacco. North Carolina was one of 11 states to secede from the Union and to spark the American Civil War.
Bordered by South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Atlantic ocean, North Carolina's geographic regions range from the barrier islands and low plains of the eastern Atlantic coast to the mountainous regions of the west. The rolling hills and waterfalls of the Piedmont lie in between. Because of a wide variance in altitudes, North Carolina's climate can be hard to predict. Winters, especially on the coast, can be warm and mild.
The state has 17 major river basins and is rich in hydroelectric power. Tobacco, sweet potatoes, hogs, trout, and turkeys are a few of its agricultural products. The arts and culture industry has become an economic driver. It supports more than 43,000 jobs and generates almost $120 million in state and local revenue.
North Carolina is the home of several firsts. Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville. The Wright brothers launched the first manned, self-propelled airplane from a cliff near Kitty Hawk. Pepsi was invented and first served in New Bern. Vernon Rudolph first sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Winston-Salem.
Population - 10,147,788
Persons 65 years old and over - 16%
High school graduates, age 25+ - 86%
Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 25%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 10%
White persons, not Hispanic - 63%
Median household income - $46,868
Median home value - $162,500
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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