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Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Bordered by the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean on the southern North Carolina coast, the barrier island named Pleasure Island is home to low key Carolina Beach. Once only accessible by boat, the town became a party destination in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it draws vacationing families.

Charter fishing boats and pleasure craft embark from the town center's marina. The wooden beach boardwalk is a local favorite and boasts numerous residential/retail waterfront projects as well as old fashioned arcade rides, restaurants, beach shops and more. Oceanfront white sands and tall sea grass await on the boardwalk's eastern edge.

Along the Atlantic north of town, Freeman Park offers further opportunities fishing, crabbing and swimming. Adjacent Carolina Beach State Park runs along the river and has nature trails, including the Flytrap Trail, so named for the meat-eating plants on either side of its path.

Inland homes include cottages and ranch ramblers, while residences closer to the water sit atop stilts. The entire island is illuminated with colorful lights during the Christmas season.

Cost of Living

Carolina Beach is a mellow oceanfront town with an overall cost of living 16% higher than the national average.

The median household income is $74,910.

Real Estate

The median home price is $450,000. This is a 17% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $363,000 (Realtor.com).

Estimates are that Carolina Beach real estate prices will increase by 5% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,320 per month (varies by season).


Carolina Beach has 6,300 residents and has grown by 8% during the last decade.

The median age is 45. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

There is no local hospital, but Dosher Memorial Hospital is 10 miles away in Southport.

The crime rate meets the national average.

The population quadruples in the summer. Winters are quiet.


The combined sales tax rate is 7%.

North Carolina does not tax Social Security but it taxes other retirement income withdrawls at a flat income tax rate of 5.25%.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Carolina Beach is .71% The annual taxes on a $450,000 home are approximately $3,195.



Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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