REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THE LOWCOUNTRY YOUR RETIREMENT HOME
More than 10,000 people reach retirement age each day in the U.S. and that number is only expected to grow over the next two decades. But not all retirements are created equal.
The South Carolina Lowcountry has become one of the leading retirement destinations not just for its beauty, but because the region fosters an evolved view of senior life – a next chapter filled with new adventures and opportunity that makes many of the “junior” residents envious of the lifestyle.
Simply said, life in the Lowcountry is a daily spiritual elixir.
Here are just a few reasons why the Lowcountry has become such a treasured playground and landing spot for so many seniors.
Incredible beaches, pristine tidal creeks, calming marshes, pluff mud and Spanish moss are boundless. The Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island (coastaldiscovery.org) has 68 acres of nature trails open for walks and picnics. The seashell trail leads to Jarvis Creek, while the camellia garden boasts 120 different varieties of bloom and color.
The Museum has a constant schedule of paid tours and activities, but book early, as they fill up quickly.
The island’s Audubon Newhall Preserve (55 Palmetto Bay Road) has 50 acres of plants and nature trails. In Bluffton, check out the Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve (Sawmill Creek Road), ideal for bird watching and hiking.
The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is located between Hilton Head and Bluffton and includes more than 4,000 acres of salt marsh and maritime habitat. Fishing is allowed, or hike and bike the 14 miles of roads that wind through the island.
There are more options both along the U.S. 278 corridor and within a short drive north or south. See southcarolinalowcountry.com for more information.
If you’re more of a beachgoer, your options are equally plentiful. On Hilton Head, nationally renowned Coligny Beach is the most trafficked (and has a full array of shops and restaurants within walking distance), but Burkes and Driessen beaches are lesser known but equally beautiful public beach options.
Active Options Galore
Golf and tennis enthusiasts know the Lowcountry to be a hotbed for options, with active tennis leagues and more than 20 championship public courses in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. Plus, a PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage, attracts the world’s best golfers to the island.
Regardless of what you want to learn or experience, chances are you can find an event, a place or club, a class or a teacher to make it happen.
Sun City Hilton Head residents have more than 100 clubs alone to serve any hobby or passion. The Island Rec Center has a packed calendar of senior-specific programs through its Hilton Head Senior Center (hiltonheadseniorcenter.org). Beaufort County Parks and Recreation offers sports and aquatic programs as well as resources for senior care (bcscrec.com).
Tennis courts and public parks are sprinkled throughout the area. Local governments prioritize recreational resources to stay ahead of needs and trends, such as the growing popularity of pickleball.
Fans of music and the arts have a litany of options as well. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (artshhi.org) has a continuous schedule of concerts and shows, while venues like The Jazz Corner (thejazzcorner.com) and groups like the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra (hhso.org) help fuel a vibrant Lowcountry music scene.
Foodies and shoppers alike have countless options, with Tanger Outlets in Bluffton and more than 200 on-island shops and boutiques on Hilton Head. The island’s 250-plus restaurants and a growing scene in downtown Bluffton offer something for every taste, including Lowcountry favorites such as she-crab soup and Frogmore stew.
Location and Accessibility
One of the big draws of the Lowcountry is its day-trip driving distance to Southeast hotspots like Savannah, Charleston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando and the North Carolina mountains, but also its increasingly plentiful accessibility via the air.
Direct flights from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport include 27 destinations. The airport was recently named the nation’s No. 1 airport in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and served more than three million passengers in 2019.
The smaller but growing Hilton Head Island Airport currently offers seasonal and full-year flights through Delta, United and American Airlines.
Volunteer and Learning Opportunities
With campuses across Beaufort County, University of South Carolina Beaufort grants free tuition to full-time South Carolina residents ages 60 and older not seeking a degree. Admissions to classes is available on a space-available basis.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USCB (uscb.edu/lifelong_learning/osher_lifelong_learning)
offers an array of not-for-credit classes and programs in topics such as philosophy, history, art, music, current events and literature, both live via Zoom calls during the pandemic and a full library of on-demand classes..
The area offers a full palette of volunteer opportunities, from animal shelters like the Hilton Head Humane Association (hhhumane.org) to any niche or passion you wish to serve. VolunteerMatch.org is a great place to start your volunteer journey.
Assisted Living and Medical Options
The area continues to offer more and more assisted living options as the wants and needs of the senior population evolve. New facilities such as Vineyard Bluffton continue to pop up across the U.S. 278 corridor. Websites such as A Place For Mom, Seniorly and GetCareSC offer centralized information and are great starting points to explore the more than 50 assisted living facilities in the area.
Likewise, the Lowcountry’s selection of general practitioners, specialists, hospitals and urgent care providers continues to grow. Seniors no longer need to focus on traveling to Savannah for top-level care, with hospitals in Hardeeville and Hilton Head and large providers such as St. Joseph’s/Candler, Hilton Head Regional and Beaufort Memorial Hospital building medical campuses in Bluffton.
Finance friendly, pleasing climate and Peace of Mind
South Carolina is a senior-friendly state when it comes to your wallet. In addition to not taxing social security income, it has additional tax deductions for retirement income beyond social security. Property taxes are comparably lower here as well.
Winter in the Lowcountry is far from what many Northerners have endured. No road-blocking snowstorms, no dealing with salt and shovels and snow blowers. Summers are hot and humid with temperatures routinely pushing 90 degrees. Milder sun-drenched days are abound November through February, with temps a bit more unpredictable – think 80 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next, though forecasters are expecting hotter than usual “winter” temps across the Southeast in 2020-21.
Then there’s the less definable but very real peace of mind of the Lowcountry.
The natural beauty of the May River and Atlantic Ocean create a seaside chill vibe that permeates through every facet of life. The pace is slower (you’ll hear the region charmingly referred to as the “Slowcountry” for good reason), and the traffic is lighter. Neighbors and strangers alike are friendlier and more welcoming — as if we all know we’ve luckily stumbled into Nirvana and want to pay that happiness forward.