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Guide to Independent Living in North Carolina

A mild climate, a low cost of living and low crime rates make North Carolina a top state for seniors to retire. In fact, nearly 17% of the population is aged 65 and older. For accidents and illness, there’s Duke University Hospital and the University of North Carolina hospitals, which both rank high among rankings on national hospitals.

Located throughout the state, independent living communities are ideal for seniors who can get by without assistance but enjoy having access to community activities, social opportunities and a maintenance-free lifestyle. Independent living also offers meals, medical care, transportation and some planned events in a safe environment.

This guide covers the cost of independent living throughout the state and a comparison to other types of care. It also includes a list of free and low-cost resources that help improve the quality of life of seniors in the state while addressing some common needs.

How Much Does Independent Living Cost in North Carolina?

Note:There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

The average cost across the United States for independent living is $2,925 per month. In North Carolina, this cost is $318 less, at $2,607. Virginia facilities have some of the highest costs of neighboring states at $3,414, while those in South Carolina and Tennessee pay around $2,348 and $2,668, respectively.


North Carolina


The United States




South Carolina



The Cost of Independent Living in North Carolina’s Top Cities

Independent living costs range from $1,755 to $3,502 throughout the state of North Carolina. In the central east in Goldsboro, the average cost is among the lowest in the state at $1,755. Further south near the east coast in Wilmington, the cost is $3,415. In the west in Asheville, the cost is $3,249. Durham seniors can expect to pay around $3,120, while those in Burlington and Greensboro pay around $2,161 and $2,470 per month, respectively.















The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care

Aside from independent living, there are other types of long-term care communities that address the varying needs of seniors. Seniors who prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible can choose homemaker services, which help with activities of daily living, or a home health aide, which helps with personal care but also provides some medical at an average cost of $4,385 monthly. Adult day health, at $1,197 per month, care offers a secure place during the daytime hours only, while an assisted living community provides residential care and costs an average of $4,010 per month. The most comprehensive care is provided by nursing homes, which offer round-the-clock monitoring and medical care. A semiprivate room costs around $7,483 per month while a private room is around $8,213.


Homemaker Services


Home Health Aide


Adult Day Health Care


Assisted Living Facility


Nursing Home (semiprivate room)


Nursing Home (private room)

Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in North Carolina?

The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in North Carolina to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in North Carolina.

For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.

How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in North Carolina

Aside from personal savings and cash, there are several options to pay for independent living.

  • Reverse mortgage: These allow seniors to borrow cash against their home equity. Reverse mortgages are a short-term solution as the loan is typically only good for one year.
  • Long-term care insurance. Most insurance plans won’t cover the cost of long-term care, however some plans help with some personal care services.
  • Life insurance. Many life insurance plans offer a lump sum settlement option that allows seniors to cash out their plan for a lump sum.
  • Annuities. Annuities provide regular payouts that can be used for long-term care.
  • Equity lines of credit. An equity line of credit is a revolving line of credit that lets seniors use the collateral in their homes to pay bills.

Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in North Carolina

North Carolina has many programs and services that address the needs of the growing senior population. Many of these resources are free or low-cost and address everything from transportation to meals.

Resources for Seniors, Inc.(919) 872-7933Resources for Seniors is a regional nonprofit agency in North Carolina that serves seniors and those with disabilities. Services include home care, home repair, modifications, transportation, companionship, education and training and financial counseling. The agency also publishes a resource directory every year.
North Carolina Area Agencies on Aging(800) 662-7030Established by the Older Americans Act, local Area Agencies on Aging address the needs of seniors throughout the state. The agency advocates for new and improved services. They also help with shopping, housekeeping, meals, yard work and transportation.
North Carolina Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP)(855) 408-1212SHIP provides insurance counseling to seniors throughout the state. Trained counselors offer information on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as information on supplemental insurance and prescription coverage.
State Senior Services Helpline(919) 733-3983The State Senior Services Helpline connects seniors with various resources across the state. The helpline offers contact information on everything from caregiver support to legal assistance.
North Carolina Long-Term Care Ombudsman(800) 662-7030The long-term care ombudsman advocates for seniors in long-term care communities, including assisted living, independent living and nursing homes. The ombudsman ensures seniors adhere to the standards set by state and federal governments.
North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs(844) 644-8387The North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs helps men and women who’ve served in the military locate services and benefits that help them transition from military to civilian life. These services include education benefits, health and fitness, financial counseling, mental health counseling and monetary benefits. The Aid and Attendance Benefit also helps veterans pay for personal care while in independent living and other long-term care.

COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for North Carolina Independent Living Communities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.

This data has been most recently updated on 2/13/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?Yes
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives? Yes
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No (Conditions Apply)
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes (Conditions Apply)

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Safety Measures for Residents

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?No
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Yes
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes (Conditions Apply)
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