Why Travelers Rest is the Best Place in the South to Retire

Rebecca Hannifan has never even stepped foot in Travelers Rest, SC, but she wants to retire here. And she has some pretty good reasons why.

Rebecca’s the rare kind of person who can give you law advice or yoga lessons. The once-attorney quit her practice to become a stay-at-home-mom more than a decade ago, and she picked up work as a personal trainer somewhere along the way.

“Most people think it is pretty strange that I am a highly educated gym instructor!” she says. “After we had our first child, we both joined a gym because we wanted to be healthy examples for our daughter. I eventually started teaching fitness classes myself — everything from yoga to weightlifting to dance.”

Today, Rebecca doesn’t regret the career switch a bit; she enjoys her job — especially teaching fitness to senior citizens. But, if she’s honest, she’s already got her sights set on retirement, once both of her daughters finish up with school.

She’s ready to retire to one town in particular.

When we posted back in November that we were looking for a new team of writers to join us at TravelersRestHere.com, Rebecca reached out with this unusual, made-our-day kind of message:

I’ve never even been to Travelers Rest.

Yeah, that’s right. I’ve never visited your town. So it is quite ridiculous that I am even submitting this . . . And the sheer lunacy of this idea has caused me to procrastinate until the very last minute.

But I couldn’t talk myself out of it. Because, you see, even though I have never stepped foot into Travelers Rest, I have convinced myself that I am going to retire there.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Kentucky girl, born and bred. I love the “Bluegrass State.” Except for the long, gray, and cold winters, which seem to be getting worse.

So, with one daughter in college and the other nearing the end of high school, I have been fantasizing about moving some place warmer.

The Caribbean, I originally thought — but then decided I didn’t want to be outside the States, far away from family and friends and always hot.

So I looked for a more moderate climate a little closer to home. Florida seemed to have a host of negatives (Don’t want to bore you with those.), so I settled my search on the Carolinas.

I finally zeroed in on the NC/SC border. I thought being near the mountains would make summers cooler and less humid and also afford access to winter weather and activities when we wanted them and not when they were forced upon us!

I became entranced by Lake Lure (of Dirty Dancing fame, which was interesting but not really why I was considering it). I eventually decided that it was a little too remote and cold for us, so I expanded my search for the area around it.

We had honeymooned near Charleston and loved that area, but I thought not so close to the ocean may be more realistic for us.

I used the City-Data forums a lot and just kept running various (Internet and map) searches for towns near mountains and beach. I looked at Saluda, N.C., but decided that was more a place to visit than live.

After countless hours of Internet searches, I came across your tiny little town. Travelers Rest kept popping up as a little “side” mention, so I looked into it. And used your blog [at TravelersRestHere.com] to help research it.

If Travelers Rest lives up to everything I have read about it, then I cannot imagine a more perfect place to live.

Since I have waited until the last minute and since, having never visited Travelers Rest, I have virtually no chance of being selected to work for your blog, I won’t worry about composing a beautiful masterpiece.

Rather, I will just highlight some of the reasons I think Travelers Rest makes the ideal retirement spot, in the hopes that perhaps you will use some of these items as topics for future blog posts:

  • Small town living, but near an airport and bigger cities with additional shopping and entertainment opportunities (Greenville, Asheville, Charleston, etc.)
  • Four distinct BUT moderate seasons, with plenty of sunshine all year long
  • Near the beach AND near the mountains, for the best of both worlds!

Those were the parameters of my initial search. But I found that Travelers Rest offers so much more:

  • Southern hospitality, friendliness, and a strong sense of community. These, of course, are hard to evaluate online. But all of the forum posts and other information I’ve found lead me to believe this to be true. This area seems to offer ample opportunities to develop and strengthen a sense of belonging: the [GHS] Swamp Rabbit Trail, the amphitheater with free movies and concerts, Art on the Trail, various festivals, the farmer’s market, and other community events.
  • Relatedly, the emphasis on buying and supporting local small businesses. I love that the downtown has been revived. A hardware store café, a biking store, a honey store, a creperie, a pizza joint, a brewery, multiple eclectic shops and boutiques . . . These places all beckon to me.
  • Lots of natural beauty to explore, including nearby areas like Boone, Grandfather Mountain, and Lake Lure
  • Close to Greenville, with its beautiful waterfall park, a lovely downtown, the Peace Center, the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Fluor Field, and the Children’s Museum
  • Great year-round weather, the [GHS] Swamp Rabbit Trail, and gorgeous scenery all combine to encourage people to spend more time outdoors and be active. I love that there is a biking hotel/resort in the area. I love that there is a Christian camp.
  • Relatively small chance of serious instances of natural disasters, like ice storms, hurricanes, etc.
  • Within the “Bible Belt,” yet a respectful tolerance for all viewpoints
  • Very reasonable cost of living
  • Near institutes of higher learning like Furman, Clemson, and other colleges and universities

I am looking forward to visiting your area, but until I can, I will scour the Internet and your blog for more information about Travelers Rest.

So far, the only thing I have found that I do NOT like is the missing apostrophe in the name! My husband is still shocked I’d consider moving there because of it.

But I loved the name otherwise, though. We love to travel; recent trips include Japan, Portugal, and Australia. We don’t have a ton of money, but we live more frugally to support our travel habit. Even though we LOVE travel, I love coming home even more.

So the name definitely intrigued me because, grammar aside, it perfectly fits us.

Although I think a series of blog posts about why Travelers Rest is the perfect place to retire would be fascinating and an interesting perspective to add to your site, I’m not even sure I would consent to write for you.

After all, what if I convinced too many people to move there and thereby ruined it all!?

I cannot wait to read more about your community. It truly sounds like a dream. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but it seems to have everything we want.

If only all my friends and family (well, maybe not ALL of them) could move there, too, then it would be perfect.


Lawyer or not, we think she makes a pretty solid case.


Writers: Celeste Hawkins and Rebecca Hannifan
Editor: Celeste Hawkins
Photography: Featured image — Celeste Hawkins

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