Certified Retirement Community

Two Bikers in Helmets


Marion is located in the Blue Ridge foothills and framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains. As our logo indicates, Marion's South Main Street does indeed meet Mt. Ida, creating a picturesque backdrop for shoppers and visitors.

Outdoor Recreation

Marion's location opens the door to a broad array of outdoor recreation adventures. Within minutes of downtown, explore the area's Blue Ridge Parkway communities and trails or stunning Lake James with two North Carolina State Parks plus, the only golf course at the lake! We also have 67,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest, home to 21 hiking, waterfall, and bicycle trails.

Arts & Crafts Community

Become part of our active arts and crafts community. Participants preserve and share our mountain culture through performances, exhibits, and classes. The local arts council and community theater offer organized programs where volunteers are welcomed!

Educational Opportunities

Interested in continuing your education? Enroll in the McDowell County Technical Community College or pick up a class at the University of NC. Asheville's Center for Creative Retirement, open to anyone interested in lifelong learning.

Mission Health

Marion's hospital, physicians, and clinics are part of western North Carolina's largest health care organization, Mission Health. In recent years, Mission has received numerous state and national recognitions. Many residents maintain optimum health with daily walks on our scenic Catawba River Greenway or by following the City's downtown walking trails.

Cost Of Living

Marion's cost of living consistently ranks well below the national average and the tax rate hasn't been raised in 50 years! In 2014, Marion was named the best small town to retire to in North Carolina by ActiveNC.com. This designation was based on a cost of living index calculated for all cities and towns in North Carolina between 6,000 and 20,000 population. The cost of living index compared each city against the national average for the cost of food, housing, utilities, transportation, health, and miscellaneous costs to create an overall ranking. Marion's cost of living was calculated at 19% below the national average, the best showing for any small city or town in North Carolina.


  • Two People Boating on the WaterIn 2014, Marion was also named one of the top small cities in North Carolina by Cities Journal. Marion ranked 10th among small cities in North Carolina.
  • In 2015, Marion was named as the most tax-friendly retirement location in North Carolina by Smart Asset, a financial technology company based in New York. The City of Marion is proud of this recognition, which is indicative of the great service provided for a relatively low tax burden.
  • In 2016, Smart Asset named Marion as the 5th best place to retire in North Carolina, behind only nationally known retirement destinations including Hendersonville, Morehead City, and Pinehurst. Marion continued to score well in this ranking with a low tax burden.
  • The City's excellent rankings by Active NC.com, Cities Journal and Smart Asset demonstrate that quality of life and relatively inexpensive living can be compatible, at least in Marion's case, and shows in part why Marion was named a Certified Retirement Community by the State of North Carolina.


In 2015, the City's population grew to over 8,200, increasing the county population to more than 45,000. Housing is also affordable with prices suited to any budget.

Regional Resources

Marion offers affordable retirement, year-round entertainment and is close to regional resources via I-40 in nearby Asheville or Hickory. You can also connect with Boone or South Carolina via U.S. Highway 221.

Retire to Marion

We encourage you to consider Marion and McDowell County as your retirement destination. Contact the McDowel Tourism Authority at 828-668-4282 with additional questions about what Marion has to offer.