Explore the quaint towns along the Southeast Atlantic coast where beach-centric charm, relaxed lifestyles, and outdoor pursuits make coastal North Carolina a great place to live.
Why does coastal North Carolina beckon active families, retirees, and devoted preservationists alike? Of course it’s the magnificent silky beaches that offer year round enjoyment—frolicking in the waves during the summer, soaking up the rays in the spring, or taking late afternoon strolls in the fall. But there is so much more to seaside living.
Even if you’re a retiree or a young family, keeping a watchful eye on finances is no doubt an important priority. Since mortgages, taxes, and insurance typically make up a large chunk of the monthly budget, living in an affordable location is a reasonable way to save more money. Many people think living in coastal communities is out of reach financially, but that’s not necessarily the case for the North Carolina coast, which has an affordability rating that is generally less than the national average. That means lower taxes, home prices, food, and entertainment fees. Not to mention, no snow tires and snow removal services to worry about.
With the housing crash and economic slump from a decade ago behind us, coastal North Carolina communities have welcomed new construction and development projects. But with a natural tendency to preserve and protect, beach town residents are all about revitalization too. Downtown Wilmington still has most of its historic buildings intact and rehabilitated for commercial and residential use. The town actively makes physical and beautification improvements to preserve its historic character, including enhancing the scenic riverfront. Forty miles south of Wilmington, the quaint sleepy town of Shallotte is experiencing its own revival. The town’s flower-lined Main Street has come alive in recent years with new restaurants and a craft brewing company occupying rehabbed historic buildings. A proposed 20-acre riverfront revitalization project is also in the planning stages, complete with a river walk, restaurants, retail, office, and residential space.
Then there is the agreeable climate in coastal North Carolina that is the perfect environment for those looking to indulge in fresh air and breathtaking nature on a daily basis. The Town of Sunset Beach, recently recognized by National Geographic as one of the ‘21 Best Beaches in the World,’ boasts some of the finest golf courses in the area. Golf magazine ranked two local courses in its top 20 ‘Best Public Golf Courses in North Carolina’: Leopard’s Chase and Tiger’s Eye. For those wave and water enthusiasts, Ocean Isle and Holden Beaches are favorite surfing, paddle boarding, boating, and kayaking spots for locals and visitors alike. Nature lovers are drawn to the greenspaces and forest preserves, ripe for photo taking. Bald Head Island, a remote seaside village resting in the Atlantic Ocean is home to 10,000 unspoiled acreage that’s home to over 200 species of wildlife. On the barrier island of Oak Island, residents can visit the Oak Island Nature Center to learn more about the natural environment and native inhabitants.
If you’re thinking you have to give up cultural amenities for the natural surroundings of the coast, think again. Coastal North Carolina has an emerging art scene in towns like Leland, just across the river from downtown Wilmington. The Leland Cultural Arts Center offers programs in pottery, theater, painting, jewelry making, healing arts, and literary arts. To the east, the historic town of Southport is home to many eclectic and fine art galleries. On the other end of the coast, just before the South Carolina border in Calabash, Sunset River Marketplace art gallery boasts a wide selection of clay art, oil, watercolors, mixed media, pastels and acrylics, and much more.
From Wilmington to Calabash, coastal North Carolina is made up of a diverse demographic: born-and-bred Southerners, young families, singles starting out, college grads, retirees, and transplants just looking for a new adventure. No matter what inspires you to make a move, why not call Coastal North Carolina home?