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Raleigh and Charlotte have had the North Carolina limelight, and now it is time for the next great town to reveal itself. If you haven’t heard of a beach town full of culture, a vibrant multi-generational population, and the home of historic sites of the south called Wilmington, North Carolina, you will soon. With a reasonable cost of living in Wilmington, North Carolina this slice of Southern East Coast will call to young students, budding families, and opportunistic entrepreneurs alike.
While giving the vibe of a beach town straight from a Nicholas Sparks novel, Wilmington has several selling points in its favor to attract every type of person to its shores.
Table of contents
- Opportunities in Wilmington, North Carolina
- Where to Live in Wilmington NC
- The Districts: Living in the Heartbeat of Wilmington
- Living in Wimington’s Suburbs
- Now that You’re Moving to Wilmington…
Opportunities in Wilmington, North Carolina
One of the first concerns someone has when moving to a new city is finding a job. Not just any job but one that can support yourself, your family, and has room for professional growth. Wilmington is thriving in several different professional fields. Finding information on the industries that call Wilmington home can be daunting. Several of these businesses that provide fulfilling careers include GE Aviation and Nuclear Energy, the New Hanover Regional Health Center, and PPD Pharmaceuticals.
Those are only a few of the national and international companies with offices or even headquarters in Wilmington.
Another one of these businesses is Corning, a leader in material science. With careers in marketing, engineering, human resources, IT, finance, R&D, and supply chain management Corning proves to be worthy of its place as one of Forbe’s Best Employers for North Carolina. Another big employer for the county of New Hanover is the Wilmington International Airport (ILM). This airport has grown from its humble beginnings as a solitary green airstrip in the early 20th century to now boasting travel to international hubs. The airport continues to grow with plans for an in-airport hotel, an AVIS car rental, as well as expansion with more gates and concourses and additional airlines being serviced. Not only does this mean an ever-growing job market for those living in Wilmington, but the ease of travel from and to Wilmington as well, keeping you connected with the rest of the world with simplicity.
Cost of Living in Wilimington
A large concern for those moving to a new city is the cost of living. In Wilmington, market prices are competitive and rent is affordable allowing you to make Wilmington your home.
“While Wilmington is on the rise, it is still an affordable place to call home. If you were moving from Austin, TX, your housing in Wilmington, NC would be 33.45% less and your health care would be 0.36% less. From Boston, MA to Wilmington, NC your housing would be 67.57% less,”Emma Ericksen, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
The numbers provided above prove one aspect of the attractiveness of living and working in Wilmington compared to other growing cities in the US.
Living in Wilmington, NC also means having access to premier education locally. Wilmington is home to the University of North Carolina- Wilmington, a four-year college that boasts being the first university in the country to offer a B.S. in Coastal Engineering. Included in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 list of Colleges with Great First-Year Experiences is UNCW for their Executive M.B.A. program for working professionals living in Wilmington.
Another option for further education is the Cape Fear Community College. CFCC boasts of prioritizing programs that help strengthen the local workforce and feed back into the economy of the surrounding county. They are an accredited institution through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
These schools are providing resources and opportunities for their students that better the community they serve, Wilmington.
Where to Live in Wilmington NC
Wilmington boasts being a city for every stage of life from young adults, to young families, to retirees. There is so much to discover when living in Wilmington. This is the town, the hidden gem of North Carolina, you didn’t even know you wanted to find.
Student Living in Wilmington
Nestled in Wilmington’s historic downtown near the University of North Carolina Wilmington are several apartment communities, which advertise exclusive student housing. The cost of rent in Wilmington, NC at these complexes for 2 and 3 bedroom units is between $600-$800 a month. A few of these off-campus communities are Lighthouse Luxury Living, Wilshire Landing Apartments, and Village Green Apartments. All three of these apartment complexes include the ability to bring a furry friend, who will also enjoy all living in Wilmington has to offer. Not to mention as you embark on your new college career you can enjoy living in Wilmington and immersing yourself in its community. Many students will love being close to downtown and beaches when they are not hitting the books. Wilmington offers a lot to explore in all of its eclectic districts.
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New Family Living in Wilmington
Niche.com rates Wilmington in the Top 10 Best Places to Raise a Family in New Hanover County. New families can also afford the move to live in Wilmington, as the neighborhoods continue to grow. This is great news for those looking to upgrade their living space when they relocate. In fact, the New Hanover County Schools district, make being a new family even easier. They offer enrollment for children completely online. They also have access to bilingual services and a robust Title IX response team.
Wilmington’s school districts and various programming in neighborhoods provide new families living in Wilmington a way to connect and form a community. One such place is through WilmingtonParent.com which offers links to events around town, support groups for families of all shapes and sizes, parenting articles, and reviews of daycares.
Senior Living in Wilmingotn
No one needs to worry about being unable to live in Wilmington during their golden years. You deserve to dip those toes in the sand as well. One retirement community that deserves particular attention is Plantation Village Retirement Community, a nonprofit retirement community that boasts being the first of its kind in Wilmington. This is due to their promise to never stop serving you through the Hardship Program, a program that covers costs of living for seniors that find themselves in financial straits, making the Plantation Village the first nonprofit retirement community of its kind in Wilmington.
Perhaps, the most unique aspect of the Plantation Village is its Hardship Program. The cost of living in Wilmington, NC should not be a concern when you live in Wilmington. When a resident falls under financial hardship unexpectedly they still have a place in the Wilmington Community. They will continue to be able to live and utilize the services of Plantation Village and other senior services through to the end of their lives.
The Districts: Living in the Heartbeat of Wilmington
Are you looking for a spot to stroll and enjoy the views and water of this coastal city? One of the unique aspects of living in Wilmington is The Riverwalk, a two-mile-long stretch of walkway alongside the Cape Fear River. It is a wonderful alternative to the beach where you can still enjoy the water. This district encompasses Wilmington along the river’s edge from Nunn Street to Isabella Holmes bridges. The walk is pet-friendly and has a public access self-service dock. Dotted throughout the walk are a variety of markets, outdoor cafes, shopping, and you can even take a narrated tour. The northern end of the Riverwalk is home to an outdoor concert venue, the Oak Bank Pavillion. Stop by after dinner for a show and then leisurely walk beside the calming river. A rooftop hotel sets trends among new hotels built along the river to maximize the view.
National Register Historic District
When learning about living in Wilmington, North Carolina one would be remiss to ignore the National Register Historic District and the centuries of history it has to offer you. The Historic District is full of landmarks from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Museums from the early 19th century to the reconstruction era and mid 20th century are open to the public. You can literally step through time while living in Wilmington, NC. Learn about the battle forged just outside Wilmington and the British occupation of the town at Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens. View the massive structures from the early 1800s when Wilmington was the largest city in North Carolina. Walk along the streets to view the magnificent homes most of which are now museums, including Latimer House Museum and Thalian Hall.
Through the historic district, enjoy one of the biggest claims to fame Wilmington has, the beaches. Practically districts in and of themselves the different beaches of Wilmington stretch for miles. One iconic beach is Wrightsville Beach. Formerly you could only get to the island beach retreat by boat until WWI. Now, this small community boasts its own museum, shops, cafes, and a historic beach cottage for the beach-loving history nut. Other beaches include Kure Beach and Carolina Beach adjacent to the Carolina Beach State Park with a marina and boardwalk. If you are not one for sand try meandering through 10 acres of boardwalks and walkways of the marshland at Ryder Lewis Park.
Brooklynn Arts District
The Brooklyn Arts District is based around the St. Andrews Church built in 1888 and the St. Andrews School built in 1910. Both buildings are venues for weddings, concerts, and vintage flea markets such as the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews. Additionally, the Brooklyn Arts District is home to a few bars and breweries including two that pay homage to local history and culture and provide a cold pint to the residents living in Wilmington.
The Flytrap Brewery is named after the Venus Flytrap plant. This plant is native to the surrounding areas of Wilmington. They offer American and Belgian style ales, and every weekend have live music and food trucks. Another great bar of the district is the Edward Teach Brewery named for the infamous pirate Blackbeard. The brewery is located inside an over 100-year-old fire house. Most of the drinks on tap are pirate-themed. To find the bar look for the iconic pirate flag flying above the door.
South Front District
One neighborhood lauded as the new hot spot in town is the South Front District. This neighborhood has several funky new restaurants and community spaces for the Wilmington resident. This neighborhood was an industrial area of town that has since gone through renovations. As of 2019, the available commercial rental spaces were brought to full capacity. The district is populated by some great new restaurants including Mariposa Tapas Bar, Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, and Block Taco. And those living in Wilmington would be remiss to mention the Satellite Bar & Lounge and the winery Second Glass. The South Front also boasts several new apartment buildings making living and having fun all in the same neighborhood possible. The neighborhood is continually growing as a premier spot in Wilmington.
Additionally opened in the South Front area are several salons offering unique and boutique treatments. For example, Love, Beauty, and Bloom Salon offers treatments such as tanning and facials as well as offering makeup services, flower crowns, and flower arrangements. Another unique and new salon is the Native Salt Cave & Wellness. The Native Salt cave offers its patrons soothing halotherapy using Himalayan salt to provide its patrons with a therapeutic experience. The salon is inside a man-made salt cave. They offer massages, acupuncture, and spiritual treatments and sessions as well as tarot readings and shamanic healing.
Castle Street Arts & Antique District
As the smallest of the districts Castle Street Arts & Antique District (CAAD) spans only two blocks. However, those living in Wilmington boast these two blocks hold the eclectic and treasured art-centered boutiques, which are the heart of Wilmington culture. Located a few blocks away from downtown CAAD provides a focus on local art in every venue. Michael Moore Antiques is the cornerstone of this district. If you want to get away from tourist spots and enjoy a well-loved treasure, visit Castle Street’s boutiques and cafes.
Looking to live in a part of Wilmington that’s a close-knit but unique community dedicated to uplifting its community members and their businesses? Look no further than the Cargo District in Wilmington. This district takes its name from all of the buildings, including residences, which are made from repurposed cargo containers. The cargo containers are a proven low cost of living and are a great option for those fresh out of college.
This district emphasizes community among its residents and vendors. One standout area is The Outpost. The Outpost is a communal mess hall in the Cargo District. The space has a drive-thru coffee shop, beer garden, and dine-in food hall. The Mess Hall is also the name of the eaterie providing messy burgers and more to this cafeteria-style community space. The Cargo District also offers work-live spaces for young entrepreneurs. This district has seen exponential growth in the past two years.
While the Midtown area doesn’t get the same exciting accolades, such as places like downtown nor is it the hip community of the Cargo District, it is a very important and attractive part of Wilmington, NC. As it is a very centralized location Midtown is a great part of town to live in. Offering an easy commute to work in all parts of the city and to the university. Midtown still allows residents to enjoy all the different attractions Wilmington has to offer.
“It’s one of the few places left that contain large parcels of undeveloped land in the city of Wilmington, one of the busiest sites of new home construction in New Hanover County and one of the only places on the planet where Venus flytraps grow in the wild, just to name a few of midtown Wilmington’s attributes.”Wilmington Biz
In the Midtown neighborhood is Wilmington’s water park, Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. The park contains slides, a wave pool, as well as dry attractions such as mini-golf and laser tag. This offers some great summer fun for the family! Additionally located in Midtown is the Municipal Golf Course, close to the Plantation Village Retirement Community. Midtown also boasts shopping galore at Lumina Station and Independence Mall. These shopping centers provide access to boutiques, outlets, restaurants, movie theaters, and more.
One unique offering in living in Wilmington’s Midtown is Wilmington Homebrew Supply. This whimsical business provides the supplies necessary to brew your own beer or wine at home. You can also get walked through all of the basics before getting knee-deep in your new favorite hobby. Of course, you can always partake in this local brewery’s own signature brew while you wait on your own brew to be ready.
Additionally, a fun new part of Midtown is the Mayfaire Town Center and the wider Mayfaire neighborhood. This area holds a few new housing options including The Reserve at Mayfaire apartments and proximity to Wrightsville Beach. Not to mention the Mayfaire Town Center itself that has over 90 shops, an Imax luxury theatre, and restaurants with new shops and restaurants opening every year. From the Town Center feel free to also take a stroll on Mayfaire’s Walking Trail. This trail is a 3 mile loop through the shopping area, into the neighborhood, past The Reserve at Mayfaire, and through some tree-lined areas and back again. The trail is pet and family-friendly as well as being a great trail for visitors staying in the local hotels, such as Homewood Suites by Hilton or Springhill Suites by Marriott. Maybe book a night or two for yourself during your trip to scout out your new home? Or for visiting family and friends.
Living in Wimington’s Suburbs
Murraysville & Ogden
Wilmington also boasts some growing suburbs surrounding the city proper, including Ogden and Murraysville. Ogden ranks at #1 in the top ten of Niche’s Best Places to Raise a Family in Wilmington. The suburb is most well known among its residents and Wilmington at large for its public park space. Boasting fields for several types of sports from soccer to disc golf, as well as tennis courts, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds the park is a large one. This pet-friendly park now also has recent additions including walking trails and a skatepark.
Another suburb that can claim a spot in that top ten is Murraysville. Besides the quiet neighborhoods of this suburb, a key draw is the fishing at Smith Creek Park. The park also hosts many events for families to get outside and learn together. Many of the programs involve the families hiking along the lakeside trails and stopping to either learn about the local nature or a literacy program that literally walks you through a storybook page by page along the trail. These two suburbs allow you to live in Wilmington without being a part of hustle and bustle of downtown.
Hampstead & Porter’s Neck
And if you want to live as close to the water as possible look no farther than the suburb of Hampstead. Hampstead is nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic ocean. Just minutes from beautiful Top Sail Island. This rather small suburb only has about 5,000 residents but is growing quickly. In just the last few years the town has added a bypass to help alleviate traffic concerns and started building a new housing development with homes built on demand, Salters Haven. Hampstead is excited to welcome new homeowners who want to custom build their waterside houses to their town.
If stylized communities are more your style, then look no farther than Porter’s Neck Plantation and Country Club. This gated community is centered around the many amenities provided to its residents. These include the Tom Fazio Golf course, an 18 hole golf course designed by the premier course designer himself. Other amenities available are an Olympic size lap pool, a family pool, a recreation center, restaurants, and more for every resident and a community boat ramp onto the Intracoastal Waterway.
Finally, if you want to be on the cutting edge of where is the newest place to live in Wilmington, check out Monkey Junction or otherwise known as Myrtle Grove. This small but legendary corner of Wilmington was named for the intersection at its center where a gas station advertised live monkeys as a tourist attraction in the 1950s. Now it is on its way to being annexed by Wilmington and all around this once ridiculous but infamous intersection regular shopping, dining, and housing developments are popping up.
Now that You’re Moving to Wilmington…
So as you sit and envision your life in the cargo container townhouses go ahead and check out UniMover’s article on The Quintessential Moving Checklist You Need to prepare for relocating to this beautiful North Carolina gem. Additionally, give a look at Everything You Need to Know About Moving During the COVID-19 Pandemic to help give yourself peace of mind as you plan your relocation. We hope you’ve fallen just as in love with Wilmington just as we have!