Is It Really Worth Moving To Wilmington, NC?

Is It Really Worth Moving To Wilmington, NC?

Signage at the Appalachian Theatre in North Carolina

Big life changes, like moving to a new place, are always a little challenging. Before you commit to a move, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time researching the location you’re considering. Wilmington, North Carolina is a popular place for a lot of transplants. If you’re wondering if it’s worth moving to Wilmington, NC, or curious about whether or not Wilmington, NC is dangerous – we’re here to help. 

Why Is Wilmington, NC So Dangerous?

Okay, okay, Wilmington, NC isn’t that dangerous, but it does have some problems you should mull over before moving there.

In comparison to a lot of similarly sized towns in the US, Wilmington, NC ranks significantly higher for overall crime. NeighborhoodScout, a website that analyzes and compares crime reports, gave Wilmington an overall low score on its general safety score. According to Neighborhood Scout, “When you compare Wilmington to other communities of similar population, the Wilmington crime rate (violent and property crimes combined) is quite a bit higher than average.”, another website providing safety statistics, also ranks Wilmington in the “higher than national average” category for crime. 

While this doesn’t mean you’ll be directly affected by crime, it does mean that adjacent crimes could affect you. If the risks aren’t something you want to deal with, Wilmington may not be the best place for you. 

The Opioid Crisis

Although not specific to Wilmington, it’s impossible to talk about if it’s worth it moving to Wilmington, NC without talking about the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, large swathes of the Appalachian region have been deeply affected by opioid exposure and abuse–including North Carolina.  

North Carolina does not rank the highest for opioid deaths per capita, but it is above average. Despite not being the most affected state, the problem is significant enough that local police forces carry Narcan (a drug to stop someone from having an overdose) on a regular basis. 

This affects the citizens of North Carolina in several ways. Exposure to opioids is of course more prevalent in regions where opioids are being used, something to consider if you have children or teenagers that could be exposed. It’s possible that opioids add to Wilmington, NC’s dangerous reputation, but it’s important to remember that the issue is complex.

Communities with higher rates of drug use also have higher chances of homelessness, something that Reddit users in r/Wilmington have complained about. Reddit users also lament about a potentially increased strain on the healthcare system–not just because of opioids–although they may be contributing to the problem. 

If you’re following r/Wilmington – or any other Reddit pages – make sure to double-check that users are talking about the same location you’re looking for. Most of r/Wilmington is discussing Wilmington, NC but sometimes users will bring up a Wilmington from another state.

Issues with drug use and addiction also have the potential to increase overall crime rates. 

North Carolina is just one of many states that are dealing with problems caused by the opioid crisis. Opioid addiction is notoriously hard to manage and severely damaging to individuals who suffer from it. If you have questions about opioids, please call the National Opioid & Opiate Addiction Hotlines for more information and resources.

Water Works

Another big thing to think about before answering the question of whether it is worth moving to Wilmington, NC is Wilmington’s water issues. There has been a fair amount of discussion about water safety throughout the United States in recent years–especially related to pollutants in drinking water.

Wilmington hasn’t escaped criticism. Water safety is a huge contributor to questions about why Wilmington, NC is so dangerous. In 2017, a Wilmington newspaper broke a story about the Cape Fear River being contaminated by harmful cancer-causing chemicals. 

While there has already been some acknowledgment of the problem, many nonprofits continue to demand and sponsor clean-up efforts. 

It’s worth saying that the Environmental Working Group stated on its website that, “for the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2021 – March 2021), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.” They stress that the legality does not necessarily guarantee total safety, however.

Weather Warnings

Similarly to the rest of the east coast of the United States, North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes. 

Hurricane season is an important time for the eastern US. Although many long-term East Coasters will brag about their hurricane experiences and may act like hurricanes aren’t a big deal, they should still be taken seriously. Without the proper preparation, east coast communities like Wilmington, NC can be dangerous.

If you’re moving from a place that doesn’t experience hurricanes or doesn’t frequently flood, we wouldn’t recommend learning on the spot.

Hurricane Season is from June 1st-November 30th every year. Local and national weather stations generally start reporting on potential hurricanes early on in the season and give regular updates throughout the year. 

Most of the time, only a few tropical storms grow into something worth seriously keeping your eye on. If a tropical storm eventually reaches hurricane status, you should prepare your home or evacuate. 

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Locals love to give advice about how to weather the storm (and even sometimes call the season “hurrication”). City and state officials as well as local news outlets will also regularly issue statements about any precautions or major updates you need to know about. 

The best thing you can do to prepare for hurricane season is to know the evacuation route for your city, make an essential kit for your home, and be proactive about your planning. 

If you’re wondering if it’s worth moving to Wilmington, NC, you should definitely consider whether or not hurricanes are something you’re prepared to deal with.  

Heat & Humidity

Another thing to consider is the climate. If you live in a cooler, drier place and think that year-round beach weather sounds amazing, you may want to reconsider. 

It’s true that Wilmington, NC has a very mild fall and winter season, and that there’s a beach relatively close by; if you’re not used to heat and humidity, it could take a while to adjust. 

For reference, the average temperature in Wilmington, NC is between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The winters almost never get lower than 45 degrees, but the summers can get as high as the low 90s. 

The average humidity is 74%. Put simply, it’s easy to feel sweaty and sticky. 


Because the weather is semi-tropical, many bugs thrive in North Carolina. It may seem like a non-issue, and if you’re moving from another Southeast US city, it probably won’t be. 

The Southeast is home to lots of mosquitos and, maybe worse, palmetto bugs. 

Basically giant, flying, cockroaches that don’t seem bothered by insecticide, palmetto bugs are notorious for pestering suburban households (and look downright scary).

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One final thing to ask yourself when considering if it’s worth moving to Wilmington, NC is whether or not you’ll be able to find a job. 

Wilmington natives have complained about the huge influx of transplants in recent years. The city has been growing at a pretty consistent pace for a number of years, and the locals in r/Wilmington say that the city’s development has struggled to keep up.

If you don’t have a job prearranged, you should seriously consider finding one before you move. 

You may also want to check local education options for any students in the family since schools seem to be affected by migration to Wilmington. 

Tips For Moving to Wilmington, NC

If you’ve answered yes to the question ”Is it worth moving to Wilmington, NC?”, and you already have your Zillow app open, here are some tips to help you settle in. 

Get To Know The Southern Dialect

The Southeast is generally regarded as a very polite place. If you have friends in the area, consider reaching out to them and asking about any common practices or phrases you should know before arriving. 

Southerns are big on manners but also have a secret saucy side. Holding the door, respecting people’s privacy, while also being open to striking up conversations with strangers will get you a long way.

(But if you hear someone say “Oh bless their heart,” it’s usually not a nice thing.) 

Download the Wilmington Police Department App

If you’re feeling uneasy for any reason in your new space, you can reach out to the Wilmington Police Department at any time. Their app allows you to submit crime tips and remain anonymous if you’d like. If you don’t want to add the app, you can also text 847411 using the keyword WPDNC.

Alternatively, you can reach the Wilmington Police Department directly by calling 910-343-3600 or 911 for emergencies.

Be Careful of Beach Traffic

Although there isn’t a beach in Wilmington, there are lots of famous ones close by. Traffic can be intense, so make sure all your insurance information is up-to-date and drive safely.  

Check the Beach Flags

If you do plan to visit one of North Carolina’s famous beaches make sure you pay attention to the flags flying on the beach. There should be a sign guide for flag meanings–some of them indicate unsafe swimming conditions. Ask a lifeguard or local for help if you need to, or look up places to avoid before packing up.  


Moving to any new place comes with risks and safety should always be a priority. 

Before you sign a lease, make sure you’ve fully explored everything Wilmington has to offer. 

Only you can really answer the question “Is it worth moving to Wilmington, NC?”. Keep in mind that there are lots of different opinions online about Wilmington, NC.

Regardless of where you live, it’s always smart to do your research before moving. 

Grace currently lives in Nashville, TN. She grew up in the Southeastern United States and graduated from College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her degree is in Political Science with a focus in International Relations, but she has a passion for all things communication and writing.