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Old 02-17-2017, 06:18 AM
 
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Dear tidaldream,

We are also looking for a place to retire to this year (and call home) along coastal NC. We currently live in NE and will be in Southport, NC in a couple of weeks to see if that area fits our interests and needs.

You completely nailed it below as to what we're looking for:

"... on the water (not the ocean, I understand)
charming, like New Bern, or Williamsburg VA
has a decent hospital,
close to shopping of all kinds (food, chain clothing stores etc)
is upbeat & lively arts, theater, museums, all round cultural activities
(for near retirement age/not bar scene)"

I'd be very interested in what you think/found after visiting your top towns! And any additional info you find along the way...
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Old 02-17-2017, 06:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
They are both small towns. Ever consider building?
You should direct that question at the OP. The reality is however, regardless of the size of the 2 towns in question, is that the cost of land plus construction will almost assuredly exceed $200K. They're not inexpensive places, especially SC.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:39 PM
LLN
 
Location: Upstairs closet
4,981 posts, read 8,745,550 times
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I will just say for the thousandth time on CITY DATA, vacationing at the coast and living at the coast are two separate propositions. There is so much you do not have to deal with on a one or two week vacation. You really need to think long and hard about it before you make the move. Good luck to all that want to give it a try.
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Old 02-17-2017, 04:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC1960 View Post
You should direct that question at the OP. The reality is however, regardless of the size of the 2 towns in question, is that the cost of land plus construction will almost assuredly exceed $200K. They're not inexpensive places, especially SC.
Depends what you're looking for. There is a wealth of real estate <$200,000 in the Hampstead, Winnabow and Leland areas surrounding Wilmington, Southport and Topsail. You just have to be okay with <2,000 square feet and vinyl siding. If you want all brick, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors everywhere, you'll be in the high $200's to start.

And that's still darn affordable, especially considering the location. In the Northeast where I come from, places like that start in the $400's if you're OK with living in a townhouse or a twin. For a single family detached home on 0.25 acres or more, look in the $500+ range.

It's all relative, and anywhere in NC is relatively on par in terms of a national average.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LLN View Post
I will just say for the thousandth time on CITY DATA, vacationing at the coast and living at the coast are two separate propositions. There is so much you do not have to deal with on a one or two week vacation. You really need to think long and hard about it before you make the move. Good luck to all that want to give it a try.
This is a valid point. High winds, flood insurance, salt water air wear and tear in your vehicles, homes and locks, and most of all - the population flux. Oh, the people flocking in during the summer during the highs and the ghost town winter lows...it's a unique thing. That's why areas like Charleston are so popular. The population is more stable and the city is nestled further back to shield you from the saltwater air. Yet, the beach is still accessible.

Real estate turnover in coastal towns is very high for these reasons.
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Old 02-18-2017, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Chapelboro
10,680 posts, read 11,303,639 times
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Quote:
I think we have a good handful of towns to visit anyway.
Do I have this right when I say: Washington, Morehead City/Beaufort, New Bern, Carolina Beach, Southport are,
on the water (not the ocean, I understand)
charming, like New Bern, or Williamsburg VA
has a decent hospital,
close to shopping of all kinds (food, chain clothing stores etc)
is upbeat & lively arts, theater, museums, all round cultural activities
(for near retirement age/not bar scene)
and.. A BEACH, yes it can be on the river.
Which of these towns has an airport that major airlines fly into (up to an hour & 1/2 away)?
I would say NO to most of these questions.

1. on the water (not the ocean, I understand)
YES, Washington, Morehead City/Beaufort, New Bern, Carolina Beach, Southport are all on the water of some sort, mostly rivers or coastal and not beaches

2. charming, like New Bern, or Williamsburg VA
Not really. None of the areas are as historic as Williamsburg. New Bern has Tryon Palace and there is history around Beaufort and Washington and Southport, but it's not in the same league as Williamsburg. Charming is in the eye of the beholder. I do like Southport and especially Beaufort a lot.

3. has a decent hospital
Depends on your definition of decent, but no, the best hospital care by far is not in eastern NC. Some folks would say that Vidant in Greenville is the best hospital in the region, but there are recent threads on here from folks in the area who disagree. There is a med school at ECU in Greenville. The best hospital care in the state is in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) at Duke and UNC.

4. close to shopping of all kinds (food, chain clothing stores etc)
Will Walmart work for you? There are Walmarts near all those places, but I would not say that any of those small towns are shopping meccas. Beaufort and Southport have their share of cute boutiques and New Bern and Morehead City have big box stores like Walmart and Home Depot, and New Bern has a Target, but I don't believe Morehead City does. Southport is close enough to Wilmington to shop for most anything in Wilmington.


5. upbeat & lively arts, theater, museums, all round cultural activities
(for near retirement age/not bar scene)

I would describe all of these as more sleepy than upbeat. Southport and Beaufort are very small, but artsy. Morehead City is more the market town to Beaufort's artsy town. Washington is very small. New Bern has a little more size on it, but pretty sleepy still.

6. and.. A BEACH, yes it can be on the river.
Not really. I think michealbond got you covered on the distance to the beaches.


7. Which of these towns has an airport that major airlines fly into (up to an hour & 1/2 away)
Nearest major airports are RDU (Raleigh Durham) or Myrtle Beach (MYR). Wilmington's airport (ILM) is more of a big regional with few direct flights. Most flights in and out of ILM connect through Charlotte or Atlanta. There are direct flights from ILM to NY LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Washington-National on American Eagle. The New Bern Airport (Coastal Carolina Regional EWN) has connections to Charlotte and Atlanta only.


Eastern NC is full of small towns and beach towns. Worth checking out and a great place for a lot of people, but South Carolina has more coastal development than NC with Myrtle Beach and Charleston being the big cities in the coastal region. NC's population centers, and correspondingly more upbeat and lively activities, are in the piedmont in the Triangle (Raleigh/Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill), the Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point), and Charlotte.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:51 AM
 
6,800 posts, read 4,435,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
Depends what you're looking for. There is a wealth of real estate <$200,000 in the Hampstead, Winnabow and Leland areas surrounding Wilmington, Southport and Topsail. You just have to be okay with <2,000 square feet and vinyl siding. If you want all brick, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors everywhere, you'll be in the high $200's to start.
Umm, we're not talking about Hampstead, Winnabow (?) or Leland. We're talking about Beaufort NC and SC.
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Old 02-20-2017, 03:11 PM
 
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DH & I both grew up by the shore and we both miss it terribly.. truly, there is an ache inside from missing the shore.
We currently live in a populated area and do have concerns about the empty echo a small town has in the winter, but in the same breath (not to seem flippant) we also realize the more south we go, the shorter the winters will feel. One gets cabin fever easily in snowy Pennsylvania, frigid weather, SAD wants to tip-toe in (seasonal affective disorder), and one might entertain reading the Bartender's Bible (and visiting the liquor cabinet in darkest of January <--northern humor) vis--vis the scriptures. Can you tell a less frigid winter is calling me?

I began this thread after visiting the New Bern tourist website. They have a compelling little video advertising their town which made it seem [to me] like a movie set and appeared to be absolutely beautiful. A drone flew over the town their town pier and the corner of Main Street, Tyron Place, etc, then Nicholas Sparks gives a small speech with a beautiful back ground illuminating him like a god.I hang my head. I feel for it, hook line and sinker. So that's how I began the thread, by believing it is/was a really a very wonderful place to use as the standard to compare other towns to.

I just want to say after reading everyone's thoughts, I recognize I am likely wrong about the image they have portrayed in their "everything's rosey" advertising. I thank all of you who have put your opinions out there. I do want to know the truth, and have no intention of settling anywhere simply for the sake of moving. Odd as it might sound, I actually appreciated when someone said outside of the main downtown street they thought New Bern was "scuzzy. I laughed, and savored the descriptive adjective as unabashed truth. Though we may not have 500K to spend, we are in harmony with finding a home within a community of people we will soon make dear to us.

If we found a home that had some bland and ordinary features, we might make some of our own changes as we have always done, by upgrading counter tops to quartz (I can't do granite after an incident with black ants on the counter that blended in), or removing the plastic bathtub wall surround unit, upgrading an oval tub, or removing carpet to hardwoods. I have design background and wouldn't pass over a home if it were "the dog" in a very nice neighborhood. It's not hard to transform something that's ugly into goood lookin'.

I went onto realtor dot com and typed into their search box $160K- $250K 3 bed, 2 bath detached single family home in Southport and was surprised by what I saw. Granted the lower cost ones might be in a location I wouldn't let our dog live, but on the other hand I wouldn't know, I haven't done a drive-by.

I also want to say how utterly impressed I am with all of you who have inserted your thoughts.
I know we may not want to spend the 350-400K the bank will allow us to spend. We just don't feel it is necessary. We are not frugal people, but actually are generous to a fault, and spending more on a home prevents us from helping those who need a hand up. If we can't do that then we'd be inherently selfish, and we could not live with ourselves to make that kind of decision.

A small town might work, and though I asked about a larger one, it seems to me the smaller southern communities might be filled with warm, enjoyable, helpful people ready to invite us to a low country boil dinner at any moment. I love you already.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:09 PM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Hello!

I used to live in the Coastal NC region (Jacksonville) so some users on this board may remember me. I've actually been gone from the area for 4 years now, but we do have plans to take our children back on vacation at some point in the near future.

Tidaldream- back when I lived in the area I was probably one of the regions harshest critics on this board. I had been raised in a large city and had only ever lived in large cities prior to Coastal NC, and many days that I lived there I thought I'd died and ended up in some kind of bizarre, boring hell.

Now that I'm a bit older, have children and have been away for a few years, I've been able to actually appreciate all of the positives in retrospect.

While there's not a lot in the way of cultural amenities by big city standards, there are actually some really good non-chain restaurants in the towns along the coast that cover a variety of cuisines.

The biggest positive of the area is the beaches. Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach are absolutely stunning, for instance.. so I can definitely see why you've got dreams of spending your retirement years on the beach!

The area a bit further inland I don't find as attractive. It's flat, kind of marshy in parts, and just not aesthetically pleasing (to me at least). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though!

One place that I'm not sure was mentioned (it is a small town, not much in the way of cultural amenities but it might be within your price range) is Swansboro. It's got a very quaint village feel and is on the water. Beyond groceries, you would have to travel further afield for a bigger spectrum of shopping (chain stores, etc) and more cultural attractions, but there is a very nice 'feeling' about Swansboro- so I wouldn't discount it entirely. I definitely suggest adding it to your itinerary to check out!

Good luck to you and I hope you find what you're looking for! ♡♡♡

ETA: I just checked Zillow and there are multiple properties not far from the water in Swansboro that fit your budget.
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Old 02-22-2017, 05:36 PM
LLN
 
Location: Upstairs closet
4,981 posts, read 8,745,550 times
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I would opine if you have enough money, and can live in the downtown historical district, you in fact can live the fantasy life in the film. The less money you have the more you interact with the scuzzy element. I think New Bern seldom meets expectations because people expect perfect. I doubt New Bern is much over 25,000. For instance, this week is the Carolina Chamber Music Festival!

I am a harsh critic of the New Bern city government, our state kegislators, the roads, the police force, and the many drivers that are clueless. But, I will say the burg does have a lot going for it.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:01 AM
 
Location: SW Florida
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I lived in North Carolina for 9 years. Saw 5 hurricanes in that time period. Have lived in Florida on and off for 50 years and only saw one hurricane hit my area. Look up Hurricanes Floyd, Fran and Matthew which hit recently. You may change your mind about living anywhere east of Raleigh.
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