When you are lucky enough to get beyond having your job dictate where you live, the whole world opens up as a potential place to put down roots.
You do not get very far down the path to reviewing places when reality sets in. A spot that is extraordinarily beautiful when you are visiting it, just might be a nightmare when you become a permanent resident.
The biggest challenge is trying to shed your vacation mindset when trying to evaluate a place to live. One of my favorite spots on earth is the Northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. I have spent many wonderful vacations there over the years.
When we started looking for a new place to put down roots, we briefly considered South Nags Head, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke. While all of those places have plenty of charm, they also have some drawbacks.
The latest nor'easter to come by North Carolina has highlighted some of those problems. The biggest challenge for people living south of Nags Head along the banks is Highway 12. It is the only road in and out. When it is closed then there is only ferry service for most people. This past week Highway 12 closed on November 12, and one lane reopened on November 17.
We actually have a Hatteras Island native working in our office here on the Southern Outer Banks. According to her, a Highway 12 closure during or after a nor'easter is a regular occurrence
The challenge of being connected to civilization was just one of the reasons we decided to pass on living on Hatteras Island. Ocracoke while beautiful was more of the same and further isolated by the need to use ferries.
Perhaps our experience of living far from modern conveniences for fifteen years when we lived in Canada has made us cautious, but we set out looking for a place with great scenic beauty, lots of year round residents and modern services along with strong connections to civilization.
We also wanted close proximity to medical services and shopping that was more than one general store.
Some of the places we looked at along the coast got down to one restaurant operating on a shortened winter schedule. While we do not eat out a lot, we do like to have some choice.
We also are fond of modern grocery stores where we can get good fresh food including vegetables for a reasonable price. I also like to buy my hardware from something other than a shelf in a grocery store.
Finding our spot on the coast took a lot of work and great patience from some Realtors®.
In the end we found a great spot that sandwiches us between the Croatan National Forest on one side and the Cape Lookout National Seashore on the other. Our other bookends are the White Oak River and the beaches of Emerald Isle.
We have access to multiple four lane roads to leave the area if required. Those same roads put us at a mall in under twenty minutes.
Our access to water is better than anywhere we looked. We can lower our boat into the water with our lift and be in the Intracoastal in ten minutes. The ocean is only another ten minutes. We can drive to the beaches in less than ten minutes.
Finally the area we picked near Swansboro, Cedar Point, Emerald Isle, and Cape Carteret is as close to a snippet of small town America as you can get. The people in the area are from all areas and very open to new people moving to the area. Each year I am amazed at how many great festivals we get to enjoy as communities.
With modern services, good shopping, and friendly people, it was a treat to find out that Carteret County has the lowest property taxes in North Carolina and some of the best schools. Low taxes and a great climate not far from the beach is a recipe that is hard to beat.
We also found reasonably priced waterfront property which is not exactly easy to find along the east coast. The satisfaction we have found from living in this area certainly validates the efforts we made to find the right spot for us.
So when looking for a place to live, take the time to look beyond the beautiful scenery. You might be surprised at what you find.
There are places that make a wonderful home and have great scenery.
Lots of pictures and information on the Crystal Coast, our home, are available at this site.