Relocation to the Outer Banks….Is it for you?

Many people entertain the thought of relocating or retiring to the wonderful Outer Banks. Most have visited as a vacationer and dream about owning a beach house here. There’s a saying I have heard here years ago. “Once you get Outer Banks sand in your shoes you can never get rid of it.” You see, the memories a coastal vacation create end up being life changing and a real part of you. Sure, the Coastal Life isn’t for everyone but the ones that it is for…. well… know who you are! The Outer Banks is a beautiful place to live and many choose this as their primary home, or second home because they just can’t get rid of that sand from their shoes! Seriously, the OBX attracts folks that are drawn to the Ocean and Sound waters……Sunrise walks on the beach……Sunset relaxing at the sound……and enjoy outdoor activities all year due to the weather conditions, and specific water activities due to all the wonderous seaside landscape. From the surf to the marshes…..the dunes to the maritime forests……it’s call is heard by many and many find home here in the Outer Banks of NC.

I thought it would help you today to answer some of the most asked questions I hear when one is considering moving here, please read on....OR, feel free to write me with your personal questions and requests for information about living here in the wonderful Outer Banks. 

What type of work is available in the Outer Banks

Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, the Outer Banks has a lot of seasonal industry but even these are becoming more and more year-round. The hospitality and construction businesses probably employ most of the residents. There are many self-starter types that build their small businesses, too. For those looking to work year-round general employment it is most often found in banking, retail, real estate, construction and vacation home management. For those in specialized fields the Outer Banks has growing needs of skilled professionals. Seasonal employment is generally abundant and covers all types of service based jobs. 

What is the cost of living in the Outer Banks?

Cost of living in the Outer Banks is going to be high when compared to mainland areas of Northeastern North Carolina. With that in mind, cost of living in the Outer Banks is not high when compared to major cities. If you are retiring or able to work remotely, life in the Outer Banks can be comparable if not considerably cheaper than life in cities like: Richmond, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Raleigh, Philadelphia, New York, or Boston. Like anywhere, the largest impact to personal cost of living here in the OBX is housing. Fortunately, there is a lot of diversity here in communities, locations that meet and likely exceed and influences to meet most anyone’s budget. Monthly costs for a home or condo are going to vary.  Homes in the Outer Banks are deemed inexpensive when compared to homes in major cities.  Many people dream of living on the oceanfront and for good reason. Nothing can beat eating breakfast watching the surf break, but the reality is the overwhelming majority of Outer Banks full time residents live on the westside of the island. 

Two main reasons contribute to why the majority of full time residents live on the west side of the island. The first reason is likely due to price. Ocean Front and Ocean Side property is on the high side of the local scale. The further you get from the ocean the less expensive land tends to be and home prices on the islands tend to adjust accordingly. Let’s take a moment and mention there are some amazing luxury homes on the westside communities. There are sound front and canal front locations that will just blow you away. Prices range from the $100’s for a condo, $200’s for a small home and on up to the luxury levels and everything in between. The second reason, which is far less obvious, which is the westside is much less affected by the increase in population during the summer months. Since it is further from the beach, westside homes are not traditionally strong vacation rentals. When you live here you will like the quieter westside. And, you will, in most communities, be a 5 to 10-minute car ride to putting your beach chair and umbrella up! A fair mention about how quiet it is, and how nice the weather can be all year is; often when driving through a neighborhood on the westside of the Banks it is difficult to tell what time of year it is. 

What makes life in the Outer Banks Different?

Once you cross over the causeway into the Outer Banks, life takes a different pace. It is this change of pace, that separates the Outer Banks from other places. Many people describe the change and switching to island time. Living on an island definitely has its advantages and disadvantages.  The biggest disadvantage to life on an island is, sometimes your choices are limited. Though your choices may be limited the Outer Banks is home to a bevy of beautiful independently owned boutique shops. For those that prefer something more nationally recognized you will find notable Grocery Store chains, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and a number of national food service franchises. A simple solution many Outer Banks locals will use is to drive an hour to Virginia Beach where shopping and specialized services are abundant. Medical services have increased over the years and used to be a challenge. Some specialist services may command a short trip but most needs are able to be addressed locally.

Definitely one of the biggest advantages to life in the Outer Banks is the quality of locally owned restaurants. The attraction as a great tourist destination has made it possible for many outstanding culinary experts to call the Outer Banks home. You will find a diverse selection of restaurants: places that offer the local catch of the day prepared by skilled local chefs, all you can eat seafood buffets, numerous small cafes, and fast food. One of the special joys of living in the Outer Banks is the ability to take advantage of a great restaurant in the off season.  

What is the weather like in the Outer Banks year-round?

The weather in the Outer Banks tends to be temperate all year. The large sounds and ocean tend to make it an enjoyable year-round climate. As the Wright Brothers can attest to, the Outer Banks is home to winds that seemingly come from all directions, though most often you will find a northeast or southwest wind. These two prevailing winds bring opposite effects. Generally, the northeast wind brings cool air and the southwest brings warm. The breezes make the Outer Banks bearable in the middle of summer when compared to many locations north, south, and west of here. The Spring and Fall can go either way…temperate and mild to blustery and wind impacted. This time of year, we typically see a Nor’easter type event but without the snow. Many times, these storms can be as bad as some hurricanes. Winter in the Outer Banks are often characterized by strong northeast and northwest winds. It is the opinion of many who live here that September, October, and November are the finest months on the Outer Banks.  The ocean and sounds are at still quite warm and the days are usually warm and cool slightly at night.  It is an excellent time to enjoy the natural beauty of the island. And, there are no lines at the most popular restaurants, either!

What is there to do in the Outer Banks?

The Outer Banks is home to many things to do.  Some of the most popular activities include: surfing, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, hang-gliding, canoeing, running, cycling, walking, jogging, shelling, kiteboarding, driving on the beach, sun tanning, relaxing, skim boarding, grilling, crabbing, and flying a kite.  The area is home to some nationally recognized landmarks including the Wright Brothers Monument, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, The Lost Colony, Jockeys Ridge and the Whalehead Club. Also, there are some lesser known attractions like the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island, and Roanoke Island Festival Park. Folks that enjoy outdoor activity really like the area. Many times, their lifestyle and recreation expectations influence which community or area they choose to live in. And, this is where a local real estate pro can really help. CONTACT MIKE to SHARE your relocation plan, and to learn from a 30+ year resident who lives and works here. 

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