Relocating To Wilmington, NC

Why Move To Wilmington?

Wilmington is a magnet for newcomers, from its majestic beaches to its history-rich downtown. 

Today Wilmington is roughly the same size as Berkeley, California, or Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like these similarly sized towns, Wilmington is also a college town, being the home of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the fast-growing Cape Fear Community College, a full-time trade school.  The city is the county seat of New Hanover County, which is the smallest and one of the most wealthy counties in the state.   Wilmington is built on a seafaring tradition and is growing thanks to its ever-developing industry and economy—and an international airport

Wilmington residents range from students and workers at the university to active retirees to young families drawn in by the friendly welcome and the laid-back lifestyle. However, don’t let its casual demeanor fool you. Wilmington means business.

“Best City” Designations

Every year Wilmington appears on several “best city” lists thanks to its vibrant economy and superlative quality of living.

Noting the area’s small-town charm and big-city amenities, Coastal Living magazine named Wilmington a top “Coastal Dream Town.”

Growth and Expansion

Wilmington was a relative secret until a couple of decades ago. But with the extension of Interstate 40 to the area, the path was paved, and people have been filing in. Certainly, the Research Triangle further north and west in North Carolina has received its due share of accolades, consistently ranking atop “Best Cities” lists. It’s perhaps due to a love of both North Carolina’s laid-back, friendly lifestyle and the beach that the word has gotten out on Wilmington.

Commute/Travel Time

Much of the Southeast is infamous for lengthy commutes. This is not the case in Wilmington, with a median commute time is 15 minutes compared to the national average of nearly 30 minutes.


Wilmington is the home of UNC-Wilmington and carries an educated air. The branch campus is consistently in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Certainly, the city’s ocean environment helps budding young students of the sea; and UNC-Wilmington’s marine biology program certainly holds its own, ranked among the world’s best by the college ranking guide The Gourman Report.

Lifestyle and Leisure

Wilmington is growing, and with its new size comes diversity. Some may raise an eyebrow at the influx of New York and New Jersey newcomers, but in the end, all assimilate into the relaxed Southern seashore way of life. "Wilmywood", as many call Wilmington, has become one of the top movie-making areas in the world.  The reason for this? Those in the biz have cited lovely weather, low production costs, a cost of living that’s easy on the creative worker’s budget, and a relaxed lifestyle. MovieMaker also ranked the city’s Cucalorus Film Festival as one of the Coolest Film Festivals.  A reason given was its “non-competitive atmosphere,” which lends itself to filmmakers gaining a renewed appreciation of their craft. And how! The same publication ranked Wilmington as one of the Best Places to Make a Movie.

In other artsy accolades for Wilmington: it was one of the cities featured in The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America. 

Sportier leisure pursuits certainly get their nod, thanks to its coastal location in the Southern United States. Triathlete magazine ranked Wilmington as one of the Best Places to Live.  North Carolina hosts nearly as many triathlons as do California and Texas; among them is Wilmington’s new Beach 2 Battleship extreme distance triathlon, held in November.

If your athletic talents feature more graceful skill rather than endurance, you’re well served in Wilmington as well: Golf Digest has ranked the metro region among the Best Metro Golfing Areas in the Country for Value, Accessibility, and Quality. And, of course, surf’s up—way up: Surfer Magazine has named local shore Wrightsville Beach a Top 10 Best Place to Surf.


A pleasant climate, ample access to health care, and an easy way of living make Wilmington well-situated for spending the golden years. The history, arts, and charm more than certainly help draw in residents of all ages. Modern Maturity has ranked Wilmington among The 50 Most Alive Places to Live. Where to Retire magazine also cited the city as one of its 100 Best Retirement Towns in the Country. And certainly not to be overlooked, the sassy Modern Maturity ranked Wilmington in the “Quirky” category for its uniqueness in terms of both filmmaking and historical attractions.

Lifestyle and Leisure

What better life could there be than always being on vacation? Wilmington’s balmy weather, gorgeous coastline, riverwalk along the Cape Fear River, and historical and arts attractions make the area a prime spot for holidays as well as relocation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Wilmington one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

The Riverwalk is a prime attraction. Perhaps this was one reason why Frommer’s Budget Travel ranked Wilmington among the Nation’s Most Walkable Cities. And when it comes time for sun, head over to the shore to take in what City Guide dubbed one of the Top 10 U.S. Beaches. agrees on the beachfront: it ranked the city’s Wrightsville Beach one of the two best in North Carolina.

For Newcomers and Visitors…

  • One of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations, The National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • One of the Top 10 U.S. Beaches (“Cape Fear/Wilmington, N.C.”), City Guide
  • One of the Nation’s Most Walkable Cities, Frommer’s Budget Travel
  • One of the Two Best Beaches in North Carolina (Wrightsville Beach),

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