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Interviews - Chris Newsome

South Wilmington and Carolina Beach from Cleveland, Ohio

Can you tell me what brought you to Wilmington?

The beach and the weather. North Carolina’s weather is much better than the Midwest. We vacationed here for about 17 years. I run a small business out of my home and we can pretty much work anywhere we wanted. Since we enjoyed vacationing here and we wanted out of the Ohio winters, we decided to make the move about 5 years ago.

At the time, we really wanted to live at the beach but couldn’t afford it. We recently purchased a second home, a condo on the beach at Carolina Beach. Now we have the best of both worlds! We have a bigger house in Wilmington when we want that and our own place on the beach for when we want the sand and sun.

What made you choose this neighborhood over your other options?

It was the best neighborhood in our price range. It was the nicest neighborhood at the top of our price range. It featured older homes with a lot of character. It wasn’t just cookie cutter style. It had its own shape and landscaping.

If you had it to do over again, where would you live?

Today’s economy is so different. We were actually able to purchase again and it was in Carolina Beach. It was more affordable 4 years layer and my business is more successful now. We’ve got a primary residence and now we’ve got a second home that is an oceanfront condo and we can go to the beach whenever we want to.

What do you like about living in Wilmington that was a surprise to you?

The downtown area is very nice and quaint. I love that it’s a port city. I don’t think we had even thought about that. Another huge surprise is just how spread out the area is. I can’t believe how big Wilmington is. You can drive 30 minutes and still be in Wilmington, which is different from Cleveland. The people are much nicer here, from our perspective. You can say hello to people and they’ll actually respond back. The atmosphere is very friendly here.

What sort of people would like living in your neighborhood?

I would say retirees and families with small children. We’ve got both. It’s a very nice community.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend here?

Take my wife and daughter and go sit out at the beach, maybe do a little fishing on the surf while we’re there, check out the shops at Carolina beach, walk to a tiki bar for lunch, let the baby take a nap and sit on the porch and look at the ocean while she naps.

What sort of cultural activities are available to you?

There’s surfing, shopping, Ft. Fisher Museum. The aquarium is down the road. There’s the state park where you can look at venus flytraps and pitcher plants. You can go shopping, there’s a boardwalk right around the corner that has all kind of shops. There’s so much good food and good fried food if that’s up your alley.

How is the commute/getting around? Is there much traffic?

No. It’s a very easy commute. It’s 13 minutes to get from my home in Wilmington to Carolina beach and that’s on a busy day.

If you could, what would you change about Wilmington?

That’s a tough question. I love it. If we had the opportunity to live anywhere else on the coast we wouldn’t move. But if I had to choose one thing, it would be better healthcare. Not that its bad, but we come from Cleveland where you have the Cleveland Clinic and the university health system. Better healthcare and more options would be the only thing I would change.

What advice would you give someone considering a move to the Wilmington area?

I would say there are many different areas to fit each person’s needs and you really need to take some time to assess what they are. If you want to be downtown, there are options for that. If you want to live near the beach, there are cost effective options for that. You need some time to look around.

Do you think your area offers a good quality of life?

It’s very good. The weather and the outdoors and the activities along with the opportunities for a small business owner makes it very, very good.

What do you do to stay out of the way of the tourists?

I really don’t. We get right in the middle of all of it. We do go out to shopping that is closer downtown. There are days we will stay away from the beaches because they are too crowded. Now that we have a property at the beach, we hang out at the property here and it’s great because we don’t have to find parking.

How are the business opportunities? Would you recommend moving here without finding work first?

It’s great for small business, bad for somebody looking for a job in large corporations. Also, if you are looking to work retail or hospitality it’s great. The only negative would be if you are looking for a company or large business, there are only a handful of those in the area.

What’s your favorite local attraction/restaurant/event?

Restaurant: Flaming Amy’s. Event: The Azalea Festival. Attraction: The beaches themselves. Also, Ft. Fisher is pretty neat.

Are there activities for children and families near you?

Yes. There’s a rec center, there’s the state park, there’s Ft. Fisher. There are plenty of children’s activities that go on on a daily basis. We’ve got a toddler and my wife does Stroller Strides. There’s a very big movement of moms who get together and do stuff. There are lots of playgroups. Our daughter does gymnastics. That’s fun.

How is the cost of living, compared with other areas you have lived?

I would say it’s a little more expensive than Cleveland by about 20-25%. From a pure real estate perspective, we could live in a huge house in Cleveland for what we pay for our home. Also, living on the beach you have to pay more insurance. However, the property taxes here are a lot less than certain areas.

Do you worry about hurricanes?

For about three months a year. Do we worry about them? Yes. Do we have a good plan to get out of the way? Yes.

What’s your favorite thing about spending winter in a beach town?

You can still walk on the beach. There’s no snow. There’s nobody around so you can really enjoy things. Things are a lot more laid back. You can go into any restaurant you want and not have to wait for a table.

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