Interviews - Harrison Barger
South Wilmington from Wallingford, Connecticut
Can you tell me what brought you to Wilmington?
My wife and I are both from North Carolina originally, but our careers have taken us all over the country. We’ve lived in Colorado, Connecticut, California. We’ve always wanted to get back to North Carolina and it was time in our life to do that for a number of reasons. One is, I wanted to retire and two is, my wife wanted to get closer to her parents. Neither of us are from Wilmington originally. We actually met in Winston-Salem, where she is from. In looking at where we wanted to live, we looked at a lot of places and Wilmington came up as meeting a lot of requirements.
How did you go about choosing where to live?
We looked and we looked and we looked and then we looked some more. It was probably about a three-year process of making trips here. Sometimes when we would be visiting North Carolina at Christmas or to visit family, we’d make a side trip here. In the end we made a special trip and finally made a decision. We moved here in June 2010. Our REALTOR® was really patient and stayed with us through the whole process.
What made you choose this neighborhood over your other options?
It’s interesting in that it actually was one of the first areas our REALTOR® recommended. But we wanted to know all of the other areas, north and south and downtown. But we kept coming back to this one neighborhood. Its location was really nice. The amount of house you got for the money was a good value and it was a quiet neighborhood and it was close enough to the things we wanted to be close to yet wasn’t in a really busy section of town.
What other areas were you drawn to?
We knew it was going to be North Carolina. We just didn’t know where. We also knew we wanted to be coastal. We looked at New Bern. Elizabeth City and other towns but Wilmington was the only one that really fit the bill. The variety of cultural and other activities is what drew us here. There were other neat little coastal towns but they didn’t have nearly as much going on as Wilmington.
What do you like about living in Wilmington that was a surprise to you?
We looked here so much that I’m not sure there were a lot of surprises. But I do have to say the longer I live here the more I like it. And the reason is, the more I discover about Wilmington the more I find new things I like. We moved here for the variety and we have yet to be disappointed.
What sort of people would like living in your neighborhood?
It’s a real mixture of young families as well as retired couples and kind of everything in between. And that was another thing that attracted us about the neighborhood was it was diverse in that respect.
What sort of cultural activities are available to you?
One of the draws to Wilmington was the fact it had a university. And that just generates a lot of things that go on. And, frankly it generates some interesting restaurants to eat in and that sort of thing. There are art galleries here, there are shows and conventions that are here. There is Cape Fear Community College that puts on courses and activities.
How is the commute/getting around? Is there much traffic?
Yes and no. It depends on where you are going and what time of day. It can be jammed up, especially on Friday afternoon. However, one of the reasons we like where we live is because we are on the other side of the peninsula and we are close to River Road and that is not very populated so we can zip north or south very quick to go where we want to go. Certainly in the summer months in certain areas there are a lot of people and traffic is an issue.
If you could, what would you change about Wilmington?
If I could wave a magic wand, I would have Wilmington have some more diverse industry so its economy would be better and not so reliant on tourism. Of course that would then make the price of my house go up. Also, I think a lot of the roads could be improved, especially the secondary ones. A lot of them just aren’t great.
What advice would you give someone considering a move to the Wilmington area?
Pick a good REALTOR® . And I’m not being patronizing. Our REALTOR® helped us so much understand what the pluses and minuses of the different areas were and where they were. It was truly very helpful. And he got to know us and he got to know what our likes and dislikes were and he was able to tailor the properties to our tastes and not waste his time our ours with things that didn’t fit. He stayed in our budget and understood what our needs were and helped us with that.
What do you do to stay out of the way of the tourists?
Sometimes it’s unavoidable. But you just go where they don’t know where to go. You may not want to try to go to the beach on a sunny warm Saturday afternoon. Or, in our case we can go to the marina where our boat is and we escape everybody that way. It’s a beautiful spot.
What’s your favorite thing about being in a beach town during the winter?
It doesn’t snow. Remember we came from Connecticut. Even in the middle of winter, you get some days that are warm and nice and you go to the beach and no one’s there and its spectacular.
What’s your favorite local attraction/restaurant/event?
I think my favorite attraction is the Intracoastal Waterway. There is boat traffic north and south. And it’s very diverse and very interesting. We’re still learning about some of the events. The Azalea Festival is pretty neat. And also, we’ve really found some offbeat restaurants that we kind of like, as well as some ocean view restaurants that have a spectacular setting. Of course, The Oceanic, and one of the more offbeat places is Flaming Amy’s Bowl.
How is the cost of living, compared with other areas you have lived?
This is probably one of the least cost of living places we have been. Understand that we lived in San Diego, which is pretty pricey. The northeast, particularly Connecticut, is pretty pricey. In the last 30 years of where we’ve lived this is probably the most economical.
The one thing we didn’t talk about is how good the health care is around here. One of the reasons we moved here is they seem to have a fairly decent hospital and medical facilities. But fortunately we haven’t tested that out yet.