You’re debating moving to Wilmington NC? Here’s some general information for those considering the move…
First of all, let me say that the cost of living in Wilmington is very affordable. If you are coming from the northeast, or the west coast, imagine paying about a third. For example, we are living in a three bedroom condo, in a gorgeous development which has a pool- $875/month!! I don’t mind saying that out loud!! In New England, as we relocated from Maine, this number is unbelievably affordable. I remember when we visited this house, thinking OMG this will be way out of our pay range, or that the neighborhood would be rough based on the rent price. Or maybe that our kids would be attending a rough high school! To our joy… the neighborhood is lovely, we are within 15 minutes of everything Wilmington has to offer, we are 5 miles from Carolina Beach, 13 miles from Wrightsville Beach, about 90 minutes from Myrtle Beach SC, and Ashley High School is absolutely gorgeous with a large fantastic community of teachers and students. In New England, this same setting would put us in the $1200 per month price range! That’s right…almost a $400 dollar difference.
Now, upon arriving, please be ready to leave deposits with every utility service company…and when I say deposits, I mean roughly $250 for electric and water, $100 for cable/phone/internet, and for those who don’t have trash pickup included in their development or HOA, there are a few companies to choose from or deliver yourself to the landfill. Now, to avoid lots of deposits, you can hand deliver a copy of your credit report, and if your score is high enough, avoid paying the deposits…I don’t know many people who carry that in hand though!
Likewise, you’ll also be changing over your license and insurance and license plates. For your driver’s license, be prepared to take a written test, or rather a computer test! I was completely unprepared but luckily, passed the first time! Now, the license plates cost will be related to the vehicle you drive, what it’s worth…similar to anywhere you live determining how much registering your vehicle will cost. Also, in regard to insurance…unlike the state you have relocated from, your insurance may or may not be valid in North Carolina. I learned this when I went to register my vehicle…I had AAA insurance. In Maine, totally legal…in North Carolina, not valid. I had to leave DMV after waiting about 1 hour in line…go to AAA and find a new provider for our existing policy, one that was NC friendly. $150 later and new insurance card in hand, we were back in line…this time able to register the durango. My friends here say that in order to fully become a valid NC driver, with license and insurance and plates, you should allot 3-4 visits to DMV. Let me advise you to call NC DMV ahead of time…lots of paperwork required and better to know whether or not your insurance is valid.
Be prepared with a “safety net” just to get setup! If you are lucky, you have a job in place upon arriving to our city but if not, be ready for a thorough search. Prepare for payscales to be less, about a third less. For example, I recently took a part time staffing job. In Maine, I may just over $37K/yr before commissions or bonuses. The business owner at the staffing firm asked me what I expected for pay…he already had the exact same number in mind as I did but he wanted me to say it…I thought outloud, based on NC paying about 1/3 less than Maine, I could expect about $25K/yr before commission & bonuses, IE $12/hr. This is less than in Maine, but more than I make at my other part time job…so, because it is in my field, after 6 months of looking, I immediately jumped onboard even on a part time basis. Be prepared, do your research, look at the Wilmington websites…find the top lists of employers in this town. Be flexible, be open to new opportunities. It may take some time but your search will bring you results. Remember that right now, the market is flooded with well educated professionals…niche markets have an advantage here as do business owners who are opening their own business. Lots of sales and industrial work in Wilmington, customer service/telesales/telemarketing are big, some construction and of course, skilled labor…medical is huge!
Now, in looking online before I came here, I saw either positive or negative reviews of Wilmington…no “in the middle” reports. I have learned that folks either really like or really dislike it here. I can say that I really like Wilmington though I miss my sister and nieces and my dad. While I get frustrated from time to time, I’m still enjoying my time here. I’m trying to sell my boys on staying in NC…they are both in high school so this move was hard on them. I’m working to find a job for each of them, hoping that making some cash will encourage them to hang in here, taking some time to make new friends, and make the distance from Maine not seem so far. They are strong though and smart…and worse case scenario, will finish school then return home and stay with family when the time comes.
That is my take on Wilmington…I have more positive than negative to say. I’m open meeting more people, networking regularly, and hoping to get more involved locally in my end of town and in Carolina Beach. I’m encouraged by the changes my life has taken, am looking forward to learning to “shag” with the locals, but still have moments of being homesick and feeling doubtful. I have made a few friends here, but again, tight budget prohibits the night life I’m accustomed to…I’ll get there though. I have no doubt…soon my network will have expanded, my margarita count will increase, and with any luck, my boys will be rockin and rollin into their next steps here in Wilmington, or at least one of them! If you are relocating, this is a wonderful city…be smart. Do your homework, check out the Chamber of Commerce, Whats on Wilmington, and other city sites. If you need certifications or licenses for your job, do your paperwork ahead of time and be prepared to take related exams or whatnot immediately upon arrival to our town. Questions? Just ask!
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