Don't be scared of Wilmington. I've lived in NC my entire life and Wilmington for the past 4 years. I'm a RN and my husband is a contract employee at the hospital. We make a decent living. Wages here are lower than other areas and cost of living is higher, which is typical in beach areas, it's a trade off we are willing to make. We have gorgeous beaches and great weather. July and August are miserably hot, but that's most of NC in the summer. We own a home in a nice, established neighborhood in the Myrtle Grove area and it is nice and quiet. We have also lived in the Porter's Neck area, which has the lowest crime in the area, it is also a very wealthy area, so housing is going to be a bit more, but not out of reach for most middle class families. I would not personally live downtown, I just prefer having a little more space and privacy and that's where most of the crime is. The historic areas are not that bad, but some parts just outside can be a little rough. Overall if you stay toward the Monkey Junction/Myrtle Grove or Ogden/Porter's Neck areas, it's generally pretty safe. Wilmington is just like any other city...there's good and bad, but don't let the reviews on here scare you...most are over exaggerated. It's a typical middle sized city, with heavy traffic at times and decent shopping. On the plus side, there is ALWAYS something to do because we have the beach. My husband and I may not always live here, because the city is becoming very crowded due to the growth and not much room to accommodate it, but we are enjoying our time here and have had no problems making a decent living.