No to Durham But Yes to Wilmington NC
Durham. We had friends living locally, the marketing made it seem hip and affordable, the weather looked good. So what was not to like?
We are a couple in our 30s and 40s, looking for a walkable eclectic community, dog friendly... brew pubs, great eats... and preferably one of those beautiful, historic homes that would be affordably priced and near to all of the above.
Durham delivered on a lot of fronts, but it had a couple of significant drawbacks. We didn’t want to spend more than $400k and going below 2,000 sf was challenging. Suburban sprawl is not our thing, and the surrounding areas are an explosion of minivan metropoli. The gridlock is getting worse, not better. If you’re looking for a newer home and don’t mind sandwiched between other identical Truman Show-Esque looking homes and don’t mind driving everythwere, then there are a lot of options in that price point.
Only a few hours to the East of Durham, we discovered the port city of Wilmington. One of the few southern-ish cities in the US that was not destroyed during the civil war, Wilmington neighborhoods upon neighborhoods of unique historic homes- most all of which are walking distance to downtown. There is an abundance of green space, great for walking the dogs and letting kids play. Unlike Durham, Wilmington is also close to the water- only 15 minutes to Carolina Beach.
The fun and funky historic downtown has a great variety of coffee shops, restaurants and cafes. Castle Street and the Soda Pop District are up and coming, with cool antique shops, creative spaces and retro clothing boutiques.
Best of all, the prices were so much less than Durham. They are climbing, though, and likely will not stay low forever. Fixer uppers in transitional neighborhoods are still available for under $100k, historic renovated bungalows are under $300k, cute cottages being priced somewhere in the middle. Our neighborhood (where Dawson’s Creek was filmed- remember those porches?) has many former residents of not only NY /DC, but also Raleigh and Durham... ranging from $300k to $500k, these historic homes are gorgeous.
We enjoyed visiting Durham, but found it pricey relative to what was offered. More soulful than Raleigh, but as a friend of ours who recently moved here from Durham said ‘Wilmington is all the best parts of Durham combined, but with a way lower price tag.’
Samira | Wilmington, NC