It is really hard to narrow down what got my wife and I to plant some roots in Carteret County. Though water views and access to water were key to our decision, there were a lot of other factors.
Examining what we went through is a good way to understand the process of deciding on where you might find the right spot at the coast.
Some of our decisions were made easier because I have a long history with the area. I have a picture of me fishing on the point at Emerald Isle in 1969 so I guess the seeds were planted very early.
The real turning point for us came in 2003 when several things were pushing us towards change. Our children were mostly out on their own and I was winding down my second career which was approaching twenty years at Apple Computer.
I wanted a place where suits were not part of the preferred daily dress code, the traffic did not have a report, and where people still took the time to get to know each other.
Our search started in the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, but we could not find a place that did not make us feel isolated or have a serious potential for extensive snow and ice.
We quickly started looking at the coast. We traveled from Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern shore through Virginia beach down through our old haunts on the Northern Outer Banks to Nags Head, Hatteras, and on to Ocracoke Island.
While I am proud of the “Route 12” sticker on the back of my car, the thoughts of that narrow strand of asphalt being our only lifeline to civilization quickly pushed us farther south to Southport and Oak Island.
Our reason for heading there was clear the magical vacations and visits to Bald Head Island in the early nineties. Still we knew that prices had skyrocketed there, and that it seemed more of a hurricane magnet than some spots.
Our visit to Southport in 2004 made us question whether the area really had the active lifestyle we were seeking. The area also seemed to be primed for lots of development because of the proximity to Wilmington.
It was far different than the feeling we got on a visit to Beaufort, NC for our 30th anniversary a year earlier in 2003. I quickly fell in love with Beaufort, its history, and the great water access. While we were not ready to buy a property then, I found it refreshing to be able to walk to many restaurants and shops instead our somewhat isolated existence on the side of a Virginia mountain.
My wife had one requirement for living on the coast. She felt like it we were going to be in the flat country that we had to be able to see water from our home. The one thing that I wanted was a way to go fishing easily. I had long ago grown tired of hoisting my kayak to the top of a car for a ride to a lake.
By 2006 after a couple of years of looking, we realized that we could not afford to do either see the water or be on the water in Beaufort because it had become such a popular area with so many people. It was only then that we looked farther afield in western Carteret County and found water views and reasonably priced water access close to the county line along the White Oak River near Swansboro.
Beaufort is still a favorite spot to visit but I am glad that we are where we are. Even after over seven years including a few years in real estate, I have never seen a water access community as nice as our spot on the shores of Raymond’s Gut.
One of my favorite activities is hiking either on the beach, around the marshes or on trails in the Croatan National Forest. It turned out that beach access is much better in western Carteret County. We can on the beaches of Emerald Isle in about ten minutes by car. We also are close to a number of trails in and around Croatan National forest.
Having an affordable place where we can have a boat on a lift is part of our dream that has come true. That along with the ability to slip my kayak into the water whenever I want makes living by the White Oak River a great pleasure. The area has everything else we need from grocery and hardware stores to medical care. Still it was water access and views that were most important in convincing us to move to the area.
I have been seduced by the river. I have great fishing in the river only ten minutes paddling from my dock, the Intracoastal Waterway less than ten minutes by skiff, and Bogue Inlet just another ten minutes beyond. It is hard to complain about anything but our sometimes cool four to six weeks of winter.
If you would like to read more about the Crystal Coast and why we are living here, you will find some helpful posts at this link.
More information about life here can be found at my Crystal Coast Life blog.
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