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"Why We Said No to Raleigh"
Well, Raleigh did have the pleasant historic neighborhoods, but the larger homes were over $600k... and that was more debt than we wanted. Suburban sprawl seemed like an epidemic, traffic congestion was rising... newer homes, sandwiched side by side, it felt like a minivan metropolis version of The Truman Show. If driving everywhere to get anywhere doesnt bother you, Raleigh does have affordable homes... but it also has the soullessness of a box of just-add-water mashed potatoes.
For the real thing, we headed two hours east -that is, our GPS took a wrong turn and we decided to keep driving. With little to no PR, Wilmington NC wasnt really even on our radar. Once we got there, the locals kept saying the same thing Dont tell anyone!
We can see why. A port city, Wilmington has extensive historic neighborhoods that are walking distance to a fun and funky downtown. Prices are half that of Raleigh. The beach is a 20 minute ride away. Did we mention the food? Its fantastic! Lots of brew pubs opening up, a historic boardwalk, tons of green space and dog parks... the riverfront is undergoing redevelopment, so you can even buy a houseboat, if thats your thing. We had hoped to find a lot of this in Raleigh, but ultimately are glad that we didnt compromise and kept looking!