As the great debate rages, “Should we move to the Outer Banks?” the answer is an unequivocal “maybe.” Of course there are two camps of thought. Some say absolutely not; not wishing to share what they have found. Others who welcome anyone who wants to live here. The truth is, living on the Outer Banks is somewhere in between. It’s a difficult thing to explain the pros and cons of living somewhere. It is, after all, a very broad topic and by its very nature somewhat subjective. However, by breaking those pros and cons into identifiable categories, maybe the decision making process can be helped along.
Small Town Atmosphere
Let’s start off by saying something that may seem obvious but may not be. Day to day living on the Outer Banks is very different than a two week visit. There’s quite a number of reasons why those of us who live here like it so much. A move to the Outer Banks is a move to a small town. There is a wonderful small town feel to life on the Outer Banks—especially in the off season when things slow down. The number of outstanding restaurants and chefs are disproportionate to the population. So when our visitors are at home on the mainland, it’s a great time to sample the good life. For the most part, there is almost always something to do. Live music, local theater, art shows, sporting events—all of that is part of life on the Outer Banks.
Another positive that comes with a small town is getting to know your neighbors. Weather that’s the check out clerk in the grocery store, the wait staff at your favorite restaurant or the local sport community, people will soon recognize you and start up a conversation with you. Part of that is the Southern way of doing things and part is that there really aren’t that many of us locals. Locals also look after each other. When someone is in ill health or a tragedy happens to someone. Most times locals will rally around and help each other through that tough time.
Small Town Negatives
The flip side to being a small town is when things slow down, they really slow down. Almost all of our restaurants are locally owned. A large portion of those owners take some winter months off for some R&R. For people accustom to a wide array of services, there simply is not the population to support what many people are used to in major metropolitan areas. Taking a shopping day trip to the Hampton Roads area is common among locals.
Since most of the time we don’t have to wait in line to check out at the grocery store or to get a seat at a restaurant, locals become less likely to go to the grocery store on the weekend and don’t go out to eat as much during the summer busy season.
If you are coming from Northern Virginia then our traffic probably won’t phase you even in the summer. From about mid October to mid May, traffic is pretty typical of a busy town or small city. Starting about the third week in May traffic volume begins to build. Travel times between towns can double or triple on the days most vacation rentals change tenants. Most times of the year, Outer Bankers follow the rhythm of the tides and the weather. In the summer, locals also follow the traffic rhythm. On the weekends we travel to Corolla or Duck early in the morning. Going at mid-day could take a couple hours. Also, Outer Bankers get errands done on sunny days in the summer. When it rains, our roads get full with vacationers shopping or visiting one of our parks.
Be aware that our roads flood at times. Strong nor’easters will sometimes overwash the beach and put some water on the Beach Road (NC12). On the soundside, strong, sustained west or southwest winds will push water onto soundside roads. None of that is an everyday occurrence, but it does happen.
It’s important to clarify a couple of things about the weather. Those of us that live here…we love it. Spring and fall are spectacular; summer is tolerable although it can get pretty hot; and winter is generally mild with a couple of exceptions. Most years we have about wo weeks in the summer that are super hot (over 90 degrees), and about two weeks in the winter that are super cold (freezing temperatures).
Late fall through early spring, the most common coastal storms are nor’easters, and they’ll sit offshore for three or four days at a time. Expect 30-40 mile per hour winds, temperatures hovering around 40 and a cold spitting rain. If there’s a time not to be on the Outer Banks, it is February and March when it is cold, windy and rainy.
Hurricanes, of course, are what tops the list of concerns. Most people are used to seeing weather reporters standing next to some damage here on the beach. It’s easy to assume the entire Outer Banks looks like those pictures. Sensationalizing storm damage sells so the condition of most of the beach is likely better than those first impressions.
On the other hand, experiencing a hurricane is not very fun. When they come at night the wind will wake you up. Even with the smaller ones, there’s debris to clean up in the yard. Hurricanes are the exception and are not common occurrences. Typically once every three to four years we get a real hurricane with winds over 75 miles per hour. 30 to 50 mile per hour winds occur here multiple times a year from both tropical systems and nor’easters. It is important to note also, that Outer Banks building codes require buildings to be able to withstand hurricane force winds. So if you are still asking yourself, “Should we move to the Outer Banks?”
Our advice on this is, if everything else is “yes we would like to move,” don’t let hurricanes be the deciding factor.
This section, for course, does not apply to couples whose children are grown, but for many, local schools are an important part of the decision making process. We can unequivocally say Dare County schools consistently rank in the top tier of schools in North Carolina. The school system enjoys very strong community support. For people considering a home in Corolla, keep in mind that everything north of Duck is in Currituck County and in a different school system. Waters Edge Village School in Corolla is a K-8 charter school that is outstanding. However, with 44 students it is either at capacity or very close to it. For students who cannot attend WEVS, or are in high school, Currituck County schools are located on the mainland and require an hour to hour and a half bus ride each way.
You certainly won’t be the first or the last ones to ask the question, “Should we move to the Outer Banks?” It’s likely more “mainlanders” live here now than people who grew up here. Most of those who folks who have made the Outer Banks home end up staying for years and years. If there’s anything we can do to help you in this decision then please don’t hesitate to contact Scott Team Realty.