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Coastal/Near Coastal NC Schools & Cost Of Living

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
how's that for a broad topic?

What it boils down to is this- I've been looking at a variety of places along the NC coast for our next move, and most/all of them seem to have either poor school ratings or high cost of living, and sometimes both. So I'm wondering if the data I'm finding is being skewed or if it's really that way in the coastal area? For example, we were looking at New Bern, but the posters on another forum made it sound like the schools were mediocre at best, horrid for any child with an IEP in place, and that the community was very closed-off and not friendly to newcomers. RTP on the other hand was reported as very friendly to and full of transplants thanks to the nature of the beast, but seemed to have an incredibly high cost of living, especially for a college student and family.

Thoughts, ideas and suggestions on good schools, reasonable cost of living areas etc are very much desired and appreciated
post #2 of 6
Where are you coming from? The cost of living is very relative. I have known of people coming from the NY area who have been able to sell their very average home up there and afford a super swank home in the RTP area. However if you're coming from elsewhere in NC, the South, or maybe the midwest you'll find that housing is more expensive in the RTP area compared to other smaller places. I'd say it's comparable with Charlotte and maybe the Triad and parts of Wilmington. I don't think the RTP area has an "incredibly high cost of living", though. It's certainly not more expensive than many parts of California or the PNW.

There definitely are tons of newcomers in the RTP area. It's a relatively large area compared to New Bern, though. Are you wanting a small town? If not you might check out Wilmington. I don't know much about the schools there, but I have seen moms from Wilmy posting here.

I think some of the schools in the RTP area are exceptionally good. The Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system in particular has a very good reputation and a lot of really smart super acheiving kids. It's a rare year that there's not at least one perfect score on the SAT. There are lots of super achievers in Raleigh and Durham, too and the NC School of Science and Math is in Durham, too. So if Wilmington schools aren't that exceptional in comparison it doesn't mean they aren't good, but I really don't know. Maybe they do suck wind. Stick around, though, and somebody more informed than I am will surely take a stab at your questions. Good luck on your move!
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
we're coming from west central indiana. Average prices in our area for a 4/2 runs about $155k in town, slightly more outside city limits.

I read on city-data earlier this morning that milk is $5/gal in the Carolinas? wtf? I was flipping out when it was $3.88 here over the summer.
post #4 of 6
Okay here's what I've found out so far...I'm not a resident of NC (yet!) but we are looking to move there so I've done alot of pricing on houses and looking at schools, etc.

First off, I don't think you could really call RTP "coastal" at all - it's about 2 hours from the coast - so in case what you really want is better access to the ocean, then you'll have to look further east.

NC is going up in price because of the "half-backers" - retirees from the north, who bought in florida but find the summers there too brutal - so they buy a house in NC to get the "cooler" weather of some parts of NC (mostly the mountains). So many of the mountain town (in the west) have prices that are higher than the actual economic opportunity that is there (like Asheville).

The Triad is still fairly affordable along the lines of what you mentioned (155k and up)...the schools are a bit spotty there and some of the cities have some crime issues, especially for their size. So you just have to find the right neighborhood. But it's further from the coast.

Charlotte is a typical big city with some crime, some lovely areas, and price points all over the place. So again, it would depend on the neighborhood.

RTP has a fabulous economy but the houses there are not as cheap as they once were. If you are looking in the 100k-200k range you will have a limited selection. We are in the 200k-300k area and I'm having a hard time finding non-HOA 3 bedrooms close to a city center....but if you like the "new built" suburbs, there are lots of options in the price range. The schools are pretty good all over the place - except for a few areas of Durham or Raleigh. The Carrboro-Chapel Hill schools are "excellent" but are VERY academically intense.

Other areas you could consider (which I haven't done too much research on but did look at initially) are Wilmington (which is ON the coast) or Greeneville (closer to the coast and has a supposedly thriving art community).

We've also looked into a few small towns between RTP and the Triad - hillsborough, burlington and Mebane. Schools are spotty (depends on neighborhood), COL is lower, and they are all within striking distance of bigger areas....I'm very interested in Hillsborough right now...but I haven't been there yet.

ETA: Also there's a cool little town called Wake Forest in the RTP area that is more affordable and has a historic little downtown and a farmer's market - it's really cool-looking but not as easy to commute to all the "jobs" on the west-side of the area thus it's lower COL

I strongly recommend the website www.city-data.com - their forums on there have ALL kinds of info about towns all over the country...the posters tend to be a conservative lot so take their opinions with a grain of salt if you are a more liberal persuasion (that's why I prefer the OPINIONS of the MDCers! but city data is good for facts)- but I've found great info on jobs, housing, and schools on there.

good luck

ETA: we are moving from california so we see NC as very affordable - but if you're coming from a lower COL area it's getting harder and harder to find those same "cheap" places that were there 10 years ago - have you thought about TN? I'm from there and it's still CHEAP there - especially east TN. Of course it's not on the coast LOL
post #5 of 6
Yes, I was curious after this thread and did some googling around. It looks like Raleigh is about dead average as far as Cost Of Living indices go. Raleigh gets a 104 and Durham gets a 93.9 where 100 is average. If you want easy access to the beach for a weekend, Raleigh or Durham is fine (Wilmington is about 2 - 2.5 hrs away), but it's tight for a day trip, especially with kids. Personally I would not attempt that, but ymmv. That site above has Indianapolis at 89.6 which is actually the lowest of the metro areas listed on that short chart. I would imagine other places in IN are lower.

(BTW, Greenville is actually fairly far from the beach—2ish hrs— although not as far from the neck of the Pamlico sound. Not the same as the ocean, though.)

As far as food prices, I shop at the local co-op, and we don't drink much milk so I'm not much help there. You can check it out at http://www.lowesfoodstogo.com/, though. Lowes Foods is a big mainstream grocery store and they have an order-online feature. I would guess that their prices are fairly comparable to other stores in the area. Looks like the store brand is $3.69 a gallon right now. $5 for organic.
post #6 of 6
Beenma, can I just say that I hope we end up moving to NC so i get to meet you sometime! You really made me rethink the biodiesel thing before and you've been soooo nice and helpful on these tribe boards!!!!

Okay back to the thread....
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