The 10 Best Places to Live in North Carolina Near the Beach


North Carolina is the kind of state that offers a little something for everyone. The cities are vibrant, the towns are charming, and the landscape will leave even the most jaded city slicker a little breathless. Chief among its attractions are its beach towns. Whether you’re looking for something small and quaint or big and boisterous, there’s a North Carolina beach town to match. If you’re considering making your next visit the permanent kind, check out these 10 best places to live in North Carolina near the beach.


10. Oak Island has named Oak Island as one of the best places to retire in North Carolina. That may be so, but it’s not only the gray brigade who stand to benefit from its attractions. With two fishing piers, a miniature golf course, and a clutch of ice cream parlors to its name, it’s a paradise for nostalgia lovers. The beach itself is wide, sandy, fringed by turquoise waters… everything, in fact, you’d want a beach to be. The cost of living is well within reach, the schools are more than respectable, and the housing options will suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. In short, it’s everything you’d want a beach town to be.

Wrightsville Beach

9. Wrightsville Beach

As beach towns go, you’ll struggle to find much better than Wrightsville Beach. Its wide, sandy beach and aquamarine waters are a beachcomber’s dream, while the range of water sport opportunities on offer will leave no one disappointed. The town itself is packed with attractions, including the fascinating Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center. Thanks to its short driving distance from Wilmington, you’ll never be far from the city lights. The community is friendly, close-knit, and just as welcoming as you could wish for.

Nags Head

8. Nags Head

As one of the largest towns in the Outer Banks, Nags Head is one of North Carolina’s best-known beach towns. Crammed with malls, restaurants, shops, and bars, it’s big, fun, and the ideal spot for a family-friendly vacation. Families (not to mention singles and retirees) who decide to make their visit a little more permanent won’t be disappointed, With a decent clutch of schools, plenty of amenities, an affordable cost of living, superb recreational opportunities, and one of the prettiest beaches in North Carolina, there’s no doubting it’s a great place to live.

Kitty Hawk

7. Kitty Hawk

The Culture Trip considers Kitty Hawk one of the ten most beautiful towns in North Carolina. It’s not hard to see what’s bought them to the conclusion. With the warm tides of the Atlantic Ocean washing the shore, the wide, pristine beaches, and the photographic lighthouses dotted along the shoreline, it’s unquestionably a stunning place to visit. Thanks to very reasonable property prices, low crime rates, and some very decent amenities, it’s also an unquestionably amazing place to live.

Emerald Isle

6. Emerald Isle

Named by Southern Living as one of the best beach towns in Northern Carolina, Emerald Isle is a small, charging community that makes the perfect home for families, singles, and professionals alike. With low property taxes, low home prices, and a delectably high standard of living, this beachy paradise offers a little something for everyone. Whether you stay a week, a year, or an entire lifetime, you’re unlikely to regret your decision.


5. Edenton

Named by PlanetWare as one of the best coastal towns in North Carolina, Edenton is a peaceful, charming town that’s the perfect antidote to the stresses and strains of modern life. Replete with historic homes, scenic parks, and tree-lined avenues, its distinctly family-friendly vibe is complimented perfectly by its gorgeous waterfront, its low crime rate, walkable streets, and excellent selection of schools. If you’re looking to enjoy life away from the hustle and bustle of the city (but still with enough amenities and attractions to pass the time), it’s perfect.

Carolina Beach

4. Carolina Beach

If warm waters and golden sands tick your box, you’re going to love Carolina Beach. The iconic Carolina Beach Boardwalk with its carousel, arcade, carnival rides, and ice cream parlous is the place to be in the warmer months, especially on Thursday evenings when it comes alive with firework displays and live music shows. The beach is one of the best in the area, with soft sand, surf-ready waves, and a smorgasbord of activities to enjoy. The town itself is equally noteworthy, with every kind of amenity you’ll need and enough housing options to please all tastes and budgets.


3. Duck

If you’re sick of the noise and congestion of the city, Duck might be just what you’re looking for. Calm, sedate, and gorgeously green, Duck is the perfect option for city folk who secretly hate the city. Sure, you’ve got all the amenities you’ll need, but rather than chain stores and drive-ins, you’ll get an eclectic range of independent boutiques and eateries. The peaceful vibe is perfectly complemented by quiet streets lined with majestic trees and even more majestic homes. For entertainment, the huge, one-mile boardwalk is the perfect place for romantic sunset walks. The shoreline itself provides endless opportunities for rest and relaxation. Quiet, calm, and as peaceful as a summer breeze, it’s the perfect place to experience the simple pleasures in life.


2. Wilmington

Wilmington is a big, sprawling beach town with a little something for everyone. The beach is wide, clean, and the perfect place to kick back and relax in the sand. If you don’t fancy getting your feet wet, the Riverwalk is a great place to take a stroll, particularly at sunset. The town itself is a delight, with charming, Victorian-era homes sitting side by side with modern-day architectural gems. Thanks to its status as a university town, it’s blessed with a lively, vibrant atmosphere. If you want to live somewhere that combines the best of both beach and urban living, look no further.


1. Beaufort

Named by Southern Living as one of the best North Carolina beach towns, Beaufort is a small, charming harbor town with a list of perks a mile long. The downtown is lively, home to numerous attractions (including the very visit-worth North Carolina Maritime Museum), and blessed with enough entertainment and amenities to keep everyone happy. In 2012, Budget Travel Magazine named it “America’s Coolest Small Town.” Within two minutes of arrival, you’ll understand why.

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