Located in southeastern North Carolina, the Wilmington area provides easy access to stunning beaches, picturesque waterfronts, and a variety of outdoor recreational activities. The city of Wilmington boasts a rich history, evident in its beautifully preserved historic district with its cobblestone streets and antebellum homes. Other large cities in the area include Jacksonville, known for its military presence and diverse cultural offerings; Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist destination offering beautiful beaches, golf courses, and entertainment options; and Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg and offering a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty.
For more information about visiting or moving to the area, the following local resources can be helpful:
Affordability and Cost of Living
Wilmington offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to some other cities in the area. The cost of housing in Wilmington is slightly higher than the national average, but it remains more affordable than larger cities like Raleigh or Charlotte. The median home price in Wilmington is around $395,800, providing options for various budgets. Groceries in the area are generally priced at or slightly below the national average. Transportation costs, including gas prices and vehicle maintenance, are very affordable in Wilmington. However, healthcare costs are about 19 percent higher than the national average.
North Carolina has a state sales tax rate of 4.75 percent, which is lower than the national average. In addition to the state sales tax, there may be additional local sales taxes imposed by counties and municipalities. For property taxes, the rate in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located, is approximately 0.61 percent, which is relatively moderate compared to some other areas in the state. To find more detailed information on taxation in Wilmington, including sales tax rates and property tax assessments, you can visit the website of the New Hanover County Tax Department.
North Carolina does not have an estate tax or inheritance tax. The state does not tax Social Security benefits, and retirement income, including distributions from 401(k) plans, IRAs, and pensions, is generally taxable at the state's flat income tax rate of 4.99 percent. For more information on retirement taxation in North Carolina, you can visit the North Carolina Department of Revenue's website.
Climate and Geography
The Wilmington area enjoys a pleasant climate with distinct seasons. Winters in the area are generally mild, with average temperatures ranging from the low 30s to the mid-50s Fahrenheit. While snowfall is relatively rare in this coastal region, Wilmington may experience a light dusting of snow occasionally during the winter months. Summers are warm and humid, with average temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the high 80s Fahrenheit and humidity levels around 80 percent. Wilmington receives an average annual rainfall of approximately 57 inches, with the wettest months being August and September. The region is also prone to occasional severe weather events such as hurricanes, which can bring heavy rain and strong winds.
The city of Wilmington is situated on the Cape Fear River, which winds its way through the area, offering picturesque waterfront views and opportunities for boating and fishing. Located just a few miles away from the Atlantic Ocean, residents enjoy easy access to beautiful beaches like Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. The region is known for its lush greenery and rich biodiversity, with numerous parks and nature preserves offering opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the coastal ecosystem. Whether you're seeking coastal beauty, riverfront charm, or natural wonders, Wilmington and its surrounding areas offer a diverse range of landscapes to explore and enjoy.
Recreation, Shopping, and Entertainment
The Wilmington area offers a wide range of recreational activities, cultural events, shopping experiences, and entertainment options that cater to diverse interests. Here are some of the attractions and activities you can enjoy in and around Wilmington:
Golf and Racquet Sports
- Porters Neck Country Club in Wilmington
- Echo Farms Golf & Country Club in Wilmington
- Wilmington Municipal Golf Course in Wilmington
- Althea Gibson Tennis Complex in Wilmington
Hiking, Biking, and Boating
- Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens in Wilmington
- River to Sea Bikeway in Wilmington
- Masonboro Island Reserve in Wilmington
- Carolina Beach State Park in Carolina Beach
Museums and Historical Sites
- Cape Fear Museum of History and Science in Wilmington
- Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington
- Bellamy Mansion Museum in Wilmington
- Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach
- Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Wilmington
- Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington
- Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington
- Cape Fear Playhouse in Wilmington
- Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington
- The Cotton Exchange in Wilmington
- Independence Mall in Wilmington
- Lumina Station in Wrightsville Beach
Parks and Gardens
- Airlie Gardens in Wilmington
- Hugh MacRae Park in Wilmington
- Empie Park in Wilmington
- Poplar Grove Plantation in Wilmington
Festivals and Fairs
- North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington
- Riverfest in Wilmington
- Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington
- Wilmington Seafood Festival
Health and Wellness
The Wilmington area offers excellent health and wellness support for residents, with access to top-notch medical facilities and a variety of opportunities for self-care and maintaining overall well-being. The area is home to major medical centers, including New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, which is recognized for its comprehensive healthcare services and state-of-the-art facilities.
For those interested in self-care and staying fit, there are numerous fitness centers, yoga studios, and wellness centers in the area that cater to the needs of active adults. The area also offers a variety of outdoor options, such as walking and biking trails, ideal for maintaining an active lifestyle and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings. There are several farmers markets in the area, including the Riverfront Farmers Market and the Tidal Creek Co-op Farmers Market, where residents can access fresh, locally grown produce and support sustainable farming practices.
Recommended Itinerary for Visiting Area 55+ Communities
When considering retirement to Wilmington, NC, it's essential to visit the area and explore its offerings firsthand. This two-day itinerary will give you a glimpse of the region's charm and help you assess whether it would be a suitable place to retire to in a 55+ community.
- Start your day with a delicious breakfast and coffee at The Workshop to fuel your exploration.
- Visit Airlie Gardens, a picturesque garden with stunning landscapes and walking trails. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.
- Have lunch at Front Street Brewery, offering a variety of craft beers and tasty pub fare.
- Explore downtown Wilmington and its historic district, known for its beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and boutique shops. Take a walk along the Cape Fear Riverwalk and soak in the waterfront views.
- Start your day with breakfast or coffee at Drift Coffee & Kitchen.
- Meet with your local 55places expert retirement community partner agent to discuss 55+ community options and get insights into the local housing market.
- Have lunch at Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill in Wrightsville Beach, where you can enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine and ocean views.
- Spend the afternoon at Wrightsville Beach, soaking up the sun, swimming in the ocean, or simply relaxing on the sand.
- Indulge in a memorable dinner at Oceanic Restaurant in Wrightsville Beach which offers seafood specialties and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting to the Wilmington, NC Area
Getting to Wilmington, NC, is convenient, whether you're traveling from nearby cities or across the country. Here are the different transportation options available to reach the region:
The closest major airport to the area is Wilmington International Airport (ILM). The airport is served by several airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. American Airlines offers the most extensive service with connections through their hubs in Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth. Delta Air Lines operates flights with connections through their hubs in Atlanta and New York-JFK. United Airlines offers connections through their hubs in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
If you're driving to Wilmington, major highways that connect to the area include:
- Interstate 40 (I-40): Runs east-west and provides access from Raleigh, NC, and other major cities in North Carolina.
- Interstate 95 (I-95): Runs north-south along the East Coast and connects to major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Miami. From I-95, you can take I-40 towards Wilmington.
- U.S. Highway 17 (US-17): Runs north-south and connects Wilmington to cities like Myrtle Beach, SC, and Jacksonville, NC.
Amtrak does not have a station directly in Wilmington. However, you can take an Amtrak train to the closest station, which is located in Fayetteville, NC. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus to reach Wilmington.
Greyhound provides bus service to Wilmington, making it an accessible option for travelers. The Wilmington Greyhound Bus Station is located in downtown Wilmington.
For a unique experience, you can consider taking a ferry to reach Wilmington. The Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry operates between Fort Fisher and Southport, offering a scenic route across the Cape Fear River. From Southport, it's a short drive to reach Wilmington.