Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage Blog

Wilmington North Carolina, The Best Value on the Coast


Rental Property Comparisons on the East Coast
Posted: April 22, 2016 by Kathy Alexander

Beautiful Wilmington, NC, was originally settled on the Cape Fear River – but it’s mere minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean and three impressive area beaches. The city itself features one of the largest historic districts in the country, a thriving downtown and cultural/art district and an increasing population due to the excellent weather, local ambience and very affordable cost of living.


Whether looking for a laid-back, yet cultural- and activity-rich place to retire or raise a growing family, the greater Wilmington area offers a wide range of home rentals that will fit any lifestyle and any wallet. With an area population of approximately 116,000 and growing, Wilmington nevertheless offers excellent housing options at reasonable rates. In order to provide you with the best information about how affordable Wilmington is, we looked at housing costs in several other comparable cities along the East Coast.

Downtown Wilmington

Wilmington's Downtown offers amenities that makes urban living a far more pleasant experience than other cities with similar economic demographics. An easy stroll in any direction brings residents to hundreds of shops, restaurants, salons and pubs that make Downtown a vibrant commercial center.  Nearby arts and cultural facilities, such as the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, the Cape Fear Museum, public parks, gardens and countless other privately-owned art galleries and museums provide great access to a range of entertainment options. Wilmington also hosts dozens of diverse community festivals and events throughout the year, so local residents enjoy a nearly constant opportunity to participate in any or all of these activities.

Housing within the Downtown area is varied and eclectic – from newer townhouse and apartment communities featuring all the amenities to beautifully updated loft-style singles in the bustling business district’s historic buildings. Rents within the city are naturally dependent on the location and size of each unit, but a single-bedroom apartment right in the center of this lively town start at under $1,000 per month, while the same type and size apartment in downtown Alexandria, Va., starts at more than $1,800 a month. In downtown Washington, D.C., a studio goes for about $2,000.

Family Homes

 A growing number of young professionals are moving their growing families to the Wilmington area, attracted by the excellent area schools, outdoor activities and affordable lifestyles the area offers. If the downtown area is too busy for your tastes, and you’d rather take in a little Southern charm and nature, Wilmington offers a wide range of lovely, family-friendly rental properties, complete with room for gardening and entertaining.

The historic district – minutes from Downtown – offers a variety of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes ranging in price from a very manageable $1,400 for an updated 3-bedroom/2 -bath home to $1,700 for a 4-bedroom/4-bath home. With more than 200 city blocks included in its historic district, Wilmington has amazing examples of architecture in which to immerse yourself, especially the stunning Bellamy Mansion, a gorgeous example of Classic Revival architecture.

Well within the historic district of Savannah, Ga., a 1-bedroom/1-bath cottage costs at least $1,600 a month, while in the famed Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Md., a 2-bedroom attached row home will cost you at least $1,700 per month.

Homes Near the Ocean

Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure Beaches each feature pristine stretches of sand and some of the most beautiful shorelines in southeastern North Carolina. Wrightsville Beach is within minutes of Wilmington, offering local residents a world of seaside fun and activities. In addition to easy access to off-shore fishing for black sea bass, grouper and snappers, locals have the advantage of catching flounder, speckled trout or Spanish mackerel right from the pier.

Several of the area beaches (and outdoor restaurants) are pet-friendly and welcome visits from leashed family dogs. Living this close to the water also means one thing during holidays – colorful themed flotillas. It’s all about the boats, particularly in Wilmington.

A great variety of wooden, stone and traditional home rentals can be found closer to the ocean, within a couple of minutes of walking, biking or driving. Rents commonly start at approximately $1,400 a month for a 3-bedroom/2-bath home (depending on distance from the beach) and $1,700 for a 4-bedroom/3-bath home. Much of the area features pine groves, willows and other native trees, offering plenty of shade during the warm summer months.

Alternately, a 2-bedroom/2-bath home near the beach in St. Augustine, Fla., will cost about the same amount as a far larger property near Wrightsville Beach, at $1,695 a month. A 3-bedroom/2-bath home further inland in the same general area costs at least $1,750 per month.

Making Wilmington Your Home

Whether you’re a college student or educator, an artist, professional, retiree or a family looking for the perfect place to settle down and enjoy all the amenities of a thriving metropolitan area minus the urgency, crowding and stress, Wilmington has the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood for you.

The people who already call Wilmington their home are warm and inviting, and the area itself offers all the Southern charm, history and active social opportunities anyone could want. 

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