17 Reasons Not to Move to Wilmington, North Carolina (Voted by the locals!)

Wilmington, North Carolina is a city known for its beaches, a WWII battleship, and more. However, it isn’t a perfect place to live. Here is a list of 17 reasons why you should not move there.

17. College Town

Wilmington, North Carolina is home to the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and Cape Fear Community College (CFCC). This makes parts of Wilmington have a college-town feel. UNCW currently has about 17,499 studentsOpens in a new tab. and CFCC enrolls about 23,000 studentsOpens in a new tab. a year.

Having this many students lends parts of Wilmington to have more noise, parties, and a younger demographic. While this may not bother some people, it could be something you want to consider before moving to Wilmington, especially in areas around the colleges, as you could be competing for jobs and apartments.

16. Beaches

The coast of Wilmington is highly advertised as being a great beach spot. However, the really nice beaches, specifically Wrightsville Beach, are not technically in Wilmington. In fact, Wrightsville Beach, which is the most advertised beach for the Wilmington area, is actually another town. Wrightsville Beach is expensiveOpens in a new tab. to be in, as it has pricey parking, food, and shopping.

Wilmington itself does not actually have a beach. Its borders do not reach the sea. It is known for being a gateway to other beaches.

15. Overcrowded

Wilmington has a populationOpens in a new tab. of about 117,128. Like most big cities, the large population makes Wilmington crowded, congested, and overpopulated for such a small space. The roads are congested and run down, resulting in tons of traffic. This makes commute times insanely long and even worse during rush hours.

It doesn’t help that most of the demographic of Wilmington are mostly tourists, young college kids, and elderly people. In other words, people who have a reputation for reckless driving fill the roads of Wilmington.

14. Demographic

As talked about earlier, a lot of Wilmington is populated with college kids. However, the other large population is retirees. Due to Wilmington being a nice spot for consistently warm weather and beach access, a lot of older folks decided to retire there and build mansions.

This affects the city in a few ways. First and foremost, because so much of the demographic is elderly people, the city tends to cater to them. This can be frustrating for a younger family as not much will cater to their wants and needs. Secondly, elderly people have a reputation for being bad drivers. This only adds to the traffic mess. Thirdly, this makes the city not as progressive and open-minded, leaving Wilmington to be a bit old-fashioned in traditional ways of thinking.

13. Rundown Areas

Wilmington is a bigger city. That means that not all of it can be up-to-date, clean, and orderly. There are downtown areas that are rundown and pretty sketchy. Sadly, there seem to be more of these sketchy areas than good ones.

This lessens the appeal of living in the city and, for some, even wanting to visit. They are places where you need to be extra careful too. The crime rate is very high in Wilmington and the sketchier the area, the more at risk you are of being hurt.

12. Not Super Friendly to Outsiders

Due to Wilmington’s demographic being mostly older people, the city is more set in traditional ways of thinking. This means it is not as progressive, welcoming, or as kind to people who do not fit the traditional molds. If this lifestyle of tradition is what you want, it may not be so bad. However, if tradition is not exactly what you are looking for, Wilmington probably isn’t the place for you.

11. The Weather

Wilmington is near the coast in a southern state. This means that the weather is consistently warm with little to no change in seasons. The average temperatures in Wilmington during the summer are in the 70s and 80s. In the winters, they are in the mid to high 50s. The humidityOpens in a new tab. also tends to exaggerate the temperate, so it may feel a little warmer or colder than it really is. These temperatures are great for people wanting consistency and mild weather, but if you’re wanting to experience every season to the fullest temperature-wise, Wilmington is not the place to be.

It’s also worth noting that the temperature is rising in Wilmington with each season breaking record highs.

Wilmington is on the coast, which means it deals with hurricanesOpens in a new tab.. The heavy rains and winds that blow down trees can cause anything from trampolines blowing away to evacuations being required. It really depends on the year. The last bad hurricane to hit Wilmington was Hurricane Florence, which hit in 2018. It caused a lot of damage, and the city is still rebuilding in some places. So, hurricanes are not unheard of and happen every hurricane season. Some are worse than others.

10. Expensive Cost of Living

The cost of living in Wilmington isn’t exactly cheap. In fact, it is more expensiveOpens in a new tab. than living in Raleigh, which is the second biggest city in North Carolina. This is due to its desirable location and intense income gap. The city feels as though you are either living in a rich area or in Section Eight Housing.

Even if you can find a good house or apartment in your price range, there is no guarantee that you will be able to pay for it unless you have a good job, which isn’t exactly easy to come by.

9. Income Gap

There seem to be no middle-class people in Wilmington. This only makes the income gap worse, as it continues to exaggerate the difference between the very rich and the very poor. It also adds to extremely nice parts of the city and sketchy, run-down areas. This income gap lends itself to aid in homelessness, the plethora of bad jobs and scarcity of good ones, and crime.

It makes it hard for middle-class people to find good housing at a decent price because there really isn’t any. Everything feels either very rundown and poor or way too lavish and rich. This becomes frustrating for families wanting to move into the area and those wanting to leave or move up in life.

8. Bad Jobs

Most average, basic jobs pay minimum wage and are very competitive. It’s hard to get a full 40 hours of work, as you are competing with many other people who want and need jobs, like a large number of college kids. Despite being a large city, Wilmington doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of job opportunities. This only adds to the income gap and poverty strewn throughout the city. People can’t seem to make enough money with the jobs and hours that are available.

If you are wanting to move or are planning on moving to Wilmington, it is a good idea to have a job already lined up. Otherwise, you could get stuck without a job.

7. Not Many Career Opportunities

Just like the jobs in general, Wilmington doesn’t have very many career opportunities. The biggest places for career growth are in the medical field and UNCW. Other than that, it’s really hard to find a good-paying job and a solid career without 25 years of experience or a Ph.D.

Because Wilmington is a coastal town, it just doesn’t lend itself very well to very many high-paying, career-oriented jobs. While they exist, they are competitive and hard to find without connections.

6. Homelessness

Wilmington has a large population of homeless peopleOpens in a new tab.. This could be a combination of a lot of factors, including the difficulty in finding jobs, the expensive housing, drugs, and Hurricane Florence. Regardless of the answer, homelessness is something that Wilmington will not be without, like most big cities. However, unlike most cities, Wilmington’s homelessness problem is considered critical and has been out of control for over a decade. The worst part is that it is becoming a growing problem.

It is common to find homeless people on street corners asking for help all over downtown areas. While the city is trying to help and stop this increasing disease of homelessness, it just isn’t enough and the numbers keep rising at alarming rates. They are expected to continue to rise as COVID-19 continues and other disasters come and go.

5. Education

Sadly, education within Wilmington is not the best. It is considered a “backward” city as a vast majority of the population seems to be fairly uneducated. Now, around the universities, there are plenty of very educated people.

However, the plague of not being as educated continues as it has seeped into the schooling systems. This means that kids are not getting the best education they could be and are only adding to the majority of people not being as educated as they could be.

4. Pollution

There is a chemical plant in Wilmington that pumps the air full of pollution. Sadly, it also pumps the water and soil full of chemicals and makes surrounding areas unhealthy. Also, due to the high population density, there is even more pollution. This makes certain parts of Wilmington a bit dangerous to live in due to chemical exposure.

It also gives Wilmington a not very pleasant smell and can affect people with asthma or other breathing problems negatively. While it is not unlike other big cities in this pollution aspect, it is still something to think about. Especially since it is not just the population that makes the pollution but a chemical plant’s exhaust that infects the surrounding area’s air, soil, and water.

3. Drug Problems

Opioid epidemic and drug abuse concept with a heroin syringe or other narcotic substances next to a bottle of prescription opioids. Oxycodone is the generic name for a range of opioid painkillers

Wilmington has a huge drug problemOpens in a new tab.. It was so bad at one point that it was named Opioid Abuse Capital of the United States in 2016. The good news is that Wilmington has a very strong recovery community, which may be a reason why drug abuse is so high in the area.

In the span of 10 years—2011-2020—about 3,032 people diedOpens in a new tab. in Wilmington, North Carolina due to drugs. Despite efforts to make things better and having a great recovery center and community, the drug problem just doesn’t seem to be going away. It is getting worse. A lot of this is due to North Carolina prescribing more opioids in stronger doses over the last decade and they are now dealing with the consequences. These consequences are seen at their worstOpens in a new tab. in Wilmington.

This drug problem is something you should consider before moving to Wilmington, as it is something that you will be exposed to.

2. Unclean Drinking Water

Due to the chemical plant in Wilmington, the drinking water is unclean and undrinkable. The water is so saturated with deadly chemicals, that you can not drink water in Wilmington or even in Wrightsville Beach and in some surrounding areas. Despite an outcry for change, nothing is happening. The water still remains undrinkable.

In 2017, health officials told residents to stop drinking tap water due to GenX and PFASOpens in a new tab.. GenX and PFAS are dangerous chemicals that were pumped into Cape Fear by the chemical plant and seeped into Wilmington’s drinking water. It is unsafe to drink. It is blamed for deadly cancer and other serious illnesses.

Despite the city trying to take action in finding filters and making new lawsOpens in a new tab. for protecting and maintaining healthy water, the chemicals are still in the water and still pose a threat today.

1. Crime

men with gun

The crime rate in Wilmington is worse than in most other dense urban areas. This means about half the population thinks about crime and safetyOpens in a new tab. once every day. It is undoubtedly something you should think about before moving to Wilmington.

The crime rates in Wilmington are almost double the national average in violent crimes. It is well over double for the state of North Carolina in crimes per square mile. It is considered safer than 10% of other US cities. You have a 1 in 145 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, the state’s chances are 1 in 235Opens in a new tab.. There are 4,154 crimes annually within the Wilmington borders.

Wilmington, North Carolina is not exactly a safe place to live.

While most of these crimes happen in the downtown areas, as is the case in most cities, it is not unheard of to get shot or attacked really anywhere in the city and at any time. This is definitely something you should consider before moving to Wilmington.

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