Nags Head, North Carolina

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What's it like to live in Nags Head?

Considering moving to the Outer Banks in a couple of years- what should we know about it?

Not a local, but own a home here and spend a good deal of time here. My husband and I are in a similar position re: remote workers.

No kids, so can't speak to raising them here. You have awhile before you have to worry about teens and drugs, but I understand that there's a bit of a drug issue here…sounds to me like typical isolated small town stuff though.

Also keep in mind that if you have anything traumatic or medically complicated happen to you, you will be taking a helicopter ride. Not sure about now, but as of a couple years ago, they were flying heart attacks (at least some) to Norfolk [I suppose this could have been a capacity issue though].

Not sure exactly what you mean by civic organizations, but there seems to be a lot of opportunity to get involved with local politics and volunteer work. Locals tend to live in Manteo or Collington, or back in the woods in Kitty Hawk, so I'd suggest looking there if you want more of a community feeling, and for your neighbors to be locals vs. rentals. But any good realtor should be able to guide you towards the locals subdivisions.

I hadn't been down for awhile before I arrived back here on Sunday, and I was just thinking about how much I love it here. There's no traffic. The air is clean. And the owner of your local coffee shop can take the time to chat with you about what she's roasting right now. And we haven't yet had an experience with anyone being unwelcoming or unfriendly. I'm sure it will happen, and this place has its flaws for sure, but it's one of my favorite places in the world to spend my time.

Considering moving to the Outer Banks in a couple of years- what should we know about it?

It's very hard to find a primary care physician down here too. The population has grown too fast for the medical community to keep up. Expect to be taken on by a PA rather than an MD (obviously, not a big deal but some people are weird about it. Which is dumb.) and expect to be sent to Chesapeake or Norfolk if you are scheduled to have any major surgeries. I'd also recommend considering those hospitals for when you have your baby.

Do not underestimate how rough sand/salt is on a car! Seriously. I cannot overstate this point.

Traffic in the summer is horrendous. It gets a lot quieter in the winters, but on the northern beaches you won't get quiet the same isolation that hits Hatteras. Some things will stay open all year. You also mentioned biking - a lot of the area is not super bike friendly, particularly during the busy months. We regularly have folks on bikes being hit by overwhelmed visiting drivers. Attempts are being made to make it a more bike-friendly area, but you still have to exercise extreme caution.

It's also a very expensive place to live. Dare County has one of the highest costs of living in NC. Gas prices are on par with LA and grocery prices are excessive (particularly in the winter when a lot of stores jack up the prices to make up for the smaller crowds). Gas on Hatteras has hovered around $2.50/gal for 6+ months. It's currently 20-30 cents cheaper up the beach. You will see it jump huge amounts during holidays, hurricanes, etc. Jobs and long-term rentals are also hard to come by.

Yes, you will have to deal with hurricanes but keep in mind that nor'easters can be just as bad if not worse. Places like Colington are great, but you will also have to grapple with soundside flooding on the roads. This can happen without a storm, just with high winds coming from a particular direction. Driving through this will eventually become a necessity, but it's awful for your car.

The locals tend to be very passionate about the community and environment. There is no shortage of groups you can join or volunteer opportunities.

I've lived here on and off for 30 years. Feel free to send me a message/ask as many questions as you'd like. It's not always an easy life here and there's no point in tip-toeing around that. I love it here and don't plan on leaving again, but we have a huge turnover of residents because it's just not a sustainable lifestyle for a lot of peop

What should I REALLY know about moving to OBX?

Some of these are repeats of what others posted but I'll add them myself from my own experience.

Rough winters. Especially January to early March. The average temps of the 40ºs are nice until you have 30kts of NNW wind blowing for 5 days straight during a long Nor'Easter.

Making connections. A lot of people come here, not a lot of people stay. This is both in the seasonality and transient nature of the type of work that brings people. The ones that do stay—or were born here—are kind but not always welcoming to make deeper friendships. I think meeting so many people who come and go affects how you interact with new comers. Not to mention there can be an undertone of "well, you're a local sure—but you're not from here". Don't get me wrong. The people of the Outer Banks are great. But it can be hard to make actual "friends".

You really need to enjoy outdoors to enjoy living here. If you're not looking forward to doing stuff in, on, or around the water on a regular basis—you're going to get bored. The people who enjoy living here the most enjoy these types of activities.

Roads flooding. Most people know about the hurricane issues, but depending are the area you reside or need to travel, there can be water salt water on the road during Nor'Easters. This is a much bigger issue on Hatteras than up in town though.

Specialty medical care. Anything beyond basic medical needs you're probably going to have to drive to Elizabeth City, Chesapeake, or Norfolk for.

Shopping. Shipping times are longer out here by a day or so usually. Some places are closed or have limited hours during the winter. And if you buy local you'll be paying more. We don't have cheaper options like Ollies, Big Lots, Aldi, Harbor Freight, etc, for things like other areas do.

edit: I will note that even though OBX can have it's difficulties we enjoy it a ton here. I love the experience it is for my children as they grow up and believe it was a great decision to make the move here. It's hard to beat going to the beach on one's lunch break (if you so choose…) but that type of trade off for the difficulties mentioned above isn't for everyone.


This video will provide 10 REASONS WHY PEOPLE LOVE NAGS HEAD NORTH CAROLINA USA. These are not ALL the reasons why people love Nags Head and if you have a reason why you love Nags Head, put it in the comment section and I will make another video.

  1. Sandboarding at Jockey's Ridge State Park
  2. Nags Head Fishing Pier
  3. The Beach
  4. Nags Head Dolphin Tours
  5. Bodie Island Lighthouse
  6. Seaside Art Gallery
  7. Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve
  8. Full Throttle Speedway
  9. Nags Head Golf Links
  10. Kayaking

Living on the Outer Banks is a challenge: 'You have to be a sturdy stock'

Jan Dawson Dawson describes the challenges of living on Hatteras Island and how vital NC 12 is to her business and way of life.
Video by Robert Willett / The News & Observer