I’m willing to bet that you know someone who moved during Covid. You may have moved yourself. The Wall Street Journal reported that seven million households moved to a different county in 2020, nearly half a million more than in 2019. Where did they move? Thrilled by the new option of working remotely, families migrated to less dense and often, more affordable areas. Professionals happily replaced the daily grind of commuting into an office with a more balanced lifestyle without alarm clocks, traffic, or professional attire.

We did it. We’ve always wanted to move to the North Carolina coast and had begun making long-range plans to do so. But we were able to pull the trigger early — and we’ve never looked back! Perhaps you’ve thought about making a move but are still figuring out how to make it happen. In this article, we outline six different ways you can chart your course to the coast — where you can relax, reconnect to nature, and live the life you imagine.

Rent

1.

Try coastal life on the weekends.

When we first began to crave more time at the coast, we would pack a duffel bag and drive down after work on a Friday. At first, we went one weekend a month, then two, and eventually, we were there nearly every weekend. We spent our weeks planning our weekends and couldn’t wait to unwind overlooking the water Friday night after the drive.

We stayed at area hotels and inns, and with family from time to time. Coming down periodically gives you an opportunity to try different coastal areas to see which ones suit your lifestyle and resonate with you culturally.

2.

Rent a coastal home.

Once we were coming every weekend, we decided to try leasing a condo for one year. We absolutely loved the low-maintenance living and ended up leasing it for four years. This situation allowed us to spend our weekends boating, beaching, and lounging instead of working on the house or yard. We made incredible family memories at that condo.

And at the conclusion of our four-year experiment, there was no question that we loved the coast and envisioned a more permanent future here. We also narrowed in on Beaufort as the best town for us. So, the next step for us was to stop renting and buy a vacation rental investment property.

Invest

3.

Buy a vacation rental.

Our hearts were at the coast, but our jobs were in the city, along with after-school and weekend activities with the kids. During this busy phase, we mapped out a plan to move to the coast full-time in three years, which met the needs of our family. We were still going to the coast often, but sadly, not every weekend. We decided to search for the home we’d like to move into in three years, with the goal of renting it out as a vacation rental when we weren’t using it. This would allow us to purchase a home at a good time in the market and build up some equity.

We found a home in our ideal location in Beaufort, fixed it up, and rented it out. We used Airbnb and VRBO and worked with a local company to handle on-site requests. This worked incredibly well. We had amazing renters who booked it consistently, and it felt nice to come full-circle and provide a retreat where other families could experience #1 above.

4.

Buy a multi-family home.

Another good option for us would have been to purchase a full duplex and rent out one side and live in the other. Or buy a single-family home with a guest cottage — what investors call “house hacking”. Our desired area didn’t have many multi-family homes available, so we selected a single-family home instead.

Enjoy

5.

Purchase a second home.

Being a landlord isn’t time-consuming, but it is a job. And some people prefer to have their coastal home all to themselves with the flexibility to occupy it any time they like. A big plus of a second home (vs. a vacation rental) is being able to leave personal items in the home, including food and clothes, without tucking them away in a locked owner’s closet. Another consideration is that you can purchase a second home with less money down (generally 10-20%) than an investment property (typically 25% or more). The turbo-tourism demographic in Carteret County is rapidly shifting now that many professionals have the option to work from home.

6.

Take the plunge. Buy your dream home and relocate.

Remember when I said that we had a three-year plan for a permanent move to the coast pre-Covid? As luck would have it, we were one of the seven million households that moved to a different county. When our vacation rentals dropped out because of Covid in March 2020, we decided to ride things out for a few weeks in our place in Beaufort. Then, work and school moved online through the summer, and that got extended to the following year. The opportunity was in front of us, and we loved it here. So, we stayed.

After a year in Beaufort, we sold that rental home and bought a larger home a few blocks away, which we’re now renovating. We couldn’t be happier! I often think about those mornings driving to work in the city and how it took all my willpower not to pass my exit and head straight to the beach. Now we see the water every single day. On Sunday evenings, I’m so grateful that we don’t have to leave the coast to head back inland.

Our journey to the coast took 10 years and a lot of experimenting. There’s no right path to get here. Wherever you are in your journey, we hope to see you at the beach, out boating, or at a barbecue. Find your happy place and go there as often as you can.

Tracy and Ian discuss their move to the coast: