When I hear someone say they’re “moving to the coast,” I think, “Lucky them, they’re in for some welcome decompression and a laidback lifestyle.” We recently spoke with a customer who is considering Florida, Hawaii, Greece, and the coast of North Carolina for his next move — all decompression zones and each with its own version of laidback. And all quite different. Even more, each of these different destinations has a number of coastal enclaves to consider.

If you’ve ever thought of moving to the North Carolina coast and researched different areas, you likely considered 1) how much house or land you can get for your money, 2) how many months of the year you can enjoy the outdoors, and 3) how secluded or metropolitan the destination might be. And you probably stumbled upon the Crystal Coast but didn’t quite know where it was.

In this article, we’ll give you our take on the Crystal Coast. Full disclosure: we moved here. Like a lot of professionals, we find great value here — in the natural resources, in real estate, and particularly in the people.

Where is the Crystal Coast?

The Crystal Coast, also marketed as the Southern Outer Banks (SOBX) or Inner Banks, was named for its clear waters and inviting white beaches. The area is home to Beaufort, NC, consistently ranked as one of America’s favorite small towns; Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, towns with both ocean and sound fronts; and Morehead City, a leading port town in North Carolina. It’s also where you’ll find the Cape Lookout lighthouse and smaller towns such as Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, Salter Path, and Harkers Island. It’s a burgeoning area along North Carolina’s coast that’s checking a lot of boxes for those looking for that ideal coastal life.

Map of the Crystal Coast

Where is the closest airport?

The Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN) in New Bern, is only 45 minutes from Morehead City. It has convenient connections and is served by American Airlines, Delta, United, Virgin Atlantic, and more. The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is a 2.5-hour drive from the Crystal Coast (a drive that will be shorter following completion of Interstate 42). Taking a smaller aircraft? The Michael J. Smith Field is just minutes from Historic Beaufort, pristine beaches, and world-class fishing off the Big Rock.

What kind of waterfront property exists along the Crystal Coast?

One thing you’ll notice in the map above is that Carteret County is surrounded by waterways. This is our favorite feature of living here!

  • Do you love the beach? There are over 85 miles of beaches on the SOBX and many cottages, condos, and multi-family homes to choose from.
  • Perhaps you prefer to have a home with a dock for your boat. If so, a home on Bogue Sound, North River, or the Newport River may be perfect.
  • If you’d love to lounge on your front porch watching wild birds and ponies, check out the historic Beaufort waterfront along Taylor’s Creek.

Beyond these bodies of water, there are also bays, creeks, channels, inlets, and estuaries throughout the region.

What activities can I do along the Crystal Coast?

On the Crystal Coast, you can be as active as you’d like. Spend your day lying on the beach or charter a boat for a day-long fishing trip or scuba diving excursion. You can kayak or paddleboard the marshes or grab your longboard and go surfing. Enjoy a sunset sail with sangria or catch a live band at a local club.

There are festivals, tournaments, and tours throughout the year, including the famous Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament, the Seafood Festival, the Beaufort Wine and Food Festival, the Pirate Invasion, Atlantic Beach’s Beach Music Festival, and the Beaufort Old Homes Tour.

Foodies will be impressed by the number of high-quality restaurants and breweries in the region. And to ensure a consistent pipeline of chefs, hospitality staff, and restaurateurs, Carteret Community College has recently completed a $10 million, 17,000 square foot Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center.

Should I purchase a home on the Crystal Coast?

The Crystal Coast is still largely undiscovered, and it’s less congested than larger coastal communities such as Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. There are homes of every size and price point in Carteret County, so whether you’re buying your first home, investing in a rental property, or retiring in style, there is something for everyone. The Crystal Coast has many advantages and is worth considering for your coastal home retreat.

Each small town here has its own perks and personality.  Please contact us for more information and allow us to serve as your hyperlocal experts on the Crystal Coast!