After months of looking, we finally found our forever home, and it’s Wilmington, NC!
Here’s the sound bite version of our week long trip:
On our first day we visited St. James Plantation in Southport. As its name implies, it’s on the coast and is simply charming! The night before we left I watched ‘Safe Haven’ with Josh Duchamel (remember him from All My Children?) and Julianna Hough. It was filmed in Southport, and just watching the movie I knew I would love the area, and I did. We both did.
BUT…St. James is not for those with shallow pockets. It’s a place that probably invented the phrase. ‘you get what you pay for’. Their tag line is ‘You Want It All? It’s Here!’
And it is.
We’re talking four beautiful clubhouses, five great restaurants, a 155 boat slip marina, 13 Har-Tu tennis courts, pickleball, 4 indoor and outdoor resort style pools, state of the art fitness and wellness center, a private beach club, bike paths, four 18 hole professional golf courses, activities up the wazoo and absolutely GORGEOUS southern style homes throughout their impeccably maintained grounds. We were pretty much convinced that’s where we wanted to be, but luckily we came to our senses (well, Fisherman did, I was still holding out hope. Anyone know what one can get for a kidney these days?).
After three days in Southport we moved on a bit further inland toward the city of Wilmington and visited several ‘Plantations’ (that’s what communities are called down there), but only one we both liked, which is Brunswick Forest. Like St. James, it’s quite large and has lots of amenities and activities, but while St. James is a golfers paradise (we don’t golf), Brunswick Forest is a bit more laid back in that department. I think they have 3 nine hole courses, compared to St. James’ 81 holes, so HOA dues aren’t as high, and their initiation fee is more affordable. There are also several ‘neighborhoods’ with different vibes, many of which are established already.
But guess what?? After looking at a few houses we decided to buy land in one of their newer neighborhoods and build! I haven’t lived in a new home since I was 5, so I’m pretty excited about the prospect of having everything all shiny and new :).
I have a few photos of the model home to show you, but there will be a few changes. What we are getting is a ‘land/home’ package, which basically means each component costs less than if purchased separately, but the trade off is we have to accept there are certain limitations in the design process since it’s not a custom build.
The house checked off all my ‘must-haves’, like a separate room for sewing/crafts, a nice sized kitchen island and a gas stove. It seems electric is very common down south, especially Florida, but I much prefer gas for cooking. It also checked off many of my ‘would like to haves’, such as a fireplace, separate dining room and front porch. I also didn’t want to be in our back yard and look at someone else’s house, and we won’t. It’s a nice lot with a small pond and trees out back.
As for the location of the community, we are just about 10-15 minutes to downtown Wilmington, which is a cool, small riverfront city of about 114,000 people. There are tons of great restaurants and interesting shops, as well as UNCW, which has a Lifelong Learning program. Currently, beaches are 30-45 minutes away depending on traffic, but a new road is being built and should be ready in a few months which will cut that time down to maybe 25 minutes at most.
Now, about the house. As soon as we entered the model, I was impressed with the layout. I liked that there was a clear shot to the back of the house, with a nice, unobstructed window. In our case, with our lot this means you will see a little bit of water and trees as soon as you enter. I also liked the arched doorways and that there is an actual entryway, something we don’t have at the cabin but is a nice touch in a home.
The room to the immediate right when you walk in (it’s not visible in the photo) is a guest bedroom and full bath, and the room with the green paint on the right is the dining room. That’s something else I haven’t had in ions, so it will be fun decorating that space.
In the living room, I liked that there’s a fireplace and beautiful coffered ceilings. We plan on upgrading the mantel to something a bit more substantial, and I’m not sure about placing a tv above the fireplace. It seems there’s as much controversy about that as there is about toilet paper…over or under?
Psssssttt….definitely over, so you can make that nice little ‘V’ :).
The kitchen is a good size, but some upgrades are in order. I would have liked a white washed brick backsplash, but that’s not an option, so I may go with glass tiles. The vent hood and faucet are a bit underwhelming, and may be changed if possible. We also plan on upgrading the granite to a light colored quartz, similar to the one in this post. And I’m one of the few weirdos who doesn’t like double sinks, at least when they’re small like this one, but our options are limited so we shall see.
The cabinets we picked will be a soft white, and I’m hopeful we can get white appliances because again, I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t like stainless.
One of our favorite rooms is the master bedroom. The vaulted tray ceiling is just like the one we had in our former house in NY and I loved it. I’ve kept the chandelier that was in that room all this time in the hopes we could someday use it again, but I suppose a ceiling fan is far more practical. We’re also considering upgrading from carpet to wood, although I like the feel of carpet in a bedroom, it just doesn’t last long.
The sitting room could be converted to a separate office space, but we like the openness and light it brings in so we’re keeping it as is.
There’s also a small room upstairs, what they call a FROG (family room over garage) that will be my craft space, a 2 car garage and a nice sized screened in back porch that can be accessed from the bedroom sitting area and the kitchen dinette area.
Now that you’ve seen some of the key spaces, I should point out that everything is contingent on our selling our home quickly, and we live in a very tough market since it’s primarily a recreational second home community. Everything could go south (no pun intended), but if it’s meant to be, it will be :).
One of the many advantages of the greater Wilmington area are the vintage and antique stores. They seem to be at every turn. On Mother’s Day we explored the area beaches which was fun (you MUST try Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach!), but the highlight of the day was our visit to this fabulous shop!
In case you’re wondering, that’s Fisherman sticking his tongue out at me :/.
There was so much to look at, and I didn’t take a lot of pics, but I know I’ll be back. They even custom build farmhouse dining tables, and I have just the space for one…
In other news…
We’ve been crazy busy since returning Monday night. Our realtor came over Tuesday morning and we’ve got tons to think about and do. We have to do a Title V inspection on our septic, so keeps those fingers and toes crossed it will pass please! That’s super important! We hope the cabin will be on the market by Memorial weekend.
I know some of you were convinced Venice was the front runner, and it was, but North Carolina is exactly half way between Florida and NY, which will make visits to either of those states fairly easy. Also, it seems that most of the people in North Carolina are full timers, which gives it more of a community feel. I’m sure we would have been very happy doing 6/6 in Venice and Massachusetts for a few years, but after a while it gets old and most people end up picking one place eventually anyway, and I don’t think I’d want to live in Florida full time. Thanks for following along on this adventure, but stick around. I’m going to need some decorating advice :).