How to Select the Best Outer Banks Neighborhood for Investment, Retirement or for You and Your Family to Enjoy

beach18The first thing to consider before selecting an Outer Banks neighborhood is your goals.  A neighborhood perfect for an investment as a vacation rental usually is not the best year round family home.  Take some time to write down your goals and then become a detective to find the best matching neighborhood.  Also, take some time to think about the things you don’t want or refer to our blog about features to avoid for maximum appreciation.

Year Round or Retirement Home


For most buyers, even without children, a location in a good school district helps to maintain the value of the home at re-sale.  While the quality of the school may not matter to someone who is retired it can make a difference when the time comes to sell.  The distance of the school can be a huge consideration for children who will be riding a school bus.

Parks & Recreation Centers

Consider the activities you like to do and select a neighborhood that has access nearby.  If you walk the dog daily, is there a safe and attractive place to walk the dog?  If the kids participate in sports, are the fields and facilities nearby?  Is there a park within walking distance?

Community Centers

There are many types of community centers – either affiliated with a church or other local group.  Check out the activities and the makeup of the group to see if you would fit in and if they have the kinds of activities you enjoy.

Type of Home – townhouse, condo, single family

Some communities only have a single home style.  Decide which type of home meets your needs at this stage of your life to narrow down the number of neighborhood choices.

Homeowners /Community Association

Determine the type of homeowners or community association.  While some are geared toward recreation or amenities; others can dictate what you are allowed to do with your home down to what color you can paint it.  Also, make sure to check the financial health of the association so you are not surprised by any new assessments.

Commute to Work & School

Get a clear idea of the location and the traffic at key times for places you need to go to every day.  A short commute to work, school or shopping will make these activities enjoyable instead of stressful.

New Community or Established

There is a community for every interest and every taste in the Outer Banks.  To get more details and a profile on each community, click here.  Are you looking for a new community where your home has the latest features and energy efficiency?  A new home is appealing to anyone who does not want to remodel or have a lot of home maintenance items to attend to during their free time. 

Or is an established historical neighborhood more your style?  Are you looking for mature trees or a maritime forest like Southern Shores or Buxton?  Perhaps, the unpainted aristocracy of the old Nags Head homes suit your taste.

Access to Shopping

Almost everyone has to go grocery shopping so be sure to check out the store nearby.  Does it carry the items you regularly use?  If you always start your day with a cup of coffee, is there a shop nearby that will allow you to continue the tradition.  Consider what other items you regularly shop for and make sure they are nearby or that you are willing to make the tradeoff.  Duck and Manteo have a lovely waterfront area with shops and restaurants that make it very attractive.

Walkability or Bike ability

If you like to walk rather than drive for your daily activities make sure the neighborhood you choose allows you to do so.  Does the neighborhood and area have bike paths or a greenway to make it pleasurable?  Corolla has been adding to a walking and biking greenway over the past several years and it just keeps getting better and better.  Of course, the Outer Banks has biking paths dispersed from north to south to making biking enjoyable year round.

Waterfront Access or Boating

A condo or home on the waterfront provides endless enjoyment of the sunrises or sunsets but can also be so much more.  If you love boating, fishing, kayaking or other water sports make sure the location is suitable for these activities.  A large boat may require higher depth for dockage, access to channels and clearance under bridges for flying bridges on the boat.  A kayaker may appreciate the canals and smaller waterways to get closer to wildlife rather than the open water.

Some Outer Banks communities have dock and boating access for homes that are not on the waterfront.  This will be more economical to purchase and still allow owners to be able to enjoy the waterfront and watersport activities.

Proportion of year round residents to vacation rentals

If you are looking to settle year round then the amount of vacation rentals in the neighborhood may be important to you.  A high percentage of rentals may mean your neighbors change every week in season making it difficult to make new friends.  It could also mean not having many neighbors in the winter months which could be a welcome change.  Some Outer Banks neighborhoods have a higher proportion of rentals by the oceanfront and a higher number of year round residents on the west side.

Doctors & Hospitals

If someone in the family has a medical condition then the location and proximity of hospitals, doctors and any specialist may have an increased importance.  This can be an important consideration for retirement homes, even if there are no issues at the time of purchase.

Elevations & Access

It is very important to know the elevation and the risk of flooding for a particular home you may purchase but it is also important to consider if your access though your neighborhood will be impacted due to flooding.  If there are low spots that typically flood you may not be able to leave or return to your home.

The Outer Banks is considered a barrier island even though it is a peninsula.  However, most people have to cross a bridge to get here.  Hatteras Island residents have been impacted when unable to use the bridge to get to or from the island.

Vacation Rental or Investment

Community Amenities

Vacation rentals homes with community amenities allows you to provide a larger variety of amenities to your guest than would be practical otherwise.  Some neighborhoods, like Corolla Light, are especially known for the superior and vast amenities provided for guests.  Of course, these amenities also come with a cost that need to be properly managed.  Make sure you understand the cost.  Alternatively, a community that does not have shared amenities may require you to provide them, like a pool and hot tub and incur the cost to maintain them even when vacant.

Location and proximity to ocean or sound

Many Outer Banks communities span from the ocean front to the sound front and each location attracts different visitors.  The ocean front has strong summer demand but maintenance costs may be higher due to windblown sand abrasion on painted surfaces and salt water corroding metal.  The sound is attractive to vacationers who enjoy boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and the like.  The sound side areas of the Outer Banks tend to have more trees, wildlife and natural vegetation.

Proximity to Attractions

The Outer Banks has a multitude of attractions for every interest.  From lighthouses and maritime museums to aviation enthusiast visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial the Outer Banks has attractions spread out from north to south.  Selecting a neighborhood near the attractions that will appeal to your target renter has to be considered before settling on a neighborhood.

Rental home performance in the community

Some resort communities in the Outer Banks are well known and attract many repeat guests from year to year.  Getting some numbers on the desirability of the community can be a decisive factor in targeting which neighborhood to select for your vacation home investment.

Regardless of whether you are looking for an investment property or year round property, there are certain elements to consider that both have in common. 

First impression

The neighborhood should have a neat and clean first impression.  Homes should be well-maintained and not falling into disrepair.  While you can always fix up the home you purchase, you are stuck with your neighbors and the way they either maintain or don’t maintain their home.  Are there abandoned buildings or graffiti evident or are there contractors working on remodeling and improvement projects?  Take the time to use all your senses.  Are there mature trees, birds singing, traffic noise or bad odors?

Visit at different Times, Days and Seasons

It is important to visit the neighborhood at different times of the day and different times of the year.  Does the neighborhood look warm and inviting at night with folks sitting on porches and walking dogs or do the neighbors stick to themselves?  Is traffic backed up on the weekends or at rush hour?  How does the population vary between the summer season and the winter season?

Walk the Neighborhood

Get out and walk the neighborhood and talk to residents.  Visit local establishments and strike up conversations to get the opinion of the “average Joe”. How do they like living in their neighborhood?  Would they have chosen differently after living here for a while? Is there any new developments, like road construction or a bridge being planned?  How will that effect the neighborhood you are considering?

The Agents at Eillu are local experts and can make answering the above questions easier for you.  If you Schedule an Appointment, we will gladly take you on a tour and give you the scoop on each neighborhood.  For more tips on selecting a neighborhood, download the offer below.


Yes, You Can Expect More With The Eillu Real Estate Team!

Mailing Address
PO Box 3009, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Physical Address
3712 Suite B North Croatan Hwy
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
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