I have spent a lot of time writing and talking about North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.
I love to write and take pictures so I have an extensive amount of information about the area online.
My start in blogging came back in the fall of 2004 well before we moved to the area. I made it a priority from my first post onwards to stick to what I knew and to leave the speculation to others.
The one exception was my popular Applepeels blog where I sometimes joined in on the guessing game regarding Apple’s future moves. That is something of a national sport in the technology world, and my nearly twenty years at the company gave me more insight than most folks.
When I put up my first websites about my experiences about living on the Crystal Coast in the fall of 2006, it was more like a personal journal than trying to market the area to anyone. Later years evolved into more detailed information.
I have been coming to the area since I could walk so living here is the culmination of a dream. It just took me many years to figure this was the right dream and the right place.
I have continued to write about the area and even did one stint of two years being paid to write about living here on the Crystal Coast. I tried hard to be factual about the area, and I have continued to add that collections of posts.
Back in 2007, I noticed there were lots of questions being asked about the Crystal Coast on some online forums. I was appalled at some of the misinformation that got passed around as the truth. It seemed like people would make comments about areas where they obviously had never been, and some of the comments ended up being very negative.
I got involved with one particular online forum and spent a lot of time trying to correct misconceptions. Late last year, I actually gave up, and quit posting.
Why I quit posting is a good lesson for both REALTORS® and their clients.
While part of the reason I quit was in frustration from trying to answer questions that you can only answer for yourself through personal experience, I also just got tired of trying to win arguments with people who were deliberately trying to mislead people for a variety of motives.
When you have someone trying to make you or a particular area look bad, they are not going to respond to logic or the truth.
A few examples will make my reasoning a little easier to understand.
First of all, I do applaud people trying to find out about an area before moving to it, but I think you have to ask yourself upfront, just how much do you want to trust people whom you have never met and who often operate with anonymous names?
One of my favorite annoying questions which I am betting still pops up is “Does it get hot in coastal North Carolina and just how unbearable is the humidity?”
I started out by trying to explain what most coastal residents know. Carteret County is over 60% water, and for much of the year the water around us provides either natural cooling or warming. The closer you live to the water the more you feel the effect. From late spring until late summer, the water helps keep us cool. From late fall until early winter the water helps keep us warm. In general we rarely get above 93F in the summer and normally not below 24F in the winter. Of course after this winter, we all know there are exceptions to the rule.
I went on the explain that you can go inland ten or fifteen miles from Emerald towards Jacksonville and often see summer temperatures jump to 100F or sometimes more.
When it came to humidity, I tried to explain that humidity is something that most people learn to tolerate. My personal experience of moving from Canada where I lived for sixteen years to Columbia, MD in 1987 was about as much of a shock to the system as you can find. Just before we moved, we were living in Halifax, Nova Scotia where hardly anyone bothered with air conditioning at the time
I have been here on the North Carolina coast for going on five years, and I look forward to our warm weather. When it gets really hot, we either get on the water or in the water. And there are some nasty days when we spend as much time as possible enjoying that modern wonder of air conditioning.
The debate this set off was formidable with people trying to prove their particular area was better. However this was nothing compared to the discussion about traffic.
People looking to move are often concerned about beach traffic and how it might interfere with their day to day life. Having worked for many years in the Washington, DC area with considerable time on the infamous beltway, Interstate 66, and the Dulles Toll Road on top of many trips to California, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta, I think I have a pretty good grasp of what bad traffic looks like.
On top of that I live just a few miles from the beach and often shop at the Food Lion in Emerald Isle even on the weekend during the heart of beach season.
This debate brought opinions ranging from Emerald Isle is uninhabitable during the summer because of beach traffic to those whose only solution was to recommend people moving to Oriental which has no traffic but also has very few services.
I even took the time to time a trip on the 4th of July across the bridge to Emerald Isle to the other end of town and write a post about it. Of course none of that put an end to the discussion since it seems everyone is an expert on traffic even if they have never visited a particular area.
The traffic and weather debates paled in comparison to the silly one over shallow water beaches.
Someone asked if the area had any shallow water beaches. Since I spent a lot of time on the beach and near the beach in my skiff, I responded with places that I knew had shallow water.
Another real estate agent decided to argue that the places I called beaches couldn’t be called beaches because the sand moved too much there. I suppose the people swimming and wading there on the beach would be surprised to know their beach was not a beach in the mind of someone.
I suspect that beach argument and some silly rules on the forum were the straws that broke the camel’s back.
Many of the questions endlessly debated were ones which can only truthfully be answered by a person’s own experience. I was born in North Carolina, lived in Canada, and on a mountain in Virginia. What is comfortable to me might not be comfortable to you.
Traffic is similar, I have been stuck in enough one to two hour traffic jams that I have a hard time considering a trip of a few miles taking eight minutes instead of six minutes really being traffic that makes an area uninhabitable.
And as for beaches, if it has sand, water, waves, and people enjoying it, I consider it a beach just like the Mayor of Emerald Isle does.
My suggestion is that people looking into an area spend some time finding credible sources of information on the web, and there are plenty. Do your research, and if the area looks promising, visit the area until you either reject it or decide you like it. Talk to local people who live there. In a small town area like the Southern Outer Banks, it is not very hard to strike up a conversation with someone. It is a whole lot easier to tell whether or not you are talking to a credible source in person than it is on the web.
When you have picked an area and figured out your finances by talking to a bank, go interview a few REALTORS®. A little web research can help you find one that matches your personality and perhaps specializes in the area you want and/or the type of property that is your dream.
You will likely find someone whose opinions of the area match yours except that they will know a lot more important details about the area. Most are just interested in finding you a place that you will love.
I like to tell people that the Crystal Coast North Carolina website which I maintain is an accurate representation of my very local area, including my experiences on the White Oak River, Bogue Inlet, and along the beaches of Emerald Isle. I tend to use my Crystal Coast Life site to talk about the area in a more generalized format. I even maintain a site, The Crystal Coast, Salt Water on my Feet, with posts specifically targeted to answering questions people moving here might have. There are plenty of other links on those sites which can help you decide whether or not you might like to work with me.
If you look at those sites, you can find out more about weather in this area than probably anyone but me would want to know. If you search the archives of the sites, you can find out information on just about any activity or destination in the area. When those sites have satisfied your curiosity about the area, you can give me a call or visit one of my real estate sites if you like what I have written.
I even post GPS tracks of my hikes and boat rides, and of course there are always plenty of photos and tweets. I use Foursquare to comment on local venues, and sometimes people interested in the area even convince me to be their friends on Facebook. It practically impossible to hide the truth about this area with all that online information available.
In general I am willing to bet that just about everyone will do better making an informed effort to find credible Internet or face to face information instead of relying on the "expert" opinions of forum strangers who just might have some strange ulterior motives.