It is easy for people living in an area to sit back and relax while others promote their area. However, unless you are someone who is excited about being the last person in paradise, eventually how well where you live is promoted will be important to you.
This was recently brought home to me by Budget Travel's Coolest Small Town of 2012 Contest. I live along North Carolina's Crystal Coast. How we came to live along the shores of the White Oak River offers insight into how people choose where they live in retirement and why a contest is important.
Both my wife and I were born in North Carolina. I was already living and farming in Canada when my wife and I met. An interesting career eventually brought us back to the United States after I started working with Apple Computer in the mid-eighties. Later living in Roanoke, Virginia and working in Reston, Virginia made sense for my career with Apple which lasted until 2004.
In 2003 I decided to take my wife on a special trip to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary. Looking for a great bed and breakfast led me to Beaufort, North Carolina. During my youth, Beaufort was nothing to rave about, but as the story in the previous link details Beaufort became a very neat place and experienced a complete rebirth.
We ended up visiting Beaufort for that thirtieth anniversary. That visit rekindled my love for the North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. We spent the next three years looking for a place to live in Beaufort. We could not find the right combination of water access and price to meet our needs. A spot just under thirty miles west of Beaufort near Swansboro, North Carolina called Bluewater Cove turned out to be our magic place.
If we had not made that first visit for our thirtieth anniversary, we might well have ended up some other place. We were already looking at places near West Jefferson, North Carolina and in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.
While most areas have economic development teams, it is surprising how important visitors and local blogs are to getting the word out about neat areas. As more and more people turn to the Internet for information, how a particular area is presented on the Internet makes a huge difference.
The Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina is far less well known than the Northern Outer Banks which stretch from Corolla down through Nags Head and eventually to Hatteras Island and Ocracoke. However, there are a fair number of people, myself included, who find living permanently on the Southern Outer Banks more attractive than living on the Northern Outer Banks.
After living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, I have a good understanding of maritime climates so perhaps where I chose to live is no surprise since I picked a cozy place out the cold winds where the winters don't last long. Yet I would never have found the spot without that first trip to Beaufort. I cannot even count the number of people who have written me and thanked me for the information that I provide about North Carolina's coast in my blogs.
In an information age, great information is a competitive edge for an area whether it comes to jobs or people moving to an area for retirement. Sitting back and letting others tell the story about your area might be easy, but if you are articulate about your area, your words will be valuable to others.
When the contest came up for the Coolest Small Town in 2012, I was prompted to write an article about Why Beaufort is a Great Place to Visit. No one had to convince me to write the article because my wife and I still enjoy driving down to Beaufort for the afternoon. It is always one of the places that we take our visitors after they have gotten a full does of the beaches of Emerald Isle.
We live in an amazing area with many wonderful attractions and a lifestyle that is attractive to many people. The picture at the top of the post was taken a short paddle from our home where I just slide my kayak in the water from my backyard. There aren't many places where you can find a spot like that beautiful oyster bar close to a subdivision.
Sharing pictures of an area and even movies of the local wildlife (Apple users click here) helps promote your area to people who often care about the same things that you do. In 2012 we have enjoyed a wonderful winter on the North Carolina coast with some magic days on the beach even in January. People who want to avoid the cold are interested in that story.
If I have tweaked your interest in the contest, please take the time to support Beaufort's effort to be the coolest small town in 2012. January 31 is the last day to vote. I think Beaufort deserves to win. It is a great place to visit. There aren't many places you can park your car and forget about it while enjoying everything from Cape Lookout, to ponies, historical buildings, a wonderful maritime museum and great food. Blackbeard had it figured out long ago.
If you are interested in my recommendation on a camera to help you promote your area, you can find my beach camera info at this link, and if you want to know about the challenging state of web movies outside of YouTube or why Apple viewers have a second link, you can read this Applepeels post. Both provide helpful knowledge to those wanting to promote an area.