coastal living

10 things different about island life

Less than two weeks ago, we moved from a metropolitan, highly populated area to a small coastal town. It’s a little bit like a perpetual vacation, except Ken has a job and we have to actually do things like house-cleaning and schoolwork.

It’s awesome, but it’s a lot to get used to! Just a couple of weeks into this new life, we’ve already noticed quite a few things that are different about island life.

1- water everywhere


Yeah, this one should be obvious but it’s just so different! The ocean is on one side of the island; the Intracoastal Waterway is on the other. It’s less than a mile from our driveway to the beach, and on the way, we pass a canal.
{Want to learn to kayak with me!?}

2- “island time”

Advertised store hours are more of a suggestion than a strict schedule for many local businesses. Coming from a city where punctuality and productivity are prized, this one is tough to get used to. Like when the mobile DMV unit (only here 4 days/month) drives off a day early — before I got my new license!

3- bike and pedestrian friendly

family walk

Sidewalks are everywhere and bike racks are at every beach access point and most businesses — even the grocery store. Motorists are accommodating to bicycles and pedestrian traffic. Of course accidents can happen, but in our previous town, I think skydiving would’ve been safer than biking.

4- casual style

Everything here is more casual. Flip-flops are the norm. Even business dress is more laid-back. If I take just 5 minutes to gussy up, I feel fancy. A big change from feeling like I had to be perfectly polished to fit in; I loved our church, but it was like a fashion show I could never keep up with.

5- alligator sightings

Kathryn and I are the only ones in the family who haven’t seen a gator! They don’t get huge up here in North Carolina like in the warmer waters of Florida but they do live here. Some of the other wildlife is different, too — most notably, the water birds — but most critters we saw back in Georgia are here, too.

6- sand instead of red clay

Georgia is known for red clay soil. Here, it’s all sand. But I love the fact it’s not all palm trees; they grow here, but the area is known for big ol’ live oaks.

sandy street

7- merchandise tailored to the market

I’ve noticed coastal-themed merchandise even at big chain stores like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Anchor fan pulls, nautical light fixtures, kitchen rugs decorated with crabs… these are not things I saw in the same stores near Atlanta!

8- nighttime is DARK

Being in a smaller town, away from big city lights, and by the ocean where there are no lights, it gets mighty dark here at night! Less light pollution means easier star-gazing; we can even see the Milky Way from our driveway!

9- a boat in every driveway


Ok, not every driveway, but houses like this one make up for those of us without boats in our driveway. I’m pretty sure boats outnumber houses in this town.

10- houses with names

Most people here name their houses, and I’d love to know the story behind some of the names: At Last; Tranquil Harbor; My Blue Heaven

I like the idea, but we haven’t named ours yet. Any suggestions???

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House Name Suggestion: God’s Grace and Heaven by the Sea


I chuckled as I read through each one, as they are spot on with the islands of ENC. Kayaking is a lot of fun (when done in the sound, not the ocean). Just look out for oyster beds and wear waterproof shoes in case you need to step out of the kayak. As for the alligators, Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington is home to Charlie, a rather large alligator that has made the area his home for decades. I’m sure he must have some cousins living close by so never put your guard down when you’re near the water. I… Read more »


I like ‘Heaven by the Sea’ or ‘Close Enough to Perfect.’ Completely curious, we too have adopted from the foster care system (In Florida), we have benefits like Florida Medicaid and Free college only in the state of Florida for the boys. Did you have to forfeit any of the Georgia benefits for your youngest two because you moved out of the state?


So enjoying hearing about your adventure! And this would make a great list for The List App that I’m loving these days.

Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

I think #8 would be my absolute favorite.


Welcome to North Carolina. I can’t wait to hear your house name People name their homes here in the mountains as well.. We live about as far from the coast and still live in North Carolina as we can get. Not that we dislike the coast, just the way it turned out.
Blessings, Dawn