The Outer Banks of North Carolina: a 200-mile-long chain of barrier islands surrounded by sparkling water, abundant with wildlife, and displaying incredible natural beauty as far as the eye can see! Populated by nearly 60,000 year-round residents, the island is made up of a supportive, close-knit community. Whether you have been happily vacationing on this magical island for years and are ready to live here full time, or you are just beginning to follow your dream of living on the beach and are looking at Outer Banks homes for sale, this list will help you decide on which OBX town is the right one for you! Let’s begin with our five northernmost towns, each with its own distinctive charm and appeal.
One of the most unique towns in northeastern North Carolina, Carova is nestled in the most northeastern corner of the state. The name “Carova” is a combination of Carolina and Virginia, because its northern border runs alongside the Virginia state line.
Accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle, Carova boasts no paved roads, with some of its year-round residents even choosing to commute to work in Virginia by boat! Carova is a growing area for retirees who want to live “away from it all” in a very close-knit, small community. Self-sufficiency and preparation is key in Carova, as a storm or extended high tide can keep residents from leaving their homes unexpectedly, and there are no gas stations or grocery stores in the town. Living in Carova is a unique experience that really means living as one with nature and the tides, and your neighbors will be wild horses, coyotes, pelicans, and cormorants. Perfect for shell and sea-glass collecting retirees, as well as writers, poets, artists, and photographers.
Surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and peaceful serenity, yet with easy access to amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, fitness centers, eclectic shops, lively nightlife, and a multitude of activities, Corolla real estate is some of the most coveted on the Outer Banks. Corolla is a town where everyone knows your name, in close communities as diverse as the delightful and charming Corolla Historic Village to the luxurious and impeccably maintained Currituck Club.
This family-friendly community hosts one of the best charter schools in the country, Water’s Edge Village School, and is made up of young creative entrepreneurs, retirees, business owners, and seasonal service providers. Corolla is maintaining a beautiful balance of constant growth and expansion, preservation of its history and bountiful wildlife, accessibility, and contented well-being.
Located just twenty minutes north of the Wright Memorial Bridge, Duck boasts a vibrant and family-friendly village atmosphere. Populated with an abundant array of locally-owned boutique shops, art galleries, yoga studios, and restaurants, this one-of-a-kind town is comprised almost exclusively by housing communities, making Duck real estate highly desirable for vacation home rentals.
Walking, biking, jogging, dog walking, and stand up paddleboarding are popular activities in this energetic town that is centrally located to just about every Outer Banks amenity you could be looking for, including schools and medical care, with some of the most breathtaking sunsets on the entire island.
4. Southern Shores
Consisting of beach houses cheerfully lining the road into Duck on the ocean side, and quiet neighborhood roads lined with beautiful dogwood trees and canals on the sound side, Southern Shores is one of the most popular towns on the Outer Banks for families who want to buy a home, settle down, and raise children.
Kitty Hawk Elementary School is located in Southern Shores, and many parents and community members volunteer with or contribute to the school. Southern Shores real estate brings images of a focus on community, and beautiful, cozy homes nestled among small hills, as children happily play and ride bikes along idyllic neighborhood roads.
5. Kitty Hawk
One of the oldest towns of the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk has a little something for everyone. Many year-round residents live here, and this historic town offers convenience to everything from grocery and home goods shopping, restaurants and nightlife, to schools and medical care.
Kitty Hawk real estate is a boon for vacation rental homes on the ocean side, and happy neighborhoods of local’s on the sound side. Life in this accessible town means life on its beautiful beaches…surfing, fishing, dog walks in the evenings, and relaxing with friends while soaking up the sun on the weekends. All-in-all, Kitty Hawk is a wonderful place to raise a family, and live the quintessential Outer Banks beach life of your dreams!
Find out what the rest of the Outer Banks has to offer in the second part of our guide: Which OBX Town is Right for YOU? (Middle & Southern Beaches)