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Wilmington, NC

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Hello,

Anyone have insider info about Wilmington, NC? I've been accepted to the MFA (Creative Writing) program at UNCW, and I'm seriously considering it. Before I jump right in, I'd really like to get a feel for the area.

-Which are the nice neighborhoods for grad students, and which are the ones to stay away from? Are most areas relatively safe? What are rents like? I'd prefer to live alone, rather than sharing an apartment or house. Is that pricey?

-What's the area like? Any cool bars? Is it a nice place to live? Are the nearby beaches nice?

-Are there any dog parks? Is it a dog-friendly town? I don't currently have a dog, but I'm thinking about getting one...

-Where do the undergrads live (so that I can avoid them!)?

-Anything else I should know?

Thanks so much!

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I don't live in Wilmington, but my boyfriend does (I'm from FL). I've visited a bunch and the way I describe it is a homey mellow place. The beaches and beach neighborhoods are beautiful and the downtown is alright. There were a few bars that were cool but I've heard there are more in the surrounding areas. I don't know about where the good places to live are.... if at all possible I would try visiting. I kinda get bored when I visit but that's just me...

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I've never been, but I'm thinking of accepting an offer to attend UNCW. What are your thoughts about the city of Wilmington? What are some comparable cities? How's UNCW? What do people do for fun? Is Wilmington safe? Any info would be great. Thanks!

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Hey! This is my one of my hometowns! Lived there for 13 years. 

In comparison to other universities, I have found that UNCW is pretty laid back. I loved it. Did my undergrad there. It's a beach town, and a lot of students spend their free time downtown or at the beach. Lots of students have a 'beach' appearance, if that makes sense. So wearing shorts, tank tops, and flip flops on campus is pretty common. Hell, a lot of my professors even wore similar attire. I remember one time my oceanography professor cancelled class to go surfing. So be prepared for a massive beach scene, if that's what your into. Not sure if you like the beach, but they have an awesome drive-on beach (for 4WD vehicles) where you can go out there, camp, and have a bbq! The scuba diving and fishing scene is pretty amazing, and during the summer you can scuba dive with sharks and dolphins! 

Over the past 5 years, I found that Wilmington has been booming. Wilmington is doing very well in terms of tourism, so lots of new unique shops, lots of new apartments and houses, etc. Downtown has tons of unique restaurants and bars, so the night life is good if you're into that sort of thing. The only bad side to this is that it is starting to get slightly crowded. So when I did my undergrad, it used to be only a 20 minute drive to the beach. But in traffic, now it can take anywhere from 20 mins to an hour depending on when you leave. So be prepared for slight traffic. Still, even if you leave in Carolina Beach, the commute is not horrible to UNCW! 

I know that Wilmington makes the NC news a lot due to gun violence, etc. but honestly in all the years I've been there I've never run into trouble. Just be smart: don't go downtown by yourself late at night, don't start any fights, etc. I always go back to Wilmington for vacation. It is a pretty gorgeous town. 

I see that you are going for Creative Writing! I did my BA in Anthropology but I took a few writing courses. The professors in the writing department are really nice! I think you'll like it a lot! 

Feel free to message me any questions you have! I can give you advice about where are the best places to live, to eat, etc. :) 

 

Edit: I forgot to mention that UNCW has been improving their transportation system, so that is definitely a plus! You can get a ride to the beach or to the other side of town via the bus system. Also loooots of fun events on campus. They even have a quidditch team! 

Edited by mini monkey

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I graduated from UNCW last May and I have nothing but love for the city of Wilmington and the university itself. It definitely has a laid-back, "beach" vibe to it, but in the best sense possible. I found the students, the professors, and the locals in general (except for the horrible drivers) to be helpful, engaging, and altogether fun to be around. The university really cares about it's students and is always striving to make improvements to better the overall experience for undergrad and grad students, which is definitely a plus. As far as safety is concerned- just like most cities, there are some areas that should be avoided (some of the residential areas downtown), but I did not find safety to be an issue. One of the main reasons I love Wilmington so much is because of Wrightsville Beach. I'm not sure if you're a beach person, but WB is a true beauty. The sand and water itself is clean and perfect for surfing/swimming/relaxing, and the island has several local shops, restaurants and bars that make it appealing to everyone. I really don't think you can go wrong with UNCW, but wherever you choose, I wish you the best of luck!!

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Okay! Great! Thanks so much for the help. 

I'll admit, I am very nervous about the violence. I've been reading forums and a lot of people make it sound like I'm going to get killed or assaulted at any moment. It's reassuring to hear that it's not actually that bad! I did my undergrad in a smaller town, so I guess I'm sort of new to city living 

Any tips/ suggestions for housing? What neighborhoods are nice/safe? Any apartment complexes you would or wouldn't recommend? What areas should I avoid? 

Thanks a ton!

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@mini monkey @tessf

Your response to MFADreams' post was really helpful. I was wondering if you know how Wilmington is in terms of being accepting of individual differences? I've read that Wilmington is known for being pretty racist and conservative, but I've never been there so I have no idea if that's actually true or not. I'm not a person of color, but I am disabled so I worry about going somewhere less accepting of individual differences. Any insight? Thanks so much!

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If you stay/live in Midtown (where campus is located) and Wrightsville Beach area you will certainly be okay in terms of being safe.

 

As far as housing reccomendations: DO NOT GO TO CAMPUS EDGE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Best advice. Second, if you want to get away from "college-y" and rowdy apartments, I would stay away from any apartments directly on Racine Dr. and ones that only take in UNCW/Cape Fear Students (i.e, Lighthouse Apartments, Progress 910). These apartment complexes may seem awesome when advertising, but it's just annoying being a serious student living in basically a big, glorified frat house. If you are looking for more of a young professional area, you may go towards Wrightsville Beach or even Porter's Neck area of Wilmington (if you don't mind the commute). That being said, there are a few townhome/apartment complexes that aren't filled with rowdy college students that are on a UNCW bus line- I just can't think of them right now.

 

To the second poster, I believe the UNCW campus as a whole has a good head on their shoulders where majority of everyone accepts individual differences. Of course there are a handul of people who are closed minded- but you will find that everywhere. I also think this extends to some of Wilmington as well, where you find most people are accepting, but because Wilmington (excluding the campus) is filled with the older generation and it is the South, you will find some that may stare or have an opinion in mind. Being that I have pride in the city though, I do have to give props for the area to be more liberal leaning and more "open" in a sense than the rest of NC.

 

Hope this helps!

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On 3/14/2016 at 3:21 PM, somethingtothinkabout said:

@mini monkey @tessf

Your response to MFADreams' post was really helpful. I was wondering if you know how Wilmington is in terms of being accepting of individual differences? I've read that Wilmington is known for being pretty racist and conservative, but I've never been there so I have no idea if that's actually true or not. I'm not a person of color, but I am disabled so I worry about going somewhere less accepting of individual differences. Any insight? Thanks so much!

This is kind of late, but I figured it would still be good to answer now than never. 

I'm going to answer you honestly: around 80% of the time, the people I encountered were very accepting of individual differences; were not racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, etc. However, I did encounter (~20%) a decent amount of discrimination. I want to make it clear, though: this happened off-campus (at the beach, at the bar, at the mall, etc). I never experienced any discrimination on-campus, and when it does occur on-campus, it is immediately shut down. I personally didn't witness ableism as much as I witnessed racism and homophobia, but know that it can happen. The best way to deal with it is to immediately shut it down and stand your ground. From my experience, there was never verbal or physical violence that followed afterwords (if that's what you're worried about); typically just pointing out people's bullshit was enough to get them to stop. You can see with the recent NC legislation that NC is in a weird spot, unfortunately. 

 

 

 

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