Do you like golf? Do you like waking up early and watching the sunrise over the Atlantic? Have you dreamed of living by the ocean, but never thought you could afford it?
If you answered yes to any, or all of these questions, there is a small town in Brunswick County, North Carolina that you need to check out.
Sunset Beach has become the latest town in the Cape Fear region to get national attention. The website TripSavvy has named the community as being the the fourth best beach town in America.
TripSavvy considered a variety of factors, including shopping, dining, entertainment and nearby attractions . As for Sunset Beach, it highlighted the Bird Island Reserve and its Kindred Spirit mailbox, where visitors can write down their hopes and dreams.
Sunset Beach itself has become a part of those dreams. As more and more people consider moving to North Carolina, they find oceanfront towns that haven’t exploded with development to be very attractive. Not only are there fewer tourists and foot traffic, but the housing prices are more manageable. In the last 12 months the average price for a single family home in Sunset Beach was only $561,563, making it one of the most affordable beach towns in the nation.
JUST THE FACTS
*Sunset Beach is a young town. The first homes were built here in the late 1950’s with the town incorporating in 1963- meaning this year will be Sunset Beach’s 60th birthday.
*One-third of the town sits on a barrier island between the ocean the Intracoastal Waterway, the rest of the town is located on “the mainland.”
*According to the 2020 census the town’s population stands at 4,175 (that’s up 17% from the 2010 census.)
*Median annual household income is $57,019.
*The Ingram Planetarium is probably Sunset Beach’s most popular attraction. It was created by Stuart Ingram, a World War 2 airman who learned how to navigate his plane by looking at the stars.
* Distance from Sunset Beach to Downtown Wilmington is 50 miles
* Distance from Sunset Beach to Myrtle Beach 32 miles
*Distance from Sunset Beach Raleigh is 157 miles
WHERE TO LIVE
Blane Island Estates– is an exclusive gated community made up 27 homes on oversized lots. Many of the homes look over the Oyster Bay Golf Club with some overlooking the marsh and Intracoastal Waterway. Only one home has sold in the neighborhood in the last year. It was a three bedroom, two bath floor plan that closed for $572,000.
Cape Side – is one of the newest neighborhoods in Sunset Beach. It was developed by DR Horton with most of the homes being constructed since 2021. Cape Side is located on the “mainland” part of town, only a few minutes from the bridge and the beach. In the last 12 months a total of 41 homes have sold in the neighborhood for an average price of $425,000… but you have to move quickly. Last year 41% of all listings in the neighborhood were under contract within the first week of hitting the market.
Sandpiper Bay – is a planned, amenity rich community made up of single family homes, townhouses and condominiums. The streets wind their way through a championship golf course, with residents having access to two pools, tennis courts, fitness rooms and a clubhouse. Also located on the “mainland” part of town, the neighborhood is a quick five minute drive to the beach. In the last 12 months a total of 62 single family homes sold in Sandpiper Bay for an average price of $336,000.
Sea Trail Plantation – is a 2,000-acre community and a golfer’s dream. The neighborhood contains three distinct golf courses with two golf clubhouses, putting greens, a driving range, and a golf learning center. The community’s numerous amenities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, walking biking trails, tennis and pickleball courts and fishing ponds. From February 2022 to February 2023 a whopping 280 single family homes sold in the neighborhood for an average price of $440,237.
Thistle Downs- This is another high end golf community. In fact, if you ask a local duffer in the Cape Fear region to rank the best courses in the Cape Fear Region, Thistle Golf Course is going to be one of their top picks. The gated community that surrounds the course is made up of large, luxury, custom built estates. Construction started here in 2002, but several vacant lots remain available. Prices are a little bit higher than the rest of town. Last year 14 homes, including a few new construction properties, sold in the neighborhood for an average price of $665,993.
If you’ve lived in Coastal Carolina for any length of time, you can predict the future for Sunset Beach. Right now, it is one of the few beach towns where you can comfortably live without seven figures in the bank account. The thing is… that almost never lasts when you are located so close to ocean. As development grows throughout Brunswick County, more and more people are going to discover this hidden gem and as they do prices will go up. For now, Sunset Beach offers an affordable opportunity to be by the water without breaking the bank.