Delaware may be one of the nation’s smaller states, but it certainly packs a punch in character and opportunity. From its strategic location on the East Coast and tax-friendly policies, to its vibrant communities and natural beauty, there is much to appreciate about life in the First State. However, like any location, living in Delaware has its share of drawbacks. In this Redfin article, we will look at what it’s like to call this state home, exploring the unique pros and cons of living in Delaware. So whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Wilmington, apartments in Dover, or just want to learn more about the area, join us as we embark on a journey through the First State.
Pros of living in Delaware
1. No sales tax and other great tax benefits
One of the standout advantages of living in Delaware is the absence of a state sales tax. This unique feature sets Delaware apart from many other states in the U.S. Residents of the “First State” can enjoy tax-free shopping, making their dollars stretch further and saving significantly on everyday purchases, big-ticket items, and even luxury goods. Additionally, the state does not tax Social Security income, and no inheritance or estate tax exists. These favorable tax policies contribute to a lower overall tax burden for individuals and families, offering an attractive financial incentive for those who appreciate keeping more of their hard-earned income.
2. Proximity to major East Coast cities
Delaware’s prime location on the East Coast offers a significant advantage to its residents. Positioned between the bustling urban centers of New York City and Washington, D.C., Delaware provides quick and convenient access to these metropolitan hubs’ cultural, economic, and professional opportunities. The state’s well-connected transportation infrastructure, including I-95 and Amtrak, makes commuting or weekend getaways a breeze. This geographic advantage allows Delawareans to enjoy the benefits of living in a more relaxed and affordable environment, while still having the vast array of amenities and services of major cities just a short journey away.
3. Beautiful coastal areas
The state boasts a stunning stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, featuring pristine beaches such as Rehoboth, Bethany, and Dewey Beach, each with a unique character. These coastal havens offer opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, water sports, and scenic walks along the boardwalks. Additionally, Delaware’s coastal areas are home to picturesque fishing villages like Bowers and charming beach towns, each exuding a sense of nostalgia and offering delectable seafood dining options.
4. Historic charm and cultural heritage
As one of the original 13 colonies, the state boasts a rich legacy celebrated through numerous historic sites and museums. Delaware enchants residents with its rich tapestry of history, ranging from the charming colonial-era buildings in New Castle to Dover’s pivotal role in early American history. Its charming historic districts and landmarks provide a living connection to the past, while cultural festivals, arts communities, and educational institutions help foster a dynamic appreciation for heritage.
5. Sense of community
Delaware’s residents often praise the state’s strong sense of community, fostered by numerous small towns and close-knit neighborhoods. Communities frequently unite for local events, festivals, and volunteering, reinforcing neighborly bonds and nurturing a supportive, inclusive atmosphere. The state’s modest size maintains this sense of connection even in larger cities, ensuring a network of support and meaningful relationships. This pervasive sense of belonging significantly enriches residents’ quality of life, adding to Delaware’s charm and making it an inviting place to live.
Cons of living in Delaware
1. High cost of living in certain areas
While Delaware offers diverse, appealing features, including its tax benefits and coastal beauty, it’s not without drawbacks, particularly concerning the cost of living in specific areas. Sussex County, famed for its scenic coastal communities, experiences a cost of living approximately 3% higher than the national average, driven in part by the elevated demand for housing in these picturesque towns. The state’s median sale price, at $341,500, is lower than the national median of $412,001. However, the median sale price in Lewes soars to $596,000, underscoring the considerable discrepancy in real estate costs. This higher cost of living in select areas can pose financial challenges for residents, affecting housing affordability and everyday expenses but there are many affordable places to explore.
2. Limited public transportation options
One notable drawback of living in Delaware is the limited public transportation options, particularly in some less urbanized areas. While the state’s metropolitan regions offer some public transit services, like Dover, which has a transit score of 28, the coverage and frequency of these systems can be limited. This leaves residents in more rural or suburban areas reliant on personal vehicles for commuting and daily transportation. This lack of extensive public transport can lead to increased traffic congestion, higher commuting costs, and limited accessibility for those who do not own a car.
3. Extreme weather fluctuations
Delaware’s weather patterns are characterized by extreme fluctuations, which can be a considerable con for residents. The state experiences all four seasons, but their transitions can be abrupt and unpredictable. Winters can bring heavy snowfall and cold temperatures, while summers can deliver sweltering heat and high humidity. Although often pleasant, the spring and fall seasons can also be marked by sudden weather changes, including severe thunderstorms and even hurricanes in some years. These rapid shifts can challenge planning outdoor activities and dressing for the day.
4. Coastal flooding and hurricane risks
With a significant portion of the state’s population concentrated along the Atlantic coast, Delawareans are more exposed to the potential consequences of coastal flooding and hurricanes. During hurricane season, the state faces the risk of severe storms and rising sea levels, which can lead to flooding, property damage, and displacement of residents. While the state has implemented measures and emergency response plans, including potential evacuation protocols, the recurrent threat of hurricanes can be a cause for concern, impacting both homeowners and the overall quality of life.
5. Smaller job market
The number of job openings and career advancement prospects can be more limited than larger metropolitan areas. The state’s compact size also means that commuters often look beyond Delaware’s borders for job options, adding to the complexity of the employment landscape. Consequently, career growth and industry diversity can be challenging, making it more difficult for professionals in certain fields to find their desired positions within the state.
Pros and cons of living in Delaware: Bottom line
Ultimately, the decision to call Delaware home depends on individual priorities and preferences. For some, the state’s serene coastal beauty and tax benefits may outweigh the disadvantages. For others, the challenges may weigh more heavily. Ultimately, living in Delaware balances the pros and cons to create a unique and fulfilling lifestyle in the “First State.”