In Craven County
With its rich history and cultural offerings, along with the beauty of its rivers and surrounding region, living in Craven County means having the best of both worlds: the quaintness of a Southern small town and the vitality of a community that appreciates its vibrant sense of place. In addition to a low cost of living and abundant natural amenities, the county offers a quality of life not often found in larger metropolitan areas. In 2015, an estimated 103,451 people called Craven County home, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Population density in Craven County was 146 people per square mile, the Census found.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in Craven County, is made up of more than 53,000 people, including active-duty and retired Marines, the civilian workforce and their families. Additionally, more than 13,000 veterans live in the area.
The counties’ communities give newcomers plenty of choices when selecting a home. Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s home options. The North Carolina Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services. Visit www.ncrealtors.org to find expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home.
Craven County was named after William, 1st Earl of Craven, son of a Lord Mayor of London and a soldier who, while fighting on the Continent during the English Civil War back home, fell madly in love with Elizabeth of Bohemia, sister to the embattled Charles I. As part of his wooing Craven threw financial support behind Charles, but after that monarch lost his head his son, Charles II, eventually ascended the English throne. Charles II rewarded Craven’s loyalty with an earldom, a share in the Colony of Carolina, which he served from afar as one of its Lord Proprietors, and court offices where he developed a reputation for bawdy language and generosity; during the Great Plague of London, he was among the few nobles who stayed, maintaining order and donating property for burials. In gratitude, Craven County took his name at its formation in 1712, though the earl himself had been dead 15 years. County seat New Bern had a river port and later, railways, and commerce and transportation brought wealth and culture to the whole area. Heavy fighting raged across the region during the Civil War, however, and battlegrounds are a significant part of county history.
With the Croatan National Forest situated within the county, and access to several riverfronts and close proximity to Atlantic Ocean beaches, Craven County is perfect for outdoor reaction. For more information about where to go and what to see in the county, check out the New Bern Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.visitnewbern.com.
Communities in Craven County near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point include Havelock and New Bern.
P.O. Box 368
Havelock, NC 28532 252-444-6400
Located in Eastern North Carolina, midway between New Bern and the beaches of the Crystal Coast, Havelock has much to offer residents and visitors alike. The city’s 16.85 square miles are home to more than 20,000 residents.
Havelock is one of eight cities in the world named after Sir Henry Havelock, a British officer in India who distinguished himself in 1857 during what was known as the Indian Mutiny. The area was originally named Havelock Station in the late 1850s, when the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad built a depot where its right of way crossed what is now Miller Boulevard.
In 1940, Havelock became the home of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The Naval Aviation Depot located on the air station provides employment opportunities for local residents. In 1959 the town was officially established.
Situated at the edge of the Croatan National Forest, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area.
The cost of living is below the national average by more than 10 percent. Median rent is $1,071, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,233. Mean travel time to work for those living in Havelock is 17 minutes.
300 Pollock St.
New Bern, NC 28560 252-636-4000
New Bern was settled in 1710 by Swiss and Palatine German immigrants. The new colonists named the settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland and hometown of their leader Christoph von Graffenried. New Bern is the second-oldest European-American colonial town in North Carolina (after Bath). It served as the capital of the North Carolina colonial government, then briefly as the state capital. After the American Revolution, New Bern became wealthy and quickly developed a rich cultural life. That cultural life continues today with four historical districts recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. These areas provide much of New Bern’s unique charm, appeal to retirees and heritage tourism, and contribute to the city’s economic success. Even with its rich history, the city still has areas available for new development.
The city serves as the county seat of Craven County, a distinction it has held since 1722. New Bern is 19 miles north of MCAS Cherry Point at the junction of the Neuse and Trent rivers, offering residents beautiful river views and walkways.
This residential community is 28.23 square miles with a population of 30,070. Mean travel time to work for those who reside in New Bern is 19 minutes. Median rent in the city is $862, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,376.
New Bern is notable for being the setting for two of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, “The Notebook” and “A Bend in the Road.”
Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or across the nation, preparation and organization can make all the difference. First, decide whether to use a professional moving company or make it a do-it-yourself (DIY) operation.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it at your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes as possible from professional movers as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs for each type of move, factoring in the stress and physical exertion involved. Ask any company you are interested in for references and use them to inquire about reliability and customer service.
Regardless of which method you choose, the first step should be to inventory your personal belongings. The list, with photographs of any valuables, will be important for insurance purposes and to help keep you organized during transit.
Plan for one full day to pack each room — though the kitchen and garage may take longer. Make a rough estimate of your packing schedule and then add 50 percent more time. It always takes longer than predicted to pack. Toss or donate unused items to lighten your load. Visit www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.
Pack for success:
- Consider what you’re packing and control box weight. Books should go in small boxes while bedding can easily fill a larger box.
- Wrap fragile items with cardboard dividers, tissue paper or air bubble wrapping.
- Use bright colors when wrapping small items so they don’t get thrown out accidentally.
- Use crumpled paper or newspaper to line the top and bottom of boxes.
- Tape a copy of your inventory list to boxes to identify what’s inside and where it should go.
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term emotional and financial commitment with various pluses and minuses attached. Advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits. Disadvantages include upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property value.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with proper notice.
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Finding an Apartment
Find local apartments listed in chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, online or through referrals from family or friends. The North Carolina Department of Justice’s Landlord-Tenant Booklet can be downloaded at https://www.hud.gov/states/north_carolina/renting/tenantrights.
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history. Dress to make a good impression and treat the meeting like a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.
Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks, holes or damage in the floor, walls or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water, leaky fixtures or water damage.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Home Buying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation and discuss your options with a lending professional. Lenders are diverse today, and not all homebuyers obtain their mortgage loans through their banks and credit unions. For example, you may choose to work with an internet lender, a mortgage broker, a homebuilder or a real estate agency lender. To determine which lender is best for you, get recommendations from friends and family members and check credentials as well as Better Business Bureau ratings.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it may be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
There are three ways to order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and complete and submit the request form online; call toll free 877-322-8228; or download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins.
First, determine your home preferences. Does a single-family house, condo, town house or duplex best fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your homebuying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible.
Good luck and happy hunting!
North Carolina provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit
http://portal.hud.gov and select North Carolina from the “State Info” drop-down menu.
USDA Rural Development offers programs to help rural Americans with essential services such as housing, economic development and health care. As part of USDA Rural Development, Rural Housing Service offers a variety of programs to build or improve housing and essential community facilities in rural areas. Rural Housing Service does this with loans, grants and loan guarantees for single- and multi-family housing, child care centers, fire and police stations, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools and more. Visit www.rd.usda.gov/nc for more information.
The North Carolina Housing Coalition provides guidance to help residents find programs that secure housing for veterans, the elderly and people with special needs or those in need of financial assistance. For more information, visit www.nchousing.org/need_help or contact the housing coalition at 919-881-0707.