We live about 1 hour north of Wilmington and I gotta tell ya Wilmington, Brunswick Co beach areas and Pender Co beach areas are really nice. Anything on the water is going to be expensive. On a positive note very rarely any snow and seasonably pleasant 10 months out of the year(July & August can be hot). I-40 deadends at Wlimington, you've got the ILM airport, excellent medical services, close to Myrtle Beach and the list goes on.
Best of luck to you!
Kettrell & Sharon