WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Carol and Mike Kirshe have crossed the Cape Fear River into New Hanover County to land in their new retirement home.
It's their second, actually. Their first was in Brunswick County. The Kirshes realized they were spending more time in the Wilmington metro area, so it just made sense to them to move closer.
"We can do everything we want to do here," says Mike Kirshe. "We just look at each other and say, 'Pinch me. Is this real?' It's all right here."
The sheer number of things to do, the local amenities, and the weather along the coast seem to be lures for thousands of families already calling Wilmington home and for the thousands more looking for a new zip code.
Evidence of that can be found at RiverLights, one of the newest and largest neighborhoods going up. Seven builders have seen sales of about 200 units in the past year.
"We do a lot of advertising in the Northeast. We go to these Live South shows in D.C. and New York," says Chris Murray with the Cottage Building Company. "Typically, we have empty nesters, retirees, who are looking for a new life."
The stats gathered in New Hanover County and Wilmington are here in black and white.
Last year alone, 421 new single family homes were built within the city limits and another 816 were built within the county. That doesn't include the construction in the county's beach towns.
"We're looking at long-term growth," says Wilmington Planning Director Glenn Harbeck. "Millennials and baby boomers are driving back to the city migration. That's what's fueling Wilmington's growth."
Townhouse construction is also exploding with 86 units built in Wilmington and 241 units out in the county.
Wilmington metro is no longer a best-kept secret. The word is out and in many cases, those looking to land here aren't native to the county.
"We have a lot of traffic from all over the country, and a lot from Wilmington" says realtor Kristen Ohler. "At 70 West Builders, 70 percent of our contracts last year were actually from Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties."
What's next? Only time and the market will tell. Even in their mid-70s, the Kirshes are glad they packed up and started over.
"We see the potential here, and buying in at the very first phase of development," says Mike Kirshe. "We're just watching this construction just mushroom. It's pretty exciting."
New Hanover County looks to add 60,000 new residents by 2040, a jump of 50 percent.