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The Cost of Living Diaries: Elizabeth City, NC

Get a feel for the local life in Elizabeth City. 

By Lindsey Hyde on March 6, 2023

Thomas Cooper draws on the sidewalk with her mother Diana during an art walk event in downtown Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Nathan Lambrecht

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Elizabeth City, North Carolina? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked an Elizabeth City local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!

Tim Barnett, owner of Drone ICS, LLC and Elizabeth City, NC, resident.

Tim Barnett
Drone ICS, LLC

A charming coastal community, Elizabeth City’s relaxed lifestyle is balanced with a long list of amenities. Here, residents can get a good dose of delicious foodoutdoor funbeautiful art and community camaraderie — not to mention a great career and affordable home

To get a better idea of what it’s like to live in the area, we sat down with Tim Barnett, an Elizabeth City native, who moved away for college in 1977, lived in multiple places around the U.S. for his career with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and recently moved back post-retirement in 2021. Today, he owns Drone ICS, LLC, a company he launched in 2021 that provides aerial photography and video. 

Q: What brought you back to Elizabeth City?

A: Primarily to take care of my mom, but I knew that I wanted to do something or give back to the community. Like most retirees, you want to do something enjoyable, and I decided I’d give my drone business a shot.  

Q: What do you love about living in Elizabeth City?

A: It’s like what Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” It’s always good to be around family and friends, but then there’s also the affordability — you can buy two houses here for the price of one in Boston. And then, I love the culture and history of the area and the networking and business opportunities. 

Q: What do you like to do for entertainment in Elizabeth City?  

A: I like to spend time with family and friends, and at 2 Souls Wine Bar and Seven Sounds Brewing and Ghost Harbor Brewing downtown. I love to work out daily and am an avid runner and cyclist. I’ll run and bike downtown and along the waterfront.  

Q: What are a few restaurants you enjoy in the area, and how much would dinner cost? 

A: The restaurants here, they all have their own distinct qualities and pricing. Montero’s (Restaurant & Bar) has a casual atmosphere and upscale dishes. It’s $25 for a good steak. There’s one called Big Boss Burritos — it’s burritos, and they’re really good for people who work out and want to get a good lunch. I also like Van’s Kitchen, The Mills Downtown Bistro and Hoppin’ Johnz New South Cuisine. 

Q: What kind of free or low-cost activities are there in the Elizabeth City area?

A: Being a quaint little town, there are always numerous events being held. There’s the Downtown Waterfront Market at Mariners’ Wharf Park. It has great local veggies, hot sauces, things like that. A lot of the businesses are having things, too, like the wine bar has a wine tasting. There’s First Friday ArtWalk held on the first Friday of every month. It’s awesome. Check out visitelizabethcity.com for all the events. 

Want to learn more?

To learn more about the Elizabeth City area, check out the latest edition of Livability Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

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