Living in Delaware is like living in a mystical place that no one knows exists.
We’re basically the ultimate hide-and-seek champions of the nation.
Mention Delaware in a conversation, and you’re likely to be met with confused looks and a chorus of “Delawhere?” jokes.
Well, hold on to your stereotypes, because I’m here to shed some light on what it’s really like living in Delaware (from an actual Delawarean).
Spoiler alert: Delaware is not in New Jersey.
This post is all about living in Delaware.
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Real Estate Agents and Travel Bloggers Spreading Dela-Lies
If you’re interested in moving to Delaware and looking for more information about the First State, let me give you a word of warning.
Now, I get it, when we’re searching for information online, we tend to rely on the top few Google results.
But here’s the thing, when it comes to Delaware, the online landscape is a bit…sparse.
It’s not like we’re trending hot topics here.
And that’s precisely why real estate agents and travel bloggers saw an opportunity to pounce.
They churn out articles with regurgitated and outdated information, all in a desperate attempt to dominate those search results and maximize their visibility.
So, here’s my advice: approach those articles with caution.
Just because an article about life in Delaware is written by a real estate agent doesn’t mean that a few SEO-optimized paragraphs made them an expert — let alone, licensed to even assist with your move.
I’ve read a few other blog posts that were factual until I realized they were written with such confidence by travel bloggers or first-time Delawareans.
I know we are the second smallest in the nation, but it takes more than a weekend in Dewey to be an expert on what it’s like living in Delaware.
I Spent Over 25 Years Here, So You Don’t Have To
Introductions are in order: I am Victoria Vaden, born and raised in the capital, Dover, Delaware.
After graduating from the state’s largest institution, the University of Delaware (Go Blue Hens!), I found love in New Castle County.
My husband, a true Sussex County native, hails from the land of farmland and beachy sunsets.
We had two of our three kids in Delaware.
Our wedding colors were actually the same colors as both of my alma maters (no, I’m not kidding).
Together, my husband and I have spent over 25 years in the First State.
Trust me when I say, you can’t get more Delawarean than us.
If You’re Born and Raised Here, You Probably Hate It Here
You know you’re talking to a true Delawarean when they share their secret confession: they absolutely hated this state growing up.
And trust me, I’m no exception because it seemed SO boring as a kid.
I used to roll my eyes at the mere mention of Delaware, dreaming of a life in the fast lane of big cities like Philadelphia or Manhattan.
After all, who could blame me?
Wilmington always seemed like a wannabe version of Philadelphia, and the speed limits in some parts of our great state barely exceeded a snail’s pace of 25 miles per hour.
I craved the thrill of a speedometer hitting 50 miles an hour or more, the vibrant energy that only a bustling metropolis can provide.
So, when it came time for college, I reluctantly applied to the University of Delaware, solely because it was the only in-state school on my list.
Little did I know that this seemingly lackluster decision would turn out to be the best one of my life.
The moment I set foot on campus, I fell head over heels in love with the place.
The sense of community, the spirited Blue Hens, and the undeniable charm of Newark captivated me.
Delaware, as it turns out, had so much more to offer than I had ever imagined.
It was like stumbling upon buried treasure, but instead of gold doubloons, we had beautiful nature to revel in.
And here’s the plot twist: most Delawareans don’t fully take advantage of what we have in our little state.
It’s like we’re all stuck in a perpetual state of “Oh, it’s just Delaware.”
Living in Delaware Where Nobody Knows Your Name
Like half of the college grads in this country, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and randomly applied for a major airline to soar through the skies as a flight attendant.
I flew down to Atlanta, and I remember the room was buzzing with anticipation as I sat there, ready to impress.
And then, when we were asked to introduce ourselves in a large circle of other hopefuls.
Every hand I shook of other candidates matched the same reaction when I said my name and where I was from.
You could almost hear the mental wheels screeching to a halt in their minds.
Usually, I get the “Is that in New Jersey” response — that is until I heard, “Oh, you’re from Canada!”
Y’all…these were flight attendants, and other hopeful candidates—people who should be well-versed in geography and worldly knowledge!
I couldn’t help but chuckle inwardly, thinking to myself, “Wow, people in America really don’t know that Delaware is the First State.”
Breaking the Delusions of Living in the First State
Before we move on to some of the best places, here’s something you should know about Delawareans.
We have this weird notion that life only exists within our state limits, especially if you hail from Sussex County.
It’s like some kind of Delaware bubble where the rest of the world ceases to exist.
I should know because my husband, bless his heart, was one of those die-hard Delawareans.
He refused to leave the state (just for fun), believing that everything he ever needed could be found right here.
Well, let’s just say life had other plans for us.
We decided to embark on an adventure and moved to Florida for a few years, thanks to my husband’s job relocating him.
And guess what? We actually survived!
But, admittedly, it was during our time away that we learned to appreciate where we grew up.
We realized that Delaware had a charm and a sense of community that we had taken for granted.
Who knew that the hidden trails and beautiful landscapes we ignored were actually little slices of paradise?
So, after our Floridian escapade, we returned to the loving embrace of Delaware.
Honestly, after the pandemic and expecting our third child, we just wanted to be close to family.
Plus, there’s just something comforting about being surrounded by the familiar sights, sounds, and scrapple breakfasts of home.
Scrapple, That is All
Alright, let’s talk about one of Delaware’s greatest culinary treasures: scrapple.
Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this mysterious delicacy, allow me to enlighten you.
Scrapple is practically the crazy cousin of sausage, made from a mishmash of pork scraps, cornmeal, and spices.
It’s a glorious creation that showcases the resourcefulness and frugality of Delawareans.
We take those bits and bobs of pork that others might toss aside and turn them into a flavorful, crispy delight.
Scrapple holds a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of Delawareans.
It’s like the unofficial state breakfast, a dish that fuels our mornings and brings smiles to our faces.
It’s the kind of food that sticks to your ribs and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
In fact, scrapple is so ingrained in Delaware culture that it even made an appearance on the iconic show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.
Yeah, you heard that right.
Our humble scrapple got the national spotlight, proving that we’re not afraid to embrace our quirky culinary traditions.
So, next time you find yourself in the First State, do yourself a favor and indulge in a plate of scrapple.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us, it’s like a little slice of breakfast heaven.
Aside from scrapple, Delaware may not be the first place that pops into your mind when it comes to cuisine.
We might not compete with foodie powerhouses like Philly or NYC, and let’s face it, we’re not exactly the stereotypical “dirty south” either.
But, Delaware has some food surprises up its sleeve that will make your taste buds tingle and your belly dance a little jig.
The Weird County Clash
Between my husband and I, we’ve lived all over this tiny state, and let me tell you, the friendliness you encounter can sometimes depend on which county you find yourself in.
Delaware has three counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex; and one area code (shock and bewilderment, I know).
When it comes to safety in Delaware, it honestly will depend on the city you live in.
Growing up, and until recently, Delaware has generally been a safe place to live.
But the increase in gun violence in America began to trickle into our small state recently.
New Castle County, Delaware
New Castle County is where you’ll find the biggest dose of city life in our humble state.
This place attracts a whole bunch of New Jersey and Philadelphia transplants.
But amidst the hustle and bustle, you’ll still stumble upon pockets of friendliness.
Keep in mind that “city life” also comes with stereotypical behavior similar to other major cities.
The bigger cities like Wilmington and New Castle have nice areas but also resemble inner-city Philadelphia.
Sites like Niche.com can give a thorough, unbiased rating if you’re considering either of these areas (or anywhere in the United States for that matter) when it comes to school ratings, crime, and safety.
Kent County, Delaware
Moving on to Kent County, which I affectionately refer to as Switzerland.
Why? Well, it’s like the neutral zone, the middle ground of Delaware.
You won’t find the extreme fast pace of New Castle County or the laid-back vibes of Sussex County.
Kent County is like that calm friend who always brings a sense of balance to the group.
We never got caught up in the weird New Castle County versus Sussex County rivalry (if you don’t know…you’re in for a story, trust me).
Regardless, not our cup of tea.
Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County is the land of slow living and excessive farmland.
Now, this place has several beach communities and an abundance of picturesque landscapes.
But, it’s like time slows down as soon as you cross the county line.
The people here have mastered the art of taking it easy, embracing a perpetual state of relaxation.
So, whether you’re chilling by the beaches, hustling through the city streets, or finding your Zen in the middle, remember to enjoy and embrace the friendly faces you meet along the way.
Where Every “Con” Has Its “Del”
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Is everything sunshine and scrapple in Delaware?
Well, not quite.
Like any other place, Delaware has its fair share of quirks and challenges.
We’re not afraid to acknowledge the less glamorous aspects of living in the First State.
When Nature Tests Your Tolerance
If you’re prone to seasonal sniffles and sneezes, Delaware can be your worst enemy.
I grew up with allergies (mainly to animals), but after 15 years of weekly allergy shots, I was cured — until the season changed.
With its abundant flora and fauna, our lovely state can wreak havoc on even the most resilient sinuses.
You might find yourself reaching for tissues and antihistamines more often than you’d like.
We’ve learned to embrace the beauty of spring while keeping a trusty box of tissues within arm’s reach.
Slow and Steady is Sometimes the Only Tempo
Delaware’s Department of Transportation, affectionately known as DelDot, has a reputation for taking its sweet time to complete projects.
They’ll start a road improvement or bridge renovation, and you’ll think it’ll be finished in a jiffy.
But oh no, patience is the name of the game here.
It may take years, even decades, to witness the completion of a DelDOT project.
However, when it’s finally done, it’s a marvel to behold.
DelDot may be slow, but they do an amazing job once they get there.
It’s just like they’re building for the next century, one lane at a time.
Four Seasons in a Day is the Name of the Game
Nature in Delaware is a true rollercoaster ride.
One day you’re basking in the warmth of a sunny afternoon, and the next you’re bundled up in layers, battling an unexpected snowstorm.
If allergies weren’t bad enough, your washing machine will be just as confused when your laundry doubles because you have to suddenly layer up after wearing shorts the day before.
It’s like Mother Nature herself decided to showcase all four seasons in a single day; and undoubtedly, this is one of the bad things about living in Delaware.
So, if you’re planning a picnic, bring an umbrella, sunscreen, a winter coat, and maybe even a swimsuit, just to be safe.
You never (ever) know what Delaware weather has in store for you.
The Best Places to Live in Delaware
As a true Delawarean, I’m here to set the record straight and guide you to our top picks for the finest living spots in the First State.
So, forget what you’ve read elsewhere because this is the real deal.
Hockessin is a charming little town located in northern Delaware.
Now, some of those other blogs might describe it as “just a suburb of Wilmington,” but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Hockessin has its own unique personality, with a tight-knit community, beautiful parks, and picturesque countryside that will make you feel like you’re living in a storybook.
It’s a place where you can experience the best of both worlds—peaceful small-town living with convenient access to the amenities of a bigger city.
Now, you might have stumbled upon some outdated posts that paint Newark as a college town with nothing much to offer beyond the University of Delaware.
Having graduated from the University, I can tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Newark has transformed into a vibrant hub of activity, with a thriving downtown area filled with unique shops, delicious eateries, and a lively arts scene.
The Christiana Mall has expanded to now have a Fashion Center with several high-end stores I never thought would come to Delaware.
Plus, with its proximity to major highways and easy access to both Philadelphia and Baltimore, Newark is the perfect blend of small-town charm and urban convenience.
Rehoboth Beach (and Lewes)
Now, those misleading blogs might claim that Rehoboth Beach is only worth visiting during the summer tourist season.
However, this charming beach town has so much more to offer.
From its lively boardwalk to its quaint downtown area brimming with shops and restaurants, Rehoboth Beach is a year-round destination for beach lovers and food enthusiasts alike.
And just a hop, skip, and jump away is Lewes, a hidden gem known for its rich history, charming streets, and beautiful bay views.
It’s a place where you can stroll along the waterfront, explore historic sites, and soak in the laid-back coastal vibes.
Middletown is a rapidly growing community that often gets overlooked by those misleading blog posts.
This town has seen significant development in recent years, with a thriving local economy and a range of amenities to cater to its residents.
Middletown offers an up-and-coming suburban lifestyle with easy access to major highways, making it a convenient hub for commuters.
It’s a place where you can find beautiful neighborhoods, top-notch schools, and a strong sense of community.
However, Middletown has always been one of the cities “you pass through,” and a large part of it still looks like It.
I was surprised to see million-dollar homes for sale with yards no bigger than a few blades of grass.
Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room: Dover.
As a Dover native, I can attest to the fact that the state’s capital has changed quite a bit over the years.
While I had an amazing childhood and received a great education on the outskirts closer to Camden, I have to admit that the city of Dover itself has faced some challenges.
It has grown considerably, and unfortunately, that growth has negatively impacted the city as a whole.
Safety concerns have arisen, and it’s not the same safe haven it used to be.
However, it’s important to note that the outskirts of Dover and the surrounding areas still maintain their charm and offer a wonderful quality of life.
- Brandywine, where the estates are as grand as your dreams (if you’ve got a wallet to match).
- Pike Creek, a suburban haven that strikes the perfect balance between peace and convenience.
- Greenville, where the “old money” and the rich dwell.
- Bethany Beach, a retiree’s paradise with sandy shores and endless relaxation.
Rx Roulette: The Good, The Bad, and The Doctor
Healthcare in Delaware is a topic that hits close to home for me.
Growing up with severe allergies and a troublesome immune system, I practically had a standing reservation at the doctor’s office since the day I was born.
During my four years at the University of Delaware, my health record filled a whopping 47 pages.
Now, let’s be honest, the quality of healthcare in the First State can vary depending on where you are.
The higher up you go in the state, the better your chances of finding top-notch care.
Quality Care Gets Lost in Translation
Take my husband’s experience, for example.
Being from Sussex County, he had been complaining of a heart issue for years.
But the doctors down there seemed to brush it off, saying he was perfectly fine.
It wasn’t until he moved to New Castle County and visited Christiana Hospital that they discovered an extra heart valve, making his heart rate skyrocket even while he was sitting still.
Talk about a wake-up call!
Needless to say, he needed surgery, and thanks to the incredible team at Christiana Hospital, he hasn’t had an issue in the past eight years.
Now, growing up in Kent County, we had our fair share of dentists (it felt like a revolving door at times), but my pediatrician was an absolute gem.
In fact, one of my best friends was also a patient there, so it was like having a second family.
I was born at Kent General Hospital and my experiences there were pretty normal.
Nonetheless, my healthcare journey took a turn for the better when I moved to New Castle County.
From my cardiologist to my dentist, chiropractor, therapist, and family doctor, the care I’ve received has been largely exceptional.
An Ode to Christiana Hospital
I must give a special mention to Christiana Hospital, where I had the privilege of birthing two of my three children.
The experiences were incredible, and I even wrote a blog post about my one-push natural births as a black woman—a feat that’s often unheard of in America.
Now, let me share a personal story that involves my first-ever surgery at Christiana Hospital—an experience that was a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
As luck would have it, I found myself caught in the crossfire of miscommunication, resulting in frustrated calls, tears, and a series of rescheduling mishaps.
Despite the chaotic circumstances, my doctor and surgical team turned out to be a true blessing in disguise.
I experienced ZERO pain afterward.
Yes, you read that right.
What was supposed to be a three to six-month recovery process turned into just two days.
So, while my journey with Christiana Hospital had its hiccups, it’s moments like these that remind me of the power and importance of quality healthcare.
This post was all about living in Delaware.
We’ve scratched the surface of what it’s really like living in Delaware (from an actual Delawarean), but fear not, there’s plenty more to come.
Stay tuned for future posts where I’ll delve deeper into the quirks, delights, and occasional frustrations of life in the First State.
But, before we part ways, let’s take a moment to reflect on the importance of knowing where your advice is coming from.
Because, let’s be honest, would you take fashion tips from someone wearing socks with sandals?
Don’t let some self-proclaimed expert from Timbuktu tell you what’s what.
Do some fact-finding in your search if you are considering moving to Delaware.
If you want an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day adventures and unfiltered glimpses of living in Delaware, be sure to follow me on Instagram.
So, until our paths cross again, keep embracing the charm, the beaches, the food, and the unforgettable moments that make Delaware one of a kind.
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